I have a love-hate relationship with macarons. They’re deliciously elegant and tasty, but they’re also insanely overpriced and sometimes bland. These petite treats run about $3 a pop, which even I can’t rationalize (unless they’re Ladurée of course).
For those of you who have yet to encounter them, they’re little melt-in-your-mouth French egg white and almond cookies sandwiched with ganache or jam. They have a smooth top with a little ruffled “foot” at the edge of them, which is where the air bubbles have escaped.
People are often fearful of making these, thinking that egg whites are just too tricky to deal with. I thought the same thing until this weekend when I decided to be adventurous and try it myself. A quick whip of egg whites, a fold into almond flour, and a squeeze onto the baking sheet and you’re done!
I was craving chocolate, big surprise I know, so I decided to make these a little riff on German Chocolate cake. As I’m sure you know, everything is better salted and with brown butter, so I took Barefoot Contessa’s German chocolate frosting and added in those crucial flavors. Absolutely delish.
Pulse almond flour (I found mine at Walmart don’t judge), cocoa, confectioner’s sugar, and salt until combined, about 30 seconds. Sift into a bowl and set aside.
Beat your egg whites, I used this hand mixer, for 30 seconds until opaque and foamy. Add a pinch of cream of tartar, and whip on medium-high for about 1 minute until you can see the line of the whisk when you lift the beater up. (see below)
Slowly add the granulated sugar while beating the whites, about another minute. They should be stiff peaks by this point, which means when you pull the whisk out of the whites you get a peak that holds like the one above.
Gently, and I mean gently fold the egg whites into the sifted almond flour mixture, and scoop into a pastry bag*.
One cool trick I learned to fill the pastry bag was to put the bag in a cup that way your hands are free to scoop up the batter.
*If you don’t have a pastry bag just cut off a corner of a Ziploc
Pipe 1 and 1/4 inch circles onto a pastry sheet and then bang the sheet against a hard surface to get the air bubbles out.
Now is the weird part, leave the circles out to dry for 30 minutes. This helps them cook more evenly and gives them the characteristic little ‘foot’ at the bottom of them.
Pop them in the oven for 7 minutes, turn the sheets, and then 7 minutes again.
Ta-da! Now that you’ve made it this far, be super super careful when taking these off the sheet because they can easily break. I actually got excited when I broke a few of them, because that way I could use them to scoop up some of the frosting we’re about to make. However, if you desire your cookies intact, lift the parchment and gently peel the cookies off the paper.
Ok, brown butter time:
Heat butter over medium-high heat until it’s foamy, has a nutty aroma, and the milk solids start to brown. Be super super careful to watch the butter because it can so easily burn and become bitter.
Buzzfeed has an awesome article on how to make the perfect browned butter.
Into the butter, pour a can of evaporated milk and stir in some brown sugar.
Take a spoonful of the gorgeous caramel mixture, and whisk it into a few egg yolks. Repeat this process for a few spoonfuls to temper the yolks, that way they don’t scramble when you mix them into the hot caramel.
Whisk the tempered egg yolks into the caramel mixture, and simmer while constantly stirring. After about 8 minutes, pour over shredded coconut and pecans.
Add in vanilla, almond extract, and salt and stir until combined. This frosting smells absolutely luscious, and practically begs for you to try it. Find yourself a broken or just sub-par macaron cookie, and dunk it in the frosting. For quality control of course! Yes I know I have a rather impressive manicure..
After you have approved the frosting for consumption, take a spoonful and use it to sandwich two of the cookies together like so:
These perfectly chewy yet crisp cookies make the best gifts, because they look so impressive and taste incredibly rich. I gently dropped a few in a mason jar, tied around a ribbon, and gave them as a birthday gift.Needless to say, they were received quite well:)
Just like with the Concord Grape Focaccia from last week, don’t be intimidated to make these! The photos from this post were from my very first time making them as well, and I promise they’re so much easier than they look!
Brown Butter Coconut Pecan Frosting (Makes about 3 cups) adapted from Barefoot Contessa
- 12 T butter
- 1 12oz can evaporated milk
- 1 and 1/4 cups brown sugar (I used dark) lightly packed
- 4 large egg yolks
- 1 t vanilla extract
- 1/2 t almond extract
- 1 t salt
- 2 cups sweetened flaked coconut
- 1 cup finely chopped pecans
- Over medium-high heat melt the butter until golden and nutty scented. Stir in the milk and brown sugar.
- Let the mixture simmer until smooth and hot. Put the yolks in a heat proof bowl, and mix in a little of the hot milk mixture to temper the yolks.
- Pour the tempered yolks into the rest of the hot milk and simmer until slightly thickened, while whisking constantly.
- Take off the heat and mix with the coconut, pecans, extracts, and salt.
- Eat by the spoonful, or spread them on the macarons.
Chocolate Macaron recipe from here.