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Tuesday
Sep272005

The Mighty Macaron

mixedmacarons.jpg
French Macarons, from bottom: Chocolate with Bittersweet Ganache
and Raspberry Preserves, Almond with Blood Orange Curd,
and Chocolate with Bittersweet Ganache and Caramel au Beurre Salé
 
One of the most tangible side effects of having discovered foodblogs is the expansion of horizons it brings (along with the expansion of waistline, but that's another story). Before foodblogs it was very easy to exist in my own little bubble, reading the cookbooks I already knew, cooking the types of things I had cooked for years and all the while thinking myself well-acquainted with most things food-related. Obviously new things would enter my radar, but it was usually a slow and gradual process, usually brought about by word-of-mouth or a chance encounter while traveling. The day I discovered foodblogs, however, all that changed in the blink of an eye - suddenly I had immediate, graphic representations of local food as it was being cooked/bought/eaten in countries all over the world, and overnight I realized how much I didn't know. It was a bit like going down the rabbit hole and waking up to discover that the world is full of things you've never even dreamed of: nama and balut, Kouign Amann and Rinquinquin... And best of all, things like those little crispy-yet-chewy, almost tooth-achingly sweet but entirely addictive confections called macarons.

Wait, I hear you saying, isn't 'macaron' just the fancy French spelling for 'macaroon'? And if so, where's the coconut? We all know the American conception of macaroons, surely - little misshapen mounds of sticky coconut baked into a moist mass everyone insists on calling a cookie. When I had the good fortune to be allowed into a bakery as a kid, I stayed as far away from the macaroons as possible - they were definitely not crunchy yet also not really soft, incredibly sweet but still somehow lacking taste, and they always required an inordinate amount of chewing to break down all those woody coconut shreds. They were definitely not on my hit list and I'm reasonably certain that to this day only the most die-hard of coconut fans eat them regularly. But anyway, back to the question. In fact, you may be surprised to learn that macaroons and macarons are actually one and the same - they stem from the same parent confectionary and share the same root in their name. Technically, they are the same cookie. Or are they?

History has conflicting stories on the origin of the macaro(o)n. Most people seem to agree that the original item comes from Italy - possibly from the Veneto region, but nobody's sure - and baked for the first time around the 14th or 15th century. Linguistically the macaro(o)n shares the same root as the word for a particular kind of elbow-shaped pasta, which interestingly used to be the catch-all term in Italian for anything made from a flour-and-water paste, a.k.a. macaroni or maccheroni. Maccarone (from the Venetian dialect) were given their name because they were based also based on a paste, this one being comprised of egg whites and nuts. Maccarone weren't so much a recipe for a cookie as a type of preparation, actually; across Italy many different kinds of egg-white-and-nut confections surfaced, including almond-based amaretti and ricciarelli as well as similar things made with pistachios, hazelnuts, pine nuts and walnuts.
 
It's how they spread beyond the shores of Italy, however - and particularly how they came to be so different in France and North America - that's most relevant here. The story goes that macaroons found their paths out of Italy in two ways. The first way was thanks to Carmelite nuns seeking refuge from the French Revolution in Nancy, France, who began baking little almond and egg white cookies from a recipe they'd brought from Italy to pay for their upkeep. The second was by Italian Jews who spread the recipe to the Ashkenazi in Eastern Europe, who in turn embraced the flourless cookie as a Passover delicacy and took it with them wherever they emigrated. The macaroon as Americans know it was undoubtedly introduced this way, though at some point along the line coconut was substituted for the almonds. Over time this coconut variation became the standard 'macaroon' on sale in North America, whereas in Europe the nut-based version still reigned supreme, particularly in France, where those little nuns single-handedly managed to spawn a national obsession. Today the two cookies couldn't actually have less to do with each other: while the American macaroon has stuck firmly to its roots as a homely, humble and vaguely tropical bakery standard, the French macaron has taken the egg-and-nut formula and launched itself into the orbit of haute cuisine, if not occasionally fine art.
 
