I never understood this new obsession with macarons. I hadn't tasted one, but I had the impression that they were hard, dry little cookies, kind of like a cross between Necco Wafer and Shortbread. Not appetizing all all, hardly gush-worthy.
Why did I assume they were nasty? Was it judging by looks only or my tendency to mistrust foreign cookies?
When I was in New York City in March, I met a girl who was freakily similar to me (she's Mako's assistant, loves Twilight and baking, among other things. She's even taking culinary courses right now!) Anyway, we spent hours swapping city bakeries we loved, and she told me of a place nearby that had cupcakes and macarons. It wasn't long until I was standing in the shop, ordering a salted caramel macaron at her urging.
And it was awesome! Macaron cookies are crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside, with a burst flavor in between. Turns out, macarons are completely delicious.
Now, faced with their reputation as fussy, hard to make desserts, and a delicious taste in my memory, multiplied by an excess of egg white after making creme brulees at work...I knew a macaron attempt was in my immediate future.
Macaron ingredients are usually just these: almonds, confectioner's sugar and egg whites. Super simple.
You can use almond flour, or (as I did) grind whole almonds and confectioner's sugar in a food processor as finely as you can. The confectioner's sugar helps the almond resist turning into almond butter and stay floury. Pictured below.
The consistency is supposed to be like "Magma," whatever that means. Neither recipes turned out exactly how I pictured, with rounded tops and cute little feet...my pink ones (colored with food coloring) mostly cracked, and the brown ones had little pointy hats.
I used a 1/2-in pastry tip to pipe the macaron rounds. Everything I read said the little circles should smooth, but not spread.
Pictured above is my first tray.
...and after they baked.
They still tasted good though, crackly and chewy.
Above are the chocolate ones...their little points never smoothed out as they should, though they did bake nicely and develop petite feet.
So I guess I conclude that the first batch wasn't stiff enough, and the second was too stiff. I'm going to try again, but by the end of that day I was completely sugared out and my teeth felt mossy. I don't think I will try it again too soon.
I filled the workable chocolate cookies with cardamom buttercream. I just mixed butter and powdered sugar and a bit of cardamom. It had great flavor.
I'm going to wait to have an absolute macaron success before I post any recipes, but the site of the two I tried have great ideas and hints. Good luck!