By Vida Gustafson
If you like a challenge and you have lots of patience, this cookie is for you!
I’m only half kidding. Lately, I love locking myself away in the kitchen and really concentrating on making something special (not to mention adorably edible) like this. I’m also not adverse to “oohs and ahs” from my kids. This is why I decided to tackle this notoriously finicky traditional French pastry. This is a basic vanilla recipe, you can zhuzh it up any way you please with extracts in the cookies and/or fillings. I even made a root-beer flavored one with some unsweetened drink powder (no idea why I had that in the first place). Most macaron recipes are by weight because precision is really important in baking, I’ve found that I get pretty consistent results with the following volume measurements and it’s not such a big bother. The best things about these is that even the “flops” taste pretty darn good, so grab a bag of superfine almond flour and get baking!
- 1 ¾ Cups powdered sugar
- 1 C Superfine Almond flour
- 3 (extra large) egg whites (room temperature)
- ¼ tsp cream of tartar
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¼ C granulated sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla
- Stand/hand mixer with whisk attachment
- Piping bag
- Baking Paper (parchment)
Separate your egg whites from the yolks and put them in a large mixing bowl with the ¼ cup of granulated sugar, set it aside to come to room temperature. If you have a copper bowl, this is the time to break it out. Remember, we are making a meringue so the bowl and beaters have to be spotlessly clean or it will fail.
In another bowl sift the almond flour and powdered sugar together, removing any lumps or larger pieces of almond.
Whisk your egg whites and sugar until frothy and add the salt, cream of tartar and vanilla flavoring. Continue beating until stiff peaks form and the mixture is glossy and smooth.
Add half of the almond flour and powdered sugar mixture and fold in, when this is incorporated, add the rest of your dry ingredients. This is a good time to add gel food coloring. The mixture will seem dry at first and then start to loosen up, keep mixing. You have to reach the stage where it looks wet and falls off the spatula in “ribbons”, leaving a little trail when you make a figure-8 with the falling batter.
Spoon batter into a piping bag and pipe 1 ½ -2 ‘’ round cookies on your parchment sheets. Try to keep them pretty consistent because every cookie will need a mate. I find using a ¼ inch pastry tip and holding the tip steady while squeezing gives a nice uniform shape. When your cookie is the size you want, flick the piping bag sideways to avoid giving it a pointy shape. When you are done forming your cookies, lift the sheetpan(s) and hit it on the counter repeatedly until the bubbles have burst and the cookies have spread out. This should also eliminate any surface irregularities that may have formed during piping.
Now we have to let them dry for 15-40 minutes, depending on the humidity where you are. The tops of the cookies have to be dry enough not to stick your finger when you touch them gently.
Preheat the oven to 300° F and bake for 14-17 minutes, until the cookies have a little ruffle around the bottom and the tops are hard but not browned. Baking one sheet at a time in the middle of the oven helps keep them from cracking and splitting. If the look of them is not that big of a deal to you, bake them all at once- they’ll still be tasty.
Let them cool on the counter completely before removing them from the parchment or they may stick or break. Now you get to fill them with whatever your heart desires and your pantry allows. You can whip up your favorite buttercream icing, melt some chocolate with cream (in a 2:1 ratio) for a decadent ganache or mix melted chocolate with some peanut butter. You can use a little bit of jam or Nutella if all that seems like too much fuss. Be sure to take pictures because these disappear fast. They also make an excellent gift. If it didn’t turn out exactly the way you hoped, don’t give up, your hard work will inevitably pay off!