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There was a time when Americans heard the word macaroon and what came to mind were coconut cookies. Now don’t get me wrong. I love coconut macaroons. They’re easy to make, and have great flavor and that marvelous chewy texture. They’re my go-to sweet during Passover.

But what really catches my eye–and my heart–are French macarons. Who can resist the pretty, delicate rounds of pastel meringue sandwiches filled with chocolate or fruit or some other creamy confection? One bite of a well-made macaron and there’s that initial snap of the meringue crumbling in your mouth followed by the flavoring of the filling swirling around. It’s elegant. It’s decadent. And if you master this, you become that chef. The one who excels at savory, but can light up a room at the end of a meal with a sweet that impresses.

I recently learned how to make these jewels of the dessert world from my friends at the French bakery Le Parfait Paris in San Diego and thought I’d share my lesson with you, as well as the tips that will make them flawless. What we have here are strawberry macarons dipped in chocolate.

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It begins with a blend of almond flour and powdered sugar that you weigh and then sift together. Then you whip egg whites in a stand mixture and prepare a simple syrup that you slowly incorporate into the egg whites while you continue to whip them.

Making the egg white-syrup mixture

Next add natural food coloring to the almond flour/powdered sugar mixture. Then, using a scraper, gently incorporate the egg white mixture into the flour mixture. The texture should be soft and thick so that it flows like a ribbon. Don’t over mix.

Blending almond flour mix with egg white mix

Now you’re ready for piping. Here, technique is again important. As you can see below in the video, you don’t swirl as you pipe. You gently press it out and with a flick of the wrist twist it off. These are small macaron shells of about an inch and a half. You can also make them larger and there are sheet templates you can use to be accurate and consistent.

Once you’ve piped out all the shells, you slam the cookie sheet on the counter a couple of times to remove that tail at the top and create a smooth top. If you want, you can also sprinkle these cookies with coarse sanding sugar mixed with food coloring.

What happens next is the key to getting a crisp macaron. You let the cookies sit and dry. Depending on the weather and humidity, it takes between 20 to 30 minutes for the macarons to go from glossy to matte. Feel free to use a fan if you’re impatient.

3 stages of cookies

Then you’ll bake the cookies in a 300˚ F oven. While the cookies bake, make the filling. This is pretty easy. Just dice the berries and mix them in a pot with water and agar agar–a vegetarian gelatin substitute–to cook for about 10 minutes. Then puree.

Finally, you’re going assemble your macarons. Make a small indentation on one cookie with a thumb to be able to add a bit more filling. Pipe the filling into that cookie, then cover with another, gently twisting to secure it.

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If you want to elevate them even more, you can dip them in chocolate.

That’s it. To make them tastier, Ryon suggests putting them in the freezer for two days so that the flavor from the filling is infused into the shell.

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Le Parfait Paris Strawberry Macarons

Yield: 20 to 30 macarons, depending on how large you make them

Ingredients

210 grams powdered sugar
125 grams almond flour
3 eggs, separated (save the yolks for another use)
30 grams sugar
Water–enough to just wet the sugar
1 teaspoon natural red food coloring
10 grams coarse finishing sugar
1 drop of red food coloring
225 grams fresh strawberries
3 teaspoons water
1 gram agar agar
50 grams Valrhonna Dark chocolate or other high-quality chocolate

Directions

Pre-heat the oven to 300˚ F.

Mix and sift the powdered sugar and almond flour.

In a stand mixer, begin whipping the egg whites. While the whites are being beaten, combine the sugar and water in a pan and place over heat to make a simple syrup. When the syrup starts boiling, remove from heat and slowly incorporate it into the beating egg whites. When the mixture is fully incorporated, stop the mixer and set the egg white mixture aside.

Add the food coloring to the almond flour/powdered sugar mixture. Now gently mix in the egg white mixture, a little at a time, using a bench scraper. Don’t over-mix. The texture should be soft and thick and pour like a ribbon. Combine the coarse finishing sugar with the food coloring and set aside.

Gently place the cookie mixture into a piping bag with a #2 tip. Pipe into small round discs on a sheet pan covered with either silpat or parchment paper. Sprinkle with the coarse finishing sugar. Let the cookie shells rest for 20 to 30 minutes until the surface goes from shiny and glossy to matte.

Put them in the oven and bake for 16 minutes if small, 20 minutes if large.

While the shells bake, make the filling. Dice the strawberries and place them in a pot with the water and agar agar. Cook for 10 minutes on high. Use an immersion blender to puree. Let cool.

Remove the shells from the oven and let cool.

When ready to assemble, use a thumb to gently press into the flat side of half the shells to create an indentation. Fill a piping bag, using a #2 tip, with the strawberry filling. Pipe about a teaspoon of the filling onto the indented shells. Then cover with the flat side of a non-indented shell.

At this point you can melt chocolate in a double boiler. Then dip half the cookie into the chocolate and place on a sheet topped with wax paper. Let rest until the chocolate has cooled and set.

Freeze cookies for two days before serving.

Have you ever made macarons? What’s your go-to dessert recipe that you are proud to have mastered?

Not an APPCA member? Now’s the perfect time to join! Go to personalchef.com to learn about all the benefits that come with membership.

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Caron Golden

About 

Founder of premier organization of personal chefs inspires students to follow their dreams of culinary entrepreneurship.

Candy Wallace, executive director of the American Personal & Private Chef Association (APPCA), today was recognized by Sullivan University’s National Center for Hospitality Studies as its 33rd Distinguished Guest Chef.

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