Parisian Macarons

Recently packed strawberries and crème macarons.

Everyone needs to know about these delectable little treats. It’s light and airy, flavorful. It really can just melt in your mouth. They are the Parisian Macarons. I did not misspell it. One ‘o’ is to differentiate from American macaroons, which are totally different, and let’s say…inferior.

4 years ago, my friend Danielle, who owns Macarune, introduced me to these cookies. When she lived in San Francisco, she made endless batches of them from her tiny little San Francisco kitchen with her chic red Kitchenaid mixer. Knowledge of her creations were mainly spread through word of mouth and was very successful. Once I took the first bite, I was hooked and I always credited Danielle for any success I have in macarons.

Sadly, when she left the US to go back to Asia, I was saddened because I couldn’t get my macaron fix from her anymore. Every place that I have tried macarons could not match Danielle’s unique style and flavor pairings. Wanting to continue what Danielle started in San Francisco, I started to pick her brain about techniques and her process in coming up with flavor ideas. Soon, I started to make these at home.

4 years later, I still have a hard time making good macarons successfully and I can’t figure out what I’m doing wrong. For one thing, I don’t have a the Kitchenaid Mixer, I made do with a electric hand mixer. But I am still determined.

A lot of variables can go wrong. In making the cookie batter, one must whisk up eggs whites with sugar. What can go wrong here is that you whisk it too much and the mixture collapses and becomes watery. Another thing that can go wrong is when you fold in the dry with the wet, that too can collapse the meringue. And then when you pipe it to the cookie sheet, resting might not be long enough and you will get cracking during the baking process. Argh! So many places where it can go wrong. What was weird was one time, from the same batter and same resting time, in the same oven, one batch rose, while the other stayed flat. There was no rhyme or reason. Very frustrating! By far, this is the most difficult thing I’ve ever made in the kitchen.

Here is a tip: when practicing, use Trader Joe’s Almond Meal versus Almond Meal from other places because it’s a lot cheaper! Trader Joe’s is about $3.99 a pound where other places are over $10 a pound! Reason being is because Trader’s Joe’s almond meal is not blanched and still has a little of the almond skin. I think this is ok in practice because it tastes the same as the blanched all white almond meal.

If you can afford it, keep practicing because the end result will be well worth it. I taught a friend of mine how to make it for a party and she got all kinds of praises. Even people who normally would not eat sweets ate them! Some couldn’t even stop eating them because they were so good. So patience and perseverance, and you’ll be rewarded.

Easiest Recipe used:

Cookie Batter Ingredients (Base)
1 1/4 cups plus 1 teaspoon confectioners’ sugar
1 cup (4 ounces) finely ground sliced, blanched almonds
6 tablespoons fresh egg whites (from about 3 extra-large eggs)
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup granulated sugar

Buttercreme Ingredients (Base)
3 large egg whites
1 cup sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into pieces

(The follow pictures are not from the same cooking session, but from 4 years worth of trying)

Almond flour with sifted powdered sugar

Egg whites with granulated sugar whipped to medium soft peaks

Folding in the almond flour mix

Added green food coloring for the mint cookie

Since I don’t use piping bags, Ziploc bags are the next good thing. Just put the batter in the bag, zip it up, can snip the corner of the bag.
If it looks nice, and they have “feet”, put them together with buttercream or jam in the middle and pack them up nicely. (This is my green fig jam macaron, but I can’t seem to find the recipe)

The kitchen can end up as a mess at the end.


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