Oh the macaron, such an amazing little cookie with such a history. I posted awhile back about my experience making macarons for the first time and what a pain in my bum that was. Now that I feel like I understand it a bit more I thought I would give them a try again and this time experiment with the inside for filling.
The recipe I used is the basic French Macaron in the cookbook I referred too in that original blog post called "Les Petits Macarons". I find it to be the easier most well detailed instructions on making the macarons. Even though this book is a miracle worker, these wonderful little morsels can still be a pain in the butt. They take a lot of care, love, sweat, blood, tears and a hair from a unicorns tail in order to turn out perfectly.
Even then... they might not. Alas don't be discouraged I am just telling you the truth, but when they do cook perfectly and start puffing up and you see those amazing feet form it makes you want to shed a tear of joy! To me they are worth the effort every once in awhile, just so I can feel like I am eating a wonderful delight from a Parisian bakery.
These cookies are considered gluten free and they can be dairy free if you choose dairy free fillings. I decided I wanted to do this flavour combination because I have a ton of lemons and it seemed very springy, also just in time for Easter!
I have said it before and I will keep stressing how important and amazing it is to have a small kitchen scale. I paid $20 for mine and I have had it for 7 years and have never had to change the batteries and I have used it a thousand times! It is a small investment but so crucial for delicate recipes!
Lemon Meringue Pie French Macarons
165 grams of almond flour
165 grams of icing sugar or confectioners sugar
pinch of sea salt
1 tablespoon of egg white powder
150 grams white sugar
115 grams of aged egg whites (see note at the bottom)
3 grams cream of tarter
4 drops of yellow gel food colouring
Get all baking supplies and tools ready so it is within reach of you, remove all distractions and get ready to focus.
Take the almond flour, salt and icing sugar and place it into a food processor. Pulse the food processor for 3 seconds for 4 times. So press pulse down for 3 seconds, scrape the sides down, then pulse again. Repeat for a total of 4 times.
On a piece of parchment paper, take a fine mesh strainer and sift the almond flour mixture. Set off to the side until you need it.
In a small bowl mix together the white sugar and powdered egg whites.
In a large silver bowl or in the bowl of your stand mixer, mix together the egg whites and cream of tarter, then add the powdered egg whites and sugar. Start whisking the egg whites on a medium speed, when the meringue looks glossy and forms stiff peaks and resembles marshmallow fluff then it is done. It takes about 11 minutes. To test that it is done turn the bowl upside down and if the meringue doesn't slide out or move from the bowl then it is done.
Take the almond flour mixture and dump it all into the bowl with the meringue all at once. This is the tricky part. When you incorporate the ingredients it is called macaronner, you need to fold in the ingredients by taking your spatula and dragging it down the middle of the batter, making sure it touches the bottom of the bowl, and then scraping it to the left to form a "J". Turn the bowl 90 degrees and repeat the folding process in the "J" form. It will take approximately 18 folds to complete the macaronner. You want the batter to achieve a lava like consistency, so when you take the spatula with some batter and pull it high above the bowl it will fall down in one continuous flow and not be stiff.
When the batter is about 90% done is when you incorporate the food colouring. Always make the batter a bit brighter, the colour bakes out and it always ends up lighter then what the batter looks like.
Preheat oven to 200F, place parchment paper or a silpat on a baking sheet. With a piping bag pipe out around 12 to 20 mounds onto them. Depending on the size you wish to have how many you can get on will vary. You want to place them 1/4 inch apart to allow for the baking process. It is also good to have a piping guide for size so you have uniform shapes.
Pipe out just two at first to do a test run to make sure the batter is correct in constancy.
Take the tray and bang it as hard as you can on a hard surface around 6 times, this removes any air and allows for any tails that formed while piping to settle down and be removed. Place a second baking sheet underneath the first to allow for even baking temperatures.
Place the macarons in the oven and bake for 15 minutes at 200F, make sure to turn them half way through to allow for even baking. Turn the heat up to 350F for 9 minutes, again turning the tray half way through. This second bake at 350F you will need to watch closely so they do not over bake.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before assembling.
To assemble take one macaron and on the flat side pipe a small ring of the cream cheese and marshmallow icing around the outside, then place the lemon pie filling in the center. Take another macaron and place flat side down on the icing and filling and make it look like a sandwich.
Store in a air tight container in the fridge and best consumed right away or within 2 days of baking.
Lemon pie filling you can find the best at Betty Crocker, it's the one I always use. Or use what ever recipe you desire.
Marshmallow and cream cheese icing:
4 ounces of softened cream cheese
1 jar of marshmallow fluff
1/2 cup of butter
3 to 4 cups of powdered sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
Cream together the cream cheese, butter, vanilla extract and marshmallow fluff. Slowly add the powdered sugar. Mix all together until completely creamed and has a light consistency.
*Note: How to age egg whites is to separate the eggs and place the egg whites in a bowl and place plastic wrap on top. Allow the egg whites to sit in the fridge for 2 to 7 days. When you are ready to use them allow them to sit on the counter top for at least 2 hours before to allow to come up to room temperature.
I highly recommend buying the book I have mentioned because it is a great resource for troubleshooting and very detailed. What I have to say is just stay close while baking and adjust things as you go. Stick to it and keep trying and you eventually will feel like you have a bit of a hang on it. Even professionals who have been doing it for a long time get frustrated because some days are just not macaron baking days.
If you have any tips or experiences baking these feel free to comment and share!
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