What Are the Flavors of These French Macarons?
The delicate sandwich cookies known as French macarons have a crisp exterior. A macaron shell is the name given to each individual cookie. The shells are made without any chemical leaveners and rely entirely on well-beaten egg whites for lift. The cookies have a unique nougat-like, chewy texture if you follow the recipe exactly. They shouldn’t be hollow in the first place. You are able to fly.
Making macarons can be done in a variety of ways, including Italian, French, and Swiss. Swiss macarons aren’t as popular (I’ve never made them that way), but Italian macarons are. The procedure is a little more time-consuming than the French method, but the results are more reliable. If you’re looking for something to eat, I recommend these Italian macarons from Chelsweets.
Overview of Ingredients in French Macarons
EGG WHITES: The bulk of French macaron batter is meringue made from properly beaten egg whites. For best and most consistent results, I strongly recommend using fresh egg whites instead of egg whites from a carton. It’s imperative that NO egg yolks make it into the recipe. Like I taught you in our Swiss meringue buttercream recipe, any fat (yolk) in the egg whites will prevent them from reaching stiff peaks, a crucial step for the successful outcome in any French macaron recipe.
Age The Egg Whites: It’s helpful to “age” the egg whites in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours prior to starting this recipe. Why? Egg whites that have been separated and set aside in advance have a chance to relax, which improves their elasticity during the whipping process. Elasticity is certainly beneficial when you’re trying to whip egg whites into a lofty volume. Some bakers skip this step, saying that it’s a waste of time but I’ll tell you this: most of my failed macaron batches did not include aged egg whites. I recommend taking the 5-10 minutes to separate your egg whites, cover, and refrigerate them 1 day in advance. It doesn’t hurt. Bring them to room temperature before you begin the recipe.
CREAM OF TARTAR: My old recipe doesn’t include this ingredient, but I started adding it after I began making successful batches of marshmallow meringue and chocolate swirled meringue cookies. It just provides a little extra insurance. Let me explain– the acidity in cream of tartar helps the egg whites hold onto air and, like the sugar (explained next), helps prevent the egg whites from collapsing. If you’re making snickerdoodles or angel food cake, you already have this ingredient on hand. It’s sold with the spices.
SUPERFINE SUGAR: In 3 additions, beat superfine sugar into the egg whites + cream of tartar. Without sugar, the protein molecules in egg whites will collapse. What is superfine sugar? Well, it’s regular granulated sugar that’s ground much finer, but not quite as fine as confectioners’ sugar. It’s also known as caster sugar. Superfine sugar’s granules are the best size to provide optimal structure for French macarons. Granulated sugar is simply too coarse, while confectioners’ sugar dissolves too quickly in the egg whites.
I have a hard time finding superfine sugar in my local grocery store, so I make my own by pulsing regular granulated sugar in a food processor or blender. It takes about 10 seconds– very easy.