Recipe: Blueberry Almond Macarons

Author & Photographer: Aidan Meara

“Macaroons? Those little coconut cookie things dipped in chocolate?” is the most common response I get when people learn I make macarons. While the names and spelling tend to be a large source of confusion (macaroon vs macaron), the French Macaron is an almond-based confection notorious for being a nuisance to get right the first time. The cookies are characterized by their shiny smooth surface, and ruffled base known as “feet.” Ganache, buttercream, or jam is then sandwiched between two of these cookies to finish off the macaron, which people often muse looks like a mini hamburger. I’ve been baking them for years now, starting when I wanted to bake for my then high school sweetheart.

“But of all the things you could have made, why macarons?” you might be wondering. The answer is in the ingredients–or rather, what isn't in it: gluten and dairy (when filled with jam or lemon curd). Macarons fit the bill for such dietary restrictions, and once I started, I never stopped making these versatile little cookies. They can be as extravagant or standard as you please, and of any color or flavor you can think up.

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Before we start, there are two different ways to make the meringue: an “Italian” and a “French” method. The former requires making a hot sugar syrup to mix with the egg whites, while the latter calls for sugar whipped in with the egg whites. Today, I'll be showing you how to use the French method.

 

Macaron shells

Ingredients:

  • 150g egg whites (about 4 large egg whites)

  • 70g caster sugar

  • pinch of cream of tartar

  • pinch of salt

  • 230g powdered sugar

  • 125g almond flour

  • gel food coloring (optional)

Makes 25-30 cookies, depending on size

Instructions:

  1. Separate the egg whites and let sit in mixing bowl (some recipes claim leaving out the egg whites to age them generates better results, but I haven’t had any problems using eggs fresh out of the fridge)

  2. Weigh out almond flour and powdered sugar, and sift with salt to combine (I’ve found it takes at least 2 siftings for the best macaron shells)

  3. Weigh out caster sugar, add to mixing bowl along with cream of tartar, and beat egg whites on high until stiff peaks form

  4. If coloring the shells, add gel food coloring at this point and beat for another 20 seconds. 2 or 3 drops should do the trick. Too much and the extra water will start affecting the shells

  5. Add almond flour mixture to the meringue and fold until combined (This is the most difficult part of making macarons–if folded too little, the shells will crack with small chunks of almond flour and unincorporated sugar. If folded too much, the mixture will spread out on the parchment forming pancakes)

  6. Transfer to piping bag or ziplock with a cut corner, and pipe onto parchment paper in a circular fashion

  7. Drop the tray on the table a few times to remove air bubbles from the shells (This is an important step. If air bubbles remain, they will crack the tops of the shells in the oven.)

  8. At this point, set your oven for 295 F and let the shells rest while it heats.

  9. Bake at 295 F for 18 mins, until the shells can be released from the parchment paper without leaving anything behind

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White Chocolate Ganache

Ingredients:

  • 240g white chocolate

  • 60g heavy cream

  • your choice of extract (I used almond and blueberry)

  • piping bag (plastic bag with a corner cut out works as well)

  1. Heat white chocolate and heavy cream in microwave (use 30 second intervals, stirring in between) or double boiler until it starts to melt (careful not to overheat the chocolate, use just enough heat to get a smooth consistency)

  2. Add extract to flavor (this time I used a dash of almond extract and a few drops of blueberry extract)

  3. Let it cool and add to piping bag

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Assembling the Macarons

  1. Once the shells are cool, match up similarly sized shells before you start piping

  2. Pipe a healthy amount of filling onto one shell, then cover with another shell and squeeze together until the filling just reaches the circumference of the shells

  3. If desired, add decoration with edible gold luster dust: mix dust with a splash of high alcohol content liquid that has no taste (I used some vodka) and paint onto shells with a food safe brush

  4. For best taste, let sit covered overnight to achieve a chewy macaron

Melanie WangComment