Thursday, July 21, 2011

French Macarons

I don't really know enough about French or language to know who is right and who is wrong about how to spell macarons, I just know that these don't have coconut in them, so think it's safer to drop the second "o" and not call them "macaroons." I follow David Lebovitz's lead on this one, anyhow.

What I do know is that these are delicious, and I am still figuring out how to make them. This is the first time I've posted my efforts, as nothing before has seemed either good enough or reproducible enough to post about. But this is the 2nd time I've made this and they've worked out, so I think I'm getting the hang of it.

See, I don't have a kitchen scale, and so many of these French macaron recipes only give you weight measurements (well, cuz they're more accurate, can't blame them for that), but I don't have a scale. So, after many a failed attempt, I finally found a measuring cup based recipe that I had decent results with, minding that I didn't use the pre-ground almond flour they sell at Trader Joe's, and instead, grind the almonds up myself with my food processor, then sift out the largest chunks. While adding another step, and another round of dishes, this seems to have done the trick.

Now, I have to say, they are still not perfect. I expect a certain amount of airy nothingness in the middle of my macaron, and a perfect foot (the sort of crumbly looking side of the cookie), which still isn't consistent across all cookies in even the same batch. I think these ones came out just a little too gooey/sticky in the middle, even though I think the tops domed quite perfectly. So many variables!

I will muse for a second on how ridiculous some of the wives tales that surround making macarons have become. Yes, these are some tricky pastries, but I feel like some bakers swear by witch craft and superstitions to get their macarons just right. "Fold in almond flour no more than 20 strokes!" or "leave out on parchment paper 2 hours before baking" and "dance around the smallest one in a counter-clockwise direction 6 times for best results." Ok, I exaggerate. But for any bakers out there who have also tried to master these beauties, and try and get them perfect, mind you, there has got to be some science to it that could make them universally approachable. Then again, maybe they're just meant to be fickle.

If you like macarons, and have a kitchen scale, I highly recommend checking out my friend Risa's blog, Baked Perfection, as she is always coming up with some special new macaron flavor combo. They all look very delicious!


  1. It's great to see you work hard on this delicate cookie recipe. We blogged about what we thought were the 2 best French macaron recipes out there and share the links + a nice video teaching the macaronnage method. Have a look at those links

  2. I failed at my first attempt at baking macaroons (I have to put 2 "o"s lol) but had some success on the 2nd try. Did you de-grease your utensils? Apparently that helps. Love your blog, am now a follower =]

  3. I didn't do anything special regarding degreasing utensils, but sounds like a good idea. Thanks!