Macaroons are naturally gluten-free! One usually has only to worry about the environment in which they’re being made. But double check with your (bakery) since some add a little flour for sturdiness and/or elasticity. Those who are super sensitive to the offending gluten molecule must be vigilant about the smallest amount of conventional flour contaminating gluten-free (cookie) dough, and so might not want to risk eating a GF (sweet) if it’s been prepared in a kitchen that isn’t certified gluten-free. Home cooks: the pans used for conventional pie, breads, cakes, and cookies can trap gluten in cracks and crevices. It’s helpful to use glass, wash pans in the dishwasher, or use dedicated GF baking pans.
But, (again) I digress.
A Macaron is different from a coconut macaroon in that it’s made with almond “flour”. These beautiful petites gateaux are almost always sandwiched around chocolate ganache or a light buttercream. Today I decided to make them pink because I wanted to use rose water to flavor a white buttercream. Some swear against the use of liquid food coloring (moisture is an enemy of these cookies), but two drops of red gave me enough color and didn’t seem to affect the consistency of the cookies. And while I still like the idea of white rose buttercream sandwiched by two pink macarons, I wanted something less sweet, so made a filling of bittersweet chocolate ganache and whipped butter.
French Macarons with Chocolate Ganache Buttercream Filling
3 eggs whites, room temperature (the ones you’ve been saving in the ‘frige after making cheese scones!)
1 cup (3 oz.) almond “flour” – remember you can grind your own. It’s OK to use almonds with the skin on; the macarons will have a more rustic appearance and you’ll find a tablespoon or two will be left sieve.
1/4 cup (20z.) granulated sugar
1 1/4 cup (5 oz.) confectioners sugar
Two drops red food coloring (powdered is often recommended; use a very little!)
1. Have the eggs whites at room temp, even if this means leaving them out overnight. Old egg whites (up to 7 days stored well covered in the refrigerator) are fine, since they’ve had an opportunity to lose a little of their moisture.) Prepare a cookie sheet by lining it with parchment paper and greasing it very lightly.
2. Measure the sugars and ground almonds/almond flour and have them at the ready.
3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the egg whites until foamy. While still “on”, slowly add the granulated sugar and increase the speed to high, beating until soft peaks have formed. You’ll want the (meringue) firm, but not dry.
3. Sift the almond flour and confectioners sugar over the whipped whites, and gently fold to incorporate. The meringue will fall a little which is fine. You’ll want the batter soft enough to form a disk without ridges when it’s piped onto the cookie sheet.
4. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a large round tip, or better a small plastic bag with a corner snipped out, with a bit of batter to test the consistency. Pipe a small 1 to 1/1/2 inch disk onto the parchment paper. If there are ridges, stir down the dough with 2-3 more strokes of the spatula.
5. Pipe (30) disks onto the baking sheet leaving a little distance between each, and let sit at room temperature for an hour (I was out for 90 minutes at this point, so a little longer is fine.) A shiny “skin” will form on top of the macaron that will allow it to rise to form it’s discreetly characteristic edges.
6. Preheat the oven to 275. Bake for 10-12 minutes. The cookies will rise, but you don’t want them to brown.
7. Let cool completely before filling/icing. Store in an air tight container in a cool place. Some like them to “cure” overnight in the refrigerator, so you can make these a day ahead.
Chocolate Ganache Buttercream Filling
1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate ganache – slightly cool and firm (this has been made the day or week before and stored in the refrigerator waiting to be turned into chocolate sauce or folded into brownie batter.)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1. Whip the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer until light and fluffy.
2. Add the ganache and continue beating, scraping down as necessary) for a few minutes until fluffy and uniformly light in color.
3. Pipe the buttercream onto half the macarons. Spread it evenly to the edges before placing the tops on the cookies.
4. Best not to serve immediately, but you can! Otherwise, refrigerate in an airtight container until you do.
Optional: Pale yellow macarons with lemon buttercream, pale green with pistachio or almond buttercream, pale pink with chocolate mint butter cream, pale orange with clementine buttercream. I can tell you get the idea!