Updated: Feb 4, 2021
“It is the sweet, simple things of life which are the real ones after all.” -Laura Ingalls Wilder
M-A-C-A-R-O-N-S. These little cookies are becoming a phenomenon around the world. Not many ingredients go into these guys but they are so, so good. Light and sweet macarons are a perfect dessert or just a snack in the middle of the day.
Although they may look cute these suckers are finicky. Counting how many times you mix the batter is essential, getting the meringue whipped just right before adding the dry ingredients is important too. And don’t get me started about giving enough time to let the shell batter dry before putting them in the oven.
Every step has to be precise, and it may seem excessive but in order to achieve the most perfect macarons they must be done exactly. The first part to get right is to sift the dry ingredients, almond powder, powdered sugar, and any spices, TWICE. Yes, two times in a row to insure that there are no lumps of powder and that it is super fine. Powdered sugar and cinnamon specifically have a tendency to clump, so sifting these will reduce the number of clumps in the dry mixture.
The next step in the process is making the meringue. Meringue is just whipped up egg whites and sugar, and there are various methods of making it. I used a french meringue method for these macarons because I find it the most simple and direct way. Some people like using the Italian method which involves heating the sugar and adding the liquid into the egg whites. I found this method to add an extra step into the process and found that I was happy with the results of the french meringue. Whichever you choose, make sure that your egg whites are whipped to stiff, glossy peaks.
The next part is mixing the batter. There are two parts of this mixing process, the first is folding the dry ingredients into the meringue. After working so hard to put as much air in the meringue as possible it is important to not mix in dry ingredients and knock all the air out of it. Instead, it is important to fold the dry ingredients by starting from the bottom and cutting down the middle until all the dry is incorporated. Using a spatula is the best tool for this job, as well as the second part of mixing, which is to get the luster on the macarons. Flattening the batter against the bowl and then, by going from the bottom, flip it onto itself will create a nice shine on your macarons. It is important here to count the number of times that you flip the batter. 15 times is the appropriate amount. Too much or too little times and the finished product will lack a luster.
Other steps that are important to not forget is to rap the batter once it is put in circles on a baking sheet, this will create feet on a macaron, which can be found on the edge. Letting them dry for an appropriate time before going into the oven, and flipping the tray halfway through the macarons are baking. The only thing left to do, after the macarons have cooled, is to sandwich the shells with a tasty filling. Viola! You have the perfect macarons.
I hope that you find enjoyment in baking these delightful cookies as much as I did. This recipe that I created is cinnamon shells and a pumpkin-spice buttercream. Together they work in perfect harmony to remember the fall season. Bon Appétit.
Ingredients for Macaron Shells
⅔ cup ground almonds
1 ½ cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 large egg whites, room temperature
5 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Cut a sheet of parchment paper to fit your baking sheet. Draw 1-inch circles on the paper, spacing them at least ½ inch apart.
If you have whole almonds, put in a food processor, grind almonds, cinnamon, and powdered sugar together to a fine powder. (if you have almond meal or almond flour you can skip this step)
Sift the mixture through a medium-mesh sieve twice. Set aside.
In a stainless-steel mixing bowl, beat egg whites on high speed until they are foamy. Gradually add granulated sugar to the egg whites. Beat egg whites on high speed until they reach stiff, glossy peaks, about one minute. You can use a hand mixer or a stand mixer.
Add vanilla and stir lightly. When the meringue is stiff, firm, and has a glossy texture it is done.
Add half of the sifted flour mixture from step 2. Stir it with a spatula while scooping it up from the bottom of the bowl, folding the flour mixture into the meringue to not knock any air out of it.
Add the rest of the flour and mix it lightly in a circular motion.
When you run out of flour, press and spread out the batter against the bowl’s sides. Scoop the batter from the bottom and turn it upside down. Repeat this process about 15 times. (Tip: If the macaronage step is repeated less than 10 times the baked macarons will lack luster. However when it is repeated more than 20 times oil stains may remain on the pastry's surface when the macarons are baked.)
When the batter becomes nicely firm and strips slowly as you scoop it with a spatula the mixture is done.
Put batter into a piping bag with a 0.4-inch tip (Tip: Twist bag to hold the tip tightly, this prevents the batter from leaking out. After batter is in clip end of bag) and squeeze out batter onto the center of circle templates. (batter will spread)
Rap the baking sheet firmly against the counter.
Dry the batter at room temp, uncovered, for 15-30 minutes. A slight crust should form on top of them. If batter circles do not stick to your finger the drying process is complete. (Tip: The batter is settled when no tips can be seen in the circles.)
Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Bake Macarons for 10-15 minutes, flipping tray around halfway through the bake that they bake evenly.
Once out of the oven, allow macarons to cool before filling and sandwiching.
Ingredients for Vanilla-Pumpkin Filling
1 cup (2 sticks) of butter
3 cups of powdered sugar
2 Tablespoons of milk
1 teaspoon of vanilla
½ teaspoon of nutmeg
¼ teaspoon cloves
1 Tablespoons of pureed pumpkin.
Beat butter in a mixer until creamy.
Add powdered sugar a cup at a time, alternating between milk
Add vanilla, nutmeg, cloves, pumpkin puree, and orange food coloring. Beat until smooth.
Once macaron shells have fully cooled put frosting in a piping bag with a star tip on one side of the macaron and put another on top.