“Easy” French Macarons, Or: Tips on Making Fancy Cookies from an Amateur

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Inspired by watching The Great British Bake Off on Netflix, I attempted to make my own French macarons at home. Using the help of this YouTube video by Entertaining with Beth and this recipe, I set out one Monday afternoon to make my own French macaron cookies.

My expectations were set extremely low, especially after watching some of the contestants’ macaron fails. I could envision Paul Hollywood’s disappointed headshake at my terrible macarons.

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After hearing many times (and being warned by Beth) that macarons are finicky, tricky, and otherwise very difficult to make, I fully imagined creating a ‘macaron’ that looked less like a macaron and more like a pastel-colored disaster.

My experience in making these cookies happened in three stages:

  1. The Eggs

To make a macaron your eggs have to be whipped into a meringue. To make a meringue the eggs must be at room temperature. So, I got my two eggs out of the refrigerator at about 11 and began making the meringue at 2:30.

Immediately, several things went wrong. I got egg yolk into the egg whites and tried (unsuccessfully) to scoop it out with a spoon. Second, I used a hand mixer on high to attempt to whip up the eggs. After standing there for about five minutes with absolutely nothing happening, I gave up. And found myself completely out of eggs, and certainly out of any that were ‘room temperature’.

After a quick trip to Dollar General, I tried for attempt number two. This time I made a few changes: I put the eggs in warm water for about 4-5 minutes (thanks, Beth!), I used a stand mixer, and I was very careful to not get any egg yolks into the whites.

Finally! A perfectly fluffy, pure white meringue! It tasted like a cloud of sugary, marshmallowy goodness.

  1. The Batter

Beth points out that the batter (“This is where it could all go wrong.”) is a key, critical step to making the perfect macaron. She recommends getting the batter to a “molten lava” consistency. Overmixing could lead to flat macarons, while under mixing could lead to cracks on the top of your macarons.

This step wasn’t actually too difficult except that I was left questioning the specifics of what a “molten lava” texture actually looks like. A better (more dessert specific) comparison might be the texture of whipped mousse: liquid enough to almost pour out of the bowl, but firm enough that it holds its shape.

I didn’t have a piping bag to pipe my macarons onto my parchment paper, but using a plastic bag with one corner cut off worked pretty well (it was probably just a little messier than a piping bag).

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Then after leaving them to sit out and form a skin on top for thirty minutes, I was ready to put them into the oven.

So far so good.

  1. The Filling

The recipe I followed for easy macarons called for just a vanilla cookie and a vanilla buttercream filling. These cookies tend to be very rich and extremely sweet so using a filing with a tart flavor helps to balance everything out.

So, at the last minute, I added some cherry concentrate to my buttercream for a cherry vanilla flavor to the cookies.

Here are the final results!

 

It actually worked as a macaron, which was more than I expected. I did end up with some lumps on top (due to a mistake in mixing?) and I’m sure this wouldn’t get me the Hollywood handshake. (Maybe next time, Paul!) But it was a pretty great first attempt!

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Here’s to crunchy-on-top, melt-in-your-mouth macarons and more baking adventures to come!

🙂 Sarah

 

 

 

 

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