There is a common misunderstanding between a macaroon and a macaron something I was unclear of. While both cookies are gluten free, they are quite different desserts. Macaroons are a popular confection worldwide and their composition varies by region. In some countries they are usually light and similar to a meringue, whereas in the United States they are dense and chewy and usually contain coconut. When most people hear the word macaroon they gravitate to imagine a chewy mound of shredded coconut, lightly sweetened and held together by egg whites.
This post however is about the other sweet treat. The Macaron that I’m here to construe about is a delicate french filled sandwich cookie which, in its best form will fill your soul with warm fuzzy happiness after one bite as it does mine. The English word macaroon comes from the French word macaron which is derived from the Italian maccherone or fine dough (Macaroni is also derived from this word). Just before 1792 macarons gained fame when two Carmelite nuns seeking asylum in Nancy during the French Revolution baked and sold macarons in order to support themselves. These macarons were a simple combination of ground almonds, egg whites and sugar. No flavors or filling just 100% cookie. It wasn’t until the 1900s that Pierre Desfontaines of Parisian pastry shop and café Ladurée decided to take two cookies and fill them with ganache. Today Ladurée continues to be one of the first stops for macaron-crazed fans in Paris. No longer a humble almond cookie, the macaron turned into an adaptable flavored treat with a thin, light crust briefly giving way to a layer of moist almond meringue following by a center of silky smooth filling.
The basic equation for a Macaron is:
1 part cookie [ground almonds + egg white + sugar] +
1 part filling [buttercream, ganache, jam] +
1 part cookie [ground almonds + egg white + sugar] =
1 complete macaron [happiness] 🙂
I truly enjoy these cookies and established it was time to try a batch of my own. This recipe is a little different from the traditional way. I used a mixture of hazelnuts and pistachios instead of almonds. I also used nutella for the filling and included an ice cream sandwich version as well. Now get baking!
To prepare Chocolate Macarons you will need:
-1 ½ C Hazelnuts
-1/2 C Pistachios
-2 ½ C confectioners’ sugar
-3/4 C egg whites from 6 eggs at room temperature
-1/4 teaspoon salt
-1/2 C plus 2 tablespoons Granulated sugar
-3 T unsweetened cocoa powder
-Ice cream of your choice, for this recipe is used toasted pistachio (optional)
-Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using a 3 inch ring cutter, trace up to 12 circles on the paper. This will be your guide so all the cookies come out the same size.
-Grind the nuts with ¼ cup of the powder sugar in a food processor until the consistency of freshly ground coffee. Do not allow the mixture to become a paste.
-Add the remaining 2 ¼ cups of powder sugar and cocoa powder. Pulse until incorporated. You may need to do in separate batches depending on size of food processor. Sift when finished to remove any large pieces.
-Whip the egg whites and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer using the whisk attachment. While the mixer is running on medium speed, slowly add in granulated sugar little at a time and whip until the meringue is shiny and holds medium peaks, about 5 minutes.
-Using a rubber spatula, fold in the nut mixture 1/3 at a time until thoroughly combined. Mixture will begin to become fluffy and sticky similar to the jet puffed marshmallow cream.
-Fit a pastry bag with a ¼ inch plain tip and fill bag halfway with batter. You can use a Ziploc bag if you don’t have pastry bags.
-Holding the bag upright, pipe macarons inside the traced circles starting from the middle and working out.
-Let the cookies sit at room temperature for 30 minutes to dry. This will give you a crisp crust on the outside of the macaron.
-Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
-Bake the cookies for 18-20 minutes rotating tray halfway through. Cook until slightly risen and crisp on top.
-Remove from the oven and let cool completely.
-Set macarons in freezer. Once they are frozen pull out to set at room temperature before eating. Cookies are delicate so be careful when moving.
For the sandwiches:
-Pull frozen cookies from freezer and lay upside down. Scoop ice cream onto one cookie. Gently press cookies together until ice cream comes to the edges.
-If you don’t want ice cream sandwiches this recipe also goes great with Nutella. Spread Nutella on one cookie and gently press together.
-If you don’t want to do chocolate cookies remove the step with cocoa powder and simply add in a few drops of food coloring of your choice after you mix in the nut powder to the batter. Add in food coloring until color comes to your liking.
-Cookies can hold in the freezer up to 1 month.
Source (s): Meringuediaries, and seriouseats