Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Parisian Macaron

Chocolate Macaroons

I'm starting to reminisce about my favorite place in the whole wide world...Paris!!! (ooh la la). Six years ago, my husband and I went to Paris on our honeymoon and that's when I officially became a francophile. I fell completely, utterly, head-over-heels in love with the City of Lights. We ate what typical tourists would consider quintessential Parisian foods: baguette and brie, croissants and cafe au lait, crepes with nutella and banana, etc. etc. But the ONE thing I never got to try was a Parisian macaroon. (sigh)

When I went to pastry school a year later, I was REALLY looking forward to learning how to make Parisian macaroons, but we didn't make them (huh?). Well, we did make almond macaroons but they were completely different from what I was expecting. They were crunchy and chewy but they didn't look like the colorful little hamburgers I saw at Laduree.

The Parisian Macaroon

After doing some research, I found out that there were many versions of almond macaroons and the Parisian macaron was just one of them. The basic ingredients are essentially the same (almonds, sugar and egg whites) but the method used to combine these ingredients as well as the taste and texture of the finished product vary tremendously. Some recipes simply instruct you to combine the ingredients to form a paste, then pipe and bake. Others require whipping the egg whites and sugar to stiff peaks and gently folding in the almonds. Some use almond paste while others prefer finely ground almonds. I realized that the ones we made in school were closer to the traditional french macaroons ("macaron" in French) that originated in Nancy, France. They were very good but they were not the ones I was longing for.
chocolate macarons
Thankfully, one of my classmates had a recipe for the Parisian version and shared it with me (Thanks Jef from My Food Geek) . Hallelujah! I'm finally gonna sink my teeth into some yummy macarons! I got very lucky on my first attempt at making these. They didn't puff up as much as I thought they would (see above), but nonetheless they tasted divine. They had a crispy shell and a chewy middle and I used chocolate ganache as a filling. The recipe made about 4 dozen so I was feasting on these babies for a couple of weeks (maybe less).

J'aime beaucoup les macarons

Fast forward to a few weeks ago, I attempted to make these addictive little things for the second time. I read Tartlette's article, Macarons 101 , in Dessert's Magazine and it gave me insight on how to make better macarons. I wanted to see if Tartlette's tips would work on the recipe I was using (which was sort of similar to hers) and I think this time I nailed it. They had nicely domed shells and underneath was chewy chocolatey goodness. I decided to fill them with Nutella hazelnut spread instead of chocolate ganache. Mmmmm...I was in macaron heaven! And to my delight, even my husband (who's very picky when it comes to sweets) couldn't stop eating them. I can't wait to make different flavors, but for now, I'll try to perfect these chocolate macarons.
This recipe was given to me in grams but I converted it for my own use (I like using measuring cups, what can I say?). I know not everyone has a kitchen scale at home (in grams no less), so maybe this will be a user-friendly recipe for anyone who wants to take a crack at making them. In pastry school, it was drilled in our heads that measuring by weight is more accurate than measuring by volume (and yes, this is very true), so if my chef instructors were reading this, they'd probably be rolling their eyes. Just humor me.

Chocolate Macarons
Allergy Note: contains eggs and tree nuts

2 1/4 cups finely ground almonds*
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 cup egg whites, room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
a few drops of red food coloring

*if you can't find ground almonds, get slivered almonds and pulse them in the food processor with the powdered sugar.

- Using a whisk attachment, start whipping the egg whites until foamy. Gradually add the granuated sugar. Increase the speed and continue whipping to stiff peaks. Combine the ground almonds, powdered sugar and cocoa powder and gradually fold in the almond mixture into the egg whites with a rubber spatula. Add a few drops of red food coloring and mix till combined.
- Place parchment paper or silicone baking mat (silpat) on some baking sheets. Attach a round piping tip (about 1/2 inch wide) to a pastry bag and fill it with the macaroon batter. Pipe the macaroons to 1 1/2 inches in diameter and 2 inches apart. Leave them out for one to two hours to let their shells harden.
- Turn on the oven to 300 degrees F. Bake the macaroons for 10 to 12 minutes. Let them cool completely before adding filling. You can try chocolate ganache or Nutella hazelnut spread.

Chocolate Ganache
Allergy Note: contains dairy

2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup heavy cream
2 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. corn syrup or honey

- Place the chocolate chips in a bowl and set aside.
- In a saucepan, heat the heavy cream, butter and corn syrup until it starts to simmer. Remove from heat and pour over the chocolate chips. Stir constantly until smooth.
- Allow to cool completely before using.
(You can keep macaroons in an airtight container in the fridge for a few days or keep them in the freezer for a couple of weeks, but I'm sure you'll devour these in a blink of an eye)

Macarons from Opera Patisserie

Last week, my husband decided to surprise me with a box of macarons from Opera Patisserie Cafe . He and his co-workers ate lunch there and when he saw the macarons, he knew it would make my day. They had chocolate, pecan caramel, pistachio, cappuccino, raspberry and cinnamon. We ate one of each and they were perfect!
I'm sure I'll find my way back to Paris someday and sample all the macarons there, but for now, I've got these little macarons to enjoy while I wait.

