French Macaroons have eluded me for years. I enjoy these lovely little cookies, but they are a challenge to perfect because there is that tricky step where you need to make your meringue not too deflated, but just deflated enough, there’s an art to it that I haven’t quite figured out. But these, although not perfect, were so delicious I just had to share them. They are not going to be on the cover of a magazine, but I felt they were cute enough, and as usual, my readers will probably do even better than me in making them get that smooth dome and perfect little ridge of lift that every macaroon needs to be tip top. In the flavor department they were a knockout. I love using buttercream in the center, and peanut butter with the vanilla cookie was such a magical treat. I made a few with other fillings, but this was by far my favorite. This is a super versatile macaroon recipe so fill them with whatever sounds good to you – the peanut butter frosting I used is below for your reference.
For the macaroons:
1 1/2 cups almond flour
1 cup confectioners sugar
3 large egg whites
pinch of salt
pinch of cream of tartar
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon water
1 teaspoon vanilla paste or vanilla extract
For the frosting:
10 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 stick or 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
5 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2/3 cup smooth peanut butter, preferably a commercial brand (because oil doesn’t separate out)
- To make the macaroons: Process the almond flour and the confectioners’ sugar in a food processor for 20-30 seconds. Sift to remove any large pieces and to aerate the mixture.
- Separate the eggs and put the whites in the bowl you’ll use to whip them. Don’t start whipping yet, but add a pinch each of salt and cream of tartar.
- Combine the water and granulated sugar in a small saucepan. Stir over medium heat until the sugar dissolves, then bring to a rapid boil.
- Boil for 2 minutes; the temperature of the syrup should reach between 235°F and 240°F. Take the syrup off the heat. Immediately start whipping the egg whites, using an electric mixer. When they hold a curved peak on the end of the beater, stop, grab the pan of hot syrup, resume beating, and pour the syrup steadily into the whites as you beat. Add the vanilla once the meringue is thick.
- Continue beating until the meringue is smooth, glossy, and forms soft peaks.
- Fold in the almond flour/sugar until everything is evenly combined, then start stirring. This will thin the mixture. Stir until the batter runs in ribbons that disappear back into the mass in 10 to 20 seconds. Test frequently, and stop stirring when you reach this point. I think I often stop too soon which gives my cookies too much lift, they should pipe out pretty flat.
- Use a pastry bag to deposit a generous teaspoon-sized round blob of batter onto a parchment-covered baking sheet. The cookie should flatten out, rather than remain in a tall blob. If it doesn’t spread, stir the batter some more; your goal is a disc-like, fairly flat cookie.
- Repeat with the remainder of the batter. Since the cookies won’t spread as they bake, you can position them fairly close together.
- Allow to rest in a dry place with good air circulation (a counter top is fine) until you can gently touch the tops and come away with a clean finger, about 2 hours. Now is a good time to make your frosting (see step 14 below). Towards the end of the resting time, preheat the oven to 275°F.
- Bake the cookies for 25 to 30 minutes, till firm on the top.
- Remove them from the oven, and cool completely on sheet. Use a thin spatula to carefully separate them from the parchment or foil.
- Spread half the cookies with peanut butter frosting, or any combination of fillings your heart desires. Top with the remaining cookies.
- Yield: 20 to 22 filled cookies.
- To make the frosting: In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Gradually add the confectioners’ sugar 1 cup at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl often. Continue to beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the peanut butter and beat until thoroughly blended.