In May, we took a Viking river cruise in Bordeaux. And I learned about the French macaron. This is not the “macaroon” we are familiar with here, which is made with coconut. This is an almond-based meringue sandwich cookie. They are often made in a variety of colors and flavors with coordinating fillings. You will see green ones (pistachio) or pink (berry) or yellow (lemon) or brown (chocolate, of course).
On the Forseti ship, the chef did a cooking demonstration where she walked us through the process of macaron making. The dough is pretty easy to put together as long as you know how to whip egg whites to stiff (but not dry) peaks. For me, the tricky part is piping the cookies onto a silicone baking mat. I even bought a macaron mat (see photo) that has slight ridges for the cookies … but alas, my piping skills still need work!
Despite my poor piping, two recent batches came out well enough to serve at a reunion of folks who were on the cruise with us. The pink cookies are filled with a raspberry buttercream and the chocolate ones with a ganache.
Here is the recipe I learned on the cruise. I recommend weighing your ingredients, as the other measurements are not very exact.
260 grams powdered sugar (2 cups)
6 egg whites
160 grams almond flour (scant 1.5 cups)
50 grams granulated sugar (1/4 cup)
1. Sieve the powdered sugar and almond flour.
2. In a stand mixer or large bowl, beat the egg whites; gradually add the granulated sugar and beat until stiff (but not dry) peaks form.
3. Fold in almond mixture.
4. If desired, beat in some food coloring or flavoring. Use a lot of coloring, as the cookies will pale as they bake.
5. Mix with a rubber spatula until the batter is similar to a thick pancake batter.
6. Put into a pastry bag with a large tip or a zipper top bag (cut the corner off to pipe).
7. Pipe small circles onto a silicone mat on a baking sheet. When the batter spreads into a flatter circle, it should be about 1 to 1.25 inches across.
8. Let dry 30-40 minutes.
9. Bake 20 minutes at 350 degrees.
10. Cool slightly then remove carefully from mat.
11. Fill cookies as desired and twist to close.
This recipe will make about 60 sandwich cookies.
For the chocolate cookies, I substitute a few tablespoons of cocoa powder for some of the powdered sugar.
For the raspberry buttercream, I heated up a large handful of raspberries in the microwave. I then pushed the warm juicy berries through a strainer. I used this juice in the buttercream along with butter (duh) and powdered sugar.
For the chocolate ganache, I heated 1/2 cup heavy cream in the microwave and then poured it over 8 ounces chopped dark chocolate. I let this sit until the chocolate was melty, then stirred and added about a tablespoon of butter.
A little taste of France! Yes, that is me below wearing a dress to match the raspberry macarons.