I now understand the term macaron madness. I cannot believe how much fun I am having making these things! Honestly, I don’t need this many macarons in the house and I wish all of you could show up just to take some away. They are just too hard to resist eating.
For this batch of macarons, I wanted to come up with a filling that would require egg yolks. I was left with three for every batch of macarons and would rather not waste them. So, I took some inspiration from my favorite cooking show, Masterchef Australia (link at the bottom). This version of buttercream uses egg yolks – yay no waste! – and it’s very smooth which complements the cocoa shells wonderfully. I decided to add half of the espresso powder in the buttercream near the end give an almost crunchy texture to the cream with tiny bursts of coffee flavor to wash away the sweetness of the macaron. I don’t think it could have turned out any better.
Macarons are the bane and bliss of many food bloggers. I have been semi-successful before but that was nearly a year ago. I wanted to make them again as an alternative to my birthday cake. The problem was, my old recipe wasn’t working for me. I wasn’t getting any pied or feet, I blame the new oven I got in the spring. I gave up for a while until I read Tartelettes ebook, Demystifying Macarons. When you want to make macarons, Tartelette is a pretty reliable go-to. I had multiple success now with her recipe and technique by mixing it with some other little tips and tricks that worked for me.
Remember when you were told as a kid, “practice makes perfect”? Well, Parisian macarons fall along those lines. I cannot explain well enough in words what the mixture should be like. Where to be gentle, where to just stir with some vigor, and the exact texture. I will tell you I have found that adding cocoa powder produces a chewier cookie, and takes less folds than the basic macaron recipe does. So, it’s just working with the basic recipe enough times to gain a feel for it, to know when you are at the right constancy. If you decide to go down this road of trial and error, I promise to send you happy pastry thoughts.
I wish I could give you step by step details so you never fail at macarons, but I cannot. It will happen, it does happen. The epic fails (to me) of macarons are; no feet, hallow shell, and raw or spongy texture. All I can do for you my friends is share what I do to get the best results. I hope this helps make your attempts successful.
- Buy macarons from a bakery/pastry shop. You need to know what you should be looking for in regards to the shell, filling, balance. Knowing what the end result should be will help when you begin to make your own at home.
- Weigh the ingredients. Yes, you have to use a kitchen scale but trust me, it’s one of the best investments I have ever made.
- Grind the Almonds with the Confectioners Sugar. I found this helps takes some of the moisture out of the almonds.
- Sift the dry ingredients at least two times, three is better. I go one step further and sift the dry ingredients over the whipped meringue in two batches.
- Aged egg whites. The reason to age the egg whites is, most commercial chicken eggs contain a high % of water in the whites, by aging them the extra water evaporates out. Separate the white from the yolk and wrap lightly with a paper towel, then place in the refrigerator for 24-36 hours. Bring to room temperature before using to make the macarons.
- Whip the egg whites just until it stays in bowl when tipped upside down. This is around a medium stiff peak, when you hold the bowl upside down it doesn’t slide out it stays in the bowl firmly. Old trick my grandma taught me.
- Fold half of the dry quickly into the whites, don’t be so gentle with the first mixing work it in so your second half of dry ingredients you can work it in quickly. The second half the method I use is to tip the bowl at a 45° angle and spread the mixture along the side of the bowl and fold it over. I do this 10-15 times until the mixture is thick and forms wide thick ribbons that settle on itself when lifted and drips down. I start watching it carefully at fold over 10, the more you do this the thinner it gets and the cookie won’t work. This is the most tricky part so be careful. You just want the mixture to settle gently on its self.
- Silpat > Parchment. This is another big argument with bloggers, but like I said. This is what works the best for me, the only difference is that I have found is, with a silpat you get a very slightly, not even really noticeable, smaller foot. It also gives you a shiny flat base with no sticking, if it sticks it means you didn’t cook it long enough. I have used both, both successfully. It’s all about using what you have on hand and what works for you.
- Let the mixture form a dry shell. After you have piped the mixture out, gently twice tap the cookie sheet to get out air no more than twice. Then let it rest for 20 minutes to an hour. This depends on lots of things, but what you are looking for is when you touch the mixture it isn’t tacky.
- Balance. Remember the shells are quite sweet, so your filling should have some sourness, acidity, or savory notes to it. It just needs create a lovely balance. You don’t want sugar on sugar on more sugar.
- Storage. Sealed in container in the refrigerator. They are even better if they sit for a few days in the refrigerator, just bring to room temperature before eating.
