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French Macarons by Daughter Megan

French Macarons are such a light, sweet delicacy.  I never would think of making them, yet, one day, my oldest daughter, Megan, called to say she’d had a dream about making Macarons and was going to bake them that very day.  Megan is the dessert maker in our family, always coming up with something new and delightful. Even so, I thought they would be extremely difficult, especially at Denver altitude.

Never fear!  The results were stunning and delectable.  The only change Megan made to the recipe was reducing the vanilla and adding almond extract to both the cookie and to the frosting. I’ll leave the Macaron making to Megan and praise (and enjoy) the results!

FRENCH MACARONS

For the Cookie

  • 100 g egg whites room temperature or 3 large eggs
  • 140 g almond flour or 1 1/2 cups
  • 90 g granulated sugar just under 1/2 cup
  • 130 g powdered sugar or 1 cup
  • 1 tsp. vanilla 5mL (Megan used 3/4 tsp. vanilla and 1/4 tsp. almond extract)
  • 1/4 tsp. cream of tartar 800mg

For the Buttercream

  • 1 cup unsalted butter softened 226g
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar 100g
  • 1 tsp. vanilla (Megan used 3/4 tsp. vanilla and 1/4 tsp. almond extract)
  • 3 tbsp. water 30mL
  • 1 pinch salt

Instructions

For the Macarons:

  • Sift the confectioners sugar and almond flour into a bowl.
  • Add the room temperature egg whites into a very clean bowl.
  • Using an electric mixer, whisk egg whites. Once they begin to foam add the cream of tartar and then SLOWLY add the granulated sugar.
  • Add the food coloring (if desired) and vanilla then mix in. Continue to beat until stiff peaks form.
  • Begin folding in the 1/3 of the dry ingredients.
  • Be careful to add the remaining dry ingredients and fold gently.
  • The final mixture should look like flowing lava, and be able to fall into a figure eight without breaking. Spoon into a piping bag with a medium round piping tip and you’re ready to start piping.
  • Pipe one inch dollops onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (this should be glued down with dabs of batter). Tap on counter several times to release air bubbles. Allow to sit for about 40 minutes before placing in oven.
  • Bake at 300F for 12-15 minutes, rotate tray after 7 minutes. Allow to cool completely before removing from baking sheet.

For the French Buttercream Filling:

  • Combine sugar and water in medium saucepan. Heat over low heat while stirring until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to medium- high and bring to a boil
  • Put egg yolks in a stand-mixer fitted with a whisk attachment and beat until thick and foamy.
  • Cook the sugar and water syrup until it reaches 240 degrees F. Immediately remove from heat. With mixer running, SLOWLY drizzle hot syrup into bowl with yolks.
  • Continue mixing until the bottom of the bowl is cool to the touch and the yolk mixture has cooled to room temperature.
  • Add in butter one cube at a time allowing each piece to incorporate before adding the next. Add vanilla and salt. Continue mixing until buttercream is smooth and creamy. (About 5-6 minutes.) Add food coloring if desired.

For Assembly

  • Pipe your filling onto the back of half the shells. Form a sandwich and repeat. Macarons should be aged in the fridge for 1-3 days for best results. This allows the filling to soften the shells inside.

Notes

  • THE MERINGUE!!!! That meringue HAS TO BE STIFF! I had no idea French meringue could be whipped to such a thick marshmallowy consistency but all it takes is a bit of extra whisking. You’ll notice the meringue start to fill the whisk when you’re getting close to the right stage.
  • Sift, Sift, SIFT! Those larger pieces of almond flour will mar the surface of your macarons. Best practice is to sift then whiz in the food processor and repeat two more times. Discard the larger particles, don’t try to press them through the sieve.
  • Use a scale if possible, accuracy helps with this recipe.
  • The mixing will take some practice, you will fold and fold the batter and then use the spatula to GENTLY press the batter against the bowl. You want to remove some of the bubbles but not to many… Continue this until it reaches a thick “lava” consistency. It should slowly fall off the spatula in ribbons and be able to form a figure eight without breaking.
  • Pipe the macarons perpendicular to the surface. If your tip is pointing a bit in any particular direction when you pipe the macarons might be oblong or malformed.
  • Add your coloring to the meringue after it reaches the soft peak stage.
  • When you are finishing the piping motion stop squeezing the bag and pull up with a circular motion.
  • The macarons will be best after 2-3 days resting in the fridge.
  • If you over-bake the shells and they’re too crisp, brush the bottom with some milk before assembly to soften them up.

Recipe adapted from Preppykitchen.com

New Favorite · Skinny · Vegan · Vegetarian

Fresh and Light Carrot Salad

As the days get hotter, I crave light and cool foods (except for my occasional Mexican food craving). The Carrot Salad is light, simple and delicious.

FRESH AND LIGHT CARROT SALAD

1 pound carrots
1/3 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1 small shallot finely chopped

Ingredients for Fresh & Light Carrot Salad
  • Peel the carrots and shred in a food processor.
  • Whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper.  Stir in the shallots and pour over shredded carrots.  Mix well.

  • Cover the salad and sit for a few hours for the flavors to blend.
New Favorite · Skinny · Vegan · Vegetarian

French Green Bean Salad…light and fresh!

Our Book Club meets every other month and tries to match the pot-luck cuisine to align with the story.  This month our book was ‘Sarah’s Key’. I loved this book!  If you’ve not read it, I highly recommend it.  The story takes place in France during WWII.  While food and cooking wasn’t the topic of the book, French Cuisine was the food du jour.

French cooking brings Julia Child to mind but I was looking for something light and fresh.  I was delighted to find a French Green Bean Salad that was perfect!

French Green Bean Salad

FRENCH GREEN BEAN SALAD

Kosher Salt
1 1/2 pounds fresh green beans
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons minced fresh dill

Ingredients for French Green Bean Salad
  • Fill a large bowl with ice water. Bring a large pot of water to boil and add 1 tablespoon of kosher salt. Add the beans and cook for 1 minute only so the beans are crisp tender. Drain the beans and put them in the ice water until completely cool. Drain the beans again, dry on paper towels. Place the beans in a large bowl.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the mustard, vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon salt and the pepper. While whisking, slowly add the olive oil to make an emulsion.
Dressing for French Green Bean Salad
  • Pour enough dressing over the beans to moisten them well, reserving the remaining dressing for another use. Toss with the dill, season to taste and serve at room temperature.

Recipe by foodnetwork.com, 2010 Barefoot Contessa