Are these French ‘sandwich cookies’ the new cupcake?
By Anne Marie Noel
The macaroon, the French answer to a sandwich cookie, is the new darling of the culinary world. Macaroons, also spelled as macaron, and pronounced mack-ah-rohn, are popping up at American bakeries, grocery stores, and coffee shops. With only three basic ingredients, the cookie is endlessly customizable and oh-so-fashionable, coming in a palatable range of pastels, with buttercream, ganache, and fruit fillings.
Make your own macaroons
Want to try them at home? The variation in most recipes comes not in ingredients but in technique. Jill O’Connor, author of Simple French Desserts, recommends that cookies rest 20 minutes before baking, so that they develop the base, or foot, for which they are known.
French Almond Macaroon Recipe
- 6 ounces slivered blanched almonds
- 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
- 3 egg whites (at room temperature)
- 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- pinch salt
- 1/8 teaspoon almond extract
- chocolate ganache or French buttercream filling
Directions: Preheat oven to 450 degrees and adjust rack to center of the oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and have a third, unlined, baking sheet ready. Combine almonds and confectioners’ sugar together in a food processor fitted with the metal chopping blade. Pulse together until almonds are powdery, like almond flour.
In a large bowl, combine egg whites and cream of tartar. Beat on medium speed until soft peaks form. Increase speed to high and continue beating, adding sugar 1 tablespoon at a time, until stiff glossy peaks form.
With a large rubber spatula, gently fold the almond mixture, extracts, and salt into the egg whites. Do not over-blend, as this will deflate the batter.
Spoon the batter into a large 16- to 18-inch piping bag and pipe 1-inch mounds of batter onto the prepared baking sheets. Let sit for 20 minutes.
Bake macaroons (one sheet at a time) for 1 minute.
Reduce oven temperature to 375 and slip the unlined baking sheet under the sheet of macaroons. This will preserve the macaroons’ delicate beige color and prevent them from over-cooking. Bake for an additional 8 to 10 minutes, or until the macaroons have a smooth, shiny surface and are dry to the touch.
Remove from oven. Lift one corner of the parchment and pour a scant ¼ cup cold water directly onto the hot baking sheet, UNDER the parchment (without getting the macaroons wet). The steam will help release cookies from the parchment. Let cool on a wire rack for a few minutes before carefully removing them with a metal spatula.
Later, sandwich 2 macaroons together with 1 to 2 teaspoons of your favorite chocolate ganache or French buttercream icing.
— From Simple French Desserts, by Jill O’Connor, Chronicle Books, 2000