UPDATE 10/7/08:
My sister recently went on a trip to Paris and my one and only request was to bring me back some macarons. When she called me up and said she got me Laduree macarons, I was absolutely elated! Well, they made it all the way from Paris to New York, then FedExed overnight to San Diego. But these poor little babies had a rough trip. They were bashed around so much, they were a crumbly mess when I got them. That really doesn't matter - in the end, I finally got to try some Parisian macarons and they were so good! Caramel au beurre sale (caramel with salted butter) is my new found favorite! Merci beaucoup ma soeur! Muah!
Poor little macarons...
UPDATE 10/29/08:
Here's the original recipe that was given to me (in grams). Just follow the directions above, of course ;-)
250 grams finely ground almonds or almond flour
350 grams powdered sugar
40 grams cocoa powder
215 grams egg whites
150 grams granulated sugar
5 grams red food coloring


Mel said...

There you go girl! You can't stop making them once you start. And they are delicious! I have even gots heaps in my freezer, which my kids happily crush up and sprinkle over ice cream! Try making PH's Choc macarons! Yochana of Yochana cake delights made thema nd posted them in her blog.

Unknown said...

I am scared to make them! Are they as hard as they seem?

I know you're not too far from LA, so next time you're there, visit Boule. They have the YUMMIEST macarons I've ever had (so far)! Their artisan chocolates are fabulous as well.


Art of Dessert said...

Thanks Mel! I've got PH's books on my wishlist. I'll check Yochana's blog for the recipe.

Hi Cyndi! Thanks for letting me know about Boule. Gotta visit them when I drive up to LA.
Like Mel said, once you've tried to make macaroons, you can't stop making them. I think the two most intimidating factors in making macaroons (at least for me) are folding the almond mixture into the egg whites and piping the cookie batter onto the baking sheets. I tried Tartlette's method of folding the batter and it worked for me. As for piping the batter, it is a bit tricky - it's not like piping buttercream or pate a choux; it's more like trying to pipe cake batter if that makes any sense. So I have all my baking sheets lined up and ready to go, then I pipe them carefully but fast.

jef said...

Woo! I'm famous again! I think I have at least 10 recipes for macarons. Tartlets and the Italian meringue come out the most consistent but you know I can't help but tinker.

The Pink Umbrella said...

I am so glad I found this. I've been looking online for awhile trying to find a recipe that uses cups. I can not wait to try these.

Anonymous said...

Your macarons look amazing!! I would love to try your recipe, so... I was wondering if you could convert it back into grams instead of cups...

Thanks, love your blog :o)

Art of Dessert said...

oh yeah! i'll add it to the post:)

Mansi said...

I love Macaroons, and Nutella filling is like icing on the cake!

and thanks for your lovely comment on my Chocolate-Nutella Cookies!:)

Anonymous said...

You are AMAZING!!!! I have been looking for a macaroon recipe since I ate them in Paris two years ago..Thank you so much..Everything looks beautiful on your site...

Jane said...

This is a truly great post. I too have wondered how the heck those perfectly beautiful French macarons are made, how they are different, how to make them without completely screwing them up, etc. Finally, YOU have explained the mystery. I think I might be brave enough to give this recipe a whirl!

Joy said...

for a really nice raspberry macaroon, you can just add red coloring to the batter and use a good-quality raspberry jam for filling. mmmm, they're great with tea in the morning!

Anonymous said...

so cute!I love it! Very creative!That's actually really cool.


Anonymous said...

If I want to make the macarons without the chocolate do I change the recipe or just take out the chocolate and keep everything the same?
please let me know

Anonymous said...

How much powdered sugar would you add to the slivered almonds in the food processor?

Tường Thụy said...

Hi, I am searching how to make macaron and very glad to find your blog. My 1st attempt (from a different recipe) failed because my batter was very wishy-washy. I used the same ingredients but just used about 400g of powdered sugar for the batter( I lessened it from 450g in the recipe, which is bad) and 50g powdered sugar in the egg white. Moreover,I used 7 egg whites so I am not sure about its weight. Do you think these reasons made my batter not thick enough? Also, what is the purpose of letting the macarons dry before baking? It would be awesome to hear from you. Thanks much.

Anonymous said...

I made these and they were awesome! My pastry bag technique completely sucks, so I have to confess that the shapes of the cookies were a bit off and no 2 cookies looked the same, but the taste of the cookies were incredible and texture was dead on. These are definitely a labour of love to make but they were delicious and I look forward to making them again!! Thanks for sharing!



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