The basic formula for a French macaron is more or less the same wherever you go: two small almond flour-based cookies, usually no more than an inch and a half in diameter and usually sporting attractive colors and added flavor essences, encasing a thick and creamy filing of often - but by no means obligatory - corresponding flavor and color. The standards, available almost anywhere, are things like chocolate, vanilla, coffee, pistachio, lemon, and raspberry. On another plane entirely, however, are creations by such legendary pastry-artisans as Pierre Hermé, who with his combinations of Campari and grapefruit; pistachio and apricot praline; chocolate and fleur du sel-caramel; rose, litchi and raspberry; and chestnut and green tea, has quite literally revolutionized the macaron playing field. And there's no question that people go crazy for them - every year experts get together and hold a competition to discover the best macarons in Paris, judging the output of hundreds of establishments on things like taste, appearance and creativity, and every day the famed Parisian house of Ladurée sells upwards of 12,000 of them.

So naturally for someone food-obsessed like me, the logical step after discovering macarons and tasting a couple of prototypes was to attempt to make my own. Macarons are in fact notoriously difficult to make: too airy and they dry out and crumble, too dense and they become tough and gluey. The tops must be smooth and lightly domed, the bottoms should be dimpled and airy with ruffled 'feet', the filling should be soft and flavorful and the whole thing pleasantly chewy. Luckily I found some words of advice from a more seasoned macaron baker, so I knew to watch for things like the batter texture and the formation of a skin. The macarons I produced were naturally not perfect by any means - the tops could have been a little smoother, the feet a little more uniform, the centers a little more tender - but all things considered they weren't bad, and I'm particularly fond of their sporty little feet and satisfying crunch. The thing I was least satisfied with, however, was the filling - buttercream is traditional, as it's dense and firm enough to support the two cookie halves, but the result I got when paired with the macarons was verging on almost inedibly sweet. I also experimented with the other, less-sweet possibilities - a tangy blood orange curd (which worked very nicely), tart raspberry preserves, and a lightly-sweetened creme-fraiche and yogurt mixture (based on a macaron filling from Gordon Ramsay) which unfortunately ended up too soft and runny to sit still between the cookies. In any case, there's still a lot of experimenting to be done, and since I doubt I'll be prostrating myself in front of Pierre Hermé to beg for his secrets anytime soon, I'll just have to assume that practice makes perfect!
 

Basic Macaron Batter
Source: based on Clement's recipe here. He recommends that you mix the egg whites and almond mixture together gently until it 'flows like magma', or until a peak in the batter will slowly sink back down to a flat surface.

1 1/4 cups icing/powdered sugar
4 oz (1 cup) almond flour or finely ground almonds (if grinding yourself add some of the icing sugar to keep them from getting gummy)
2 large egg whites
pinch of salt
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon extract of choice: almond, vanilla, orange, lemon, pistachio... (optional)
few drops food coloring (optional) 

On three pieces of parchment, trace 1-inch (2.5 cm) circles about 2 inches apart. Flip each sheet over and place on baking sheets.

Sift almond flour and icing sugar together into a bowl. In a large clean, dry bowl whip the egg whites with salt on medium speed until foamy. Increase the speed to high and gradually add granulated sugar, extract and coloring (if using). Continue to whip to stiff peaks – the whites should be firm and shiny.

With a rubber spatula, fold in the icing sugar mixture into the egg whites until completely incorporated. The mixture should be shiny and ‘flow like magma.’ When small peaks dissolve to a flat surface, stop mixing.

Fit a piping bag with a 3/8-inch (1 cm) round tip, or take a medium-sized plastic sandwich baggie and snip off one corner. Fill the piping bag or baggie and pipe the batter onto the baking sheets, in the previously drawn circles (I found spiraling out from the center to work best). Tap the underside of the baking sheet to remove air bubbles. Let dry at room temperature for 1 or 2 hours to allow skins to form.

Heat the oven to 160C/325F and bake for 10 to 11 minutes, or until set and firm on top. Rotate the baking sheets after 5 minutes for even baking.

Remove macarons from oven and transfer parchment to a cooling rack. When cool, slide a metal offset spatula or pairing knife underneath the macaron to remove from parchment.

Pair macarons of similar size, and pipe about ½ tsp of the filling onto one of the macarons. Sandwich macarons, and refrigerate to allow flavours to blend together. Bring back to room temperature before serving.

