I like to think of myself as a low-maintenance; a 3-minute shower, 5-ingredient, 4-piece ensemble kind of girl. As a general rule, my favorite cookies have been chewier than they are crisp, full of oats and chunks of delicious whathaveyou. Cashew butter, oatmeal raisin, chocolate, macadamia and sugar oh my. They are equal opportunity when it comes to milk, coffee, tea or hot chocolate and there are so many recipes to make them – so many ways to make them rockstar quality.
So, the little nuances surrounding my infatuation with the French macaron make it overtly comical. In true low-maint fashion, you only need a small bit of time and 6 superb ingredients, one of which is not nonchalance. A truly excellent little macaron looks just like a tiny, delicate hamburger sandwiching the perfect amount of deliciousness in the middle that the chosen crème peeks out from between. So simple. So petite. And deliberately so. But perfection like this is no accident. This little madame is easy to achieve – if you are careful, and thoughtful, and don’t take your little eyes off her.
The ingredients must be of good quality, at the right temperature, mixed just right and baked at the optimal temperature for just the right number of minutes. None of this “kind of raw in the middle is good,” or “oops, the cookies spread – so what, they’re still magical.” No.
You will notice that I choose to use toasted carob instead of unsweetened cocoa powder here; toasted carob is a product that I keep on hand and frequently use in the place of cocoa powder because it lends an exotic, nutty flavor to baked goods, and doesn’t contain caffeine in addition to being a source of protein and minerals.
So long as you follow the instructions, you are sure to create exquisite French macarons. And making them yourself is WAY more low maintenance that driving miles and miles to get a batch.
- Parchment paper
- 2 disposable pastry bags
- 1 1/2 cup + 1 Tbsp ground raw almonds, very fine
- 2 1/2 Tbsp toasted carob powder
- 3 cups organic vegan confectioners sugar, sifted
- 5 eggs whites, at room temperature
- 14 oz bittersweet chocolate (preferably TCHO)
- 1 cup cream
- Preheat the oven to 350F degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, sift together the ground almonds, carob powder, and 2 1/2 cups of the confectioners sugar. Set aside.
- Now, to the whites. Be sure that there is NO yolk in your whites, NO fat or dirt in your mixing bowl or on your whisk or the whites will not whip properly!! In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitter with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites till they reach stiff peaks. Meaning, after you whip the whites you should be able to remove the whisk from the mixer, dip it quickly into the whites and the whites that stick to the end of the whisk will form a little peak that stands up tall. No floppy peaks!
- Add the remaining sifted confectioners sugar and whip the eggs again until the whites are stiff and thick.
- Next, the meringues. Fold the almond mixture to the egg mixture in 6 stages -- just a little bit at a time. To achieve an incorporated mixture without deflating the meringue, very gently sweep and lay the meringue over itself to incorporate the wet and dry ingredients. Mix as little as possible to achieve a homogenous meringue without dry bits.
- Carefully transfer the mixture to a disposable pastry bag. Twist the open end, snip a small hole in the pointed end and pipe circles of meringue onto the prepared parchment pans in straight rows, evenly spaced. Piping them willy nilly will not allow the meringues to bake properly! (note: I like to count "1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10" quickly for each little circle, squeezing with the same pressure so that the meringues are all the same size.)
- Allow the meringues to sit for just 5 minutes on your work surface before popping them into the oven, baking for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.
- Meanwhile, make the ganache. Chop the chocolate into small shavings and place in a large heatproof bowl. Place the cream into a small saucepan and bring to boil. Allow the cream to cool just a bit and then pour the hot milk over the chocolate. Allow the chocolate to sit and melt for 3-5 minutes before stirring gently to incorporate. (Be careful for if the milk is too hot, or you stir the chocolate too much the ganache won't emulsify and will instead be lumpy and goopy.) Allow the chocolate to set up and cool down just a few minutes after a smooth mixture has been achieved. Then, transfer the ganache to a disposable piping bag.
- To assemble the macarons, take two meringues of the same size, pipe a good bit of chocolate onto the flat side and sandwich. Repeat until you are out of meringues. Then, store the completed cookies in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Mind you, these are best if eaten within 24 hours!