Caramel Macchiato Macarons
A few notes on this recipe:
This is the French method, not Italian. #sorrynotsorry
This recipe make about a billion macaron shells (or about 80, but that’s still a lot), and if you halve it it’ll work just as well.
I miss having coffee. The inspiration for the recipe came about because, well, I miss having coffee. If I had a caramel macchiato in real life, my heart might explode. So these have rich, deep espresso flavor and I’ve paired them with dark caramel and super fluffy whipped cream (recipes to come).
I wish I could include various levels of difficulty, but this just isn’t that kind of party.
Let me preface this by saying we don’t judge ourselves here when recipes don’t turn the way they’re supposed to. Macarons are tricky, and sometimes factors beyond your control can sneak up and ruin your hard work. Humidity? Altitude? Mercury in retrograde? TOO BAD, NO COOKIES FOR YOU. Just kidding. Mostly.
In any case, that’s not what happened here. This batch of macaron issues were entirely user error. It’s a great recipe adapted from The Fearless Baker for double chocolate macarons that I’ve made successfully before. This is one of those times where having a disability can really effect what you’re doing in the kitchen.
A cursory google search will tell you that macarons are SO HARD and it will take you FOREVER to get them right and everything has to be SO SPECIFIC, and...I guess? They’re not easy. And they’re time consuming. The finer details take awhile to master. It is most definitely a 🥄🥄🥄 task. So like, no pressure. You probably won’t get them perfectly correct the first time, so for real. No. Pressure. It will shock exactly no one who knows me to learn that as a child, I was a tiny perfectionist. I have a distinct memory of doing a creative book report in 6th grade, in which we had to decorate a t-shirt with information from the book we read. It had gotten pretty late at night, and I had spent so much time trying to draw a perfect old-fashioned camera hanging around the neck of the shirt. But I couldn’t get it to look the way I wanted. And my father came into my room and said something that I had to hear a lot growing up- perfect is the enemy of good enough. That was not a concept I could latch onto then, but I’ve gotten much better at it as an adult. Partially, that’s because I’ve accepted that as I’ve gotten sicker, it’s a whole lot harder to get my body to cooperate. And that’s okay. It’s frustrating and it still makes me sad and angry sometimes, but it really is okay. It’s about learning to adapt and create tools to help out with things that have gotten more difficult.
This recipe is honestly pretty forgiving. You’re “supposed” to measure all of the ingredients by weight. Look, not everyone has a kitchen scale. I do, but I hardly ever use it. The original recipe provides weight and volume measurements, I’ve tried it both ways, and they’ve come out pretty much the same.
Set up your ingredients and tools first. Remember the eggs we separated in the coquito recipe? I hope you didn’t throw out those egg whites. Leave your egg whites out on the counter for awhile; you want them to be room temperature and a little dried out. You also need to prep your pans. Use parchment paper on baking sheets. I use a silpat marked with a macaron template under the paper (which I remove before baking. You can leave it, but I can’t get the oven to play nicely with that extra layer). You can also draw the circles out or freehand them if you’re awesome like that. Once you’ve set everything up, you’re ready to start baking.
Start out by sifting your almond flour, powdered sugar, espresso powder, and salt into a bowl. I like to do it about 1/2-1 cup at a time. Toss the pieces left in your sifter that are too big to fit through and add more as needed. This is the step that takes me the longest. But the beautiful mountain of powdery goodness makes it all worth it.
It’s time to make the meringue. This step can feel a little daunting, but I promise it’ll be alright! Make sure your mixing bowl and whisk are clean and dry. Otherwise, the egg whites won’t want to get foamy. So! Put the egg whites into the bowl of a stand mixer (you can do this by hand if you really want to, but I can’t physically handle it; it takes too long and I’m not strong enough to maintain it). Beat the whites on medium low until they’re foamy. Then add the granulated sugar in a slow, steady stream without turning your mixer off. Increase the speed to medium and beat until you get soft peaks. The volume in the bowl will have increased and you’ll be able to see lines and creases left from the whisk. But if you try to take the whisk out, the whites will slip right off. Then you can add any flavors or colors you’re using. I used almond extract here, but you can use anything.