Variation: Chocolate Macaron Batter
Using the master recipe above, add 4 tablespoons of good-quality cocoa powder to the almond-sugar mixture before sifting; increase the sugar to 1 3/4 cups and the egg whites to 3.

 

Basic Buttercream Filling
Recipe from epicurious here
4 large egg whites at room temperature for 30 minutes
Rounded 1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup water
1 1/3 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar
4 sticks (2 cups) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon pieces and softened
2 teaspoons vanilla or other extract
Special equipment: a candy thermometer 
 
Combine whites and salt in a very large bowl. Stir together water and 1 1/3 cups sugar in a 3- to 4-quart heavy saucepan until sugar is dissolved, then bring to a boil over moderate heat, without stirring, brushing any sugar crystals down side of pan with a pastry brush dipped in water.
 
When syrup reaches a boil, start beating egg whites with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until frothy, then gradually add remaining 2 tablespoons sugar and beat at medium speed until whites just hold soft peaks. (Do not beat again until sugar syrup is ready.)
 

Meanwhile, put thermometer into sugar syrup and continue boiling until syrup registers 238 to 242°F. Immediately remove from heat and, with mixer at high speed, slowly pour hot syrup in a thin stream down side of bowl into whites, beating constantly. Beat, scraping down side of bowl with a rubber spatula, until meringue is cool to the touch, about 10 minutes in a standing mixer or 15 with a handheld. (It is important that meringue is properly cooled before proceeding.)

With mixer at medium speed, gradually add butter 1 piece at a time, beating well after each addition until incorporated. (Buttercream will look soupy after some butter is added if meringue is still warm. If so, briefly chill bottom of bowl in a large bowl filled with ice water for a few seconds before continuing to beat in remaining butter.) Continue beating until buttercream is smooth. (Mixture may look curdled before all of butter is added but will come back together by the time beating is finished.) Add vanilla and beat 1 minute more.

Bittersweet Chocolate Filling
1/2 cup whipping cream
5 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/2 cup (4oz) unsalted butter, diced

Bring the cream just to a boil in a medium saucepan (or in the microwave). Remove the pan from the heat. Add the chocolate and butter and whisk until smooth. Let cool to room temperature, then refrigerate covered, for at least 30 minutes, or until the filling is firm enough to hold its shape when spread.

 
Salted Caramel 
I used the recipe from here
 
Blood Orange Curd 

Source: Starchefs.com

Zest from 6 blood oranges (if blood oranges are unavailable, use any type of tangerines or clementines)
8 ounces blood orange juice, strained (6-8 oranges or tangerines)
6 eggs
6 yolks
3/4 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean
8 ounces butter

few drops red food coloring (optional)

Bring a pot of water to a simmer. In a bowl fitted atop the pot, combine eggs, sugar, yolks, zest and vanilla. Whisk well until mixture starts to warm. Add orange juice and allow to thicken, whisking occasionally. When mixture coats the back of a spoon thickly, it is ready.

Take off the heat and purée it well with an immersion blender and pass it through a fine-meshed strainer. Allow to cool to room temperature. Add butter in pieces and optional red food coloring and whisk or blend with the immersion blender until smooth. 

 

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Reader Comments (41)

My comment for your last post below disappeared. I hope I'm luckier here. ;-)

What enticing-looking macarons! I'm definitely learning a lot from the foodblogs and inspired by them! Thanks!

Paz
September 27, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterPaz
Who the heck needs Laduree when we have you? You're macarons look great, congradulations! And thanks for researching their tasty history. I was told (when I was in pastry school) the classic macarons don't have filling in them; they were just sandwiched together while warm. I am going to try your recipe...once I've polished off the last of my Kouign Aman.
September 27, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterDavid
I am beyond impressed - your macarons are gorgeous. They must have been fun to eat after all that physical work, and research! ;)
September 27, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterLuisa
I've wanted to make French macarons for several months now and was just sort of hoping a recipe would find its way to me. I love it when things work out. :)

