Tiffany MacIsaac's Elegant Macarons 24.000

Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post

Holiday Cookies 2014 Dec 3, 2014

If you've had trouble making macarons before, try this recipe. It includes Tiffany MacIsaac's key tips. A brush of edible gold paint and luster dust upgrade them to gift-worthy holiday treats.

One of the tips involves time: waiting a few days for the egg whites to age.

These are lovely on their own, and stunning when presented in a Sugar Cookie Tower decorated in gold and white, with royal icing snowflakes. (You will need a pastry bag fitted with a No. 3 round tip to pipe them.) Affix the macarons to the cookie tower with the Italian meringue buttercream (macaron filling). See the related recipe online and the NOTE, below.

You'll need a piping bag fitted with a large round tip and a candy thermometer or instant-read thermometer.

Make Ahead: The egg whites need to be refrigerated (covered) for 2 to 3 days. The macarons can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days. The Italian meringue buttercream can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days; in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks; and in the freezer for up to 2 months. The buttercream may need to be microwaved on LOW for 10 to 15 seconds to soften (or longer if frozen), then rewhipped before using. The royal icing snowflakes can be stored, preferably in a single layer, in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Where to Buy: Luster dust and edible gold paint are available at cake supply shops and at some craft stores.

24 - 27 macarons

When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 24-27 macarons

  • For the macarons
  • 3 cups plus 2 tablespoons almond flour
  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 6 large egg whites, preferably 2 to 3 days old (see headnote)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon plus 1/8 teaspoon powdered egg white
  • Edible gold paint/luster dust, for decorating (see headnote)
  • For the filling
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 1/4 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 2 1/2 large egg whites
  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at a cool room temperature (20 to 30 minutes out of the refrigerator)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional if using flavorings in the VARIATIONS, below)
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice (optional if using flavorings in the VARIATIONS, below)

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For the macarons: Position oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven; preheat to 325 degrees. Line three baking sheets with parchment paper. Divide the egg whites between two bowls (3 in each); set out so they come up to room temperature.

Combine the almond flour and confectioners' sugar in a food processor; pulse 8 to 10 times or until evenly ground and incorporated. Sift; if you find any very large pieces of almond, discard them.

Combine the water and granulated sugar in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat; cook to a temperature of 240 degrees (soft-ball stage syrup).

Meanwhile, combine 3 of the room-temperature egg whites and the powdered egg white in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a balloon-whisk attachment or in the bowl of a hand-held electric mixer; beat on low speed until foamy. On medium speed, gradually add the cooked-sugar syrup, beating to form a meringue of medium-stiff peaks. Transfer to a separate mixing bowl; thoroughly clean the mixer bowl you used to make the meringue.

Combine the almond flour mixture and the remaining 3 egg whites in the clean bowl of the stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or the bowl of a hand-held mixer. Beat on medium speed until well incorporated. Stop to scrape down the bowl.

On low speed, add the meringue in 3 additions, stopping to scrape down the bowl after each one. The first addition should be completely combined; the second can be halfway incorporated; the third can be barely blended in. By hand, gently finish folding in the last addition of meringue to form the macaron batter.

Transfer the batter to a piping bag fitted with a large round tip. Holding the piping bag perpendicular (rather than at an angle), pipe 1 1/2-inch-wide rounds of batter onto the three lined baking sheets, spacing the rounds 1 inch apart -- a total of 48 to 54 rounds. Let them sit on the counter for 8 to 12 minutes or until a skin has formed on the top of the rounds. (If you plan top sprinkle decorations on the macarons, this is the time to do it. See VARIATIONS, below.)

Bake on the upper and lower racks for 5 to 6 minutes, then rotate the baking sheets top to bottom and front to back; bake for 5 to 6 minutes. The macarons should be slightly firm to the touch. Transfer the baking sheets to wire racks to cool while you bake the remaining sheet (top rack) in the same fashion.

Cool all the macarons completely before transferring them from their baking sheets.

For the filling: Combine 1/2 cup of the sugar with the water, a pinch of salt and the cream of tartar in a small pot over medium-high heat; cook to a temperature of 240 degrees (soft-ball stage syrup). When the mixture reaches 200 degrees, begin to beat the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a balloon-whisk attachment or in the bowl of a hand-held electric mixer. Beat on medium speedy until foamy, then start sprinkling in the remaining 1 1/4 tablespoons of sugar. Beat for a minute or two, until soft peaks form.

Once the syrup has reached 240 degrees, increase the speed of the mixer to high. Gradually add the hot sugar syrup. Beat for 3 to 5 minutes after it has all been added; the mixture will be glossy and the outside of the mixer bowl should be warm to the touch.

Cut the butter into at 8 slabs/planks. On low speed, add 1 or 2 of them at a time, beating until incorporated (disappeared) after each addition. The buttercream will look broken at some point; but keep going. Once all the butter has been added, increase the speed to medium-high and beat until smooth. Add the vanilla extract and lemon juice, beating just until incorporated. (Or use some of the flavorings in the VARIATIONS, below.) Use right away, or store according to the headnote.

To assemble the macarons, pipe enough of the filling on the flat sides of half of them, then press gently so they adhere to the flat sides of the remaining macarons. Use a small brush to paint a swath of the gold, and/or sprinkle each macaron sandwich with luster dust. Let them sit for 30 minutes before serving or storing.

VARIATIONS: The following toppings should be applied before the piped macarons have had a chance to form a skin. The filling mix-ins are per 1 cup of filling (about the total amount you'll use to sandwich this batch of macarons):

Mulled cider macarons: Light sprinkling of ground cinnamon (topping); 50 percent reduction of 1/4 cup unsweetened apple cider plus 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon (mix-in).

Nutty butter macarons: Sprinkling of finely chopped nuts (topping); 2 to 3 tablespoons Nutella or peanut butter plus a pinch of kosher salt (mix-in).

Gingerbread macarons: Sprinkling of finely chopped gingersnaps (topping); 2 tablespoons molasses, 1 1/2 teaspoons powdered ginger plus a pinch of ground cloves (mix-in).

Chocolate macarons: Sprinkling of cacao nibs or unsweetened cocoa powder (topping); 3 tablespoons melted, slightly cooled bittersweet chocolate plus a pinch of kosher salt (mix-in).

NOTE: To make the snowflakes, position the template under a sheet of parchment paper. Pipe the outline-consistency royal icing through a pastry bag fitted with a No. 3 round tip, tracing the templates. Let dry for 12 to 18 hours. Because the snowflakes will be so delicate, use a small offset spatula to help free them from the parchment. Breaks can be fixed with a little dab of the same royal icing.

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Recipe Source

From Tiffany MacIsaac, pastry chef-owner of Buttercream Bakeshop.

Tested by Jane Touzalin.

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