The Bare Necessity and Chocolate Macarons

 

I’ve honestly always wanted a blog. As a writer, editor and constant conversationalist, it’s something that seems almost a necessity to me. Unfortunately, I could never quite figure out what to write about; that was true until earlier this morning. As I stared painfully into the screen of my twitter (for the millionth time that morning), I vigorously wrote yet another tweet about my struggle making my delicious French macarons on such a humid day. It occurred to me that not all of Twitter wants to hear my very pathetic pleas for attention; however, if I had a blog, I could reason my pathetic stories into documentation of my life as a student.

So that brings me to the here and now: a very tired baker who has decided to start a lifestyle blog (appropriately titled after my one true love in life: macarons). As my first post, I find nothing better fitting than sharing with you my success to macarons.

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My favorite recipes are from a cookbook titled Macarons & More, a great find I picked up at Barnes and Noble after I returned from a trip to Paris last summer. My favorite macaron by far is the chocolate, both because it’s an easy recipe to make, and because they have such a rich and flavorful taste.

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Chocolate MacaronsMacarons & More (page 18)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2/3 cup almond flour (very expensive, but also worth it. You can find it at Target or Whole Foods)
  • 3 T unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 egg whites (room temp or aged overnight)
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar

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Directions:

  1. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. Combine the powdered sugar, almond flour and cocoa in a food processor. Pulse. Sift the mixture into a medium bowl.
  2. Beat the egg whites with an electric mixer on med in a large bowl until frothy. Then, SLOWLY add the granulated sugar with the mixer on high until stiff, shiny peaks form. —Tip from Jen: If you think you’ve mixed the meringue mixture enough, slowly turn the bowl upside-down. If the mixture stays put, it’s ready to go.
  3. Add half the flour mixture from step 1 into the meringue mixture and fold with a spatula. Only stir 12 strokes. Then add the rest of the flour mixture by stirring 15 strokes. Do not over or under mix.
  4. Pipe the batter with a plain tip and piping bag onto the cookie sheets. You can make them any size you’d like, but I prefer mine mini, about 1.5 inches in diameter.
  5. Let the cookies sit until the tops slightly harden. This will depend on humidity (mine took longer because it was a very humid day, but sometimes they will only take 10 minutes to dry). Once the tops are slightly hardened ,(if you touch the top with a finger tip and none of the batter sticks) you’re ready for my favorite part. Rap the cookie sheet on a flat surface to remove air bubbles.
  6. Preheat oven to 375 and bake for 5 minutes at this heat. Then reduce heat to 325 and bake for 10 minutes more (Rotate cookie sheet every 5 minutes for even cooking).
  7. If the cookies stick to the parchment after cooking, I find it easiest to flip over the parchment paper and spray the backside with lukewarm water. The cookies will then peel right off.

For the filling, you can do anything from Nutella, to jelly, to homemade ganache.

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Although I’ve made this recipe many times before, today was 70% humidity in Madison, and these cookies were not loving it. My first batch fried in the oven. My next batch had yolk in the meringue and the mixture never stiffened, even after 40 strenuous minutes of beating them with my electric mixer. By the third try, I had everything under control. In order to further combat my humid conditions, I set up a desk-top fan on my kitchen counter to blow air on the macarons as they dried. Unlike other macaron cookies, this chocolate recipe is always the most presentable and best to bake. When I finally found the right conditions to bake and prep under, the cookies were a breeze to make.

Numerous tweets, a couple dozen eggs, and one sore arm later, my macarons were absolute perfection for my Monday night tea party. Despite my diverse laughable struggles that occurred this morning, I always have so much fun making macarons.

Once it’s drier out, you too can go find some almond flour and become the macaron queen of your dreams!

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