Thanks so much for all the work you put into your food blog. It's always a pleasure to read. Beautiful photos too.
September 27, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterRomy
Gorgeous! (As usual)
Nice job!
September 27, 2005 | Unregistered Commentermegwoo
Manuel steps out for a few hours and look what you get yourself into? Send that man out more often :) Im glad to see he didnt gobble them all up before you were able to take a picture. The macarons look lovely, I am dying to taste one. Congrats on having your first batch of macarons turn out so well!
September 28, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterMichele
*drool* I have to stop reading fod blogs this on an empty stomach!
September 29, 2005 | Unregistered Commenterkitchenmage
oh my god, yummy and great photo - but then you always have beautiful food pics
September 29, 2005 | Unregistered Commenterkath
I know exactly what you mean about discovering food blogs! It's like a whole new plane of gastronomy!

This post on macarons is a case-in-point about learning new things. Thanks for the succinct history lesson!

And I think your macarons look incredible for a first effort. Wow. Well done!
September 29, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterAugustusGloop
Hi Paz - Sorry about the comment disappearing, my webhost's been having a lot of service-related blips lately. I'm glad you like the macarons - maybe you'll have to try making them yourself? :)

Hi David - Aw shucks, I'm blushing like mad! I would be very proud indeed if these have inspired you to try them out yourself. They're not actually that difficult, but you do have to invest a good chunk of time waiting for skins to form and baking in multiple batches - but I'm sure you're up to the task. And I doubt I'll cause Laudree to go out of business anytime soon - after all, even at full throttle I doubt I could turn out 12,00 of these a day!

Hi Luisa - Shhh, don't tell anyone, but after baking so many batches of these I couldn't even look at them anymore! Then again, I suppose I didn't have to taste every batch both before and after they went into the oven... ;)

Hi Romy - Thanks very much, it's a pleasure for me too. Let me know how it goes when you give macaron-making a try!

Hi Megwoo - Glad you like them!

Hi Michele - Ha ha, actually by the time he came home there were so many I was practically forcing him to eat some. I'll let you know when I manage to concoct a mail-proof filling for these - but naturally if I send you some you'll have to conduct a Paris-wide taste test to let me know how mine compare!

Hi Kitchenmage - I do the same thing all the time. It's torture, isn't it? ;)

Hi Kath - Thank you! In fact it never ceases to amaze me how beautiful food can be, and I love trying to capture that in pictures.

Hi AG - Absolutely! How else could you know exactly what someone in Australia had for dinner last night? :) In fact I love the fact that there's so much I still don't know - nearly every day I discover something new!
September 29, 2005 | Registered Commentermelissa
Melissa do you have ANY idea what you have done? OMG I want to make these right now!! ahhhhhhh........ it is too late to make them now and I am out of eggs NO FAIR!

If you want any of those recipes email me ;)
September 29, 2005 | Unregistered Commenterclare eats
Your macarons look wonderful! I have been toying with the idea of making them but I'm too nervous! You sure are tempting me though :)

I totally agree with your sentiments on food blogging...I have learned so much in my short time here!
September 29, 2005 | Unregistered Commenterjoey
Those look really outstanding!

I've never tried macarons, so I'm curious. Is it anything like marzipan? I'm thinking almond and sugar... should taste lika marzipan! I know Italian soft amaretti do. I'm hoping these do to, cause I just loooove marzipan-ish thingies.

Thanks for exploring and for taking such pride in your work!
September 30, 2005 | Unregistered Commenterce
hi melissa, those look totally awesome! replete with frilly feet and all...here's another reason to go get that p.h. chocolate book if you haven't already ;)(there's a chocolate macaron recipe in there...) i'm still recovering from a botched attempt and gradually working up the nerve to try making them again - thanks for always being such an inspiration!
September 30, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterJ
Dear Melissa:

As always, you amaze me. Just like you, I adore food history. It's the most tangible reminder of where we have been, the mistakes we have made, the places we might go. And I agree--I love how food blogs expand our horizons. (The waistline? Ah, well.Good food is worth a little softness.)

These look absolutely gorgeous. And of course, I especially like the fact that they're naturally gluten free. I'm thinking they're going to be warm from kitchen, popped into my mouth, this weekend.

Once again, thank you. Thank you.

