It’s finally here—the long awaited macaron* post! I started making macarons about 4 months ago. I was on a baking spree and decided that I just needed to try my hand at making these supposedly-difficult French cookies. What did I learn? They are difficult! And after having made batch after batch of macarons since then, I’ve learned that while technique is definitely a must, patience and precision play key roles in macaronage success.
This time around, I decided on a raspberry chocolate macarons complete with, you guessed it, pink shells! One of my favorite dessert indulgences in college was a dark chocolate raspberry cake from Finale Bakery in Boston (they have since discontinued it, to my great sadness); dark chocolate cake goodness with layers of chocolate and raspberry jam filling, covered in dark chocolate ganache—it was my dream come true!
As might be obvious now, I am a true fan of dark chocolate. And when paired with a fruit as tart and flavorful like the noble raspberry, it’s an obvious winning combination. A friend of mine recently commented on how I heavily favored dark chocolate ganache in macaron fillings (macha green tea + chocolate ganache, chocolate + peppermint chocolate ganache, and this one) but in my defense, I believe that in addition to being absolutely delicious, ganache is a great backdrop to the meringue-iness of the macaron cookie and does well to soften and improve the texture as the macarons age (they are best eaten after 24-48 hours following assembly).
It’s oft been warned to strictly measure the ingredients, dry and wet, down to the very gram to ensure a successful macaron. I’ve found that, while this is boadly true, there is some leeway in the level of precision required for successful execution. Roughly speaking, the ratios of egg white to almond flour to sugar (combined caster and powdered) should be 1:1.25:2. I’ve played around with the exact ratios—I have an entire excel workbook dedicated to this—and especially messed with the caster:powdered sugar ratios, and have found that the recipe below produces fairly consistent macarons. Measure as best as possible and ideally by weight, but don’t fret over the last 0.27 grams!
So now is where the patience comes in! Macarons are a multi-hour, multi-day endeavor. I specifically plan to make macarons and it’s rarely a “same day one and done” kind of deal. I take the time to natively “age” my egg whites, meaning I manually separate the whites from the yolks of fresh eggs and store them sealed in the refridgerator anywhere between 3-5 days. This “aging” process helps with the meringue step. On the off chance that I need a same day solution, I’ll flash freshly separated whites in the microwave for no more than 10 seconds, then let them sit until at room temperature to start whipping.
Making a successful meringue is no small task either. It’s so easy to both under and overwhip the egg white that it’s important to keep a steady eye on the meringue-age process. I choose to use the French Meringue (vs the Italian version, which requires more ingredients, is slightly more work, yet is more forgiving with small flubs) and it’s easy to see the progression of frothy egg white slowly transform to soft, and then firm peaks! I opt to incorporate the caster sugar throughout the processes, although others will advise that adding the caster sugar all at once makes no difference. I’m sticking to what I know for now, but I would be curious to hear about your own experiences!
The macaronage proccess involves folding the dry ingredients (almond flour and powdered sugar) into the prepped meringue. I’ve learned to literally COUNT the number of folds I make, and find that it’s ready for piping after about 40-50 folds. A fold entails using a rubber spatula to incorporate the ingredients; not by mixing, but by scooping the “batter” from the bottom, folding it over the top, and compressing it down. During this step, we’re working to knock the air out of the meringue, so don’t be shy about aggressive folding! Just be sure to count each one.
You’ll see the “batter” transform from a powdery mess, to weird foamy mush, to gritty fluff, to what looks like shiny pancake batter. A consistency that resembles “lava” or pancake batter is what you want! To test, a scoop of batter should run off of the spatula slowly but consistently (like “lava”), and should spread after a few seconds of idleness. If the batter appears runny or spreads immediately, then it’s been overmixed—beware! Count, count, count and watch that consistency!
When it’s ready, transfer the batter to a pastry bag fitted with a large circular tip—I use a #11 Ateco pastry tip and a gallon ziplock bag with a cut corner for easy cleanup. I pipe the macarons on two half-sheet baking sheets lined with Silpat-like baking mats. I try to space them out such that about 4-5 cookies fit widthwise, and 6-7 fit lengthwise. You can squeeze out a greater or smaller number of cookies based on the diameter. I often time find myself short on space rather than batter (perhaps a third sheet would be of use if available) and use up as much of the remaining batter with making “baby” macarons, which are always a cute hit!
And there’s more patience to be had after this! The macaron shells must be dry before baking, otherwise they’ll crack and feet may fail to form. Feet is macaron-speak for the foamy fringes found at the bottom of the cookie, because the shells rise and stand up during baking. I love watching the macarons stand up! Whenever I bake macarons, you’ll find my eyes glued to the oven glass door, watching the macarons slowly form foamy feet and rise; there is such satisfaction in seeing that!
Are you ready to give it a shot? Try your hand at other fun flavor combinations, or let me know if you have any requests! I’m always thinking of what other flavors and varieties I should be trying. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this one, and I wish you much success and patience on your journey; let me know how it goes! Thanks again for stopping by.
* fun fact: I learned through this experience, that this type of French macaron has one “O”, whereas the coconut macaroon meringue cookie has two “O”s!