- 110g Blanched Slivered Almonds or Almond Meal/Flour
- 200g Confectioner’s Sugar (minus 2 tbsp)
- 2 tbsp Cocoa Powder
- 100g Aged Egg Whites (3 egg whites), room temperature
- 20g Sugar
Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper or a silpat. If you only have two cookie sheets, place one on a wire rack to create a flat surface. This is so you can double up the cookie sheets for baking the shells. If using parchment paper a great trick for if you’re new to macarons is to draw out circles using the base of the piping tip to create a guide for me while piping. With a pencil and the Adeco #804 tip create circles in a 5×8 pattern on one side of each sheet of parchment. When you have made your circle guide on one side, flip it over so you don’t accidentally pipe the mixture onto the pencil drawings.
Grind the almonds, cocoa, and confectioner’s sugar in a food processor. Grind for 2-3 minutes until fine and like sand in texture. Sift 2-3 times to lighten the dry mixture. Reprocess as needed to get out all of the big pieces of almonds ground down, and lumps out of the sugar. You are looking for the consistency of sand.
In a bowl of a stand mixer or large bowl with a hand mixer (I found a hand mixer more successful). Whisk the egg whites until a foam tarts to foam, it should have a slight tinge of the color of the egg whites in the folds of the ribbons. Slowly add in the sugar while mixing and whisk until a medium stiff peak forms. As soon as you can hold the bowl upside down over your head with out it falling out, the eggs are done.
Sift half of the dry mixture onto the egg whites, and mix in to lighten. Sift in the remaining dry mixture, and begin to gently fold in. Once mostly combined, tip the bowl at a 45° angle. Spread the mixture out on 1/3 of the side surface of the bowl, sweep under and fold it over on it self. Repeat this process 10-12 times. When you reach the 10th time, stop and lift up a spatula full of the mixture if it forms thick ribbons, watch the mixture and count to 10. It should absorb into the rest of the mixture with only slight indication of edges, your mixture it done. It should just very slowly settle on itself.
Pour mixture into a piping bag fitted with a round tip. I used Adeco #804. Pipe out following your guide pattern (make sure the side with the pencil led is facing down onto your prepared cookie sheet. Gently tap the bottom of your sheet twice to remove air bubbles, and let it set out to dry to form a shell. What you’re looking for is it to not feel tacky. This can be 15 minutes to an hour.
Bake at 300°F for 18 minutes.
Once finished baking if you are using parchment let cool for 10 minutes then transfer the top tray to refrigerator to cool. When they are completely cool it will turn off of the parchment quiet easily. If you are using a silpat you can let sit out to cool until you can easily remove from the silpat.
Once the shells turn over easily without sticking transfer to a wire rack, and prepare your next batch with the two cookie sheets by doubling them up and sliding the parchment or silpat with shells onto the top sheet. Follow the same baking temperature and time, repeating the cooling process as well to remove the shells from the parchment.
Pair up the shells of the same size and flip bottom up to let cool completely before adding in filling.
Refrigerate in a sealed container for a week. Let come up in temperature slightly before eating for best texture / taste.
Coffee Crunch Buttercream
- 3 Egg Yolks
- Pinch of Salt
- 1 cup Sugar
- 2 tbsp Water
- 3 sticks Butter (24 tbsp), room temperature
- 2 tsp Espresso Powder, divided
- 1 tsp Water, hot
In the bowl of your stand mixer whip the egg yolks with a pinch of salt. Whisk until tripled in volume, and a pale yellow in color. Meanwhile, place a medium size sauce pan over medium heat with the sugar and water. Bring it up to 245°F
While the eggs are whisking on a medium speed, slowly in a thin stream add in the sugar. Once all the sugar is incorporated, whisk until cool. While the mixture is whisking to cool. Place 1 tsp of espresso powder with 1 tsp of water. Place in microwave for 15 seconds to dissolve, and place in refrigerator to cool.
Once the egg and sugar mixture is cool, still at medium speed, add in the butter in small chunks of 2 tbsp. Once all the butter is incorporated slowly add in the cooled espresso, and the remaining tsp of espresso powder. This is the point you can add confectioner’s sugar if you want to add more sweetness. Whisk until smooth.
Place into a piping bag fitted with a round tip. I used an Adeco #809 tip. Pipe the frosting onto half the paired macaron shells. Once you have completed piping all the halves, place on the tops. Store in the refrigerator sealed 7-10 days, bring to room temperature before eating.