I really enjoy cooking challenges because they push me into cooking or baking something I probably wouldn't otherwise try. I also find them to be a lot of fun because everyone is making similar items and we are all able to share what is working and what isn't.
On the food board that I regularly post on we do recipe swaps twice a month which are a fun way to try new recipes. This month we got talking about how almost no one has ever made French macarons. There's almost a dead silence whenever anyone mentions French macarons because if you don't make them properly they won't bake correctly. Our cooking board decided that we would all try and make French Macarons this month and post about our trials.
I was one of the first to give these a try. When I first told my husband about them he told me he didn't like those coconut cookies. I quickly explained that those were macaroons and what I was making were French Macarons. He had never tried them before so I couldn't wait to make them. Sadly, my first attempt was a disaster. I used a recipe from a blog that isn't one I normally read and it didn't go well. The cookie mixture was too runny and when I took them out of the oven they totally collapsed.
I was frustrated, but I had used almonds that I pulsed myself and thought that might be the cause so the second attempt I used almond meal and I used America's Test Kitchen's recipe. They have yet to let me down and this time was no exception! The cookies puffed up nicely in the oven and had beautiful feet. They were easy to lift off the cookie sheets. The outside was crisp and the insides were soft and chewy.
I made two batches of the French Macarons; one I left plain and the other I dyed purple. Inside the cookies I made French buttercream for the plain French Macarons and blackberry ganache for the purple macarons. They were both delicious. My husband loved the plain ones and couldn't believe he'd never tried these before. We had several friends try them and they were both a big hit. I was in love with the purple ones. The crisp outside with the sweet and slightly tart blackberry ganache were amazing. Now that I have a wonderful recipe I can't wait to try different fillings!
French Macaron Cookies with French Buttercream or Blackberry Ganache (Cookie and buttercream recipe from America's Test Kitchen. Blackberry Ganache recipe adapted from Macnifique)
3¾ c. almond flour
3⅓ c. powdered sugar
5 large egg whites
¼ t. cream of tartar
2 T. sugar
1 T. vanilla
3 large egg yolks
½ c. sugar
⅓ c. light corn syrup
1 t. vanilla
¼ t. salt
2 sticks butter, softened and cut into chunks
1. For the buttercream place the egg yolks in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat on medium speed until slightly thickened and pale yellow, about 5 minutes.
3. Turn the mixer onto low and slowly pour the hot sugar mixture into the whipped egg yolks being careful not to hit the sides of the bowl. Once all of the sugar is in the bowl increase the speed to medium high and whip until the mixture is light and fluffy and the bowl is no longer warm, about 8 minutes.