Oh the art of a macaron. Not to be mistaken with coconut macaroons, macarons are delicate French pastries that are crisp on the outside and sweet and tender on the inside, usually sandwiched with ganache, icing or jam. Somehow, I lived in Europe for two years and never tasted one of these. As I’ve been trying to expand my French culinary skills, I don’t understand how I missed this dainty sweet.
It’s time for another Army potluck, and a coworker requested a chocolate dessert, so I thought there’s no time like the present to try to master this skill. After reading dozens of recipes and comments, I was initially intimidated. There are people out there who have tried numerous recipes and failed. So instead of relying on English recipes, I went to the source—French YouTube videos. My French is pretty rough, so once I found a video I liked, I had to watch it over and over again.
Thanks to the pictures and my knowledge of French words for pastry ingredients, I figured out most of it. However, there was one point (minute 9:25) that I didn’t quite get, and I could tell by the reaction of the host that it was really important. Therefore, I emailed my Belgian coworker, and she helped translate that portion for me. Thanks Cis! I followed the recipe exactly on the first try, and voilà, they actually came out great.
I have translated the recipe below. When baking, I use metric weights in my recipes instead of measuring cups, especially with delicate desserts like this. It’s very important to be precise. I truly recommend you purchase a digital scale, if you don’t already have one.
The most challenging part of this recipe was making the almond flour from scratch. I ground my almonds in a mini chopper and a coffee grinder to get them small enough to force through a sieve. Next time, I’ll look for ground almond flour in the store. Also, it took a very long time for my ganache to thicken. You want it to be the consistency of peanut butter so that it pipes onto the sandwiches without pouring over the edges. I recommend you make the ganache first and chill it for 1-2 hours.
Because this recipe is a little tricky, please watch Canadian chocolatier Christophe Morel as he demonstrates his recipe and technique. I have put time stamps within the recipe, so you know what point of the video it is referring to.
- 450 grams powdered sugar
- 250 grams powdered almonds
- 40 grams cocoa powder
- 7 egg whites
- Juice of ½ of lemon
- 50 grams granulated sugar
- 200 grams chocolate chips
- 250 grams heavy cream
- 35 grams butter
In a large bowl, mix together the powdered sugar, powdered almonds and cocoa powder. Then, sift it into another bowl, using a sieve.
Place the egg whites in stand mixer, and add the lemon juice. Stir for about 1 minute. Add 25 grams of sugar, and mix on medium-high for about 2 minutes. Add 25 more grams of sugar and increase speed to high. Whisk until the eggs are very stiff, about 5 minutes. (To see the consistency, go to 2:50 on the video)
Sprinkle 1/3 of the almond mixture into the eggs and fold gently. Continue adding the almond mixture to the eggs a third at a time, until incorporated. (3:20 on the video)
Spoon the mixture back into the large mixing bowl. With a paddle spatula, work the mixture around to the right and then flat toward you. Continue until the texture is smooth and shiny, but still soft so it falls into itself. (4:05 on the video)
Spoon into a piping bag or large Ziploc bag with a round tip. Pipe one-inch circles onto silicone-lined pan from a vertical angle. (5:35 on video)
Tap the bottom of the pan, to remove bubbles. (6:10 on the video) Allow to rest for 20 minutes. You should be able to touch the top of the macarons. (8:35 on the video)
Bake at 300 degrees for 25 minutes. Let rest until cool.
Heat cream in a pan. Remove it from the heat as soon as small bubbles form around the edges; do not let it boil. Place the chocolate chips in a tall plastic container. Pour the warm cream over chocolate and emulsify or whisk until smooth. (7:40 on the video)
Add the butter and mix again with the emulsifier or whisk. Place the ganache in a piping bag or Ziploc bag, but do not cut the tip yet. Allow the ganache to cool. It should be the consistency of peanut butter. Then, cut a small tip off of the bag, and pipe the ganache onto macarons and sandwich together. (10:15 on video)
The secret to a Parisian macaron is that you must store the macaron sandwiches in the refrigerator uncovered for 24-48 hours. When you first remove the macaron from the oven, it will be hard. Once you refrigerate it, the humidity will soften the macaron and give it that traditional tender consistency. If you don’t eat them after 48 hours, freeze them. When you’re ready to eat them, let them thaw for 10 minutes.