I never liked how macarons tasted, but I loved how they looked — pretty pastel colored cookies with frilly centers, almost like they just walked out of a dollhouse. A couple of weeks ago, I tried making French macarons for the first time following Chef Pierre Herme’s world famous macaron recipe (Italian meringue method). I ground almonds to make my own almond flour and made the batter following the recipe to the gram. I had hopes of seeing perfect (smooth shiny tops, frilly feet and what not) macarons slide out of the oven. But I failed. As disappointed as I was, I had to convince myself that I got tricked by this 3-ingrdient recipe which looked so straightforward but was really not.
After this first attempt, I did decide never to waste anymore almond flour in making macarons. Soon after, we were toured around New York City by an awesome food enthusiast and on his suggestion, my sister and I visited Chef Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bakery and tried their macarons. We got a box of six — raspberry white chocolate, mango-coconut, vanilla, chocolate and pistachio. These macarons were very promising — they tasted less of sugar and more of the flavor name tags beside them. Now I haven’t tried the Ladurée macarons and so I don’t know how good they are but I can assure you that the Bouchon Bakery macarons are probably better than the best.
Every time we taste an amazing baked good, my job is to come home, do some research, make it, (try to) meet the standards and perfect it. That being said, I was tempted to make macarons again, but this time, I had to meet the Bouchon standards!
This time I used store bought almond flour and used the French meringue method. I learned that making macarons was less about ingredients and a lot more about technique. Getting the meringue right is key and so is the batter consistency. After that comes recognizing the right oven temperature as all ovens differ. I still need to work on finding the suitable temperature.
Blackberry White Chocolate Macarons
Partially adapted from Byron Talbott
For the the macaron shells:
65g (2/3 cup) — powdered sugar
50g (1/2 cup) — almond flour
1 — egg white
20g (2 tbsp) — granulated sugar
1 to 2 drops — purple gel food coloring (optional)
For the White Chocolate Buttercream
3 tablespoons — butter
1/4 cup — powdered sugar
3 tablespoons — melted white chocolate
For the Macerated blackberries:
10 to15 — blackberries
1 tablespoon — granulated sugar
1) In a medium bowl add the egg white and begin whisking until foamy. Add the granulated sugar and continue whisking until the meringue has semi-soft peaks. Add the food coloring half way through the process. Be careful not to over mix or you will have to start over.
2) Sift the almond flour and powdered sugar in a separate bowl and begin to fold the meringue into the dry ingredients a half at a time. Once the batter is finished it should look like a thick cake batter. Drop a little of the batter back into the bowl and if it absorbs into the rest of the batter within 15 seconds it’s finished.
3) Scoop the batter into a piping bag fitted with a small round metal tip and pipe out the macarons slightly larger than the “Thin Mint” wafers. Tap the tray to make sure there isn’t any air trapped inside the batter and allow to dry for 15-20 minutes. Once dry bake in a 300°F oven for 12-15 minutes.Take the macarons out of the oven and allow to cool for 30 minutes before removing them from the tray.
4) While the macarons are cooling, make the buttercream filling. In a medium sized mixing bowl add the room temperature butter and powdered sugar and begin to whisk until all of the powdered sugar is absorbed into the butter. Add the melted white chocolate and begin to whisk until the buttercream is smooth. Scoop into a piping bag and reserve until ready to use.
5) Slice some blackberries in half and add to a small bowl. Add some sugar to the blackberries and gently mix until the sugar has dissolved onto the blackberries.
6) Pipe a quarter sized dollop of buttercream on the flat side of a macaron then place one of the halved macerated blackberries in the center and gently press down until the buttercream spreads close to the edge of the macaron. Top with the other macaron cookie and enjoy!
Store the cookies in an airtight container.
Makes 1 dozen.