the mighty macaron / by Kelly Allison

oh, the macaron. so sweet, so subtle, so elusive.

chocolate macaron

I have heard that mastering the macaron is beyond aspirational. A task that requires adept skill, precision beyond imagination, and the patience of a saint. There is no room for error when attempting to create the perfect cookie--a perfectly smooth outer shell as thin as glass, a light and chewy center with delicate sweetness, a cute little foot proving you've done your homework, and a delicious ganache to reward you for your efforts.

So naturally, I needed to try my hand at creating these little wonders.

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After more than one trial, much travail, and many failed batches, I have learned this simple truth: IT IS HARD TO MAKE MACARONS. Or rather, it is hard to make macarons that are both pretty, and delicious. Underwhip your egg whites, and they don't set. Whip the whites too dry, and the cookie has no chew. Too little time in the oven and they're too soft to handle. Too long under the heat and they harden to a crisp merengue, losing all grace.

With that said, I share with you the recipe I pieced together from many different sources, along with whatever wisdom I've gained in going through this process. And if you decide to try your hand at creating this culinary delight, I wish you good luck!

glitter macaron

Vanilla or Chocolate Cardamom Macarons with Honey Ginger Ganache

what you will need: 1.1/4 cup confectioner's sugar 3/4 cup almond meal Seeds from two cardamom pods, pulverized using a mortar & pestle or spice grinder 3 egg whites (AT ROOM TEMPERATURE) 1 pinch salt 1/4 cup super fine sugar 1/2 tsp vanilla extract 2 tbs cocoa powder, or a squeeze of gel paste food coloring in your color of choice Food processor, parchment paper, pastry bag fitted with a medium round tip, or you can cheat and buy this handy-dandy kit.

macarons

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Combine confectioner's sugar, almond meal & cardamom seeds in your food processor and run until well processed. Sieve mixture twice. Yes, twice.

If you're unable to find superfine sugar, pulse regular granulated sugar in a clean food processor until it's superfine.

Carefully separate your egg whites into a bone dry bowl. Any moisture, or even the tiniest hint of fat from the yolk will prevent your whites from whipping to stiff peak, so be extra careful. Place egg whites into a standing mixture fitted with a wire whisk, and mix on medium speed until you reach soft peak stage. Reduce to slow speed, add salt, and slowly add the superfine sugar until combined.

Whip on high speed until you reach stiff peak stage. Don't overbeat, or your macarons will be crunchy. Don't underbeat, or they won't set up.

soft peak egg whites

stiff peak egg whites

Add half of the twice-sieved sugar/almond mixture, and gently fold in from the top to the bottom. Add vanilla & food coloring (or cocoa), and remaining sugar/almond mixture and gently stir until well combined. Be careful not to over mix.

Line a baking tray with parchment paper or a silpat. Fill your pastry bag with the mixture, and pipe equal-sized circles (about 1" diameter) onto the parchment. If you really want consistent size, use a stencil to draw circles on the underside of your parchment as a guide.

Decorate tops before baking with sparkling sugars, or confectioner's glitter.

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Tap the baking tray on the counter to release any air, and let the cookies stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before baking. Preheat oven to 300˚ and bake individual trays in the center of the oven for 22 - 25 minutes. Let cool before removing from parchment. If cookies stick, spray a bit of water under the parchment, and place the cookies on top of the mist--the steam will help the cookies release. Repeat with the rest of the batter.

Fill with chocolate ganache or an artisan jam. For a little flavor fun, I added local honey & finely chopped candied ginger to the ganache. Experiment!

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Et voilá!

Neither perfect, nor embarrassing. And not bad for a first (er 10th) attempt.