Continue to beat the egg whites until you get stiff peaks. You’ll know it’s ready when you can take the whisk out and the peaks of meringue hold their shape. You should be able to hold the mixing bowl upside down over your head without spilling any. I’ve never tried it, but that is what the legend has foretold.
It’s time to move on to the macaronage stage. That means you’re going to carefully mix your dry ingredients into your meringues. This is the hardest part for me. You need to mix everything well enough that there aren’t any lumps, beat out a bunch of air, but don’t beat out all of the air. I know. Fold in the dry ingredients in two or three batches, rotating the bowl as you go to insure even mixing. Make sure you remember to get the very bottom of the bowl. You’ll know it’s ready when batter flows off of a spoon or spatula like wet sand (the comparison you’ll see most often is lava; I don’t know about you, but I’ve seen wet sand in person way more than I’ve seen lava).
It’s piping time! Carefully put your batter into a piping bag with a tip that’s large enough to get batter out, but not so large that you lose control. You can also just cut a hole in a ziplock bag. If you’re like me, you will inevitably have a piping bag mishap that will result in having to majorly overwork the batter. I’ve got a tremor and arthritis, what’re you gonna do (currently looking into experimenting with a cookie press or frosting gun instead- let me know in the comments if you have any experience with this). So then your cookies spread and run together to create horrifying cookie monstrosities. If this happens, don’t panic. They can smell fear. Just get in there with a toothpick and a little butter knife and separate them. You’ll probably need to throw out some of the batter. Figure out which ones you want to save and then mess up some others that aren’t staying in their own personal space. Sacrifice the few for the good of the many. Welcome to Thunderdome.
Slam the baking sheets down onto the counter. That’ll get air bubbles out and keep you from ending up with hollow cookies. You can also go through with a toothpick and pop any of the larger bubbles you see. And then LEAVE THEM ALONE. Seriously. For like an hour. Go take a bath or something. If you don’t leave them out long enough, you won’t get the feet on the bottoms. When you first pipe them out, they’ll be glossy, and you shouldn’t put them in the oven until the tops are matte and dry. You should be able to lightly touch them without getting anything on your hands.
Make sure your oven is preheated to 300°. Bake each sheet on its own for 17-20 minutes. My oven doesn’t heat particularly evenly, but hopefully yours does. Once you take them out, let them cool completely before taking them off of the baking sheet and filling them. They should come right off with no effort. If you mess up any of the steps, you’re not going to get picture perfect instagrammable macarons. But like...who cares? They’ll still taste amazing, and you can try again another time.
adapted from The Fearless Baker’s Double Chocolate Macarons
🥄🥄🥄; makes approximately 40 sandwich cookies (80 individual cookies)
2 2/3 cups fine almond flour
3 3/4 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup espresso powder
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
8 large egg whites, at room temperature
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Draw circles or use a pre-made guide (I use silpats that are marked specifically for macarons, and carefully remove them from beneath the parchment paper before baking).
2. Sift almond flour into a large bowl, about a cup at a time. Dispose of the bits that are too big to go through the sifter. Repeat this process with the powdered sugar, espresso powder, and salt. Mix the dry ingredients together.
3. Whip egg whites on medium low until foamy.
4. Without stopping the mixer, slowly and steadily pour the granulated sugar into the eggwhites.
5. Increase mixer speed to medium until soft peaks are formed. Add almond extract.
6. Continue whipping egg whites until stiff peaks are formed.
7. Carefully, in 2-3 batches, add the dry ingredients into the meringue. When you get the texture of wet sand, stop!
8. Put batter into piping bag and pipe out uniformly sized circles onto the parchment paper. Smack the baking sheets onto the counter to get rid of air bubbles. If needed, gently pop larger air bubbles with a toothpick.
9. Let macaron shells dry out for about an hour, until tops have become matte and you can touch them without getting any batter on your hands.
10. Bake sheets one at a time at 300° for 17-20 minutes. Let cool completely before removing cookies from paper.
11. Fill them (perhaps with dark caramel and whipped cream) and enjoy! Store them in an air tight container in the fridge.