Everything about a macaron says France. They are sophisticated, gorgeous, delicious and have a romance to them; a certain je ne sais quoi? (That was gratuitous, but I couldn’t help throwing in one of the few French phrases I can actually pronounce.) But, it is true, they have a mystique to them that is both alluring and intimidating, like a really gorgeous woman; think Catherine Deneuve and Brigit Bardot. When you bite into them they are just as beautiful on the inside, and inviting, even seductive. I can eat my entire body weight in these nut-meringue cookies and still want for more. What on Earth does all of this have to do with St. Patrick’s day you might ask? I admit it is a stretch, but I really wanted to make them and they are adorable in green. I added a bit of mint to the ganache and voila, you have a St. Patrick’s day macaron!
Macarons inspired by Joanne Chang’s article in Fine Cooking
1 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (7 3/8 oz) confectioners’ sugar
1 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (4 3/8 oz) almond flour/meal (Don’t use the kind that has been ground with the skins on)
4 large egg whites, at room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
Green food coloring
4 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon mint extract (or 1 tablespoon mint liqueur) – or to taste
To make the ganache:
In a medium sized pot heat the cream until just steaming, but not boiling. Turn off the heat and add the chocolate and butter. Shake the pot to make sure all the chocolate is submerged in the hot cream and allow to sit for about 3 minutes. Add the mint extract or liqueur and gently stir the ganache until it is completely smooth. Remove to a shallow container and allow to cool to room temperature. Can be made a day ahead. leftovers can be refrigerated for a week or frozen for a month.
To make the macarons:
Prepare 2 or 3 baking sheets with parchment paper, set aside
Sift together the confectioners’ sugar and almond flour in a large bowl, set aside
Whip the egg whites on medium speed until foamy, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add the sugar 1 tablespoon at a time with the mixer on medium. Add the green Food Coloring.
If you are using the paste colors, wipe it on the bottom of the whip attachment. Add it until you have achieved the color you like. Continue whipping the eggs until they are glossy and hold a stiff peak, about 5 to 8 minutes.
When you lift the whip out of the bowl it should hold a straight point.
Add about half of the flour mixture to the egg whites.
Using a rubber spatula fold in the flour.
Mix in the second half of the flour mixture, just until incorporated.
Fill the pastry bag about 1/2 full with the macaron mixture.
Holding the bag straight up and down, pipe the macarons so they are about the size of a quarter and 1/4-inch tall. They need to be about 1-inch apart, so they don’t bake together. When lifting the bag up, be sure to release the pressure so they won’t have a tall peak. If the macarons end up with a point, use a wet finger to smooth them down.
Tap the tray several times on the counter to flatten the macarons slightly and get any air bubbles to the surface. Let the trays sit, uncovered for about 30 minutes so the macarons form a bit of a skin on them. They will
As they are sitting, preheat the oven to 325° and position the oven racks in the top and bottom thirds of the oven.
Place the macarons in the oven and immediately reduce the temperature to 300°F. Bake until the meringue is puffed, but still pale. Switch the racks and continue to bake for a total of about 15 to 20 minutes. If you used a third sheet tray, you will need to preheat the oven back to 325° before you start to bake them. Reduce the temperature to 300° once they are in the oven. (This extra step helps them rise properly.)
Once the macarons are completely cooled, flip half of the them over and pipe on the ganache using a pastry bag and a small round pastry tip.
HINT: Just a thin layer, so it doesn’t ooze out the sides. These were a little over stuffed, bit of a tasty mess to eat!
Sandwich them together.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day or any other day!