Whether you are a hopeless Francophile or just a lover of confections, macarons are the pinnacle of dessert perfection. A cross between a tiny cake and a cookie, macarons boast smooth and delicately crisp exteriors that give way to light and pillowy interiors filled with sweet and occasionally savory fillings. In the right hands, they can be the miraculous result of a few deceptively simple ingredients of almond flour, eggs and sugar.
Their origins are often debated, with some claiming their birthplace Renaissance Italy, while others believe them to be a strictly French affair. However you land on this debate, it's indisputable that the French have elevated the macaron to the perfect confection we know and love today. Short of ordering directly from the Ladurée or Fauchon counters in Paris, I've never tasted anything quite like these tiny French cookies here in the United States. That is, until I stepped inside Chef Emilie's kitchen in Trumbull, CT.
Chef Emilie is a bubbly presence in her trademark pink and white gingham apron holding court in her kitchen and enticing wannabe French cooks like me, into her flour and egg-laden domain weekly with a full calendar of cooking classes as well as personal chef services. Her classes focus on a spectrum of sweet and savory French cooking, from her notable and nearly always sold-out French macaron classes, to sessions that focus on the many classic Burgundy dishes of her youth.
Each class is chock-full of tips and instruction that recipes simply can't provide. Her insistence on using a particular brand of almond flour, the gentle nudge when you're piping batter a bit too slowly (it does matter she insists!) and a dozen other tips and tricks are things one can only glean from live instruction. I'm also convinced that Chef Emilie's gently accented English and occasional lapses into French are an important part of each lesson.
In addition to her infamous macarons, a few of Chef Emilie's upcoming classes include: Italia on Thursday, March 10 & April 7 | Macaron on Saturday, March 12, 14, 30 & April 20 | Quiche Lorraine on March 22 & April 5 |Outstanding & Delightful Meals featuring French classics on March 25 | Secrets of Burgundy on April 1 |French Brunch Like in Paris April 3 | Kids Cooking Class April 6.
Chef Emilie has graciously shared her macaron recipe with us, but beware. Making macarons for the first time is a bit like setting out to play your first eighteen holes of golf. It's probably not going to be pretty and you may need a drink afterward to soothe your bruised ego. It takes a deft touch, lots of practice and a steady hand but when everything finally comes together, there is nothing like it.
To learn more about Chef Emilie and her cooking classes, visit her website where you'll find a list of resources and a complete list of classes in her French kitchen.
Chef Emilie's Recipe for French Macarons
100gr white eggs
125 gr almond powder
210r confectioner's powered sugar
30 gr white granulated sugar
Food Colorant (red, green, yellow …)
For Chocolate Macarons substitute 10 gr of confectioner's sugar with chocolate powder.
Sift together the powdered sugar with the almond powder so there are no lumps (use previously a blender or food processor if almond meal that you buy isn't quite fine enough). In the bowl of you electric mixer, beat the egg whites until they begin to rise and hold their shape. While whipping, beat in the granulated sugar until very stiff and firm, about 1.5 minutes. Then put the color extract and keep beating 30sec.
Carefully fold the dry ingredients, in several batches (3 batches is perfect), into the beaten egg whites with a flexible rubber spatula. Fold always from the bottom to the up to no break the whites. When the mixture is just smooth and there are no streaks of egg white, stop folding and scrape the batter into the pastry bag (standing the bag in a tall glass helps if you're alone).
Pipe the batter on the parchment-lined baking sheets in 1-inch (3 cm) circles (about 1 tablespoon each of batter), evenly spaced one-inch (3 cm) apart. Let the baking sheet about 1h – 2h at room temperature !!!!) to flatten and harden the macarons (no more than 2h, because your macarons might be too dry).
Preheat oven to 305º F (180º C). Bake the macarons ON 2 COOKIE SHEETS !!! Bake for 15-16 minutes for ivory macarons and 14-15 mn for colored and chocolate macarons ( this timing depends on your oven ).
Be very careful and take a look to your macarons after 14mn (you can touch them to see if they are already cooked) : 1 minute is enough to overcook a macaron!! Let cool completely at room temperature (at least 30mn) then remove carefully from baking sheet.
Spread a bit of filing with a little spoon on the side of one macarons and sandwich it with another macaron. I also tend to overfill them so you may or may not use all the filling. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days, or freeze. If you freeze them, defrost them in the unopened container, to avoid condensation which will make the macarons soggy.
1 cup of semi seet chocolate
½ cup of heavy cream
1 tablespoon of unsalted butter
Heat the chocolate in a small saucepan with the cream. When the chocolate is melted, add the butter and then stir until smooth. Let cool completely before using.
Sea & Salt Caramel Filling
1 cup of Soft Caramel
½ cup of heavy cream
A hint of Sea Salt (or regular salt)
Melting all the ingerdients on the heat. Stirring carefuly until combined and cool at room temperature until the caramel becomes tough.
Strawberry (or all red berries) Filling
1 cup of Strawberries or red berrries (you can use frozen fruit)
2 tablespoon of Strawberry Marmelade
1 cup of granulated sugar
2 teaspoon of gelatine (or strawberry jello)
2 tablespoon of water
Melting all the ingerdients on the heat. Stirring carefuly, the sprinkle the gelatine. Stir until combined and cool at room temperature until the the filling becomes tough.
1/4 cup of sweat Coconut, shopped in very small piecces
1/2 cup of Vanilla Frosting
1 teaspoon of coconut extract
Melting all ingredients together.
1 cup of unsalted pistachio nutmeats
1 cup of confectioner sugar
1 white egg
1 drop of almond extract
green and yellow food color
Grind all ingredients together. Add more sugar (by teaspoon) in case it is to liquid.