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My Journey With the French Macaron

Ari has been on a mission to learn to bake more fun, complicated, and beautiful baked goods.

The best ones I've made so far: espresso macarons!

The best ones I've made so far: espresso macarons!

When people find out I am Italian, the first thing they always say to me is "Oh, you must be a great cook!" My life is quite the opposite—or it used to be. I grew up eating homemade Sicilian pizzas, lasagna, macaroni, and red sauce. So many wonderful and hearty Italian meals that would make any sane person's mouth water. I never had the will to learn to cook any of these things.

Once I married, I decided I should probably start learning. I went from eating just Frosted Mini Wheats and Gatorade to having a whole new life where the wife is socially forced to be the cook and caretaker in the household.

There were times where I tried my hand at cooking, which ended once in feeding my husband raw sausage (I was 8 months pregnant at the time, and after finishing the first step on the directions I thought I was finished) and catching multiple kitchen appliances on fire. I had such horrible outcomes that I gave up altogether.

Only a few months ago did I decide that I was going to try again. Only this time, I decided to try baking instead of cooking. And I was going to be sure to follow each step thoroughly and with perfection. I was going to start with one of my favorites, French macarons.

I started to read multiple articles and blogs on this delectable little cookies and took notes on tips and tricks that were provided, from folding the ingredients a total of 40–50 times, to sifting the dry ingredients three times before using.

After feeling satisfied with what I studied, I decided it was time to test it out. I made sure that I mixed, sifted, folded, and did everything as precisely as possible. After an hour and a half, I ended up with bloated, blobs of mush. My heart sank, but I already decided that I wasn't going to stop until I ended up with perfect macarons.

Below you'll find a recipe for French macarons that I finally managed to get right—and you can too!

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup almond flour
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 large egg whites, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Combine almond flour and granulated sugar. I have noticed the shells come out better if you sift the ingredients multiple times.
  2. Beat the egg whites on medium for 2 minutes, or until soft peaks form. Add granulated sugar and beat on high for 2 minutes, until you get stiff glossy peaks. You should be able to hold the bowl upside down over your head with nothing falling out.
  3. Add vanilla and beat for 30 seconds. If I am making a flavor besides vanilla, this is when I add the flavored ingredient. For example, for lemon shells, and 1 tablespoon of lemon zest at this point. For the espresso macarons pictured above, I added 1 tablespoon instant coffee.
  4. Now you're going to gently fold in the dry ingredients. Dump all the almond flour and sugar mix in at one time and fold them in. You will fold between 40–50 times. The batter should ooze like lava when it is ready.
  5. Now you can pipe! Place parchment paper on a cookie sheet and pipe out 3/4-inch flat circles about an inch apart. Tap the cookie sheet three times on the table to make sure all the air bubbles are out. At this point, you can preheat the oven to 325°F. Allow the uncooked macarons to sit out for about 15 minutes. They are ready to go in the oven when you touch them and the batter only slightly sticks to your finger.
  6. Put the macarons in the oven for 8 minutes, rotating them halfway through.
  7. Let them cool for 5 minutes before piping filling. For filling, you can use frosting, the curd of your choice, jams, or anything you want!

I would love to hear other flavors that people have created! Please feel free to comment some great ideas!