Friday, January 25, 2013

French Macaroon Rosettes

French macaroons are light as a feather and tres tres chic.  These little morsels which are extremely popular in France are really taking America by storm, so I thought I'd make my own version of the cookies for everyone to try.  Nothing more than meringues which have the added bonus of finely ground blanched almonds, French macaroons are quite simple to make.  With the addition of some food coloring and various fillings to sandwich each cookie, an endless array of them can be assembled in no time.  Visit one of your specialty food stores and expect to pay quite a bit for these treats, but if you gather a handful of ingredients you can quickly make some at home and enjoy the pleasure of dozens of them.

Rather than piping them in the familiar wafer shape that we all know, I thought my version of them would be best if made into rosettes.  The lovely macaroons can stand on their own and be nibbled just as they are (my favorite way), but they can also be sandwiched with traditional buttercream or even some delicious, high-quality melted chocolate.  You don't need me to tell you that these would make any sweetheart swoon on Valentine's Day.  


Delicate, Sweet & Delicious


The Ingredients
  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1/2 cup {110 g} granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon {1.25 ml} pure almond extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon {1.25 ml} pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups {145 g} slivered, blanched almonds, finely ground
  • 1 cup {130 g} confectioners' sugar, scooped & leveled
  • food coloring (optional)
Yield: approximately 7 dozen+ (1 1/2") single macaroons or about 3 1/2 to 4 dozen sandwich cookies.

Equipment: 16" pastry bag, Ateco open-star tip #22, baking sheets lined with parchment or silpats


Center racks & preheat the oven to
 325° F (163°C)


In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the egg whites and granulated sugar.  Place this over a saucepan with simmering water (don't let the bottom of the bowl touch the water) and begin to whisk the meringue.  Don't walk away from this task.  Whisk until the mixture is warm to the touch and the sugar has completely dissolved.  Essentially, this is a Swiss meringue base.

Attach the bowl to the stand mixer and fit it with the whisk attachment.  Whip the meringue on high speed, until the mixture is glossy and has stiff peaks.


Meanwhile, place the finely ground almonds in a medium-sized bowl and sift the confectioners' sugar over them.  Whisk to combine and keep the mixture ready.


As the meringue begins to turn into stiff peaks, add the almond extract & vanilla extract on high speed.  If using food coloring, add it now.  Make sure it is dropped between the whisk and the edge of the bowl; don't let it fall directly onto the whisk or it will be spattered.  I add 3 drops of food coloring to achieve a nice pastel color.

Stop the mixer and remove the bowl & whisk attachment.  Tap the attachment firmly against the side of the bowl to remove the excess meringue.  This is what you want to see.  


With a large spatula begin to fold in the almond mixture in three additions.  Sprinkle it over the meringue base and fold by cutting down the middle and turning up and around the bowl.  Repeat this several times until most of the almond/sugar mixture has been combined.  Continue adding it this way until you have a well mixed meringue.  


Using a 16" piping bag fitted with a #22 piping tip, add all of the meringue and twist the top to shut close.  Push the meringue to the base of the tip and try to remove any air pockets.

Note: if you only have smaller piping bags, you will have to do this in batches.

With a steady hand, pipe 1 1/2" rosettes onto your prepared baking sheets, spacing them about 2" apart.  Start piping a perfect circle using steady pressure and work your way in, forming a spiral.  Stop the pressure when you get to the middle of the cookie and lift up the piping tip.  It's OK to leave that small peak that forms.  
A half sheet pan should hold about 20 cookies.  Quickly put the first sheet in the middle rack of your preheated oven.

Bake for 14-16 minutes.

Continue with the remaining batter.
When baked, the cookies will feel dry and quite firm at the top, and the bottoms will be slightly colored.  Remove the cookies from the oven and let them sit on the sheets until they're cool enough to remove.  Be careful as these are delicate.  You can certainly lift them up with your fingers to move onto cooling racks, but you can also use a thin metal spatula to remove them.  Let them cool on racks.

The cookies can be stored in a single layer for several days; cover them well.  Serve the macaroons as is or if you want to get ultra fancy, continue reading.

If you want to sandwich them with chocolate, use 4 ounces (115 g) of the best semisweet chocolate.  I'm using Callebaut from a large bar that I've chopped using a serrated knife.  
  
Place the chocolate in a heat proof bowl set over a pot of simmering water (you can use a double boiler if you own one) and stir until melted.  To the chocolate I added 2 tablespoons (30 ml) heavy cream to make it ultra delicious, but this is completely optional.

Using a small offset icing spatula, ice the bottom half of a cookie (don't apply the chocolate too thickly) and sandwich it with another.  Continue assembling them until you have them all sandwiched.

A few set on a plate to be nibbled with a cup of espresso or some cappuccino is a real luxury.

These lighter than air cookies are set atop a clear glass cake stand.  Perfect for any celebration.

Enjoy my French Macaroon Rosettes!

4 comments:

  1. How pretty are these macs! I love that you made rosettes and that you filled them with your own chocolate ganache.

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  2. Thanks Paula! These are beautiful cookies as well as tasty, and that small amount of chocolate ganache makes them even better. Make some!

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  3. Beautiful!! I have been scared to try macaroons but really need to give them a try sometime!

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  4. Marci, I know what you mean. If you just think of them as being meringues they won't scare you! The rosettes are very forgiving and they may crack here and there, but they'll be good through & through.

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