Thursday, December 04, 2008


I have been intimidated by a French cookie for years.

"What?" You say, "But the French are...the French! They buckle like a teenager at a Twilight screening."

No, seriously, it's the cookie.

You see, French macarons are one of the marks of a great pastry chef. The world is full of people who have failed the macaron test, we call them fry cooks.

When my cooking club decided to have a holiday cookie swap I knew it was time to take on the challenge. I read, I studied, I freaked, I was hospitalized for several days, and I now live in a half-way house with a dude named Balls.

But I did it.


I know, it really doesn't look like much, but that's a macaron. A delicate, crispy, chewy almond cookie. What makes it special, even adorable in the eyes of the fickle French are the feet: the little ruffly bottom on the cookie. If you don't fold it just right, if you don't wait until precisely the right time, you won't get those feet. If your macaron doesn't have a foot you might as well become the unabomber; it's that unacceptable.

And then you take that gorgeous footed cookie, put a ganache filling in it, and make it collide with another cookie.


(Excuse the cell phone picture. Too excited for real camera.)

You have to stack them, there's just no other way of showing off macarons.

I used the venerable Tartlette's recipe and tutorial for macarons, which goes like this:

100 grams egg whites (about 3)
50 grams granulated sugar
200 grams powdered sugar
110 grams blanched almonds, ground
Oven, 300

Whip the whites and gradually add the granulated sugar until you have a stiff, glossy meringue. Process the almonds with the powdered sugar for about a minute. And then, this is when things get CRAZY YO, you dump the almond-sugar into the egg whites, no, the whole thing, just dump it. Don't try to lighten the meringue with a little of the mixture, or take a gentle hand, just dump and start folding.

I told you it was crazy.

Tartlette estimates you fold about 50 times. The best way to tell is to let a little of the batter fall on a plate. If the little beak of the cookie stays and doesn't relax into the cookie to make a dome, you need to fold a couple more times. REALLY. You want a smooth dome. Yes, the French are nuts, but in a completely awesome way that makes them right. Put the batter into a pastry bag with a round tip and pipe out rounds onto parchment paper about the size of a quarter. Then walk away.

Yes, walk away.

Come back in one hour and pop the trays in the oven where they will bake for 10-14 minutes. Don't let them color. Remove them from the oven and let them cool before removing from the sheet. You will end up sobbing tears of anguish if you try to remove them too soon. You want a good thin spatula for removing them from the parchment. If you're destroying your cookies (ahem) you can heat up a couple tablespoons of water in the micro and (very) carefully, put the water under the parchment paper. The heat from the water makes the cookies far easier to remove, but hurry so the paper doesn't soak.

Make some filling and assemble with cooled cookies.

Eat only one because they are too sweet.

Macarons are tirelessly flexible. You can look at Tartlette's saffron pumpkin, black tie, or red berry macarons. Such lovely colors.

For my macarons I doubled the recipe, substituted half of the almonds with roasted hazelnuts (as much skin as possible removed,) and filled with Nutella.

They were outrageous.


Zannah said...

Speaking as someone who will be picking up her favorite lemon macarons from a little bakery in the 6th (lemon macarons filled with lemon curd - Ladurée has nothing on these) in a couple of hours on the way to class, I must say that yours look utterly perfect. Highly impressed.

dalene said...


What time can I come over?


Having spent some time among the French I developed quite a taste for all things hazelnut. And well, Nutella, we ate it for breakfast over there.

Lindsey said...

Oui Oui Impressive! WOW.

Annette Lyon said...

mac . . . a . . . ron . . .

b. said...

I need one or two!

Amy said...

You really are Cuh-razy. So crazy, in fact, that I wish you lived at my house.

sara said...

Aaaah you're killing me. Very well done. And I also really like the silver tray they're displayed on.

fijiangirl said...

Beautiful.... when are you going to quit the high tech industry and open your own pastry shop? I would have regular orders on auto shipment.

amelia said...

I am in awe...and in need of a macaron.

Rachie said...

Those look delish! I might need you to save me one or five.

You realize the gauntlet has been thrown down and now I'm going to have to try my hand at these little guys. But first I'm going to need to buy a scale. And find some blanched almonds. And something to grind them with. And... forget it. I'll just eat yours.

Anne-Marie said...

I'm super intimadated, but the look amazing!

Kelsey Norwood said...

If you had gotten there earlier, you would have won a prize. Probably Queen of the Cookie. I tasted one this morning, for breakfast of course, and they were by far my favorite. Next year...

jeri said...

Oh yes, they were THAT GOOD. I can't get Bart to leave them alone. There are 12 kinds of cookies on the counter and he can't take his eyes off these. I don't think they're acceptable for 2-year-old boys though. ;)

Queen Scarlett said...

I'm drooling.

camillion said...

Je suis tres IMPRESSED.
Tres bon!

Morgan Moore said...

Oui, oui Mon Ami!!

The Bakers said...

I am so hungry right now.
And my word verification code below is Boobe. Which I find rather humorous.

Laura said...

I have macaron envy. I, too, have always been intimidated by the French and their cookies. You make it look positively easy though. I'll have to try.

April said...

They look amazing. And Nutella, oh how I love thee!

Do we have any bakeries here that specialize in macarons? I hear that these are replacing the cupcake places everywhere else in the U.S.

Geo said...

I love a lot of sleep over Tartelette.

Your macarons look incredible!

Sue said...

Yeah, I'm sure if I had a plateful of those in my kitchen I'd JUST EAT ONE.


Patti said...

They look EXACTLY like the ones I had at the Four Seasons in Maui. Translation: GORGEOUS.

Congrats. They're difficult.

Tartelette said...

Absolutely beautiful! Well done!
I'm venerable?!! Ahahahah :)

Amy said...

So glad you posted this. I was craving something sweet yet sophisticated and these were the perfect cure. I can't believe how well they turned out!!

Emmie said...

Wait a minute. WAIT. A. MINUTE. Holy cow. They ARE gluten-free!

Shawn said...


Beeswax said...

So, I'm so glad to hear that Balls is doing so well (in the halfway house).

Had some macaroons at Lauduree in Harrods.
Didn't have one with nutella, though. So now I'm sad.

I like Nutella with shortbread, on a banana (or even on a plastic spoon).

Where am I to get one of these Nutella macaroons without MAKING IT MYSELF?

I know I'll end up a footless unabomber.

Marie @ Make and Takes said...

Soooooo bummed I missed these. They look fantastic. Oh, the gooey center. Nice job!

Brooke said...

yuuuuuuuuuuuuum. i want one for breakfast.

Becca said...

I am constantly amazed at your cooking/baking prowess!

Did I already ask you for Renee Deloach's address or was I just thinking about it? Either way, could I beg it off you? My email is tropicalvelvet at gmail dot com. Thanks and happy holidays!

rookie cookie said...

When I grow up, I have grand plans to make these. Seems like everyone does these days. I sure can't wait to be an adult.