When I think of French Macarons and making them, the first thing that used to happen was that I’d have a panic attack (a minor one. Okay, not a panic attack but something made my heart race and not in a good way). Now … I’m not so scared. Maybe it’s because this recipe is insanely easy, or maybe it’s just because my love for Nutella (no affiliation, they’re not paying me to love their product, I just do) overrides my fear of messing up a cookie.
I will admit, there is a certain amount of trial and error as far as under- and over-working the egg whites in any macaron. That being said, they’re actually really tasty no matter what, but you might want to research that if you’re entering a baking competition. I am not, therefore… I eat the cracked ones. They taste just as good as the perfect looking ones, I promise.
Alright, so I promised some of you the actual recipe this time – I would like to make a disclaimer that this is not mine, I’m not being paid to represent the author of the recipe, the magazine that published it, or anything like that. I feel okay reposting this because it’s right out there online, and if you have me on Facebook you will see it on my news feed from a couple days ago anyways. The following recipe is from Food and Wine.
- 2 large egg whites, at room temperature (Jen’s Note: this is important, they won’t whip up right otherwise!)
- 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar (Jen’s Note: It’s in with the spices at your grocery store, not the sugar and flour)
- Kosher salt (I hate it when recipes do this. One, any salt will work; and , Two, it’s a pinch. You use a pinch. That can be anywhere from 1/4 teaspoon to 1/2 teaspoon. Just tell me 1/4 teaspoon!)
- 1/4 cup sugar (or however much you accidentally end up pouring into the bowl, and this is regular old granulated sugar)
- 1 cup confectioner’s sugar
- 3/4 cup almond flour (get the super-fine ground almond flour!)
- 1 tablespoon Earl Grey Tea (about 3 tea bags)
- 2/3 cup Nutella (plus more for eating while waiting for cookies to bake)
Now, a few notes. Pick a tea that you like the taste of normally. Don’t go out and pick up whatever Earl Grey there is right there in the grocery store that’s cheapest. I work in a coffee shop, so I’m a bit froofie about my tea and coffee choices, I use Harney & Sons (No affiliation… just assume I’m not affiliated to any brand name products you see here in this blog, okay?).
Before my discount, we sell 30-count tins of Earl Grey bags for about $11. You don’t have to go that crazy (I stock up when we have coupons), but it is a very rich and fragrant tea taste with lots of floral notes that compliment this cookie very well. How pretentious do I sound there?
Moving on, you also really do want to follow the directions carefully. When they say “add sugar” they just mean the granulated….don’t pull a Jen and add both types of sugars and ruin your first batch. Okay?
If you don’t have a stand mixer, a hand electric mixer will work just as well. I use my kitchenaid for everything, though, and I recommend that if you’re going to do a lot of baking you save up for one (or something like it), because it makes this recipe SERIOUSLY easy, especially when whipping up the egg whites and sugar the right way. I’d kill myself if I had to hand whip my egg whites to stiff peaks, that’s all I’m saying.
The steps are relatively straight-forward and simple to follow even if you’ve never made macarons before (which I hadn’t, before my first time making these).
The first thing you do is preheat your oven to 375 degrees fahrenheit. You start off hotter than you’ll actually be cooking the delicious little devils for, because that helps form your crust on the cookie for that nice, delicate, crispy outer shell. This is important, because otherwise you may as well just make chocolate chip cookies. Mm. Chocolate cookies… okay, sorry, back on task.
Line your baking trays with parchment paper – I have three huge-ass baking sheets with rims, and this recipe took two of them, so if you know your baking sheets are smaller, plan to use three or do a second batch of cookies.
While that’s prepped and ready to go (or not, if you’re me and you’re lazy and just preheating your oven right now, forget the cookie sheets), with your whisk attachment on whatever method you are using to do this craziness, beat together the two egg whites, cream of tartar, and a “pinch” (dammit!) of salt. I have tiny fingers, I just used my measuring spoon from my cream of tartar. Suck it, recipe gods. You want to beat them on high until they start getting a little foamy. What the &*$# do foamy egg whites look like? This:
Nobody ever taught me that. I’ve never even seen that happen on the food network, but okay, whatever. They’re frothing, apparently that does something.
Slowly add in your granulated sugar (or just accidentally drop the measuring cup full of sugar into the bowl of egg white froth like I do, and fish it out hoping nobody just saw that) while beating it all on high (please turn it off if you really do drop the measuring cup in, don’t be a hero, you’ll lose a finger. NO, that’s NOT what happened to me, for future reference. Thank you very much. I’m a klutz, not stupid enough to disregard any hope for safety.). Beat mixture on high until the egg whites “hold stiff, glossy peaks.” What does that mean? It should look like meringue – you should be able to take the end of your whisk and play with it like mousse or really high-quality bubble bath bubbles, and form little shapes in it. It should have a shiny appearance, like those fancy pies that nobody really eats anymore. (note to self: consider making a pie with meringue for one of these).
Alright, once this has happened (and you’re done playing with it, you dork), grab a rubber spatula (mine is red with polka-dots, that’s my pastry spatula…yes, I have a dedicated pastry spatula. Shut up). You’re going to sift (if you don’t have a sifter, do NOT freak out. I’ll tell you what to do in a sec) your confectioner’s sugar and flour over the egg whites.
Okay, let me grab another cup of coffee and settle in to tell you how to “sift” without an actual sifter.
