The world seems to be macaron crazy at the moment. Every flavor. Any color.
Sucré, an award-winning bakery in New Orleans, invited me and a dozen other bloggers to join their First Annual Macaron Challenge. Of course I said yes! They sent me a box of their macarons for inspiration (great mail day!) with all kinds of flavors. The chocolate and coffee-ish ones were my favorite. I can’t wait to try their king cake and other treats next time I’m in Louisiana. An occasional baking project is fun and I accepted the challenge to try something new (especially since a friend gave me a macaron book years ago and it’s been waiting patiently on the shelf).
Some things I learned: Getting the “feet” on the edge of the cookies is not the hardest part of making macarons! I was sure it would be, but a few firm, hard raps of the baking sheet on the counter seems to do the trick. Mixing and piping the batter (Google macaronnage!) were two steps that benefit from the hands of an experienced baker. Another important step is letting the macarons rest before you bake them. Fifteen minutes or up to 30 minutes, depending on the weather, will prevent cracks in the cookies. Many macarons sold in stores are too sweet, so it’s nice to have more control of ingredients when you make your own. Macarons are great when you finally get them right, but truthfully, they are a bit fussy. For me, they are a special occasion project for the kitchen. I may try my hand at macarons again some time but for now, I’d rather buy them.
If you’re up for a project this week, Sucré has shared their basic recipe, which you can find below. The recipe is written simply, and really a macaron cookie is simple in terms of ingredients, but I do think a good macaron requires baking experience and doing your homework. It’s worth reading several recipes and checking YouTube for instructional videos.
I had the most success with Saveur’s recipe (step-by-step gifs here) though I did turn down the heat to 325°F. To make this the Chocolate Lover’s Macaron, I added 2 teaspoons instant espresso powder and 1 teaspoon natural cocoa powder to the almond flour for the cookies. For the filling? Buttercream is the usual route, but I simply filled them with peanut butter or Nutella because sometimes not everything has to be made from scratch. And that’s okay. It was delicious.
sucré’s macaron recipe
Recipe by Tariq Hanna, executive chef at Sucré, “A Sweet Boutique,” in New Orleans.
1/2 cup almond flour and 1/2 cup powdered sugar – sifted
½ cup plus 1 ¾ tablespoons sugar
½ cup egg whites
food color as desired
1 cup fresh buttercream
Heat oven to 290°F. Sieve together almond flour/sugar mixture and ½ cup sugar. Set aside. Whisk egg whites and food color together with 1 ¾ tablespoons sugar on medium speed until very stiff. Fold dry ingredients into egg white mixture. Transfer to a pastry bag fitted with a plain nozzle. Pipe small disks on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake 10 – 15 minutes. (best with door closed for the first 4 minutes and open for the remaining 10. If the cookies are too dry reduce cooking time.) Remove from oven, and cool. Whisk buttercream, and transfer to a pastry bag. Swirl a thin layer of filling onto the bottom of a cooled cookie, and top with another cookie.
Makes 12 to 24 cookies, depending on size.