Thoughts on food coloring
On principle, macarons are literally the only treat I use artificial food coloring in. And in recent years I've come to use much less. Artificial colors like Red 40 are not très bien.
I've experimented with food-based colors for macarons and they either lose tint in the oven, or require an amount that over-liquifies the batter. Outside sourcing a commercial plant-based (and spendy) coloring, I recommend small amounts of an artificial gel coloring, or leaving your macs au natural.
My meringue method
This recipe calls for the French meringue method - simply whipping the egg whites with granulated sugar. Many macaron recipes online call for the Italian meringue method, but I find this one much simpler and even more reliable.
Italian meringue requires drizzling boiling simple syrup into the egg whites while whipping. Essentially more steps, more dirty dishes, and more to master. I've never noticed any discernible difference in the results. Chef's promise.
- 180 g confectioner's (powdered) sugar
- 108g almond flour (or blanched, slivered almonds)
- 3 egg whites (90g)
- 45g granulated sugar
- Pinch of cream of tartar
- Food coloring, gel recommended (liquid loosens your batter)
- Flavoring + extracts, i.e. vanilla, lavender, citrus zest, etc.
- 2 eggs, large
- ¼ cup water
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 8 oz butter, unsalted, room temperature, cut into small pieces
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
For macarons shells
- Line two baking pans with parchment or silicone baking mats.
- If using whole almonds, grind them with the powdered sugar in a food processor until the mixture resembles sand.
- Combine the egg whites and granulated sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer with a whisk attachment (or with a hand mixer).
- Whip on high speed to a stiff meringue, meringue will be shiny and stick to the bottom of the bowl if you flip it upside-down. If you're using a stand mixer, a large clump of meringue will also stick to the inside of a whisk attachment. The tips of meringue that stick off the beaters of a hand mixer will resemble the slight curve of a bird's beak.
- Add vanilla extract/beans or vanilla bean paste, and whip a few seconds more.
- Sift the dry ingredients directly into the stiff meringue.
- Fold until the batter flows slowly and ribbons off the spatula. Mix firmly at first, then use classic folding strokes; scraping around the sides of the bowl, the up from underneath the mixture, and over through the top.
- Transfer to a piping bag (or large plastic bag) fitted with a small round tip.
- Pipe 1 to 2-inch rounds of batter onto a silicone baking mat or parchment paper. Hold the piping bag vertical, and about a quarter-inch above the pan.
- To help the tops of piped batter settle, very lightly tap the pan on the counter. Or with one hand tap the underside of the pan a few times.
- Optional: Let the piped macarons rest on the counter for 15-20 minutes.
- Bake at 300° F for about 14-17 minutes, rotating the pan once halfway through baking. Macarons are done when the tops don't wiggle away from the bottoms when lightly pushed.
- Cool a few minutes before removing them from the baking mat or parchment.
- Fill with buttercream and store chilled for 24 hours before serving.
- In a small saucepan bring sugar and water to a boil, and cook until it reaches 248° F on a candy or meat thermometer. Sans thermometer, it usually on takes a two to three minutes of boiling.
- While syrup boils, beat eggs in a medium mixing bowl at medium speed. When the syrup reaches temperature, slowly drizzle into eggs, avoiding beater or whisk attachment (if using a stand mixer).
- Beat on high until room temperature. Add butter in several additions, and beat until smooth.
- The buttercream may appear broken (curdled), but keep beating and it will smooth out. Add extract or liqueur to taste. Store refrigerated, and bring to room temperature to use leftovers (it may need another beating to smooth out after being refrigerated).
I dare not add notes to this recipe! For all manner of tips, tricks and troubleshooting, do scroll up!
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