Really. Anyone can try these. If they turn out imperfectly, they’re still delicious…unless of course, you burn them. Don’t burn them. They don’t take long to bake. I promise it’s not as hard as it seems to make these sweet little treats. Promise. If I could pull this off, this day (which I’ll soon tell you about), I bet anyone can do it.
Last year, I made pretty blue macarons for the Annunciation. That was my plan again this year, but certain things mean that next will be impossible for me to be baking, so I moved our macaron treat to St. Joseph’s feast day, and made them chocolate instead of blue. Chocolate. So yummy. Can’t lose with chocolate. Also, I’ve had this one recipe saved for years (since December 2011, to be exact), and figured why not try it today?
Toddler, that’s why not. Humidity, another “why not”. Pretty sure not much else needs to be said…but for the fun of story telling, here’s the low-down.
First of all, macarons are usually best when you make them a day or two ahead. But…I didn’t have any powdered sugar until 8pm last night, and in my pregnant exhaustion (not to mention post-sick exhaustion), I wasn’t about to be baking at 9pm once the toddler was finally sleepy. That meant, I started these little chocolate bombs bright and early at 7:30 this morning. *yawn*
It was snowing. Huge, wet, fat flakes…after raining all night. You know how meringues don’t usually work so well when it’s humid? Macarons, I figure, are similar. They are made with lots of whipped egg whites…so…to have a dry day for them to properly dry out would be ideal. No such luck today. But usually when I have my mind set on baking, I do it. No matter the weather, no matter the antics by the toddler.
Ah, toddlers. Aren’t they a joy?? I mean, who can be bored with a toddler in the house? My 20 month old is a busy little man, and he’s also a HUNGRY little man. He likes to raid the pantry. This morning, after eating a bowl of cereal, a bowl of yogurt, cherries, and who knows what else…he was digging around for cereal again by 9:30am. At this point, I was up to my elbows in almonds and sugar and egg whites, smack in the middle of the crucial step to fold the whipped whites into the almonds and sugar…and I see my Firecracker walk past the kitchen island with a box of opened cereal held over his head and behind his back, upside down. In slow motion, I shout, “Nooooooooo!” while even more slowly jumping around the island just in time to see the cereal spill to the floor.
It was enough that I brought out the vacuum instead of the broom.
Here I am, cleaning up the mess, not paying attention to the bundle of mischief, and I round another corner towards the closet where we keep the vacuum…
and find another pile of spilled cereal. I mean, there were about 2 bowls’ worth of cereal on the floor.
Meanwhile, the egg whites are sitting and drooping in the humidity. (no picture. At this point, the batter looked like something no one wants to read about in a blog.)
And here’s this mess. I vacuum it up, and leave the vacuum up figuring I’ll need it again soon. Why bother even unplugging it?
I rush back to the macarons, frantically trying to fold the whites into the dry mix (the whites which I probably beat too stiffly…folding was quite a chore). The final batter seems too wet to me. Oh well…no time for troubleshooting, I staring filling a pastry bag so I can pipe the cookies and hope for the best, at least for something that still tastes good even if it resembles nothing like a macaron.
After about 10 minutes, I touched the tops of the macarons to see if they’d dried to the touch yet, so I could bake them. Miracle! They did. I popped them into the oven, set the timer, and continued to run around the house frantically picking up, waking up my daughter (who was sleeping at 10am still because she’d be up at 5am to play), getting the boys ready for TaeKwonDo, etc. Oh, and the Firecracker of a toddler wasn’t dressed yet. Must get him out of footies before going into public. I know, my expectations are high. 😉
16 minutes later, the timer beeped, and I anxiously opened the oven. I nearly jumped with joy. I did squeal. They weren’t a complete disaster (for an amateur baker)! Total win in my book, with all that I was up against.
Hours later, after many samplings of the cookie, I finally filled them and made little macaron sandwiches. Oh, the delight. It is so fun to put together a darling little cookie. The kids and I ate probably a dozen more as I filled them. Perhaps more, since all 5 kids munched on the cookies, and so did I. I know I ate more than 2, and I’m pretty sure the girls did, too. Happy solemnity! No fasting on big feasts. St. Joseph, pray for us. You’re a great saint!
Samples are awesome. Must have quality control, you know.
And now, as requested, a recipe. This is adapted, ever so slightly, from the original Bon Appetite recipe. I didn’t make an orange chocolate ganache, which would have been fabulous, but I used ganache I had saved in the freezer. It totally freezes perfectly, so you should try it if you ever have leftover ganache for some reason.
- 2 c powdered sugar, divided into 1c portions
- 1 1/4 c slivered almonds
- 3 T unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/3c plus 3T egg whites, at room temp
- 1/4c sugar
- Preheat oven to 325.
- Pulse 1 c powdered sugar and the almonds in a food processor until there is a fine powder, about a minute. Add cocoa powder and the final cup of powdered sugar, process to combine and create a finer powder.
- Sift through a mesh strainer into a larger bowl. If you still have a large amount of large almond pieces (I had nearly 1/4 c), pulse again and sift. Set aside.
- Beat the egg whites in a stand mixer until frothy. No stiff peaks yet! With speed on low, gradually add the sugar, one tablespoon at a time. Increase speed to med-high until stiff peaks form.
- Fold the meringue into the dry mixture, in 2-3 additions, until all is combined.
- Spoon the batter into a pastry bag with a 1/4" tip (or, use a freezer bag and snip a corner).
- Pipe small round cookies onto parchment lined cookie sheets.
- Let them rest for about 10 minutes, until the tops are dry to the touch.
- Bake for about 16 minutes.
- Cool completely, then make little sandwiches with ganache, or buttercream, or jam.