If you visit any cooking websites, you’ve undoubtedly heard of the French macaron. It appears to be quite the fad in the cooking world these days. A quick search on Foodgawker brings up six pages of recipes in every color and flavor combination. I really didn’t know what the allure was, I had never in my life tasted a macaron, but seeing them all over the internet, and then seeing my favorite Thursday Night Smackdown try (and fail) three times to make them, it made me want to give them a try.
The word on the street is that macarons are hard to make. Even Wikipedia says, “Making macarons requires a great deal of discipline and is a process that is highly dependent on exactitude, technique, and proper equipment. For this reason it is a notoriously difficult recipe to master and a frustrating endeavor for the amateur baker.” I laugh in Wikipedia’s face because, guess what? This amateur baker got them right on the first try.
The only reason I can think of that I managed to make them right on the first try is that I read about forty recipes before trying to make them, and I heeded all of the warnings. Each recipe, no matter how different the technique, said two things: age your egg whites (that means leave them on the counter overnight – gross, I know), and weigh your ingredients. Now you my dislike for following recipes. I hate to measure, but apparently I love to weigh. It makes me feel fancy, like an olde timey apothecary. 100 grams of this, 25 grams of that, I loved it! I even weighed the ingredients for the filling even thought it was essentially peanut butter buttercream and, really, you can make that without measuring at all.
I aged my eggs, I ground my almonds, I measured my ingredients, I let them sit for an hour before I baked them so they could form a crust and… voila! A few macarons cracked but they didn’t deflate so I consider that a success! I let them sit in the refrigerator overnight before filling them with the peanut butter buttercream and, holy cow. Now I know what all the fuss was about. They’re light and crispy, then rich and chewy and the dark chocolate with the salty peanut butter, mmm… they’re perfect.
I wish I could link you to a recipe but I sort of blended a few recipes together. I followed Tartlette’s instructions (about halfway down the page there’s a link to a PDF of her “tried and true recipe” which I followed, mostly) and My Madison Bistro is where I got the recipe for the filling. I also read Serious Eats, David Lebovitz, and Bakerella before embarking on my own macaron journey – which I highly recommend.
And just so you don’t think I’m bragging about making macarons right on the first try, I have to tell you. After filling the macarons and taking pictures of how pretty they were, I put them safely in the fridge, feeling pretty good about myself, and then burned an entire pan of brownies to a smoking crisp. You can’t win every time.