Macarons! Macarons! Macarons!

S. Kenney - Macarons with Strawberry filling

Can you tell I am just excited times three!!??  The impossible.  Macarons.  Yep. Little 'ol me!

S. Kenney - Macarons with Strawberry Filling

Are they difficult to make?  Well...... Sigh.....Double Sigh.  Yes and No.  It took me 3 attempts.  Once I realized what I was doing wrong the first couple of batches, it definitely got easier after working out the kinks.  

When we were in France last fall,  I mentioned the word "macarons" to the french family we were visiting.  I mentioned that outside of Paris, they are not that easy to find.  

At this moment, we were at a home 1 hour south of Lyon.  Our host family had a son who was leaving Paris on the train to meet us later that night.  

An absolutely flurry of phone calls ensued!  Their son, Pierrique, galloped across Paris, went to the La DurĂ©e Macaron shop in PARIS, and brought us two boxes of some of the finest macarons in the world by midnight that night.  

A mention about macarons produced these delights straight from Paris

Unbelievable act of international goodwill. Period.  Here began my macaron story...

S. Kenney - stiff peaks

S. Kenney - the ribbon stage
Basically, I was so overly concerned with the "ribbon stage" that you hear alot about in macaron world, that I over-folded the batter.  What happens when you overfold?  The batter oozes and spreads too thin.  The tops crack while baking.  At least mine did. 

Um....twice.  But, finally, this photo below shows a successful look.

S. Kenney - ready to go in the oven
 I think the best thing I learned was that I needed to let the macarons sit longer than 15 minutes on the cookie sheet.  Perhaps because it is more humid here in Texas, they needed more time to form that "skin" on top.  I think that helped them not to crack while in the oven.

S. Kenney - The foot!  The foot!  The foot!

 I think my kids and husband thought I had gone off the deep end.  Seriously!  I was obsessed.  I just HAD to make these morsels of divinity.  Forget helping with homework, forget laundry, and providing breakfast/lunch/dinner.  The dog probably roamed the neighborhood for all I knew.  

I HAD to get this!  The kids cheered me on and my husband was hanging over my shoulder by the 3rd batch.  It ended up being a true family effort.'s o.k. if all the credit goes my way.  They (the fam) will manage.  

S. Kenney - Macarons with Strawberry Filling

Who do I have to thank for inspiring this manic baking adventure in my humble kitchen last weekend??  This stunning blog at  Sprinkle Bakes.  I could not stop absorbing her photos and how absolutely perfect her macarons looked.  I just knew I had to try.  I had to be in the "macaron in-crowd". Life ceased for a day  as I prevailed in the kitchen.  I was so inspired by Heather's story of how she tackled these delectable morsels.  Macarons truly  represent  Haute Parisien couture in a cookie.

If you are destined to go off the deep end... And, if macarons are in your culinary future, here are the instructions from Sprinkle Bakes' blog that I followed. 

3/4 cup almond flour - I like Hodgson Mill
1 cup confectioners' sugar
2 large egg whites, room temperature
1 pinch cream of tartar
1/2 cup extra fine sugar (Sarah's note: I couldn't find this so I put regular sugar in my blender)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line two baking sheets with parchment.
Sift almond flour and confectioners' sugar together 2-3 times. Set aside.

Whisk egg whites with a hand mixer until foamy.  Add cream of tartar and beat until soft peaks form.  Reduce speed and gradually add extra fine sugar.  Increase speed and beat until stiff peaks form.

Sift flour mixture over whites with a fine sieve. Discard any lumps or coarse bits that remain.  

If coloring the batter, place a bit of gel food coloring on the end of a rubber spatula before you begin folding the mixture with it.  Normally powdered food coloring is used, but a small amount of gel does not disturb the batter.  I would not recommend liquid food coloring.  (Sarah's note:  I didn't have gel food coloring.  First I used liquid on a batch.  They did NOT turn out and this may be why.  Finally, I left out all food coloring)

Fold with a rubber spatula using short strokes at first.  The batter will be very stiff.  Use bigger folds once batter loosens.  When batter is ready, it should fall from the spatula in a thick ribbon. (Sarah's note:  I had to back off on folding the batter too much.  Its true.  If the batter is oozing out of the bag, you've over folded)

Transfer mixture to a piping bag.  Pipe 1 or 1 1/2" rounds on the parchment lined baking sheets. Let piped macarons stand uncovered for 15 minutes to form a crust.

Decrease temperature to 325 just before placing the baking sheet in the oven.  Bake pans one at a time for 10 minutes, turning halfway through. (Sarah's note:  I don't know if opening the oven door cracked my first 2 batches.  I changed my oven to convection and didn't open the door at all.  No cracking.)

Note: After first batch has baked, oven temp should be increased to 375 then decreased to 325 just before the 2nd baking sheet goes in.

Chocolate ganache filling 
4.5 oz. chocolate
1/2 cup heavy cream

(Sarah's note:  I did make this ganache but the photos show the strawberry filling)  The ganache is delish.
Chop chocolate and place in a small bowl.  Heat cream on the stove-top until very hot but not boiling; pour over chocolate.  Mix until smooth.  Refrigerate until ganache is of spreading consistency.  Place a small spoonful of chocolate on one shell and top with a same-sized macaron shell.

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