After watching the documentary Kings of Pastry on Netflix, I’ve been craving macarons. I think about the slight crunch, followed by the chewy inside. I think about the filling…buttercream…ganach…salted caramel. I’ve been a little obsessed.
Despite this food crush, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go through all of the toil to make macarons of my own again. The first time around, Mariko and I planned and fretted and prepped. At the end of the day, we made some scrumptious little treats. However, the precision needed for macarons isn’t my typical style. Was I really ready to go through all of that again?
One Saturday morning, the craving became too intense to ignore. It was decided: I was going to make macarons, but I was going to do them my way—without the worry and with an air of experimentation.
I found a recipe that was right up my ally (the Easy French Macaron Recipe from Ann at How to Cook That). One of the coolest aspects of this recipe is that it came from a 200-year-old cookbook! Another bonus is that it doesn’t involve all of the fussy sugar melting that M and I did the first time around. The ingredients remained simple (egg whites, sugar, powdered sugar, almond meal, salt, food coloring, and whatever gooey goodness you want to put on the inside.)
I didn’t even have almond meal, so I ground up a handfuls of blanched almonds in a blender and sifted them to create the flour. I also ignored the rule about leaving the egg whites out to age overnight or more. Yup, I pulled them straight from the fridge.
After making one batch, I did find more success in beating the egg whites alone without sugar first to get them stiff, then gradually adding sugar. I also mixed things up by adding a couple teaspoons of cocoa powder to the flour to make them taste a bit like red velvet cake. I used a vanilla buttercream filling to keep things extra simple.
In the end, they turned out fine. I definitely stand by the tip of banging the pans on the counter to release air bubbles. I also found that if my macarons weren’t getting their “feet” (the little bubble of crust at the bottom that makes the whole cookie rise), I just bumped up the oven temp for a few minutes and the feet soon appeared.
The lesson here is to loose the fear. Baking is a science, but it’s definitely one you can experiment with. Isn’t one of the main goals to have fun in the kitchen?
Speaking of fun, I was feeling so giddy about the success of the “lazy” macarons that I decided to give some of them a little flair. I combined a couple of drops of whisky with edible pearl shimmer powder and quickly painted decorations on the tops of the macarons for a going away party for our friend, Andy: