Daniel’s Dish: French Macarons

A French cookie that’s easy to make and hard to resist

By Daniel Boulud

The macaron is the quintessential French cookie. It doesn’t have much in common with the American macaroon except that both contain egg whites. I learned to make these sweet meringue treats as an apprentice chef in the 1970s, when macarons were still considered a delicacy offered only by fancy restaurants and pastry shops. We didn’t have the rainbow of shades and diversity of flavors found today. Back then, macarons were more traditional in color and taste. The sad truth is that flavor has lately been sacrificed for presentation. Fortunately, it’s simple to make first-rate macarons at home. The trick is to let the meringue dry out a bit before you bake them, so the outside becomes crispy while the inside remains soft and chewy. This classic vanilla version is not too sweet and pairs beautifully with a variety of fillings. Whether you use fresh fruits, jams, or ganache, your friends are certain to be impressed.

What to Drink

To accompany this classic treat, Daniel Johnnes, the wine director of Daniel Boulud’s restaurants, suggests a classic dessert wine, Muscat de Beaumes-de-Venise. “Muscat has the perfect body and texture to pair with these tasty confections,” he explains. “A fine Muscat is redolent of peach and apricot, and its honeyed aromas are balanced by an underlying acidity that keeps it from being cloying or heavy.” A favorite is the Muscat from Domaine de Durban ($23). He recommends the most recent vintage, as these wines are best when served young. As an alternative, he proposes a Barsac from the Bordeaux region. “I especially like Château Doisy-Daëne 2006 [$30],” he adds. “It has notes of pineapple, peach, and honey and a rich, smooth texture without being heavy.”

Click here to see the recipe for Vanilla Macarons.

Vanilla Macarons

Ingredients

• 1¾ cups almond flour
• 3 cups powdered sugar
• 7 egg whites, divided
• ? cup water
• 1 cup sugar
• 1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped

Directions

Preheat oven to 275°F. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray and line with a piece of parchment paper. Sift the almond flour and powdered sugar into a medium bowl and set aside. Using a standing mixer fitted with a whisk, begin to whip three egg whites to a medium peak. Meanwhile, combine water and sugar in a small heavy-bottomed saucepan over high heat. Simmer while monitoring with a candy thermometer; be careful not to overbeat egg whites. Remove syrup from heat when temperature reaches 240°F. Continuing to whip the egg whites on medium speed, pour the syrup down the side of the bowl to incorporate slowly. Increase speed and whip until whites form glossy, very stiff peaks. Using a spatula, stir the remaining egg whites and the vanilla seeds into the flour mix, making a smooth paste. With the spatula, fold one third of whipped egg whites into the batter; then gently fold in the rest. Stir until the batter falls in a ribbon when you lift the spatula. Using a soupspoon and your finger, place round dollops onto the baking sheet, about an inch apart. The batter should be stiff enough that the macarons hold their shape. (Cover batter with plastic film when not scooping.) Lightly tap the sheet to settle the batter. Let the cookies sit at room temperature until a light crust forms, about 15 minutes. Sprinkle with your choice of toppings (see below). Bake for 5 minutes, then rotate the pan 180° and bake for another 5 minutes. Remove the cookies and let them cool. Repeat the process until all the batter is used. The cookies can be stored in an airtight container for two days, or frozen. Makes 70 cookies or 30 sandwich cookies.

Suggested Toppings

• Cocoa powder
• Candied orange zest
• Chopped pistachios or other nuts

Suggested Fillings

• Fresh strawberry slices
• Fresh raspberries
• Nutella
• Fruit jam
• Orange marmalade
• Ganache (recipe follows)

Ganache

Ingredients

• 14 oz. dark chocolate, chopped
• 1½ cups heavy cream

Directions

Place chocolate in a heatproof bowl. In a small heavy-bottomed saucepan, bring the cream to a simmer. Pour the cream over the chocolate and stir until the chocolate is completely dissolved. Refrigerate, covered, until ready to use. Assemble the cookies by placing filling of your choice on the flat side, then topping with another cookie to make a sandwich; or serve open-faced.

This article is from http://www.elledecor.com

(Source:  www.elledecor.com )

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