Macarons are airy, almondy sandwich cookies typically filled with buttercream. For less typical, and exceptionally delicious macarons try Dutch Epicure Bakery in Amherst NH or Lakota Bakery in Arlington MA. Unreal.
Getting them to be the right consistency seemed a bit daunting so I teamed up with some fabulous bakers to tackle these beauties. Martha Stewart over-complicated things a bit, but it turned out these were totally do-able. Doing the buttercream the day before could definitely be a time saver. So, grab some friends, some booze, and get to it.
• 1 ¼ cups confectioners' sugar
• 1 ½ cups sliced almonds, finely ground, or almond flour
• All-purpose flour, for dipping
• 3 large egg whites
• Pinch of salt
• ¼ cup granulated sugar
• ¼ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
• Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or nonstick baking mats (such as Silpats), and mark circles using a 1 1/2-inch cutter dipped in flour. (*Dipped flour didn't work for us, so tracing a cookie cutter, biscuit cutter etc. may be a better option. Don't forget to flip the parchment over so the pen doesn't end up on your cookie).
Sift confectioners' sugar into a bowl. Whisk in almonds; set aside.
Put egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on medium speed until foamy, then beat in salt. Beat in granulated sugar, 1 teaspoon at a time, until medium-soft peaks form. Transfer mixture to a large bowl.
Using a rubber spatula, fold half the almond mixture into the egg white mixture until just incorporated. Fold in vanilla and remaining almond mixture until just incorporated. Firmly tap bottom of bowl on counter to eliminate air pockets.
Transfer mixture to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain tip. (*Or plastic bag it!) Pipe mixture into marked circles on prepared baking sheets. Bake, rotating sheets halfway through, until macaroons are slightly firm and can be gently lifted off parchment (bottoms will be dry), 20 to 25 minutes (Better to check early – our first batch overcooked after 20 minutes. 15 minutes seems more appropriate!). Let cool on sheets 5 minutes. Transfer macaroons on parchment to a wire rack; let cool completely.
Spread 2 teaspoons buttercream on flat sides of half the macaroons, then sandwich with remaining halves, keeping flat sides together. Refrigerate until firm, about 20 minutes, before serving.
• 2 large egg whites
• 5/8 cups sugar
• 1 ½ sticks unsalted butter, softened, cut into tablespoons
• 1 ¼ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
• Raspberry Puree (optional)
Switch to the paddle attachment. With mixer on medium-low, add butter several tablespoons at a time, beating well after each addition. (If frosting appears to separate after all butter has been added, beat on medium-high speed until smooth again, 3 to 5 minutes more.) Beat in vanilla. Reduce speed to low; beat 2 minutes to eliminate air bubbles. Stir with a rubber spatula until smooth.
**Update... I have now had THE french macarons at Laudaree in Paris (now opened, with long lines, on the upper east side). I was expecting the most heavenly cookie in the world. The were delicious but a tad overly sweet. And more than a tad overly priced. The are so gorgeous though...