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French Macarons Recipe

French Macarons: Have ready three baking sheets (make sure they have flat bottoms (no warping)) lined with parchment paper. To make all the Macarons the same size, I like to make a template. Take a piece of parchment paper and draw 20 - 1 1/2 inch (3-4 cm) circles, spacing the circles about 2 inches (5 cm) apart. Place the template under your parchment paper so you can use it as a guide.

Place the ground almonds and confectioners sugar in a food processor and process until finely ground (about 1 - 2 minutes). Sift the mixture to remove any lumps.

In the bowl of your electric mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment (can use a hand mixer), beat the egg whites and cream of tartar, if using, on medium speed until foamy. Gradually add the sugar, and continue to beat, on medium-high speed, until the meringue just holds stiff peaks (when you slowly raise the whisk the meringue is straight up, no  drooping, called a 'beak') (but do not over mix the meringue or it will 'break'). Then, in three additions, sift the ground almond/sugar mixture over the meringue. When folding, cut through the meringue and then fold up and over, making sure to scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl. Once the almond mixture is completely folded (called macaronage) into the meringue (the batter will fall back into the bowl in a thick ribbon) it is time to pipe the Macarons.

Fill a pastry bag, fitted with 1/2 inch (1 cm) tip, with about half the batter. Pipe about 1 - 1 1/2 inch (3 - 4 cm) rounds onto the parchment paper, using the template as a guide. Then gently tap the baking sheet on the counter to break any air bubbles (can also break air bubbles with the end of a toothpick). Let the Macarons sit at room temperature for about 30-60 minutes (depending on the temperature and humidity of your kitchen) or until the tops of the Macarons are no longer tacky.

Meanwhile preheat your oven to 325 degree F (160 degree C) with the oven racks in the top and bottom third of the oven. Bake the cookies (two sheets at a time) for about 14-16 minutes, rotating the pans top to bottom, front to back, about halfway through baking. The Macarons are done when you can just barely separate the cookies from the parchment paper (there will be some browning of the cookies). (If you find that the bottoms of the cookies brown too much, double sheet your baking pans.) Remove from oven and let the Macarons cool completely on the baking sheet placed on a wire rack. To assemble the Macarons, take two cookies and sandwich them together with your filling (place filling on flat side of cookie). Popular choices are a Swiss buttercream frosting, lemon curd, chocolate ganache, jam, or dulce de leche. While you can serve the Macarons the day they are made, these cookies really need to mature for a day or two in the refrigerator. Best served at room temperature.

Makes about 30 Macarons.

French Macarons:

100 grams ground blanched almonds or almond meal/flour*

180 grams confectioner (powdered or icing) sugar**

100 grams "aged" egg whites, at room temperature***

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar (optional)

35 grams superfine or castor white sugar****

Note: Weight measurements (grams) (use a digital scale) are only given for this recipe. Volume measurement (cups) are not recommended.

* I use Bob's Red Mill finely ground almond meal/flour. You can find it in grocery stores, specialty food stores, health food stores, or on line.

** Use powdered sugar that contains cornstarch (corn flour).

*** Separate eggs at least 24 hours before using (or up to five days). Cover with paper towel and place in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before using.

**** Make superfine sugar by processing regular granulated white sugar in your food processor for about 30 seconds or until sugar is ground very fine. 

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