When it comes to choose my favorites sweet indulges, “le macarons” are on top of the list. Let’s be honest, who can resist to this wonderful “small round cake with almonds”, described by Francois Rabelais, a gourmet writer who first mentioned the macaroon in 1552 in the Quart Livre
Introduced by Catherine de Médicis’ Chefs, this delicacy’s origins are Mediterranean, probably by the region of Andalusia in Spain. By 1492, before the expulsion of the Jews, food eaten had to be flourless and unleavened. Voila!, le macaron was the perfect answer to those restrictions.
This “cake of the blessed” as the Greeks used to call them, was introduced to France as a petit four and was quickly spread. By 1864 they were still biscuits made of almonds, egg whites and sugar. Soon the time of glory will take place by the skillful hand of the talented Louis-Ernest Ladureé, who revolutionised the macaroon.
Coffee, chocolate, vanilla and raspberry were the common flavors used for these petit fours with a fruity or creamy filling presented in gorgeous boxes signed by famous designers like: Sonia Rykiel and Anna Sui. Later on, Pierre Hermé who first started at Ladureé and then open his own pastry empire, reworked this classic with new tempting flavors and fillings, like the latest creation of this author: “the ketchup macaroon”
With no doubts, the macaroons are a signature of fine baking worthy to have a marked day in the calendar as “The Day of the Macaroon” stablished by Pierre Hermé by 2006. Who can resist to them? just a bite to this delicacy is enough to be enchanted.
Now that you know a little bit more about these wonderful delicacies, in case I inspired you enough to make them, here goes the recipe. Let’s get baking!
- Before you get started in this challenged business of making macaroons, it is very important to follow these tips during the recipe process for optimum results:
- Only use fresh egg whites that were clarified on the previous day. Take them out of the fridge at least 2 hours before preparing the macaroons
- Choose the best quality of fine white almond powder. Always sift the almond powder and weigh it again after it
- Sift the confectioners’ sugar in order to be very fine
200 grams of egg whites
50 grams of granulated sugar
1 teaspoon of fresh lemon juice
5 drops of pink food coloring
450 grams of sifted confectioners’ sugar
250 grams of white almond powder
A pinch of salt
200 grams of raspberry jam
1.- In a bowl of an electric mixer, whisk the egg whites with the granulated sugar, the salt, the fresh lemon juice and the food coloring until very stiff peaks. Pour the sifted confectioners’ sugar and almond powder over the whisked egg whites. Stir with a spatula until the macaroon batter is homogeneous, smoother and shinier. Be careful to not deflate the batter too much as the macaroons will lose their round shape when piping
2.- Prepare a clean pastry bag with a small round pastry tip. Fill it with the macaroon paste. On a silicone baking sheet placed on an oven tray, shape into balls of 1 to 1-1/2 inch of diameter, for petits-fours macaroons. Lightly tap on the back of the oven tray to help the paste to spread smoothly. Let the piped macaroons dried at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes. Tip: slightly touch the surface of the macaroon to prove if they are dried
3.- Bake the macaroons in a preheat oven at 300˚ F for 10 minutes.
4.- Allow the macaroons to cool before removing them from the silicone baking sheet.
5.- Garnish the macaroons with raspberry jam and then stick them together in twos.