Thanks to the holiday season I had a massive desire to eat macaroons. I think it's due to the time when I lived in Paris. It also could be that I wanted to reward myself with macaroons after overcoming the nine circles of hell of holiday shopping. Macaroons make lovely gifts and are a good substitute for holiday cookies. They're very simple to make and only require 5 ingredients:
1 cup of confectioner's sugar
3/4 cup of almond flour
2 large egg whites
1/4 cup of superfine sugar
A pinch of cream tartar
For the best results remember to take the eggs out a few hours before cooking, so that the eggs are at at room temperature. (Room temperature eggs result in the best whipped whites. If possible use fresh eggs that have not been refrigerated.)
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and prepare your your baking sheets with butter.
Start off by pulsing in a blender the almond flour and the confectioner's sugar. Almond flower is available in grocery stores, but you can also make your own by purchasing almonds and grinding them up in a food processor until they are very fine. If you decide to make your own almond flour, be patient, because the almonds need to be ground to a dust like texture. Pulse for about 2 to 3 minutes. Then sift the mixture twice.
Before whisking the egg whites, sift the superfine sugar twice. Then take the egg whites and whisk them in a mixer or by hand (if you have the wrist strength). Whisk the eggs until they begin to foam. Add the pinch of cream tartar, and continue to whisk until peaks begin to form and the texture thickens.
Add the sifted sugar to the egg whites. Continue whisking for about 10 minutes. The mixture will become creamy and form stiff peaks. Then slowly sift the confectioners’ sugar and almond flour mixture on top of the egg whites, and keep folding until the flour is fully absorbed into the mixture.
Now for the tricky part, if you have a pastry bag, great, but if you do not, create your own by using either a zip lock bag or plastic grocery bag. Put the final mixture in your bag; make sure to concentrate the mixture towards a tip, and cut off a really small portion of the tip, enough to squeeze out a stream of paste the width of your pinky. It is very difficult to squeeze out a perfect circle from a pastry bag. Practice makes perfect. Angle your bag at 45 degrees; do not squeeze from the top down, but begin from the side and twist your bag clockwise. Make your portions as close to 1.5 inches to 2 inches in width and one inch apart from each other.
Before placing the macaroons in the over, decrease your oven to 325 degrees. Bake one cooking sheet at a time. Place your baking sheet in the oven and allow it to bake for about 10 minutes. Make sure to monitor your macaroons. You want your macaroons to be firm on the outside but soft on the inside. After taking them out of the oven, allow the macaroons to cool for 2 to 3 minutes minimally.
While the macaroons are cooking, in a pot over the stove top, melt the white chocolate on low heat, and continue stirring it, so it remains smooth, and does not become chunky and burn.
Tip: You can make any flavor of macaroon from rose to peppermint, just substitute the other flavoring for the equal measure of almond flour. For pistachio flavored macaroons, use ground pistachios, or baking chocolate for chocolate macaroons, etc. Also it is fun to mix and match the fillings with the macaroons. Get creative!