beautiful, delicate, and labor-intensive, french macarons are incomparable to any other dessert. their shells are meringue-like, but the light, sweet cookies really just act as a vehicle for any type of filling- lemon curd, nutella, ganache, or these liqueur-flavored frostings.
pictured above, the blue cookies’ filling is tinted a tropical yellow and spiked with malibu; the pink ones are filled with a vanilla-rosé frosting; the purple ones have a hidden center of cassis-blackberry jam.
at a bakery or café, a single macaron will set you back $3 or $4. made at home, each one costs roughly $0.20. impressive and easily customizable, these are totally worth the extra effort.
just like baking, cooking at home is always cheaper, but it can be hard to motivate yourself to come up with a dinner idea every night. this is where my happy plates comes in! it’s an awesome service that provides customized weekly meal plans and recipes based on your eating profile. it saves time, money, and leads to much healthier eating (without having to go on a crazy diet). my happy plates needs funding: go back them on kickstarter!
and when you’re done with dinner, snack on these macarons.
macarons (adapted from entertaining with beth)
- 3 egg whites, room temperature
- 50 g (1/2 cup) granulated sugar
- 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
- 1/8 tsp salt
- purple, pink, blue, and yellow gel food coloring
- 120 g (1 cup) almond flour
- 200 g (2 cups) powdered sugar
- 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, softened
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tbsp heavy cream or milk
- malibu rum
- cassis blackberry jam
line two baking sheets with parchment paper. beat the egg whites in a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment until frothy, about a minute. add the sugar, cream of tartar, and salt, and turn the mixer to high speed. whip for 8-10 minutes, or until very stiff peaks have formed (think seattle space needle).
combine the almond flour, powdered sugar, and dried lavender in a food processor. pulse, then sift the mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a medium bowl. discard the larger almond pieces that remain in the sieve.
gradually fold the flour mixture into the egg whites with a spatula. be careful!! undermix and the macarons will be lumpy and cracked, overmix and they’ll be flat and won’t have feet. about 60-75 turns of the spatula when folding is the right amount of time. the batter should be thick but runny. divide into three bowls and add the food coloring, making the color a little darker than desired (it will fade as the macarons bake).
transfer the batter to a pastry bag fitted with a medium round tip. the easiest way to fill the bag with batter is to 1) twist the end of the pastry bag nearest to the tip (this prevents batter from leaking out before you’re ready), 2) place the bag in a large drinking glass and fold it around the rim, then 3) pour the batter in. pipe one-inch rounds onto the parchment-lined baking sheets, then rap the sheets on the counter to pop any air bubbles. let the macarons sit, untouched, for 30-45 minutes. this allows them to develop a skin; when they dry out, they’re forced to rise up and not spread out, giving them the trademark macaron “feet.” they should be tacky to the touch, but not stick to your fingers. during the last 10 minutes of letting them sit, preheat the oven to 300º.
bake for 20 minutes. don’t open the oven door while they’re baking. remove and let cool on pans for 20 minutes, then remove to a rack.
for the fillings, beat the butter in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. after a few minutes, add the powdered sugar, then the vanilla and salt. beat for 5 more minutes. add the cream and beat for one more minute. divide the frosting between three bowls. leave one plain; stir 2 teaspoons of malibu + some yellow food coloring into another; stir 2 teaspoons of rosé into the third. transfer the frostings into pastry bags fitted with small round tips. fill the cookies accordingly – for the cassis ones, pipe a circle of plain frosting and plop some jam in the middle.