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cookie goes to Paris and makes macarons…sort of

Either macarons are increasing in popularity lately or I’ve just noticed them popping up everywhere because they’ve been on my mind. I’ve held this curiosity since I posted on macarons HERE on my edible crafts column over a year ago. And having just returned from Paris (what a great sentence to utter) where I bought this macaron kit, L’atelier Macarons, I had to try and make them.

Using my high school French, my dictionary, a metric conversion table, and some macaron-google research, I translated the how-tos. My first attempt failed miserably. My second was edible. They even tasted OK, with a delicate shell and just the right amount of soft and chewy inside. But still not right. I shall try again, but in the interim, here’s what I did (and if you know how to make macarons, please feel free to send me tips and corrections).macarons (a combo of a poorly translated recipe, by me, from L’atelier Macarons and David Lebovitz’s recipe HERE and all the other recipes I found on google)
2 egg whites
1/2 cup almond powder
1 cup powdered sugar
5 Tablespoons superfine sugar
filling*
food coloring*
pastry bag with large, round tip (size 10-12)

*I couldn’t find “amandes poudre” here in the US, so I simply bought a bag of almonds and ground them finely in the food processor about 30 seconds. (A coffee grinder also works.) For filling, I just made buttercream frosting and tinted it. For food coloring, I use Americolor soft gel pastes.

Separate eggs and reserve egg whites in refrigerator. (The book says to do this the day before. I forgot, so only chilled them for a few hours.) Place almond powder and powdered sugar in a blender and mix. Sift the mix. (The book says to sift on a baking tray and bake at 300 degrees F for 5-7 minutes and let cool. My first try I did this, I skipped this step the second time around.) Whip egg whites until fluffy and stiff (the book uses the term “en neige,” or “snow” which is a good likeness). Add superfine sugar slowly while beating, and continue beating for 2 minutes. Add desired coloring and beat until smooth. Sift in the sugar mixture and fold to mix with a spatula. (Herein is where I run into trouble. And herein is the difficult part. My batter was perfect until the folding in of the sugar mixture. Sigh. I’ll keep trying.) Fill a pastry bag with the batter and make 30 small balls on a parchment-lined baking tray. Tap tray on the counter. Let rest in dry place 1 hour to crust. Cook at 350 degrees F for about 16 minutes. Let cookies cool completely. Spread filling on back of one macaron and top with another. Makes 15 macarons.

what macarons should look like (no, these aren’t mine, they belong HERE):

what macarons shouldn’t look like (these are mine):

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26 Comments

  1. poodlegoose
    Posted January 2, 2010 at 6:29 am | Permalink

    I have been trying my hand at macarons too and I just can't get the hang of them. I'll check back to see if others have helpful hints and stories :) Good luck!

  2. Kat
    Posted January 2, 2010 at 7:05 am | Permalink

    I tried making macarons for the daring bakers challenge a while ago and they were so hard. I did 3 attempts. The first time I over beat my mixture then the 2nd time I underbeat it. I am hoping to have another go at them this year.

  3. Chic Cookies
    Posted January 2, 2010 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

    Thanks poddlegoose! That makes me feel better, Kat :) I didn't realize how difficult it really is to make macarons until that first batch fell flat. I heard that it's just the right amount of beating, but I have no idea what that amount is. Trial and error, I guess…better go buy more almonds!

  4. SprinkleBakes
    Posted January 2, 2010 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

    I'm itching to try my hand at macarons, but I haven't because it's just so darn intimidating! I still think yours are pretty, even if they aren't perfect. Found you through tastespotting – cute blog!

  5. cookies and cups
    Posted January 2, 2010 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

    love it, I have been "thinking" of making these for a while now, but was scared..mine would most definitely look like yours, I am sure!

  6. Heavenly Housewife
    Posted January 2, 2010 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

    This looks awesome for your first try, much better than my first. I am now on my 8th attempt (im making them today). I've gotten better but they arent up to standard yet LOL.
    If you have that little thing on top, it means you need to whip your batter more. Also, did you wrap the sheet pan to help let everything settle?
    I really think they are pretty though, and I love the colour. Keep at it daaaaahling.
    *kisses* HH

  7. sweetbird
    Posted January 2, 2010 at 10:37 pm | Permalink

    I've been entertaining the idea of making macarons myself. I'm a bit intimidated, but I figure it's worth the try.

    Way to go on your first attempt, though! I bet they still taste delicious even if they don't look perfect.

  8. Sue Sparks
    Posted January 2, 2010 at 10:51 pm | Permalink

    I have only made them once(Daring Bakers), but mine were too flat! It was a nice challenge though! I think your look pretty darn good, and I LOVE the color! I love your little french graphics at the beginning of your post:) How was France? My husband and I REALLY want to go this fall!

  9. Jennifer(Savor)
    Posted January 2, 2010 at 11:08 pm | Permalink

    Wish I could be making the same 'Paris' statement! So funny what you said about macaroons as made some on NYE day with daughter. Mine look worse. Love your diagrams

  10. bridget {bake at 350}
    Posted January 3, 2010 at 12:57 am | Permalink

    Actually, I think yours are really cute! I like poofy! :)

  11. Chic Cookies
    Posted January 3, 2010 at 3:06 am | Permalink

    Awww, everyone made me feel so much better! Especially knowing all you great bakers have trouble with these too. I'll keep trying. I did bang the tray, but not hard enough, I think. Good to know about the batter. I was so afraid of overwhipping, I underwhipped. I need lots more tries. And in the interest of full disclosure, those pictured were the 2nd attempt… the 1st were beyond flat. They were a messy pile!

