Psst. Wanna know a secret? Macarons aren’t as hard to make as some would have us believe.
Do they take more time than a pan of bars? Yup. Does it help to use a pastry bag? You bet. Is there a bit of technique involved? Mm-hmm.
Do people gasp, “Whoa, you made these?!?!”
Now, to be clear, we are not talking about macaroons with two “o”s that are made with coconut and pronounced “mac-ah-ROON.”
These are French macarons with one “o” and pronounced “mac-ah-RON.” If you can do that throaty demi-cough when you say it, all the better.
Macarons are like froufrou Oreos, bringing together textures that are crunchy, creamy, chewy and marshmallowy. Plus, they’re pretty.
The cookie is simple: egg whites, powdered sugar and almond meal. The filling is whatever you fancy: Nutella, buttercream frosting, lemon curd, jam, ganache. Marshmallow crème. Peanut butter. You get the drift.
In bakery cases, macarons often are colorfully dyed, sometimes to a fault. There may be times when turquoise and lavender foods are … fun. We prefer ivory macarons, with contrasting fillings, but with Valentine’s Day in the future, we can see the allure of a heart-stopping pink.
In short, there are few rules. But there is technique.
Here’s what you need to know:
Make sure your egg whites are at room temperature, which means letting them sit out on the counter for a couple of hours. Some recipes even talk about “aging” the whites for several days in the fridge. This dehydrates them slightly so they whip more quickly and retain more body. Days of aging may not be necessary, but room temperature is crucial.
A key step is correctly folding the dry ingredients into the egg whites. Folding is the process of gently turning the mixture back over upon itself again and again, which gradually incorporates the almond meal without deflating the whites too much. The trick is to not become impatient and start stirring; that will deflate the whipped whites and lead to flat and flimsy macarons.
A pastry bag and tip enables you to make perfect little circles of batter onto the parchment paper or silicon baking sheet. In a pinch, a plastic bag with a clipped-off corner does the job.
Last thing: Macarons actually improve when left to mellow for a day in the refrigerator, making them a perfect do-ahead dessert.
Last question: Should you make some this weekend?