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They are tiny, they are tender and they are the toast of the tea room. The too, too cute macaroon or macaron, if you prefer the French spelling, is quickly pushing the cupcake off the plate and crumbling the cookie when it comes to serving a little sweet, and enjoying one or even two (if you can’t resist) won’t wreck your calorie count for the day.
Macaron, pronounced mack ah rohn, is the French confectionery made with egg whites, icing sugar, granulated sugar, almond powder or ground almonds, and food colouring, and it resembles a pastel coloured sandwich cookie. Not to be confused with the dense chewy macaroons made with sweetened coconut that is a favourite Passover sweet, these macarons can be found in a wide variety of flavours that range from the traditional (raspberry, chocolate) to the new (violet, foie gras, fig, truffle and green matcha tea). The fillings can range from jams and ganache to buttercream, although the original macarons didn’t have fillings, but were simply fused together while warm.
At one time macarons were only available at high end French patisseries such as Pierre Herme or Ladure, a small, 148 year old chain of Parisian tea salons and pastry shops where women enjoy the half dollar sized sweets by first cutting them in half. But in the past year, macarons have been showing up at retailers such as Whole Foods and even a few Starbucks.
And now more home bakers are creating their own whimsical delights thanks to cookbooks such as Macarons by Berengere Abraham (Octopus, $15.99), and I Love Macarons (Chronicle Books, $16.95).
The perfect macaron is characterized by its smooth, domed top, ruffled circumference and flat base. It is chewy and crunchy, yet mildly moist and easily melts in the mouth so that a single bite can cause one to swoon.
And while truly successful macarons are more the result of the technique, rather than following a mere recipe, there are several tips and tricks to note, which Abraham, a graduate of L’Ecole des Beaux Arts in Toulouse, emphasizes in her book along with 28 recipes.
The first rule is to separate the eggs a day before using them so the whites “age” in the refrigerator. This enables the macarons to hold their shape.
The second rule is to allow the piped shells to rest on the baking sheet for at least an hour before baking to ensure that they rise properly and have a crust.
However, there are no rules when it comes to colouring the crust, Abraham says. The hue will lose its intensity during baking so there are no worries about over colouring.
Macaron ingredients, including almond and hazelnut flour, can be found at specialty foods stores and natural foods stores. Powdered or liquid food colours are found in the baking section, and look for rose water at supermarkets, specialty foods stores and Middle Eastern markets. As for storing macarons, the little biscuits will keep several days in the refrigerator when stored in airtight containers separated by waxed paper and are even better the day after they are made.
But if your governors aren’t any stronger than mine after my friend’s delicious gift, you may not even have to worry about storage. Just put the kettle on and make a cup of tea and get ready to indulge.
Red, yellow, blue and orange food colour combine to make brown. Use sweet, sour ( Oakley Sunglasses Morello) or black cherries. Recipe from Macarons by Berengere Abraham
Prepare ahead: Separate the eggs and set the whites aside in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. Bring to room temperature before making the macaron shells the following day.
To make the shells: Preheat oven to 300 F (150 C). Finely grind almonds and confectioners’ sugar in Oakley Sunglasses a blender. Sift the mixture over a baking sheet and bake for 5 to 7 minutes. Let cool.
In a mixing bowl, beat the egg whites into snowy peaks using an electric hand mixer. When they start to stiffen, gradually add the superfine sugar, beating constantly. Add a few drops each of red and brown food colouring and combine until evenly dispersed. Sift the almond sugar mixture over the egg whites and fold in using a silicone spatula.
Fill a pastry bag with this mixture and pipe out 30 1 1/2 inch (3.8 cm) uniform circles onto a baking sheet lined with parchment. Let stand for 1 hour in a dry place until a crust forms on the surface, then bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Let the shells cool, then pour a trickle of water between the parchment and the baking sheet and remove the shells using a small frosting spatula.
To make the cherry confiture: Using a small knife, split the vanilla bean in half lengthwise, then scrape out the seeds. Put the cherries in a saucepan with 1 tbsp (15 mL) water, add the sugar and vanilla seeds, and cook on a low heat for 7 to 10 minutes. (If using frozen cherries, do not add water and cook for 5 minutes longer.) Pour the mixture into a blender and blend well, then pour this pure back into the saucepan, add the pectin and heat gently for 5 minutes. Set aside.
To assemble the macarons: Spread the cherry confiture over half the shells, then top with the remaining shells. Chill for 1 hour before serving. In the bowl of a standing electric mixer, bea Oakley Sunglasses t the egg whites until they begin to rise and hold their shape. While whipping, beat in the granulated sugar until very stiff and firm, about 2 minutes.
Carefully fold the dry ingredients, in two batches, into the beaten egg whites with a flexible rubber spatula. When the mixture is just smooth and there are no streaks of egg white, stop folding and scrape the batter into the pastry bag.
Pipe the batter on the parchment lined baking sheets in 1 inch (2.5 cm) circles (about 1 tbsp (15 mL) each of batter), evenly spaced 1 inch apart.
Rap the baking sheet a few times firmly on the counter top to flatten the macarons, then bake them for 15 to 18 minutes. Let cool completely then remove from baking sheet.
To make the chocolate filling: Heat the cream in a small saucepan with the corn syrup. When the cream just begins to boil at the edges, remove from heat and add the chopped chocolate. Let sit 1 minute, then stir until smooth. Stir in the pieces of butter. Let cool completely before using.
Spread a bit of batter on the inside of the macarons an Oakley Sunglasses d then sandwich them together. Let them stand at least one day before serving, to meld the flavours.
Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days or freeze. If you freeze them, defrost them in the unopened container, to avoid condensation that will make the macarons soggy.
Approximate nutrition per serving: 150 calories, 8 g fat, 18 g carbohydrates, 2 g protein, 1 g fibre
To make the macarons: Preheat the oven to 350 F (180 C). In a medium bowl, whisk together confectioners’ sugar and ground almonds. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip egg whites with salt on medium speed until foamy. Increase speed to high and gradually add granulated sugar. Continue to whip until stiff glossy peaks form. With a rubber spatula, gently fold in the confectioners’ sugar mixture until completely incorporated.