I wasn’t going to post these because I’m not completely happy with them – but then I remembered that this blog is about experimenting and learning, so here you are!
My boss will be getting hand surgery next week, so in anticipation of our office party all day every day for the next few weeks (just kidding Jen!), I wanted to make a little feel-better-soon thing for her. She once told me that her favorite dessert of all time was s’mores, and since s’mores macarons have been on my to-do list for some time, I figured this would be the perfect weekend to tackle this project.
Well it took the whole day and I am exhausted now! Thankfully the tops are smooth and the feet do exist (albeit the teeniest tiniest feet of any macaron I’ve ever made) and they are enthusiastically edible in all their sugary chocolatey marshmallowy glory, but I didn’t have it in me to try another batch to perfect them. I used Liv for Cake‘s recipe for the shells because I admired the beautiful graham cracker color of her macarons, but as you can see mine didn’t turn out quite like hers – also, oddly enough my go at her recipe made far more macarons than she indicated. I think I must have overbeat the meringue because the recipe I’m used to has me take them to an extremely dry, stiff meringue – this is the most likely explanation I can think of for 1) the teeny tiny barely risen feet, 2) the much lighter color of the shell, and 3) more macarons than planned.
Because the color didn’t really scream graham cracker like I wanted to, I bedazzled the tops with a drizzle of melted dark chocolate and more graham cracker crumbs. I hope to try these again – another day, when I’m no longer sick of the smell of melted chocolate and marshmallow fluff getting everywhere!
As anyone who has ever thought about making their own macarons knows, macarons have a reputation of being a little temperamental princess in the kitchen. I first tried to make macarons last summer…witness my spectacular failure:
They were actually still pretty tasty though, poor ugly ducklings! After this haphazard first attempt, I did more extensive research on the science and technique behind macaron baking. This post here has been by far the most helpful in my quest to make consistent macarons. In addition to the sage wisdom of Mardi Michels and Stella (BraveTart), my #1 tip would be to NOT scale down any macaron recipes when you are first getting used to the technique. In an effort to save money and ingredients, I probably ended up wasting more in failed batches because it’s just much harder to maintain consistency in smaller batches than larger ones. Particularly, the macaronage process (the step of combining the egg whites and the dry ingredients) can be tricky in small batches as you run the risk of somehow both over-mixing while still having streaks of meringue in the mixture, leading to funky or nonexistent feet, cracks galore, and runny mishapen batter when piping.
The other thing I want to mention is that, while the Mardi Michels/Stella method references using a stand mixer, up until very recently I got along just fine using an electric hand mixer – just maybe beat a little longer than a recipe indicates for a stand mixer, going by visuals to know when to stop. Then I got the best Christmas present ever from my brother, a beautiful shiny red KitchenAid stand mixer, and suddenly I’m in love and never looking back. Life is so much easier with technology! But as much as I love my new baby, I do want to assure you that yes you can make macarons without the fancy equipment.
So again these are a work in progress, but I hope to share more macaron ideas in the future with prettier photos! Onward and upward!
S’mores French Macarons
adapted from Liv for Cake
makes approximately 45 cookies (90 shells)
dairy free and gluten free options available
- 120g egg whites (approximately 4 egg whites)
- 130g white granulated sugar
- 115g almond flour
- 40g ground graham crackers or gluten free graham crackers
- 110g powdered sugar
- optional – melted chocolate and graham cracker crumbs for garnish
- 1/2 7.5oz jar of marshmallow fluff
- 4 tablespoons butter or vegan butter
- 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 1/2 cup confectionary sugar
- Prepare a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking sheet. I would recommend parchment paper if you are just starting out making macarons, as it is easier to tell when macarons are done with the parchment than with silicone. Slip under the baking sheet or draw on the back (if using parchment paper) circular templates for piping. Also prepare a piping bag with a round tip.
- Sift together the almond flour, graham crackers, and powdered sugar to ensure they are evenly mixed. If you have a food processor, this is the easiest way to do so as well as it ensures that any lumps get finely ground; if not, don’t worry too much about the lumps, just throw them back in (I use Bob’s Red Mill almond flour, and it is already ground enough that it will not cause any issues other than a slightly less smooth looking shell).
- Using a stand mixer or hand mixer, whip the egg whites and granulated sugar until stiff peaks form.
- Using a rubber spatula, add the dry ingredients to the egg whites and fold it in. This guide to macaron making includes videos on proper macaronage technique and what the end consistency should be like. The mixture should flow freely but not be too runny – if you let a ribbon drip from your spatula into the bowl, the ribbon of batter should reincorporate into the rest of the batter in approximately 15-20 seconds.
- Fill the piping bag with the batter and pipe out the shells; the link above also includes a video on piping technique.
- Bang the tray at least three times to get out any big air bubbles and set aside for 30-60 minutes until the piped batter no longer looks shiny and is slightly tacky to the touch. While waiting, preheat the oven to 300 F.
- Once the macarons have rested, bake for 10-20 minutes depending on your oven. If this is one of your first times making macarons with your oven and you followed my suggestion to use parchment paper, a sign that the macarons are done is when the macarons still stick a little to the parchment paper but are able to be moved with a little force.
- Remove the parchment paper/silicone baking sheet from the hot pan and set aside on a cool surface.
- While baking or waiting for the shells to cool, make the chocolate filling by beating together by hand or with an electric mixture the butter, cocoa powder, and powdered sugar.
- Pair up the cooled macaron shells by size best you can. On one shell of a pair, spread about a generous teaspoon of marshmallow fluff. Optionally, at this point you can use a lighter to toast the fluff for that extra s’moresy flavor. On the other shell of the pair, pipe out a teaspoon or so of the fudgy chocolate frosting. Sandwich the two shells together. Repeat for all macarons. (This was the part that took forever!)
- Optional – drizzle melted chocolate over the tops and sprinkle extra graham cracker crumbs for garnish.
- Macarons are actually best made a day or two ahead of eating, contrary to usual baking wisdom – it allows the meringue cookie to soften a little and soak up the flavors of the filling. Store in an airtight container in the fridge. They taste great chilled or at room temperature!
Nutritional description: macarons are a great low calorie and low fat option to satisfy your sweet tooth. While of course all that added sugar still categorizes them as a treat, the other main components of egg whites and almond flour add some protein and nutrition. The s’mores inspired filling is probably one of the least nutritious macaron filling ideas out there (though oh so good) – for a lighter option, I personally love macarons filled with sugar free or all-fruit jam!
Nutritional information (calculated without dairy free or gluten free substitutions): Calories 63, Total Fat 2.4g, Saturated Fat 0.7g, Cholesterol 2.7mg, Carbs 10.1g, Fiber 0.4g, Sugars 8.1g, Protein 0.9g, Sodium 11.5mg