“Let’s do a macaron taste test! We’ll find the best macarons in Paris.” <– Ah, such grand plans Ali and I had for our short time in Paris. In reality, we made it to two macaron stops (Pierre Herme and La Duree) and have you ever tried to do a taste-off between the two? It’s kind of like trying to choose your favorite child (or so I hear).
On the downside, the price of such treasures is exorbitant. Can I be honest with you? A lot of my recipe inspiration comes from being cheap. I’ll eat something when I’m out and think, “I could make that at home [for wayyy cheaper.]”
Back in my own kitchen, I of course wanted to try making my own macarons, but I was apprehensive. They are, after all, the most finicky cookies in the blogosphere, with a toweringly intimidating reputation and an iffy chance of success. Plus I had it in my head that it would take having my own chicken and almond tree to keep up with the supply of egg whites and almond flour that I would need to bake up the perfect macaron.
Then I discovered that just two egg whites is more than enough to fuel a moderately-sized batch and that almond flour can be subbed for…you guessed it, flax meal!!!! I have nothing against almond flour but see: cheap tendencies above. Also see: Costco sacks of golden flaxmeal.
Ground flax actually works brilliantly as a substitute for the traditional almond meal because the nutrition make up is very similar, with close to equivalent amounts of fat, carbs, sugar and protein in each:
|(Per 1/4 cup)||Calories||Fat||Carbs||Fiber||Sugar||Protein|
Yet I still didn’t think these would work since my $10 scale is not all that reliable, I don’t have a sifter, I’m terrible at math, a million more reasons. But you guys—they were actually SO MUCH EASIER than I ever imagined. I’ve had sugar cookies turn out worse than this. If I, inaccurate scale and all, could make these, YOU CAN TOO. It’s just five ingredients and a bit of whipping and folding and piping and waiting.
Some step-by-step photos for your viewing pleasure:
Things I did not do when making these:
- age my egg whites
- pay attention to the temperature of my egg whites
- whip my egg whites to stiff peaks
- grind my own flaxmeal
- properly sift my dry ingredients
- rap the pan on the counter
I could go on.
Taste-wise, they have the lovely chewiness of a traditional macaron with an added nuttiness and slight graininess that you will LOVE if you’re into flax and probably not prefer if you hate the taste of flax. I loved it. I didn’t even add any vanilla or salt to my shells, but you can feel free to enhance the flavor with your flavorings of choice.
I decided to dunk mine in a bowl of ice cream because I would like you to come up with one good reason why that’s not a great idea.
My only regret is that I didn’t try to stuff the actual macarons with ice cream, like omgTHIS.
Notes (aka the three slightly finicky things you should actually do):
- Excise grease from any bowls and beaters the egg will touch. Grease is the downfall of egg whites. You don’t even need to whip stiff peaks for these, but it’s always a good idea to clean your equipment with a mixture of vinegar and water to get rid of any greasy residue that will prevent your eggs from whipping up at all.
- Let the macaron shells sit out. Waiting is not fun, but I think this step is really essential to let the top of the shells dry out. You want the oven heat to cause them to expand up–creating that much-desired “foot”–instead of out, which will crack the top of your shell.
- Fold the ingredients GENTLY. It should be a gentle scoop and plop cycle. Scoop, plop, rotate bowl. Repeat.
And the honorary fourth thing is: use a scale. I’m sorry, but you must.
- 14 grams granulated sugar
- pinch of cream of tartar, optional (this helps stabilize the egg whites)
- 112.5 grams powdered sugar
- 62.5 grams ground golden flaxseed (flaxmeal)
- 50 grams egg whites
- about 1/2 cup your favorite frosting, for filling (I used a simple ganache: about 1:1 heavy cream and semi-sweet chocolate melted together)
Line a baking sheet with good-quality parchment paper or a silpat.
Whisk together the granulated sugar and cream of tartar in a small bowl. Sift together the powdered sugar and flaxmeal (if you don't have a sifter, you can also use a blender to blend the ingredients.)
Add the egg whites to a medium-sized bowl and beat them on low speed until foamy. Slowly sprinkle the sugar mixture over the egg whites as you beat. Increase the speed to medium and beat until soft peaks form.
Gently fold in the flax mixture until completely incorporated, scooping from the bottom and rotating the bowl as you fold. Don't overmix or your macarons will turn out flat.
Add your batter to a piping bag with a round tip or just a plastic bag with the tip cut off. Pipe small, uniform circles of batter about an inch apart (they should only spread incrementally, if at all). Let sit out for an hour (try not to let them sit out for too long past that).
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and bake for about 12 minutes. I piped approximately 1 to 1.5-inch circles and 12 minutes was perfect for me. If yours are larger or smaller, keep an eye on them and adjust the baking time accordingly.
Let the macarons cool completely. You can pipe or dab dollops of frosting on one shell, then top with another shell.
I tried two types of parchment paper with these; the macarons stuck much more to the dollar store parchment paper than my more expensive parchment paper. So use quality parchment paper! I also tried spraying parchment paper with baking spray, but I think it degraded the quality of the macarons.
These don't bake up into the puffiest macarons I've ever had and I have a hunch if you beat the egg whites into stiff peaks, they might rise a little taller. If you try, let me know!
Adapted from here.