    And France was great… We went in Nov. when prices were lower. And we planned it quickly, which was a blessing in disguise. It allowed us to be more spontaneous and less stressed over there without the pressure of months of planning and studying the sites to make sure we didn't miss anything. Hit the big stuff, but still had wine at long lunches everyday.

  12. Cakebrain
    Posted January 3, 2010 at 5:27 am | Permalink

    I love the colour of your macarons! Just keep trying!
    When you find the perfect recipe and technique that suits your climate, then you're all set! Once I figured out the base recipe that worked for me, there was no stopping the endless variations of flavours and fillings. It's such fun!
    If you separate the egg whites and leave them in the fridge for one day or up to a week even, the point is to have the proteins in the egg whites concentrate. The point isn't necessarily to chill them. If you're short on time, you might add a pinch of meringue powder to your egg whites to help it along if you're pressed for time. Also, you might want to sift your sugar and ground almond mixture through a sieve first. That eliminates lumps. Good luck! you've caught the macaron bug!

  13. Jenn
    Posted January 3, 2010 at 11:51 am | Permalink

    They look awesome for your first try, def. better than my first tries were! One difference I see is that I add in the sugar as I am beating the eggs – so just after I see the egg whites are foamy, as the mixer is going, I gradually add in the sugar. I also started with whole almonds. I used Helen of Tartelette's recipe, and I think she used less sugar (to add to the meringue) than you have here in yours, and about twice as much powdered sugar. Maybe it's worth trying out her recipe and comparing….My problem is I overmixed the batter and so mine collapsed…

  14. Carol
    Posted January 3, 2010 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

    I was in Paris a year ago and loved it! Your post brought back memories. I have never tried to make macaroons so I'll have to enjoy the process through your blog! :)

  15. Anonymous
    Posted January 4, 2010 at 2:30 am | Permalink

    Hi – this is the first time I've ever posted . . . anywhere. I saw your cookies on the Martha Stewart contest and looked at your blog only to find out that I have your book and think it's great! I also recently had some macarons over Christmas and decided I would make them but haven't given them much thought until tonight. I watched the french video and am going to try that recipe – I'll let you know how it goes. Wish me luck!

  16. Chic Cookies
    Posted January 4, 2010 at 3:51 am | Permalink

    Great tips! I'll have to keep trying (and play with recipes, I'll try the Tartelette one). I'm flattered to be your first post Anonymous! Let me know how your macarons turn out. Now they are really on my mind.

  17. Mini Baker
    Posted January 4, 2010 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

    Macaroons are HARD to make, so don't beat yourself up. Even if you don't like the ways yours looked, I'm sure they tasted AMAZING!! :)
    -Mini Baker

  18. Karen Collins
    Posted January 4, 2010 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

    Good job on these. My advice would be to purchase almond powder instead of making your own. The manufactured almond powder is much more fine than anything I've ever been able to make on my own. Here's a link to one source:

    http://www.ohnuts.com/buy.cfm/bulk-nuts-seeds/almonds/almond-flour

    You should also be able to find almond powder in any local health food store or in the health food section of your local supermarket. I feel like nut flours are much more available these days because so many people are on gluten-free diets and have to use alternative flour options for baking.

    My second tip is to treat the baking more like a meringue cookie. After you dry the piped cookies at room temp for up to an hour, bake them at a much lower temp (200) and for a longer amount of time (45 – 60 minutes). Turn off the oven and let the cookies continue to dry in the oven for up to an hour. The results will be a crisp exterior and a soft, chewy interior.

    At the risk of sounding boring, I would also recommend having an oven thermometer, just to make sure you're baking the cookies at the right temp.

    I hope this helps! Best of luck!

  19. maisquared
    Posted January 4, 2010 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

    omg!! finally!! a post about REAL macarons! i always see PERFECT macarons on food blogs that make me cringe cuz i'm no baker and i know mine wouldn't turn out like they do online!

    :) still haven't tried these yet…but I shall oneday haha

  20. Chic Cookies
    Posted January 4, 2010 at 9:28 pm | Permalink

    Great point about the almonds! …I had a hard time getting them really fine and didn't even think to look in the health section. And I'll try the temp. thing. I used a thermometer for our old oven and packed it away when we moved, figuring our new oven wouldn't need it, but I find it. Ovens can be so finicky. Thanks maisquared! Glad for such feedback. I wasn't even going to post them but realized that I was probably more the norm in having imperfect macarons! power in numbers!

  21. Baking is my Zen...sweet nibbles for the soul
    Posted January 4, 2010 at 9:36 pm | Permalink

    I have yet to try these. Thanks for sharing the trials.

  22. Kirsa
    Posted January 5, 2010 at 3:01 am | Permalink

    it does mention to leave the eggs whites to age one day because it tends to make them more "supple" and it will tend to do less cracking and more smoothing.

    it's actually a very important part that you skipped and leaving the whites in the fridge will help you a lot at your next attempt.

  23. J+S
    Posted January 5, 2010 at 4:54 am | Permalink

    I think yours look fabulous. I am completely won over by macarons, and would post about them every day if it didn't make me crave them so much! The first time I had them, I wondered why one tiny little cookie cost over $1. I totally get it now. I don't even dare brave the baking process here!

    ~Jenifer

  24. J+S
    Posted January 5, 2010 at 4:54 am | Permalink

    And by the by, congrats on the features on Amy Atlas's blog. You really are my cookie heroine.

  25. Cherry Snowflake
    Posted January 10, 2010 at 2:14 am | Permalink

    I've spent the last 12 hours trying to make French Macarons. 12 hours and 8 batches later I still don't have one I'm proud to take a photograph of. Congratulations on yours, I think they look great!

  26. nad├Ęge
    Posted January 10, 2010 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

    Hi !
    I have a blog only talking about macarons ! ;-)
    http://macaronsaddict.canalblog.com

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