Emily and I have been wonderful friends for almost a decade!  Since we lived together for several years, she knows my love for baking.  Even though we don’t live together anymore, I still enjoy bringing her and “the taster” samples of my latest creation.  When I told her I had succeeded in my quest to make “perfect” French macarons, I was thrilled when she asked me to do a guest post about it.

Circa 2006?

To say that I love to bake is a bit of an understatement.  I consider baking to be one of my favorite hobbies and biggest stress relievers.  While cookies, cakes and other baked goods will satisfy my craving to bake, from time to time, I desire more of a challenge.  Having studied French for 6 years and having had the pleasure of going to France a few times, there is one French confection that I have had an infatuation with:  macarons.  Not only do I find the petite cookies beautiful and lovely to look at, but also the flavor possibilities and textures are amazing.  My favorite flavor combination that I have sampled was pistachio with chocolate ganache.  The egg white and almond based cookies literally melt in your mouth yet have an impressive chewiness to them.  The cookies are sandwiched together and typically filled with ganache or buttercream.

Since I have marveled at the intricate structure of the cookies for quite some time, I knew making them myself would be challenging.  There are several regional varieties of macaroons/macarons and one of the varieties that many of us are most familiar with is the coconut macaroon.  While both the coconut macaroon and French macaron incorporate whipped egg whites into their recipes, the coconut adds a moist chewiness that is much more dense than the French macarons which gain some of their substance and texture from ground almonds.  Well made French macarons have shiny tops with air-pocket-filled edges.  The cookies are so delicate that you can peel this top shiny layer off and it is as thin as tissue paper.

Source: French Macaron & Coconut Macaroon

No doubt you have identified multiple possible sources of frustration when trying to fabricate these fragile treats. Having had a previous failed attempt at making the delicate macarons, I did a quick Internet search for tips and tricks and was amazed at the websites, blogs and online tutorials dedicated to this sweet treat.  The recipe that finally gave me success is from Foodnetwork and is courtesy of Gale Gand.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Burgers (French Macarons)

Macarons:

  • 2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, plus 1/2 cup
  • 1 1/2 cups, plus 1 tablespoon ground almonds
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 5 egg whites

Peanut Butter Buttercream:

  • 1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Equipment: Pastry bag with round tip

Directions

Make the Macaroons: Preheat the oven to 300° F.

Line several sheet pans with parchment paper and set aside. In a bowl, combine 2 1/2 cups of the sugar, almonds, and cocoa powder.

In another clean dry bowl whip the egg whites with the remaining 1/2 cup sugar until medium peaks form (do not beat to stiff peaks).

Fold egg whites into dry ingredients to a make a meringue.

Fill the pastry bag with the meringue. (To easily fill the pastry bag, place it (with a clothespin holding it shut at the bottom) in a tall round container such as a coffee can, mayonnaise jar, or vase, folding the edge over the rim of the container.)

Pipe rows of kisses 1-inch in diameter (about the size of a quarter), keeping them 1/2 inch apart, onto the sheet pans.

Bake until very light brown, rotating the pans after 8 minutes, about 17 minutes. Let the macaroons cool on the pan.

Meanwhile, make the Peanut Butter Buttercream: In a standing mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, cream the butter until light and fluffy. Add the peanut butter and whip. Add the confectioners’ sugar and vanilla and whip until fluffy. Transfer the buttercream to a clean pastry bag fitted with a round tip.

Peel 2 macarons off the parchment, pipe the buttercream on 1 flat side and sandwich the other flat-side down on top. Repeat with the remaining macaroons. Keep chilled in an airtight container until ready to serve.

Thank you so much Mercedes for both the guest post AND the amazing chocolate & peanut butter macarons – they were delicious! If you are a baker, you have to try these!

SONY DSC

simple strawberry pie

Almost all summer long, the taster has been requesting a strawberry pie. So I did what any good girlfriend would do and made a strawberry pie. Of sorts. It wasn’t your typical strawberry pie. It required only a few ingredients, no baking and incorporates my favorite part of pie. Homemade whipped cream! I’ve always loved

Read more…

DSC00470

macy’s culinary council: andrea robinson

You may recall that I told you a few weeks ago that I’m trying to learn more about wine, especially how to pair wine with food. Many of you gave me some great resources – Thank You! I also recently received an invitation to attend a Macy’s Culinary Council event featuring Andrea Robinson, renowned Master Sommelier, author and

Read more…

4th of July Menu

Still need some menu ideas for 4th of July celebrations? Look no further! I’ve rounded up some of my favorite recipes along with others from the blog world! Appetizers: Guacamole with Basil & Shallots Roasted Vegetable Cheese Spread Cheese Filled Endeive Leaves from MommyRD Main: Chicken Satay with Coconut Peanut Sauce Grilled Pizzas from Fake

Read more…

SONY DSC

maple & goat cheese wontons

I don’t know about you but if I’m at a Chinese restaurant, there is a good chance I’m getting cream cheese wontons. I’m not sure what it is, but I just can’t resist them. Crunchy on the outside, creamy cheese on the inside and just plain good. But what about a sweet twist on the

Read more…

SONY DSC

jam & shortbread cookies

I generally don’t mess with recipes if it involves flour and baking. I’ve had some baking disasters and have learned my lesson on one too many occasions so I’m not sure why I was feeling so bold, but I took liberty with changing a number of things with this Rachael recipe. Thankfully, I can report back that

Read more…

DSC01382

Vegan PB Blondies

I was lucky enough to receive a sampling of stevia products from NuNaturals. I have been a fan of stevia for quite some time, but I have never baked with it before. (Considering that I just started baking last month, could be part of the reason) While I was paging through all of the recipes that

Read more…