No, not coconut macaroons. French maracones, macarons, or if you must, macaroons, are a different delicacy altogether! What no one ever tells you is how precise one has to be to bake these little buggers.
Or wait, they totally do. That’s why no one ever brings them to parties (at least the ones I go to…).
I started with vanilla, then progressed to chocolate, orange cream, and most recently, amaretto. The first time around, the cookies didn’t turn out half bad, and I gained a false confidence. Each consecutive time a different issue arose. And the next time, when I proudly fixed the lumpy batter due to not sifting the flour, I over mixed and my macarons were flat as pancakes. Baking these cookies are not for the faint of heart, or those of us that prefer to judge measurements by eye instead of by actually measuring. Yes, all of the precautions of cookbooks must be followed. Here are some basic tips I’ve acquired:
- Measure exactly – use a scale to measure by weight if you can.
- Use that food processor – yes, you really do have to break out the big thing just to mix the sugar and flour. While we’re at it, superfine sugar does help, but isn’t 100% necessary. If you’re okay with cookies that aren’t 100% perfect. (yes, seriously… it’s a good thing I’m okay with that!) Also, confectioner’s sugar isn’t the same as regular sugar in the food processor. Also, regular sugar in the food processor will not turn into superfine sugar (take it from someone who’s experienced this).
- I use almond meal/flour – don’t be clever and make your own out of almonds unless you’ve got some super-special machine. Ground almonds means ground as fine as humanely possible.
- Can’t undermix, can’t overmix the batter before you pipe it out. Good luck finding that invisible line.
- Make sure to hit the tray on the counter or something before you let the macarons sit. This will help with the little “foot” of puffiness you want them to bake with.
And last, but not least, the filling! I find that sources with good cookie recipes don’t have good filling recipes, and vice versa. Most cookies can be made “plain” or vanilla/almond, and the filling is what can give it real flavor! This is the part of the baking where you can mess around, guestimate, and just throw stuff in.