Oh hi, I didn’t see you there…Happy New Year!
I was a busy holiday season. Lots of candy, cookies, and granola were made and many smiles were shared with family and friends.
Neen’s Notes is finally back after a whirlwind few months, and I’ve brought you something truly delightful and delicate: The Macaron! And what an awesome little cookie it is. Finely ground almonds and powdered sugar mixed into well-beaten egg whites to form an incredibly delicious meringue. When baked correctly, they come out with crisp outsides and chewy middles. The best part is figuring out what to sandwich between them. Yum.
There are many methods for making macarons floating around. I found this to be the one that worked best given the time frame I had and the equipment and relatively small space of my kitchen at home.
Shall we get our French cookie-baking on? I think we shall…
Ingredients for the cookies:
- 5 oz. sliced almonds (blanched will give you a more polished look)
- 8 oz. powdered sugar
- 5 oz. egg whites
- 2.5 oz. granulated sugar
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- Pinch of salt
- Zest of one lemon
- Red food coloring (optional)
Ingredients for the strawberry-lemon filling:
- 4 oz. butter, softened
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- 4-5 strawberries
- 1-2 tbsp. cream
- Zest of one lemon
- Pinch of salt
First, get your workspace ready. Fit a piping bag with a plain ½ inch tip (or just cut the corner off of a plastic bag) and line 4 baking sheets with parchment paper.
In the bowl of a food processor, grind the almonds until fine and then grind with the powdered sugar and lemon zest until a sandy texture is reached.
Mix the food coloring into the granulated sugar and set aside (the color doesn’t need to be perfectly distributed). I went very easy on the food coloring, so my cookies looked almost salmon-colored when piped, but gel food colorings brighten as they set so I always err on the light side. You’ll see that the finished product is very pink.
Put the egg whites and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and whip them on medium speed until foamy. Increase the speed and slowly add the granulated sugar. Beat until stiff peaks form.
Add the almond mixture and vanilla extract to the meringue and start folding and mixing it in. I do this by hand because it is much easier to feel when it smooths out. You don’t want to overbeat it, but you want a nice texture that ribbons when you lift the spatula out of the bowl.
Transfer the batter to the piping bag and pipe small 1.5 in. circles about 1 inch apart on the baking sheets. Tap the baking sheets on the counter to get rid of any air bubbles in the batter. Leave the baking sheets of cookies at room temperature for about a half hour or until the tops appear somewhat dry.
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Bake the cookies for 16-20 minutes, or until they are puffed up, feel dry, and peel away from the parchment paper easily. Rotate the pans once in the middle of cooking. Cool on a wire rack.
While the cookies are cooling, prepare the strawberry-lemon filling.
In the bowl of a food processor, puree the strawberries and then add the butter and 2 cups of powdered sugar and process until well combined. Add a pinch of salt, the cream, and powdered sugar until a creamy texture is reached. Again, cut the corner off of a plastic bag and transfer the icing to it.
Pipe small circles onto the flat side of one meringue and sandwich another cookie on top, pressing lightly to spread the filling to the edge. Be gentle, as you’ll see from my final photos, the cookies are delicate and crack easily.
I brushed these ones with a little bit of luster dust to make them shiny.
Looking forward to sharing all sorts of recipes with you in the new year. Let’s make 2012 the most delicious one yet!
Ciao for now,