The Macaron is a French almond meringue cookie. It is usually created into a sandwich cookie with a buttercream, ganache, or jam filling. It is known for its difficulty and is a bit on the time consuming side. I have always wanted to attempt them and finally gained the courage to try. Chad took Evan out for the morning a few Saturdays ago so I would have peace and quiet to work (and also avoid little hands trying to grab one of the many baking sheets I was juggling in my tiny kitchen). These were filled with a vanilla cream cheese filling, such a wonderful pairing. The crisp and chewy delicate Macaron blended perfectly with smooth and rich center. They are extremely addictive and I don’t really want to say how many I ate the first day. Chad, on the other hand, didn’t really appreciate the time and effort put into these. Apparently, he doesn’t like the texture of meringue and would rather a simple sugar cookie. Evan enthusiastically said “mmm”.
Humidity is not a friend to the Macaron and it was a suddenly rainy day in Florida when I made these, but I am still pleased to say that only 10 percent failed completely (mostly cracks- though the cracked ones are still delicious). The majority of my failures occurred when I tried to bake two sheets at once to save time. Don’t do this. A few of my shells did turn out a little grainy from the almond meal. Make sure you process the almond meal until it is completely fine. I was a bit impatient on that part and it shows in the final product. When baking the almond meal, you want to dry it until it no longer clumps, but there shouldn’t be any browning either.
Use a number 8-10 tip to pipe the batter onto the prepared trays, then to pipe the filling. If you don’t have pastry bags and tips, use a large ziploc bag and cut off up to a 1/4 inch hole on one of the bottom corners. When hitting the baking sheets against the counter to help settle the batter, don’t be afraid and end up doing it too gently. You really want everything to settle to help those pied (feet) form when baking and no peaks should be seen on the tops of the circle from piping. Make sure they are no longer sticky on the top before you put them in the oven. It helps to have the baking sheets in a room with the air conditioner running to dry them out. It took my batch about 45 minutes for the skin to form. The Macarons should bake just until cooked through and have no browning.
Pipe just enough of the vanilla cream cheese to fill the center. I piped borderline too much. You don’t want the filling seeping out as you bit into them, but you also want to be able to see the filling.
I used natural food coloring from beets to create the pink hue on the Macarons. I probably could have added a few more drops to make the color more strong, but didn’t want to add too much moisture to the batter. Moisture and humidity are the downfall of many of these little cookies.
They should be refrigerated for about a day before serving to let the flavors settle and meld. Quite a few of mine didn’t make it that long. They can be refrigerated for up to a week- again, mine didn’t make it that long.