September 30, 2005 | Unregistered Commentershauna
Dear Melissa

I am in great awe. These look perfect, utterly divine. In her lovely little book, Paris Sweets, Dorie Greenspan (no less) sort of declares that macarons are to-die-for but simply too difficult to make at home. After devoting a whole page to the charms of macarons, her advice is for readers to go to Paris and eat them there! Her words have held me back from even attempting to make them. You, however, have changed that all. Thank you for sharing your recipe.
September 30, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterS
What a fantastic post. I loved reading about the origins of this most heavenly snack. I too, like most of us f-bloggers, a macaron addict. This is really inspirational... not that I'm going to be trying to make them anytime soon. Smart hubby that I am, I'm going to convince S that she should make them for me.
September 30, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterChubby Hubby
Hi Melissa,

These look positively delicious. I've actually never had a macaron before even though I saw them in shops when I was last in Paris (about 8 years ago). Now that everyone talks about them, I'm dying to try some. I just don't have the nerve, or the skill, to make these at home.

Great job!
October 1, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterReid
hi mel, guess what? i made macarons last xmas, with chocolate-filling of course. the problem was they got too crispy n i was hoping they would be kind of chewy. how do i do that, miss food-blog?
October 3, 2005 | Unregistered Commentergoogs
Hi Clare - Gee, sorry about that. No I'm not. Make them tomorrow! :)

Hi Joey - I hope I've managed to convince you! I was quite nervous as well, but I found them to be pretty easy. I think the big macaron makers spread rumors about their difficulty to keep people from making their own (and to keep themselves in business)!

Hi Ce - I also love Italian amaretti, but these are actually pretty different. The ground almonds in these don't impart much flavor, instead leaving a blank slate for whatever extracts or flavorings you want to add. If you add almond flavoring they start to resemble amaretti a bit more, though the texture is still a bit fluffier and chewier. Anyhow, you'll just have to give them a try and see what you think!

Hi J - The P.H. book is in the amazon shopping basket as we speak! Have you tried his recipe? I'd be interested to see how he does chocolate ones - I thought the flavor was a bit too subtle in these. And somehow I can't imagine you botching anything - maybe you'll just have to give them another shot. I'm happy to offer a free taste-testing service if you need a second opinion ;)

Hi Shauna - Of course I agree that a little softness is justified. It's when things start moving beyond a little that I have to start to think about cutting back on the macarons ;) And yes, macarons first attracted me because they are gluten-free - how wonderful is it that we can walk into a French patisserie and actually find something we can eat?

Hi S - Dorie, Dorie... She must have been instructed by Pierre to say that! Actually, I feel that if I lived anywhere I could buy macarons I would prefer to do that, since they are kind of time consuming to make (not exactly like whipping up a batch of chocolate chip cookies!), but I can't say they're particularly difficult. I'm now waiting with bated breath to see how you fare - if you need any further advice let me know!

Hi Chubby Hubby - Smart hubby indeed! I'm sure she'll pull it off - I've got my fingers crossed!

Hi Reid - I agree that the first macarons you taste should be from a 'professional', just to see what they should be like, but after that you shouldn't be afraid to try making your own. Heck, I'm not an expert baker by any means, and anyone who can make perfect checkerboard cookies could manage these!

