Hey there sexy babe! Don’t these cookies look gorgeous?! Let me introduce you to the French Macaron. These delicate cookies are not to be confused with the more common Macaroon, which has similar ingredients, but is definitely not the same thing. It may be a little more involved than it’s counterpart, but don’t let this beautiful, delicate cookie intimidate you! I present to you the spicy, delicate cookie – the Devil’s Pillow!
The key to these lovelies is your tools. You will need a few special tools to set these pillows on fire! Here’s the list:
You’ll need a kitchen scale to weigh all the ingredients. It’s just easier that way, and the recipe is more accurate, giving you more reliable results.
Piping Bag with a #12 Tip
Sometimes you can get away with cutting the tip off of a gallon ziplock bag, but it’s not going to work this time. You need a perfect circular tip to make your shells as round, and as consistent as they can be. I’ve tried it with a ziplock bag, and it makes for weird shapes. Use a #12 tip – you will thank me for it!
Stand or Hand Mixer
You’ll need the whisk attachment for the stand mixer – if you have a hand mixer, that will work just as fine. You could go the old-fashioned route here, and use a plain ‘ol whisk, but let’s get real here. Ain’t nobody got time f’dat.
I’m the first one to admit that I will use my Silpat’s for everything. Everything baking related is better with a Silpat. Nothing sticks to a Silpat. If you don’t know what a Silpat is, it’s just a non-stick baking mat that is glorious in most applications. Christmas cookies? No burning! Roasted potatoes? No Sticking! They’re awesome, but when it comes to macarons, this is simply not the case. They WILL stick, and you WILL be pissed off because you’ve done all this hard work only for everything to be ruined. Just get parchment paper. Not wax paper, okay? Parchment paper. If you can’t find it, the friendly grocer will be more than happy to help you out! It should be where the wax paper, plastic wrap, and aluminum foil reside.
I think that about covers it, my dear! One last tip – it’s really advisable that you bake two trays in the oven at a time – that’s how this recipe was designed. If you have a bit of batter left over, and you want to bake off the one last, lonely tray, really really keep an eye on them. If you over-cook them, I’ve found them to be a little tougher than I’d like. What you’re going for in a good macaron is the delicate, crunchy exterior, with a delightfully chewy center. The filling can be butter cream, pastry cream, jam, curd – pretty much anything that will stick to the shells.
Now go forth and conquer the spicy cookie for your lover (or yourself) this Valentine’s Day!
What else will you be cooking up for this lovely holiday? I’d love to know!
Lovely by Suicidal Tendencies off the album Lights, Camera, Revolution
- For The Raspberry Habañero Buttercream
- 6 Ounce Package Fresh Organic Raspberries
- 1 Smidgen Dried Habañero Powder (I ground up a dried Habañero pepper)
- Zest of 1/2 Meyer Lemon
- Juice of 1/2 Meyer Lemon
- 1/4 Cup Water
- 1/2 Cup Unsalted Butter, room temperature
- 2 Cups Powdered Sugar
- For The Macarons
- 6 Ounces Almond Flour
- 10 1/2 Ounces Powdered Sugar
- 1 Pinch Habañero Powder
- 6 Ounces Egg Whites
- 12 drops Red Food Coloring
- 4 3/4 Ounces Granulated Sugar
- Combine the raspberries, habañero powder, lemon juice & zest, and water in a saucepan, and heat over medium heat, mashing with a fork. Allow the raspberries to break down, and the water to evaporate.
- Transfer to a blender, place a towel over the top to protect yourself, and puree. Pass the raspberries through a sieve, cover with plastic wrap, and place in the refrigerator to cool. You can start making the macaron shells while this mixture cools.
- When ready for the buttercream, add the butter and powdered sugar to a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, and mix until the butter and powdered sugar is incorporated. The mixture should resemble coarse crumbs and still be dry. Add a quarter cup of the raspberry puree, and mix well. Keep adding the puree one tablespoon at a time until the buttercream is smooth. Set aside until ready to fill the macaron shells.
- Sift together the almond flour and powdered sugar. Set aside.
- In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, add the egg whites, and a pinch of the granulated sugar. Whip on high until the mixture resembles soft peaks. This shouldn’t take longer than 2-3 minutes. Test if necessary. If you remove the whisk, and pull it out of the mixture, the whites should quickly fall back on themselves.
- With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the remaining granulated sugar until incorporated. Turn the speed up to high, and continue mixing until the egg whites resemble stiff peaks. While you’re whisking to stiff peaks, add in the food coloring. When you remove the whisk, the egg whites should keep their shape.
- Next, remove the bowl from the mixer, and add the almond and powdered sugar mixture to the egg whites all at once. With a spatula, fold gently into the egg white mixture. Have faith, it will eventually be all incorporated.
- Line four baking sheets with parchment paper, and turn the oven on 325ºF. Place two racks in the center of the oven, leaving one full space between them. If you put the racks one right after the other, the bottom tray will not have enough heat circulating, and will puff up on you, leaving with you ugly shells. Parchment paper works best for macarons, even over silpats. They release the easiest with parchment paper.
- Using a pastry bag and a #12 round tip, pipe the macaron batter onto the parchment in 1 inch circles. When you finish one tray, firmly grasp the baking sheet, and pound firmly on the counter 3-4 times, until all the air bubbles are out, and the cookies flatten. Repeat for the other 3 pans.
- Let the pans sit 15-25 minutes, until the macarons can be touched lightly without any batter sticking to your finger.
- Place two trays in the oven, and after 8 minutes, rotate from back to front, and switch shelves. Bake for 8 more minutes, or until the macarons peel easily from the parchment. Remove from the oven and let cool for 15-20 minutes. Repeat with the remaining two trays.
- To assemble the macarons, find a good pair for a shell, and place about 1/2 teaspoon of buttercream on one shell, and top with the matching shell. Repeat for the remaining shells.