Quite often confused with macaroons which are quite a nice cookie made with coconut; macarons on the other hand are cookies that are pure heavenly! Made from an almond flour meringue and filled with a variety of tasty fillings, these treats are so special they can hardly be called cookies.
Ladurée, the famous patisserie on the Champs Elysee in Paris is where macarons originated in the late 1800’s. Trendy and popular recently, macarons can now be found around the world at small and large bakeries alike. They are a delight, but I have yet to find some that beat those from Ladurée.
Knowing my love for macarons, my kids recently gave me the Ladurée Sucré recipe book which of course included their special recipe for the best macarons among other great pastry recipes. No problem… how hard could these be… meringues aren’t that difficult… were all thoughts as I attempted the first batch. Needless to say, I now understand why these great tasty morsels are not the cheapest treats at any bakery!
While fussy and finicky, macarons are still well worth the attempt. It took a batch or two but I definitely figured out a few tips and tricks that should make it a bit easier.
- Macarons require a very smooth and perfect meringue. Key to this is well ground and SIFTED almond flour. Purchase almond flour may be used, but it is also easy enough to grind your own in a food processor — just be sure to grind finely and then sift thoroughly.
- When beating the egg whites, be sure to beat until they form a stiff peak. This is quite important to allow the macarons to form properly. A stiff peak is formed when the beater is lifted and the meringue forms a peak that stands upright on its own with maybe a just a bit of a curl of the tip.
- Use a silicone mat or parchment paper on a cookie sheet. Ideally a pre-printed mat but if not, I suggest drawing a series of equal circles so that it makes it easier to pipe the cookies all evenly sized. If they are all the same size life is easier when you go to sandwich them later.
- Pipe the batter, do not try to do it with a spoon. Because these are sandwich cookies, it is important to have them all the same size so none are wasted trying to find matching pairs for each macaron.
- Once piped onto the cookie sheet, be sure to let them rest for a few minutes before putting them into the oven. This allows the batter to form a somewhat dry ‘crust’ which helps to form the right shape when baking and also helps create the characteristic ‘foot’ of macarons.
- Macarons ‘foot’ is partly tricky to achieve. The ‘foot’ is the bubbly looking ring around the base of each cookie. If the consistency of the batter is nice and smooth and the batter is allowed to dry partly before going in the oven, the odds of a perfect ‘foot’ forming is much more likely — unfortunately you don’t know until they are mostly baked so this is where the trial and error comes in.
- Be sure your oven temperature is accurate and even as these cookies are easily thrown off by uneven baking.
- Fillings can be a variety of things but homemade jam is definitely a good choice. Creamy custard fillings also do very well. Cocoa Raspberry Amaretto Jam and Peach Jam make great macaron fillings.
So if you are ready to try these amazing cookies, here is the recipe: Macarons
The Ladurée bag on the table is filled with macarons. Unfortunately, we only had a few that night as we forgot it in our hotel room the next day when we flew home — so much for bringing these treats home to share!