Hi googs - Wow, you certainly are harboring some impressive culinary secrets! I would have never guessed you made macarons. As you can see here, a lot of people are nervous about making them because they have such a reputation for being difficult. If yours were too chewy, I think the batter may have been too flat, i.e. the egg whites lost too much air. If they were too crispy they might have been baked too long or at too high a temperature. I'd be interested to see what recipe you used.
October 3, 2005 | Registered Commentermelissa
Hi Melissa - you definitely research your articles well! Impressive!
I still haven't tried any macarons/macaroons - though have been tempted since I saw J's post at Kuidaore few months ago. And now you! The world of foodblogging is full of endless and continuous temptations...
October 7, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterPille
Hi Pille - You want to know the only place I've found macarons in Edinburgh? At Paul, the new patisserie in the Edinburgh airport! Unfortunately it's in the departure area (after clearing security), so you have to flying somewhere to get them. They seem to be getting so popular, though, that I think they'll start showing up in other places. I have my fingers crossed, anyway...
October 9, 2005 | Registered Commentermelissa
Your macaroons look amazing! I have never tried to make them but I am bookmarking this recipe for the future. Thank you!
October 10, 2005 | Unregistered Commentergemma
Melissa - this is weird, but I had a ham quiche and a cup of coffee at that place when flying home in August. And it was literally the worst quiche and most bitter coffee I've ever had. I was really disappointed, so although having been in the airport several times since, I've avoided this place at any cost. Maybe I should give them (or at least their macarons) another try next time...
I'm heading to Göttingen this Saturday, any good macaron places there maybe?
October 10, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterPille
Hi Melissa, your macarons look so beautiful and delicious, and I had no idea that the history of macarons/macaroons was so fascinating! I've also been looking for buttercream alternatives, so I'll definitely try your fillings next time I make them.
October 11, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterClement
Hi Gemma - Thank you! I look forward to your attempt - if anyone can do it, that certainly must be you. :)

Hi Pille - I didn't actually try anything there except the macarons (it was a bag of their assorted mini-macarons in various flavors for about £6). The macarons were average, really - they tasted kind of stale and the flavors were a bit muted. The raspberry was actually my favorite, since it was filled with a very tasty raspberry jam instead of the uber-sweet buttercream. I don't know of any macarons at all in Gottingen, unfortunately, but there is a bar called Villa Cuba which is fantastic! If you go, see if Rumen is working - he's a good friend of Manuel's.

Hi Clement - Thank you, I'm so glad they meet with your approval! :) Your instructions were really spot-on, I have to say, so thank you for that. Next on my list of fillings to try is, of course, ice cream!
October 11, 2005 | Registered Commentermelissa
Hi Melissa,

I stumbled upon your blog sometime last week, and since then I can't get enough of reading thorugh your wonderful posts and drooling over the lovely pictures accompanying them :)

This post particularly fascinated me because I have tasted something similar to macarons (at least they look alike) when I was living in Zurich. Over there they are called Luxemburgerli and are only sold in Confiserie Sprungli, and it is claimed that the recipe of this heavenly treat is patented by Sprungli. Since leaving Zurich, in the last two years I have had many a craving for Luxemburgerli, but no means of fulfilling them, until now.

But after reading your post and doing some more web-search I believe that Luxemburgerli and macarons are one and the same. However, I am a bit surprised that this connection between the two is not mentioned anywhere, at least not online as far as my search revealed.

This (http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luxemburgerli) entry in Wikipedia describes them and also gives a recipe, but given my flaky German, I will rely on your recipe to satiate my craving some day soon...

Best wishes
Suparna
November 15, 2005 | Unregistered Commentersuparna
Hi Suparna - Thanks very much, and your information about Luxemburgerli is very interesting. It reminded me that I had seen a discussion of the difference between them over on Jocelyn's blog Kuidaore (http://brandoesq.blogspot.com/2005/07/macaron-by-any-other-name_10.html ). It sure seems that they are one and the same, but not having tried Luxemburgerli I can't say for sure. At any rate, if you do give macarons a try, let me know how they compare!
November 16, 2005 | Registered Commentermelissa
Bonjour Melissa (de rigueur for a macaron post-smile)

Did you try a base of italian meringue for the egg whites processing ? I intend to try that soon and see what they look like.

I leave my piped macaron "dry" a whole 4 to 6 hours before cooking them. The crust is as smooth as a baby's bottom this way.

Also, there's a Valrhona recipe for the filling I wanted to try. 90 g raspeberry purée - 100 g white chocolate - 210 g cream (imagine the colour of this one). I suppose other fruit purées could be used, not sure though about the texture depending on how the other fruits purées are more or less liquid.

An other trial I wanted to make for the filling is with bavarian creams. They are light though you can make as sturdy as you wish or airy as you want by adjusting cream and gelatin. And the sky is the limit for flavours.

