Author Notes: I first tried my hand at making macarons during the 2011 holiday season. I had a marathon day during which I made six different kinds of macarons (with six different fillings) and have been hooked ever since. I love trying new flavors and this particular contest inspired the maple flavor. I adapted the recipe for the shells from Serious Eats, "How to Make Macarons" (posted by Robyn Lee 10/24/07). I've found that combining/processing the confectioners sugar and almond meal together in a food processor helps keep the ground almonds from getting pasty. The buttercream recipe was borrowed from Les Petits Macarons, Kathryn Gordon & Anne E. McBride. I've converted/adjusted the indgredients to metrics to be consistent with the macaron recipe. Because the maple buttercream can be a very sweet filling for an already very sweet cookie, I increased the salt in the buttercream. —jenniebgood
Makes: 25-30 macaron cookies
ground almonds/almond meal
egg whites, room temperature (aged overnight if possible)
brown food coloring
Salted Maple Buttercream
(1 1/4 cups) maple syrup: (Note: use Grade B if possible for better flavor)
(1/4 -1/2 tsp) sea salt or kosher salt
(227 grams) room temperature unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes
cup walnuts, toasted and finely chopped
- Thinking Ahead: Age the egg whites ahead of time overnight at room temperature in a bowl covered with plastic wrap. Poke holes in the plastic wrap with a fork. If you are not comfortable leaving egg whites out overnight, age them for a couple of days in the refrigerator. If you are a beginner at piping or want absolutely even-sized macarons, trace/draw 1.25-inch (approx 3 cm) circles about 1 1/2 inches apart on a "template" piece of parchment. Cut 3 additional pieces of parchment ahead of time to fit cookie sheets and when it's time to pipe the batter, lay the blank parchment pieces over the template and use as a guide to pipe (the template can be easily pulled out after piping and re-used)
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
- Combine confectioner's sugar and almond meal in the bowl of a food processor and pulse several times until combined and powdery. Sift the mixture into a medium-sized bowl using a tamis or strainer. Use a flexible scraper or rubber spatula to force as much of the mixture as you can through the tamis. You should only have about 1 tsp. of the mixture left in the strainer, which can be discarded.
- Make the meringue: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment whip the egg whites with the salt on medium speed until foamy. Reduce the speed to low and stream the granulated sugar into the bowl with the mixer running. When the sugar has been added, turn the speed up to high and whisk the meringue until it holds firm, shiny peaks. Add the brown food coloring at this point, a little at a time and adjust to desired color.
- With a flexible spatula, fold the almond mixture into the egg whites until completely incorporated, scraping along the sides and then up and under the middle of the bowl several times. Avoid leaving streaks of meringue or unincorporated almond mixture – this can lead to cracking in the macaron shells. When fully incorporated the mixture should have the consistency of magma – if you form a peak, it should slowly sink back into the batter. Avoid over-mixing the batter or it will become too runny and the shells will not rise properly.
- Using a piping bag fitted with a small (3/8-inch, 1 cm) round tip, pipe the macarons in small circles, about 1.25-1.5 inches in diameter. Rap the baking sheets a couple of times on a flat surface, and let the piped batter sit for 15-30 minutes. When the cookies are ready there should be a small "skin" on the cookie (your fingertip should come away clean after touching one).
- Bake, in a 325°F oven for 10 to 12 minutes. Use a wooden spoon to keep the oven door slightly ajar (this lets steam escape and prevents cracking), and rotate the baking sheet after 5-6 minutes for even baking.
- Remove macarons from oven and transfer parchment to a cooling rack. When cool, slide a metal offset spatula or pairing knife underneath the macaron to remove from parchment.
- Pair macarons of similar size, and pipe about 1/2 tsp of the filling onto one of the macarons. Sandwich macarons dust the edges of the macarons with the toasted walnuts. Refrigerate to allow flavors to blend together. Bring back to room temperature before serving.
Salted Maple Buttercream
- Bring the maple syrup to a boil in a saucepan over medium-high heat (use a medium size pan as the syrup will boil). Clip a thermometer to the pan and cook until the mixture reaches 238-240°F.
- While the maple syrup is cooking, whisk the egg whites and a pinch of salt on medium speed in the bowl of a stand mixer until they form medium firm peaks, about 2-3 minutes. Once the maple syrup reaches 238°F, remove from the heat and gradually and steadily pour it down the side of the bowl, resting the edge of the pan on the mixer bowl so that the syrup does not hit the whisk attachment and splatter.
- Whisk the meringue until stiff peaks form and the bowl cools down, about 8 minutes. Swap out the whisk attachment for the beater. Beat on medium-high speed, adding the salt and then the butter piece by piece until incorporated and fluffy (Note: start with 1/4 tsp. sea salt to start, adding more to taste). When the beater begins making a slapping sound the buttercream is done. The buttercream can be kept covered and refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.