French macaron cookies for Christmas

Posted by pamela mccoll on Friday, December 20, 2013

French Macarons-Cookies with buttercream filling.

The ingredients are basic – however real care in measuring and in the technique makes the difference between success and failure with these very popular cookies sandwiched in butter cream.

Start by preparing your pans. You will need to create paper templates. Draw a series of 1.5” circles across a sheet of paper 8.5” x 14". This will then be placed under a sheet of parchment paper that has been cut to fit four baking sheets. Use the template to know where to place the batter.  You need to have four sheets all prepped with the templates before you begin.

Have at the ready a Kitchen Aid Mixer with the whisk attachment.  

Measure out exactly 120 grams of egg whites that have been allowed to sit at room temperature. It is best to use the egg whites that come prepared in a carton to avoid any bits of egg yolk getting into the mix.  Make sure your equipment is clean and dry.

Measure out 40 grams of granulated sugar. No sugar substitutions here.

Measure out 140 grams of ground almonds and 240 grams of icing sugar. These need to be sifted into a bowl. If there are some pieces in the bottom of the sifter using the back of a spoon and push them through the sieve. No lumps or clumps wanted. Use a sieve that will accommodate the ground almonds.

If you want to color the macarons use gel food coloring so as to not upset the ratio of liquid to dry ingredients. 

In the bowl that accompanies the mixer beat the egg whites on medium speed for one minute, add the 40 grams of granulated sugar and then turn the speed to full power and using a timer beat for 4 minutes. Add the food coloring at this point. If you don't add coloring the cookies will turn out white and also very attractive. Continue to beat for 2 more minutes.  Check that the egg whites are shiny and stiff. If not beat for one more minute and check again.  It should take between 6 and 8 minutes for the egg whites to reach this stage and be perfect. 

Add the ground almond icing sugar mixture to the egg whites and using a rubber spatula (not a spoon) mix the ingredients together. This is the key step in making macarons. It is a process called macronnage or compression. It involves stirring the bowl in a circular motion and then flattening the mixture through the middle and to the side of the bowl. This takes some work. Check repeatedly to see if the mixture falls back into ribbons. Take a large spoonful of the mixture and check to see if it falls back into the bowl from the spoon in a cascading movement. Keep stirring until you achieve this result. 

Fill a pastry bag with a number 9 tip with the mixture. Now dot the mixture into 1” mounts on the parchment paper. It is crucial to let the macarons rest for 20 minutes before baking them.  They need to dry out to prevent cracks. Remove the template papers before placing in the oven.

You can also gentle bang the baking sheet the side of the counter to extract any small bubbles that may have appeared in the dough.

Preheat the oven to 325 for regular ovens and 275 for convection ovens. You may want to test your oven by doing a sample bake and adjusting by a small change in temperature.  If they are not baking to perfection adjust the temperature for the next batch rather than adjust the time. Bake the cookies for 6 minutes and then turn the baking sheets around and bake for another 6 - remember you are aiming for perfection and not all ovens cook evenly.  The macarons needs to cool completely before being lifted off the parchment paper with a metal spatula.

 

Additional notes:

If you want to flavor the cookies substitute out the ground almonds for cinnamon or pistachio meal or other product only in a small proportion. Ground almonds should not be replaced with flour.

If you want to prepare the cookies ahead of time they can sit out in a ready to bake state on the baking sheets for up to two hours.Remember though that the minimum rest time is 15 minutes.

Once you have the mixture in the piping bag ready to go create the cookies in ten minutes time.

Butter Cream Filling

In a bowl of an electric mixer with a paddle attached, beat ¾ c. unsalted room temperature butter.

Beat the butter and add 1 c. icing sugar until light and fluffy. Butter cream freezes very well.

 

Additional flavors:

Add one tablespoon of jam to butter cream in the mixing process.

One tablespoon of cream heated with ground spices, or ground matcha or other ground tea can be added to the mixture.  Heated eggnog with ground nutmeg is a good Christmas choice.

Gel food colouring.

Lemon Buttercream

Use ¾ cup unsalted butter at room temperature

1 cup icing sugar

2 tablespoons lemon zest finely grated

1 teaspoon lemon juice

Mix all ingredients together.

 

Chocolate Butter Cream

Use one cup of whipping cream and 10 oz. of good quality chocolate. Heat the cream and melt the chocolate with it. Allow to sit overnight in the refrigerator.

 

To fill macarons pipe the buttercream onto one cookie and sandwich with a second. Place enough of the butter cream so that it is visible between the layers but not overflowing. 

Freeze filled cookies for ten minutes if you are packaging them or transporting them.

Filled cookies can be frozen for future enjoyment.

Merry Baking.Have fun with inventing flavor combinations for the cookies and the filling.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 




Tags: french macarons  christmas baking  french cookies  butter cream  twas the night before christmas cookbook 

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