Close your eyes for a moment and let me set the scene. Rockefeller Plaza, 3:38am, July. The air is heavy and hot, it is still pitch dark. The damp street glistens. The square, usually brimming with tourists, is abandoned, except for maybe a stray cop or passing cab. Tall buildings loom over head as I shuffle to work rubbing my sleepless eyes.
I once worked the opening shift at Bouchon Bakery which allowed me to experience New York in a way many don’t – totally empty. Strolling the streets, cloaked in darkness, with nothing but my own thoughts to keep me company would help me prepare for the brutal day ahead.
The bakery was known for its French macarons and for six months, as an intern, they dominated my days and occupied my nightmares.
Everyday, I baked, cooled, flipped, filled, sandwiched and packed, thousands of macarons. Mini macarons, big macarons, chocolate macaroons, lemon macarons. All day macarons. I lived macarons, I breathed macarons – frankly I thought I’d die in a pile of macarons.
As I worked, my bosses spit orders and insults at me, customers pressed their ugly faces in, and the stack of macs seemed to multiply versus diminish.
Their cute little rounded tops mocked me as 4:00am crawled to 4:01am and escaping seemed hopeless. As my back began to ache and exhaustion started to play tricks with my mind, I could swear those petite cookie SOBs were giggling at me.
“Hey, shut up vanilla!”
“Yeah, I see you chocolate! Just cool already. UGH!”
Was I going mad?
500 more to bake, 1,000 more to sandwich, 2,000 more to box – 4:00pm couldn’t come fast enough.
And then it did.
I’d exit quietly, head to the park, find a patch of grass to collapse on, exhale for the first time in 12 hours, and hope to goodness I’d never see one of those little devils again…
But hey, here they are.
I always associated macarons with stress (obviously) not only because I used to make thousands of them as an (ahem) unpaid intern but also because they can be tricky for any level cook.
But don’t be intimidated! My homemade version is WAYHEY easier than the ones I used to make at the bakery but still damn delicious. They are tender and gooey on the inside, crisp on the outside and filled with the simplest filling you can imagine – JAM!
Make my Almond Raspberry Macarons and just be glad you aren’t an overworked, underpaid, living off of old pasta, hallucinating about macarons intern like I once was.
Here’s what you’ll need. Eggs, powdered sugar, almond flour, granulated sugar, cream of tartar, salt, a piping bag with a plain tip, a cookie tray, and a silpat. Not bad, right?
Many recipes say “sift confectioners’ sugar and almond flour one million times.” Or you could do what I did and place the confectioners’ sugar and almond flour in a food processor and blend it until both are very fine. Then, sift once. Voila!
Place the eggs, cream of tartar, and salt in the bowl of a mixer. With a whisk attachment, beat on medium speed until frothy.
Turn the speed up to high and gradually add the granulated sugar. Beat for 5 – 8 minutes until the mixture holds stiff peaks – like above. ^^^^
Add a little bit of the confectioners’ sugar and almond flour mixture to the eggs and fold in gently.
Add the rest of the dry ingredients and fold in very gently. You don’t want to deflate all the air you just beat into the eggs.
Keep folding until all the dry ingredients are incorporated and the batter, when scooped, falls back on itself in thick ribbons.
Preheat your oven to 300°F on the convection setting.
Pipe 1 inch circles of batter on a cookie tray lined with a silpat. Smack the cookie tray against the counter to release any air bubbles. Let the batter sit at room temperature for 15 – 30 minutes until it is no longer sticky when touched. You can add sprinkles at this point if you want.
Bake for 13 minutes until puffed and lightly browned. The macarons should have little “feet.”
Let cool completely before carefully releasing from the silpat and filling with jam.
Raspberry Almond Macarons
1 3/4 cups of confectioners’ sugar
1 cup of almond flour
3 egg whites, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon of cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1/4 cup of granulated sugar
Preheat oven to 300°F on convection setting.
In the bowl of a food processor, blend confectioners’ sugar and almond flour until finely ground.
Sift into a bowl.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat eggs, cream of tartar, and salt on medium speed until frothy.
Turn the speed up to high and beat for 5 – 8 minutes while gradually adding the sugar. Beat until the mixture is glossy and holds stiff peaks.
Gently fold 1/4 of the dry ingredients into the eggs.
Fold the rest of the dry ingredients into the eggs. Continue to gently fold until all the dry ingredients are incorporated and the batter is thick like lava. When lifted, it should fall back on itself in thick ribbons.
Pipe the batter in 1 inch circles onto a cookie sheet lined with a silpat. Smack the cookie tray against the counter to release any air bubbles. Let the batter sit a room temperature for 15 – 30 minutes until the batter is no longer sticky when touched. Add sprinkles and any decorations you want at this point.
Place in preheated oven and bake for 13 minutes, until puffed and lightly browned.
Remove from oven and cool completely before filling and sandwiching with jam or filling of your choice.