These delicate cookies are quite an investment of time and money. The small bag of almond flour cost $9.99 at my local food store, you might be able to save a few dollars if you make your own. The egg whites have to sit out of the fridge for quite some time to come to room temperature, and the recipe I followed (from Martha Stewart) requires a TRIPLE sift of the flour & sugar misture. My sifter is 2" in diameter so that took for-ev-er but the end result made up for it!
In my months of macaroon-marvelling, I've gathered a few tips that I think contributed to the success of this batch today. First and most importantly - get everything set up before starting, especially the flour-sugar mixture. You have to get it nice and fine.
Separate your egg whites while they are cold, and then let them sit out (covered, with the plastic wrap touching the top of the eggs) for at least 2 hours to come to room temperature. Follow time requests in recipes closely. My egg whites looked whisked enough to me after about 4 minutes, but Martha said to beat them for 8 minutes and I'm glad I did. Lastly, before you put your cookies in the oven, gently tap the cookie sheet on your counter or table to release any air-bubbles.
When you pipe your macaroons, don't worry about the immediate piping lines you'll see, after a minute or two they should smooth out like the ones above. Carefully watch and adjust your oven temperatures as the recipe says, and after 10 painless minutes you should (fingers crossed) see something like this:
Nice smooth, crispy tops and fluffy, chewy bottoms with pretty, crinkly "feet." Almost right away you'll be able to pipe some filling on the bottom of one, sandwich it with another, and voila! Enjoy!
The recipe below is very slightly tweaked from Martha Stewart's recipe, here. I'd highly suggest checking out her link for additional flavor ideas. Have you ever made french macaroons? I'd love to hear what flavors you make (or would love to eat!)
- Mix confectioners' sugar and almond flour in a food processor until combined. Sift mixture 2 times. Be meticulous about this part!!
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Whisk whites with a mixer in a spotlessly clean bowl on medium speed until foamy. Add meringue powder, and whisk until soft peaks form. Reduce speed to low, then add superfine sugar. Bump the speed back up to high, and continue whisking until stiff peaks form, about 8 minutes. Sift flour mixture over whites (this is the THIRD sift...do it meticulously!) and fold until mixture is smooth and shiny.
- Fill up a pastry bag with a plain round tip with the batter. Pipe 3/4-inch rounds 1 inch apart on parchment-lined baking sheets. Try your best to not make any hershey-kiss style points on your circles. You can soften up the tops by running the top along the top of the circle and off, rather than just pulling it up and off.
- Let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees, tap your baking sheet against the table or counter to release air bubbles, and then bake 1 sheet at a time, until macaroons are crisp and firm, about 10 minutes.
- After each batch, increase oven temperature to 375 degrees, heat for 5 minutes, then reduce to 325 degrees.
- Let macaroons cool on sheets for 2 to 3 minutes, then move to a wire rack. (If macaroons stick, spray water underneath parchment on hot sheet. The steam will help release macaroons.)