I know I’ve talked about my baking bucket list before. What a weirdo I am, right? I’m too lazy to search through all my posts (yes, all 102 of them) to find the post where I talked about it, so I’ll just talk about it again. Now I don’t have to think of some unique and witty content. Well, I’ll always be witty, yes? Anyway, there are multiple things that I’ve always wanted to tackle–if even just once. After going to Paris on our honeymoon and gorging on macarons, I realized that in order to get some more of that macaron goodness, I was going to have to make them myself. Actually, I suppose I could go to New York and and go to Laduree, but clearly that’s excessive.
Anyway, one weekend day, I think I just decided that I was going to make macarons. I finally had a kitchen scale, which is essential because these cookies are notoriously finicky. I got started and after carefully grinding everything in my food processor and piping out two trays of cookies, I realized that I had not processed the nuts nearly enough–there were chunks everywhere. Yuck. So I threw everything out and started over. Fun! I’ve learned throughout my baking trials that just admitting defeat is better than slogging through and having the finished project end up being as disappointing as you suspected it would be.
Luckily, round two went better and though the final product wasn’t perfect, they were very tasty. I got the recipe from Annie’s Eats and I highly recommend her tutorial as she’s very informative. I would also listen to her advice of letting the cookies ‘dry out’ in the oven because mine ended up being cemented to the silicone mats, though the ones I was able to pry off were delicious. So I will say the first attempt was a success! Though these are a little challenging, I say go for it! If we always stayed in our comfort zone, life would be boring.
from Annie’s Eats
For the cookies:
6 oz. slivered or blanched almonds
1½ oz. chopped hazelnuts (I ended up using ones with skins and it was fine, but if you want it perfectly white, then you’ll have to remove the skins or buy blanched hazelnuts)
10 oz. powdered sugar
3 large egg whites
1½ tsp. cream of tartar
For the filling:
¾ cup (12 tbsp.) unsalted butter, at room temperature
6 tbsp. Nutella
¾ cup powdered sugar, sifted
Pinch of coarse salt
Line two baking sheets with a silicone mat or with parchment paper. Prepare a pastry bag with a large round pastry tip. Place the almonds and hazelnuts in a food processor. Process the nuts until they are well ground. (This is where I messed up the first time, so after that, I ended up feeling the mixture to make sure there weren’t a lot of large chunks left. There’s bound to be some large pieces, but overall, it should be a pretty fine mixture.) Add the powdered sugar and continue with brief pulses until the mixture is finely ground and it is even.
In the bowl of a stand mixture fitted with the whip attachment, combine the egg whites and the cream of tartar. Whip on medium-high until there are stiff peaks. This usually takes about 3-4 minutes. Add 1/3 of the ground nuts to the egg whites. Gently fold it in with a rubber spatula, only mixing until everything is combined and there are no lumps or streaks. Add the rest of the ground nuts in 2 additions, being sure to mix between additions. Transfer the thick mixture to your pastry bag. Pipe out your cookies in approximately 1-inch circles, that are 1/2 inch thick and 1-inch apart. There will be spreading, but that’s ok. Let the trays rest for 2 hours on the counter–this lets the feet develop.
Preheat the oven to 300°. Set the oven racks in the lower half of the oven. Bake the macarons for 12-14 minutes, rotating the baking pans halfway through the time. They should appear set and not browned by the end of your baking time. Let the cookies cool. Annie suggests propping your oven door open and letting them cool as the oven cools. After the sticky mess a lot of my cookies became, I would also recommend this as I guess if the macaron shells don’t ‘dry out’ enough, they end up being sticky. Once they are cooled, transfer to the wire rack to cool completely.
Make the filling: combine the butter and nutella in the bowl of a mixer with a paddle attachment. Beat on medium high speed until smooth–about 1 to 2 minutes. Blend in the powdered sugar and salt and beat on high speed until the mixture is light and fluffy.
Place a small spoonful of filling on one cookie then lightly place another cookie on top. Push them together so that the filling goes to the edge. These should be stored in an airtight container–but let’s see if they even get that far!