I’ve blogged about macarons before. Though my initial attempt was not really a success, I’ve had much better luck since. Once you get the hang of the technique, they’re really a joy to make, and not all that difficult. Really.
Most macarons are made with ground almonds/almond flour, but since I recently found hazelnut flour (Bob’s Red Mill brand), I used it instead. If you can’t find hazelnut flour, though, you can certainly use almond flour in this recipe.
These macarons are really light and airy- I believe it’s because they have a high proportion of egg whites, but I can’t say for sure. Many macaron recipes, like this excellent one, are written with the measurements by weight. I do believe weight measurements are more accurate, but the recipe you see below worked very well for me, and that’s why I’m sharing it with you.
As with all macarons, the filling possibilities are truly endless. These happen to be terrific with homemade nutella…
…but I really like them filled with jam, too. The macarons you see here are filled with a wonderful strawberry jam I made recently, and here’s how I made it: I combined 4 cups organic strawberries (mine were homegrown) with 1 cup organic sugar, 1 handful of lemon balm from my garden (chopped) and the seeds from 1 vanilla bean. I cooked everything over low heat on the stove for about an hour, stirring every now and then. After an hour, the jam was bright red and thick. I cooled it and then spooned it into a pint jar, where it thickened more in the refrigerator. Like the spicy strawberry jam, this one isn’t meant to be canned, but it keeps in the refrigerator for at least a few weeks.
If you have no macaron-making experience, please keep the following tips in mind:
1. It’s very important to use “aged” egg whites. I leave mine in a covered container at room temperature for at least 24 hours before making macarons.
2. You must allow your piped macarons time to “dry out” before you bake them. This can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours. They will feel completely dry to the touch when they’re ready…don’t rush it.
3. I bake my macarons on a siplat lined cookie sheet, and I always put the cookie sheet on top of another one. This silpat ensures that the macarons are easy to remove, and doubling up on the cookie sheets helps so the bottoms don’t darken very much (or worse, burn).
adapted from The Sweet Life: Desserts from Chanterelle by Kate Zuckerman
Yield: about 30 small cookies
*1 cup hazelnut flour
*1 cup organic powdered sugar
*1/2 cup aged egg whites (see above)
*1 tablespoon organic granulated sugar
1. Preheat the oven to 300°F. Combine the powdered sugar and hazelnut flour in a blender and process just until thoroughly mixed and “powdery”.
2. Beat the egg whites in the clean dry bowl of a stand mixer until they hold soft peaks.
3. Slowly add the granulated sugar and beat until the mixture holds stiff peaks.
4. Sift a third of the hazelnut flour mixture into the meringue and fold gently to combine. Sift in the remaining hazelnut flour in two batches. Be gentle! Don’t overfold, but fully incorporate your ingredients.
5. Spoon the mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip. You can also use a Ziploc bag with a corner cut off. It’s easiest to fill your bag if you stand it up in a tall glass and fold the top down before spooning in the batter.
6. Pipe out small mounds about 1 1/4 inch in diameter. They’ll spread a bit so don’t pipe them too close together. Allow them to sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes to dry out the tops.
7. Bake the macarons for 10-12 minutes, until puffed and lightly colored. If they don’t seem completely cooked, you can turn off the oven and let them sit for a little while longer.
8. Cool on a rack before filling (this is not necessary if you’ve left them in the oven with the temperature off).