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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Vanilla macarons

When I baked my mom's birthday cake last week, the recipe called for an egg and an egg yolk (I doubled the recipe, so 2 yolks).  That left me with 2 egg whites.  Great for a breakfast omelette - which, I admit, was the first thought that popped into my mind - or macarons (they call for 3 egg whites, usually).  Of course I tossed the egg whites this morning (I had added a third one to the mug), and then looked at the recipe and found out that it actually calls for 3-5 day old egg whites (mine were 7 days, so in retrospect, tossing them this morning was a good idea).  I had read once, years ago, that room temperature egg whites were best, so I left them sitting out on the counter during the day while I did other things (school work, cleaned, ran errands).

I surprisingly had all the ingredients in the apartment.  That's because there are 5 ingredients in this recipe.  And  because I had leftover almond meal from the last time I made macarons.  You can use blanched almonds -- or you can buy almond meal (mine is from Trader Joe's).  The difference is mostly in appearance -- mine are "flecked" with pieces of almond skin.  If I were making them for an event or if I were to color them (with powdered food coloring only), I'd probably go through the task of grinding my own blanched almonds.  But since I was making macarons just for the sake of making macarons, I went with what I had (and the easy option).

I've made macarons before.  Three times to be exact.  The first time I made Snickers macarons (making delicate French cookies into an American candy bar is kinda sacreligious), then I made pink lemonade macarons (which used pink lemonade mix....sacreligious again, I know), and then chocolate macarons for Passover (less sacreligious).  This time I opted to go with good old fashioned plain macarons.  Although the recipe I used called for the seeds of half a vanilla bean, which I hadn't seen in other recipes.  By the way, these would be great for Passover (which is next month!).

French Macarons
From Tartelette


100 grams egg whites
25 grams granulated sugar
200 grams confectioners sugar
110 grams ground almonds (or whole almonds)
seeds of half a vanilla bean


In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites to a foam, gradually add the sugar until you obtain a glossy meringue.
Combine the almonds and powdered sugar in a food processor (I used a whisk) and give them a quick pulse if you use already ground almonds.  If using whole almonds, pulse thoroughly for a minute or so.
Add them to the meringue, along with seeds from the vanilla bean, and start to give quick strokes at first to break up the mass, and then slow down.  Should be no more than 50 strokes.
Mixture is ready when tops of drops flatten out on their own.  If theres still a small beak, fold a few more times.

Fill a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip with the batter and pipe small rounds (1.5 inches in diameter) onto parchement paper lined sheets.
Preheat the even to 280-300F.
Let the macarons sit out for an hour to allow their shells to harden a bit (this is what gives them the little "foot" at the bottom when they bake).
Bake for 15-18 minutes, depending on their size.
Let them cool completely before filling. 

Pipe or spoon some of the filling on one shell and sandwich with another.

White Chocolate Ganache
(Stolen from one of my all time favorite brownie recipes, and quite possibly my mom's favorite brownie ever)


6 ounces high-quality white chocolate, chopped
5 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon  (optional - I opted for it on some of them)
Place white chocolate in medium microwave-safe bowl.
Bring cream to simmer in small saucepan.
Pour cream over chocolate in bowl.
Let stand 30 seconds, then stir until chocolate is melted and smooth.
If necessary, microwave on low power in 10-second intervals until white chocolate is melted completely.
Chill until ganache is thick but not hard.
Fill the macarons.  Let them sit a little while so the ganache is not too soft or runny.  Serve.

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