Macaroons
On the eleventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me …
Eleven piped macaroons
Ten beautifully wrapped gifts
Nine Christmas songs for dancing
Eight cups of hot chocolate
Seven swan chocolate eclairs
Six egg frittatas
Five golden gifts
Four colly chocolate lava cakes
Three French Champagne cocktails
Two sugar cookie turtle doves
and a partridge in a pear tart!

On the eleventh day of the “12 Days of Christmas,” I envision “11 pipers piping” French macaroons. What else would they be piping!?

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Now, I have to tell you … I have always been too intimidated to even try to make macaroons. I think that it was so many horror stories from people about how difficult they are to make. Or, really, how difficult it is to get them to come out right.
But, I, Katie Jacobs will not be scared! I will not be taken down by the tiny macaroon! I grabbed a bag of almond flour from Whole Foods and charged fearlessly into the macaroon abyss.
Did I beat the batter too long the first time and did the macaroons come out FLAT? Yes. Fail.

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The second try, did I put flour in the batter by accident instead of confectioner’s sugar and did the batter end up like bread dough? Yes. Giving in under the pressure. Fail.

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Was the third time the charm producing light and fluffy macaroons that were delicious and adorable? YES!

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Are they perfect? Far from it. I still wish they were fluffier—they ended up a little flat. I also will make them much smaller next time. These were way too large. But boy do they taste amazing. I had two for breakfast …
Here’s how I made them and what I learned from my failed attempts:

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Start by making a diagram on a sheet of parchment paper with a pencil and something round the size that you would like your macaroons. Then FLIP IT OVER onto your cookie sheet so you can see the template but the lead is cookie sheet side down.

By the third time a made them, I completely threw the template out the window as it becomes easier to pipe them all the same size with a little practice.

SiftingandBeating

Next, you combine all your dry ingredients through a fine sifter—almond meal, confectioners’ sugar and salt. This is an important step (that I have to tell you I usually skip in baking) because the almond meal can be course and you do not want large hard bits in your final macaroons.

You will also beat 4 egg whites until they become stiff and glossy, adding sugar and almond extract at the end.

Batter

Mixing the dry and wet ingredients together was the tricky part for me. How long do I mix it? Well, the first time I made them, I beat the heck out of the batter—which made for really flat macaroons. You are supposed to only stir to combine about 30 seconds until the batter resembles the consistency of honey—when you move a spoon through it, it will slowly meld back together.

Piping

On to the piping—perfect circles! OK, close enough.

After you pipe two pans of the batter, you will want to “slap” the cookie sheet against the counter (like you would a cake before you put it in the oven). This pops all the air bubble out of your macaroons to prevent cracking.

You’ll let the piped macaroons sit out on the counter for 30 minutes to an-hour-and-a-half. Until a film forms on top of each. This is what creates that crispy crust. Preheat your oven and pop one pan in at a time for 12-14 minutes (rotating half way through).

COOLING

Let them cool completely and then pop them off the parchment paper with a small spatula. Put them in size matching pairs and prepare your filling.

RasberryFilling

I just used a strained raspberry jam for my filling (to strain, leave jam in a strainer over a bowl for about an hour to remove seeds). Next time I want to make a ganache or icing to go in the middle. The jam tastes amazing but never really sets—starts to ooze out the sides.

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Here’s the Martha Stewart recipe I used. Also, watch the video, it’s very helpful to see the consistency to compare to your own batter as you go (plus, it’s hilarious how she says “macaroons” … makes them sound so fancy … I kept saying it like her while I was making them … macaROONs).

 
Easy French Macarons
1 1/4 cups almond meal
1 3/4 cups confectioner’s sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 large egg whites
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
Strained jam or other desired fillings

Whisk together almond meal and confectioner’s sugar and sift over a large bowl.

Beat egg whites until frothy, 1 to 2 minutes. Slowly add granulated sugar and almond extract, beat until medium shiny peaks, about 3 to 5 minutes.

Fold egg whites into almond mixture until combined. Mix vigorously with spatula until the mixture sinks easily into a smooth mass and has the consistency of honey. Transfer mixture to a pastry bag, cut off 1/2 inch off tip. Pipe 1-inch rounds about 1 inch apart on parchment-lined sheets.

Let dry 30 minutes to an hour and a half until tops are firm and dry. Preheat oven to 350. Bake one sheet at a time for about 14 minutes, rotating once. Let cool completely on wire racks before filling and sandwiching cookies together.

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Don’t feel like going through all this to make them? Go buy the PERFECT ones at The Painted Cupcake (and check out my blog post about them HERE).

I feel like this is the start to a very sweet relationship.

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