CHOCOLATE RASPBERRY MACARONS
makes ~24 cookies (depending on size)
HELPFUL SPECIALTY TOOLS
Electric Stand Mixer/Hand Mixer
Food Scale (in grams and ounces)
2 Silpat-like baking mats
2 half-sheets baking sheets
pastry bag and piping tip (#11 Ateco)
MACARON SHELL: INGREDIENTS
100 g egg white, aged 3-5 days
40 g caster sugar
125 g almond flour
200 g confectioner sugar
2-3 drops food coloring (red/pink)
1 pinch salt
CHOCOLATE RASPBERRY GANACHE FILLING: INGREDIENTS
4 oz dark chocolate, chopped
¼ c heavy cream
6 tbs raspberry jam/preserve
STEPS: (plan to dedicate 3+ hours)
- Measure out dry ingredients using the food scale. Let egg whites sit until room temperature. Meanwhile, pulse together powdered sugar and almond powder in food processor until well blended.
- Meringue: In a very large bowl, whisk the room temperature egg whites, caster sugar, and salt into a meringue. I’ve found that it takes me about 7-9 minutes to completion, and I break it down into three basic steps:
- Starting on a low-speed setting, whip the egg whites with an electric mixer for 2-3 minutes until frothy, adding ⅓ of the caster sugar and a pinch of salt along the way.
- Move mixer to med-speed setting; continue whipping egg whites another 2-3 minutes until soft peaks form, and add half of the remaining caster sugar along the way.
- Move mixer to high-speed setting; whip egg whites 1-2 minutes and add the remaining caster sugar and gel food colorin along the way. Move mixer to highest speed for last minute until firm peaks form.
Be careful not to over beat the egg whites! You will know when your meringue is ready by checking to see if (a) nothing falls out of the bowl when you turn it upside down, and (b) the meringue remains in the whisk/beater when you stop the mixer.
- Fold in the mixed and sifted dry ingredients into the meringue; this is the actual macaronage step. I find that it takes me anywhere from 40-50 folds (and I actually do keep count) to achieve the right consistency. Folding doesn’t require gentleness; the macaronage process requires one to “beat” out the air from the eggwhites. When a shine develops and the consistency resembles lava or thick pancake batter, macaronage is complete. I’m careful to count the folds in order to not overmix!
- Transfer macaron batter to a pastry bag (I use a gallon ziplock bag with a cut corner) fitted with a large round tip (I use the Ateco #11 round). Pipe even circles on prepped baking sheets lined with Silpat-like mats. For even circles, I count out 1-2-3-4 while piping to help ensure more even batter distribution for each circle. It’s not a foolproof solution, but it works surprisingly well! Alternatively, there are templates that can be used and placed under the Silpat-like mats for additional assurance.
- Knock the air bubbles out! To prevent cracking and empty shells, the extra air bubbles have got to go! In parallel, drop the fully-piped baking sheet from a 6 inch range onto a counter or table that can withstand an impact. Do this three times, rotate the sheet 180-deg and do so three times again. It’s loud and might seem excessive, but seeing those tiny bubbles rise to the surface and pop make it all worth it.
- Let the shells try in a dry place. The top coat of the shell should be dry to the touch; no batter should stick. This may take anywhere from 30-120 minutes. I tend to wait at least an hour to ensure a hardened shell. Drying the shell is required for a smooth shell and macaron feet to form without cracking. Bake too soon before the shells are dried and the shells will crack—I’ve had this experience once or twice before and it’s the last thing you want to happen after having invested so much work into preparing the shells leading up to the baking.
- Pre-heat the oven to 320º F. Bake for 15-18 minutes, rotating the sheet a touch more than halfway through the baking process after feet have formed. While I prefer to bake each sheet individually to exercise greater control over each, but in the interest of time, I have tried baking both together (on middle/bottom rack and switching them halfway through) and have found success.
- Remove shells from oven and let it cool completely before removing/peeling from the mat. Be sure to let the cool, as premature removal will result in decapitation—the “cap” of the macaron shell will literally come off, leaving the base on the mat. No bueno :(
CHOCOLATE RASPBERRY GANACHE FILLING
- Place chopped (if needed) dark chocolate in a small-medium sized bowl.
- In a microwave safe dish, heat heavy cream until boiling. Start with 45 s, stirring, then incrementally adding 10-15 s at a time to prevent overboiling and spillover.
- Pour heavy cream over chocolate and stir until incorporated and uniform texture to form ganache.
- In a microwave safe dish, heat raspberry jam/preserves for 30-60 s until hot. Let it cool slighly before adding to chocolate ganache mixture.
- Mix the chocolate raspberry ganache mixture until well combined. Set aside to cool and thicken (this can be sped up by placing in refridgerator for 10 minutes).
- Move ganache to a pastry bag for fitted with a tip (I use the #8 Ateco, but the same tip from the shells above will work just fine).
- Sort and match macaron shells into pairs of roughly equal size. Lay the cookies out, flat-side up.
- Pipe a generous amount of ganache into the center of one cookie. Place the accompanying cookie on top and twist the cookies in opposite directions to distribute the ganache throughout the macaron. Repeat for remaining cookies. Adjust the amount of ganache placed on cookie as needed (largely dependent on cookie diameter).
- Store assmebled cookies in an air-tight container in the fridge for 24-48 hours. This allows the flavors and ganache to penetrate through the entirety of the macaron, enhancing both the texture and flavor of the eventual tasting experience!
- To serve, remove from refridgerator and let the macarons warm to room temperature prior to enjoying.
These tempermental french cookies are a true test of patience, but the wait is well worth it! Homemade macarons make great gifts, and even better personal indulgences! (I just ate 6 of them while I wrote this…) Enjoy and I wish everyone a wonderful long weekend ahead!
Let me know your thoughts, and come back soon!