I'm a total macaron freak myself. Your trials inspired me to go ahead and plan a "macaron marathon", testing several recipes and fillings. Note to self: Buy 1 or 2 kg almond powder...
December 21, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterZoubida
Hi Zoubida! Thanks for the tips, there are several things I'll have to try next time I attempt them. I love your idea of a bavarian cream filling - the gelatin sounds like it would be the perfect way to achieve the firmness needed without needing to add too much sugar. As for fruit, some of my favorite macarons ever have had a rather tart preserve-like fruit filling, either alone or combined with chocolate like you mention. Next time I'm going to experiment with more of these - the chocolate-passionfruit filling I tasted at Pierre Herme in Paris has been haunting my dreams!
December 22, 2005 | Registered Commentermelissa
made the macarons from same recipe & they could use some "perfecting". what would be really helpful is to see a picture of the "magma flow". i also hade a hard time keeping the batter within the circles since it was flowing like what i thought the mixture should be like if it was "magma". i hope that you have had further adventures in macarons since your dec. posting & you or some else can shed some light. thanks.
April 25, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterjanice
I want to try these macarons. and I have bitter almond and sweet almond. what kind of almond did you use? bitter almond or sweet?
July 3, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterirem
Irem - I only have access to sweet almonds here, so that's what I used. But I suppose you could try some bitter ones added for flavor, perhaps? Good luck!
July 4, 2006 | Registered Commentermelissa
I just discover your blog, coming from "tartelette" and as I love macarons I'm very interested in your way of cooking them ! I prefer the second recepie from Epicurious ! Seems to me I'got better results with it !
For the "ganache" - the filling- you can try white Ivoire chocolate from Valrhona, with cream to make the ganache, then any flavour, and add fresh cream, wait some hours and them whipped all of it ,the result is very light, not to much suggared and very pleasant this is the Hermé recepie !! I'm sorry for my bad english, hope you'll understand!! bravo for your blog, very interesting !
August 22, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterMercotte

these look fantantic! tried making a batch last week, 6 hours later, I ended up with 1 nice-to-eat-but-not-so-pretty-looking-batch, 1 oh-so-flat-batch and 1 almost-perfect batch. They taste perfect, but i cant seem to get them in regular round pieces! Any tips on piping them properly?

April 29, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterMeg

Piping tip: I did not find that spiraling out from the center, as described above, was helpful. Instead, I found that it was important to keep the piping tip immersed in the batter on the pan as I piped.

May 18, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterDoonerak

About 8 months ago I made the chocolate macarons from the recipe here, and they worked out wonderfully.

Today I decided to try making the blood orange curd, and there was a big problem. The final result doesn't look anything like the picture you've got at the top of the page. There are so many eggs in the recipe that I don't know how it could possibly come out looking bright red.
After MUCH cooking, I ended up with a thick yellow pudding that tasted something like a creamsicle (because of the vanilla). Next time I'll adapt a recipe from epicurious for the curd.

December 31, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterTim

Hi Melissa,
Just found your notes here on macarons, and I've been trying to make them. I have one problem, though (I think): when they come out, there is a space between the top "crust" and the inner chewy layer. Is this space a bad thing, and if so, what am I doing wrong? I'm whipping the whites enough, folding them in, it flows "like magma", I bake at 325 F, they get "feet", they taste great. but there is that space there. Are they perhaps cooling too quickly? Any advice you could give would be appreciated!

March 10, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterTrob

I definately agree about the fillings you often find in macarons- I hate sweetness and I've been looking for something a little fruitier for ages. Your blood orange curd sounds absolutely perfect, but when you say "6 eggs, 6 yolks", does that mean 6 egg whites and 6 egg yolks or 6 whole eggs with an additional 6 yolks?
thanks :)

March 16, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCarly

This recipe looks great... but can someone please clarify something. In the recipe it says 4 oz (1 cup) of almond flour or ground almonds. But 4 oz is only 1/2 cup. So, did you mean 8 oz or just 1/2 cup? Would really like to try this.

It's 4 oz by weight, not by volume. -m

August 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBobby

My husbands favorite desert in the world is macaroons! I can't make them and have them around for 2 hours without him devouring them. I would really like to try the almond recipe you have.. it looks mighty fine. Kudos.
-Amy
Zig Zag Papers

September 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAmy

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