So here’s what I did… you know those strainers you use for like…veggies and whatever? Those wire mesh ones, not the ones with big holes in them, that’s what I used, and you can find them for dirt-cheap at any big box store. You can, however, also use things like…a dry whisk. The point here is to get NO clumps, and keep out as many over-sized particles from getting into the mix as possible, so that everything is smooth and silky, like freshly waxed legs. …okay, maybe not, but you know what I mean. Then, you pour in your earl grey. I like to lightly grind or break up mine before I put it in – the brand I got uses pretty big tea leaves, and biting into a whole one may not be what people are expecting to do, so I kind of mush up the bag a little before I pour it in.
Next, just gently FOLD in all your dry ingredients. Don’t stir. Don’t shake. Don’t whip, and definitely don’t beat in these things. Just take that rubber spatula and GENTLY start pulling the egg whites up over the flour. It will lose some volume naturally, yes, but the less you lose the better. Work carefully until everything is well combined and there are no clumps of dry flour you can see. Like this:
Once that’s all taken care of, make sure to spoon your mixture into a pastry bag with a plain tip. Ha!
Okay…pastry bags are expensive. Tips for pastry bags cost more money, sometimes, and it’s a freakin’ bag. That you put food into. Think about it a second there, what do you have lying around the house that does the same thing? Oh yeah! Okay, so grab your freezer bag (use the big one, don’t be silly) and fill it up, getting it as close to one corner as possible. Once the whole mixture is in there, it’ll look like the picture above.
Now, if you haven’t lined your baking sheets yet, this is the time to do it … well, this is when I did it. Why do you have to use parchment paper for this recipe? Because you need these cookies to come off with minimal effort, and the oil or butter from greasing the tray can mess with the bake on the cookies. So just go get some parchment from the dollar store and throw some of it on your baking trays. Trust me on this one.
You may ask, “But Jen, how am I supposed to make these cute, little, perfectly round macaron like they sell at the store when I just shoved all my batter into a ziploc baggie that I now can’t get it out of?”
Easy. Snip that corner you just shoved it all into. I like a smaller corner for more control, but if you feel bold enough to, go ahead and make a 1″ hole in that bag, nobody cares. Nobody can see what you do in your kitchen but you. Voila! That is your pastry bag with plain tip, right there. Now, hold the bag over your parchment-lined-sheets, and gently squeeze (from the top – it’s not a tube of toothpaste, actually squeeze from one end to the other so you get all your batter out eventually, okay?). You want 1″ to 1 1/2″ rounds, so to do this you just swirl a little while you’re squeezing out your batter. It may have a little peak on top, don’t worry about that until you have all your batter squeezed out into little cookie shapes like this:
So, if you want a smooth macaron (if yours aren’t perfect, again, I’m not going to be the one to call the baking police on you, don’t worry) instead of that little point on top, here’s what you can do. Get a tiny amount of cool water on your finger and gently (VERY GENTLY) tap the top of your macaron until it looks smoother. Then, when it bakes up, those little points will go away completely and you’ll have a nice end result.
Now for the third-best part. Yes, this is only the third best part. Start baking. Okay, so as soon as you throw these puppies into the oven, turn your oven temp down to 325 degrees fahrenheit. This is so they don’t burn. Another note: You don’t really want these browning, you really just want them to get a little solid on top, so just bake until firm – they won’t look done, but reach in and just very gently tap. If you can’t squish them easily, they’re done. This takes about 10-12 minutes, unless you have an oven with bipolar disorder, like mine, in which case it can really be anywhere between 8 and 15 minutes to get to where they don’t smoosh.
Here’s the hardest part: you have to wait for them to completely cool now! It’s my least favorite part, I’m not going to lie. I’m all about that instant gratification cookie, but you can’t do that with these. They have to set. At room temperature, so don’t even think about that refrigerator, do you hear me? Once they cool down appropriately, you can gently peel them off the parchment paper – now this is why you want the parchment paper: even cooled and hardened, these cookies are insanely delicate. You can just put your finger through one without even trying (which usually ends up with me going “oh, darn, I have to eat this one myself now, the horror!”). So GENTLY peel them off the paper.
Grab that nutella, baby, and have your way with those cookies.
That is to say, spread a thin layer on the flat side of one cookie and gently sandwich another on top of it. They will look similar to this when you’re done:
Can I be honest with you for a moment here? You should probably try out your first one. You know. To make sure they baked properly and taste good. Go ahead. Do it. DO IT.
And that’s that. Lather, rinse, repeat, and you’ll have your own little army of tiny, delicious sandwich cookies to march across your counter and into your mouth.
What I liked most about this recipe was its ease and accessibility, not to mention it has Nutella and Earl Grey in the title, two of my favorite things in the whole wide world. So many times, I’ve clicked on a recipe link, looked at the ingredients, and gone “Ha! Yeah. Freaking. Right. There’s no way I’m going to find that ingredient outside of New York or Los Angeles, this is the midwest, we don’t have that anywhere” or “that takes FIVE HOURS?!? Are you kidding me? This is a joke, tell me this is a joke please. Please. This isn’t a joke? This is a JOKE.” I mean I made these right on the first (second … I put my powdered sugar in with the granulated thinking they meant both sugars the first time) try. Yes, some of them cracked during baking and cooling, but I’m not a professional baker and I’m not selling these for money.
Even without Nutella, these earl grey cookies are flipping amazing. They have just the right amount of sweet to really make that tea taste pop in the right ways on my palate. With the Nutella, something you’d never think would go with them, they go up to a whole new level. I thought it might be weird, but it’s actually a nice compliment to the spiciness of the tea with all that creamy chocolate and hazelnut flavor.
I like to eat mine with coffee. Yes, I know how weird that sounds, but they go great.
So go get you some tea and some eggs and whip these up in a hurry! They’re totally worth it. Just … don’t eat them before right bed, they’re caffeinated.