I spent a good amount of my free time in 2011 trying to perfect french macarons. Mine are not impeccable, but they are absolutely delicious!
French Macarons with Chocolate-Peanut Butter Filling
Shells: 100g egg whites (aged 24 hours at room temperature) 1 1/2 t dehydrated egg white powder 1 t instant coffee or espresso granules 28g granulated sugar 125g almond meal 225g confectioners’ sugar
Filling: 3 ounces semisweet chocolate chips (Ghirardelli) 1/4 c creamy peanut butter 3 T confectioners’ sugar 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt 6 T heavy cream
Measure all ingredients using a kitchen scale. Then, process the almond meal, powdered sugar, and coffee granules in a food processor for 1-2 minutes. Afterwards sift them into a large bowl, discarding the large pieces of almond meal that don’t make it through.
Weigh egg whites and begin beating them on medium speed until foamy. Slowly sprinkle in the powdered egg white and sugar mixture as you beat. Then increase the speed to medium high and beat until a firm meringue forms. Stop when the peaks are firm and glossy, but not stiff. I usually take the bowl and hold it upside down. When it gets to the point where all of it stays in the bowl without budging, you are ready!
Next: the macaronage. Add the almond mixture in thirds, folding it in gently and scraping the sides of the bowl. Be wary of over-mixing (and under-mixing!) Practice makes perfect…
Add your batter to a piping bag with a round tip (Wilton size 12 works great) and pipe rows of macarons. I use heavy-duty aluminum baking sheets lined with parchment paper for baking the macaron shells. When piping, do so with the bag perpendicular to the baking sheet. Aim to keep the shells one to one and a half inches in diameter as they will spread out just a little bit after piping. If they spread out a lot, it means the batter was likely over-mixed. It they retain a small peak after about 20 seconds, the batter may have been under-mixed.
Next pick up the pan with both hands, and holding it level, tap it firmly onto the counter several times. This will bring up any air bubbles in the cookies. If necessary, “edit” the macarons by popping the bubbles with a toothpick if they don't break while tapping.
Now—walk away! Let the shells rest for about 30 minutes. The shells will develop a slightly firm coating. While macarons are drying, preheat oven to 300 degrees. Bake one sheet at a time for 16-18 minutes. When time is up I like to test one along the edge to see if I can lift it from the parchment without breaking it. Once this test is passed, remove from oven and let cool for ~10 minutes before carefully peeling away the parchment paper and placing them on cooling racks.
When shells are cool, make the filling by heating the heavy cream in a saucepan. Once it bubbles, add it to a bowl containing the rest of the ingredients. Chill for about an hour until slightly firm. Pipe filling onto one of the shells, then top with another shell to make a small “sandwich”. Store in the refrigerator in an air-tight container. Before serving, bring to room temperature (about 15 minutes). Macarons are best a day or two after they have been made!