French Macarons a la Medrich

French Macarons a la Medrich

Master baker and cookbook author, Alice Medrich, calls these delectable creations "Cookie Royalty." Unlike American macaroons dense with coconut, French macarons (Mah-Kah-ROHN) are almond-flavored sandwich cookies filled with jam, buttercream or other spreads.

YIELDS

30 to 36 macarons

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups C&H® Confectioners Sugar
  • 1 1/3 cups blanched almond meal, finely ground
  • 3 to 4 large egg whites, room temperature
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 3 to 6 drops food coloring to match your flavor (optional)
  • 3/4 cup filling, such as lemon curd, chocolate ganache, coffee or other buttercream, chestnut spread, hazelnut spread, peanut butter or jam

INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat oven to 400°F. Position racks in upper and lower thirds of oven. Prepare parchment-lined cookie sheets.

Combine confectioners' sugar and almond meal in bowl; mix together thoroughly with a whisk or fork. Pass through medium-coarse sieve to lighten and aerate the mixture (which makes it easier to fold).

In glass measure, add enough egg whites to reach halfway between the 1/3 cup and 1/2 cup mark; or use a scale to weigh out 3.75 ounces of egg whites. Transfer these to a large bowl, and save the rest for another purpose, or discard. With electric mixer, beat egg whites at medium speed until they form soft peaks when beaters are lifted. Add almond extract and food coloring, if using. Beat at high speed until mixture forms stiff, but not dry, peaks when beaters are lifted.

Pour almond flour mixture over egg whites. With large rubber spatula, fold almond mixture into egg whites just until it is fully incorporated. Egg whites will deflate somewhat, but batter will be thick and moist and almost pourable.

Drop heaping teaspoons of batter, 1 inch apart, onto prepared cookie sheets.

Or, transfer the batter to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain tip and pipe out disks in the following manner: Hold bag vertical with tip about 3/8 inch from pan liner. Squeeze bag without moving it until disk of batter 1 1/2 inch in diameter is formed. Stop squeezing a second or two before moving bag to pipe next disk. Repeat, piping disks 1 inch apart.

Let macarons rest for 20 to 30 minutes, or until surface of disks is ever so slightly dry—--this slightly dry crust will help form characteristic little "platforms" at the base of each macaron as they bake.

Slide two sheets of macarons into oven; immediately turn temperature down to 300°F.

Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until macarons are barely starting to turn golden (they will be golden on the bottom, though you will have to destroy one macaron to find out). Rotate pans from top to bottom and from front to back halfway through baking time to ensure even baking. Set pans or just liners on racks to cool.

When cookies are cool, lift corner of parchment pan liner. Holding cookie with the other hand, carefully peel liner away from cookie (don'’t try to pull cookie off liner or you will lose bottom of cookie). Repeat with remaining cookies.

Spread 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of filling on flat side of cookie and top with cookie of matching size. Put cookies on tray; cover them with plastic wrap. Put trays in refrigerator to let cookies mellow at least overnight, or for up to 2 days, before serving. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Variations

Lemon Macarons: Add 1 teaspoon of finely grated lemon zest and (if you insist) 4 to 6 drops of yellow food coloring just before egg whites are fully beaten. Fill cookies with Lemon Curd.

Raspberry or Strawberry Macarons: If you like, add 4 to 6 drops of red food coloring to egg whites just before they are fully beaten. Fill cookies with raspberry or strawberry preserves, or any berry preserves.

Coffee Macarons: Add 1 1/2 teaspoons of instant espresso or coffee powder to the confectioners' sugar and almond meal. Fill cookies with Coffee Buttercream.

Chocolate or Mocha Macarons: Mix 3 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder (Dutch-process) with the confectioners' sugar and almond meal. Fill cookies with chocolate ganache or Coffee Buttercream.

 

Featured by "Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-in-Your-Mouth Cookies," © 2010 by Alice Medrich, photographs © 2010 by Deborah Jones. Published by Artisan, New York.

QUICK TIP

It's possible to grind almonds in a food processor with some of the confectioners' sugar, but for this recipe you want almonds uniformly fine. Alice Medrich recommends using finely ground blanched almond meal, often found at better supermarkets and specialty stores.