Over the last few years French Macarons have become a big thing in the pastry world. In some places they have been called the new cupcake. My interest was piqued from watching Top Chef Just Desserts where I think there was a rules requirement that someone must make macarons in every episode. To make matters worse, macarons aren’t as simple as a cupcake. I mean, I can definitely make a cupcake. But macarons are fancy french delicacies that have all kinds of specific techniques and attributes.
First, the dough is based on a meringue. This wouldn’t be a big deal but I don’t have a stand mixer. In fact, I don’t have an electric mixer at all. (That’s right, I make everything by hand.) Now, it is not actually impossible to make a meringue by hand but it is a lot of work and is easier if you have a copper bowl (which I don’t.) Next, you have to mix the meringue with the rest of the ingredients just so, so that the dough is not too stiff or too loose. The cookies dough is piped into little circles which are then dried so the cookies develop a nice crust (or skin) and rise leaving a foot. The cookie itself is supposed to have a slightly crunchy crust with a moist, chewy interior. Oh, and these are filled cookies so you have to make a filling of some sort after you finish making the cookies.
Last Fall I decided I really, really wanted to try a macaron. They are crazy expensive to have shipped to you! I was hoping to visit a macaron bakery in Manhattan when I visited last winter but I just didn’t have time. So I decided to try making them for myself. I found a great book, “Les Petits Macarons” by Kathryn Gordon and Anne E. McBride and decided to embark on an odyssey of discovery. One of the great things about this book is that they present an alternative method of making macarons that does not require making a meringue called “Kathryn’s Easiest French Macaron Method” on page 55.
To date, I have made several macarons both from the book and from the internet with great success. Macaron making was ramped up in January as I deicided to make 4 kinds of macarons to use as the favors for my friend’s bridal shower. Everyone who has tried them has loved them but I’m still not sure how well they match up to the real deal.
Anyway, last week everyone in my lab asked why I had stopped bringing in macarons and requested that I bring some into work to share. I had previously found a recipe on a blog called Tartlette for Snickers Macarons. I combined the recipe on the blog with that from the book and got terrific results. The ganache never really set up, so it ended up getting everywhere! They were very sticky and a huge success with my coworkers. Every time anyone came into lab, they were licking the chocolate off their fingers.