French Almond Macarons - The perfect crispy chewy combo with a buttery chocolate center that will make you go weak in the knees. They're so good, they don't last long! | lakesidetable.com
Preheat the oven to 300° and get a large (18”) pastry bag ready to go, fitted with a plain tip.
Line two sheet pans with parchment.
To get you started on the right track, use a 1 1/2" cookie cutter to trace circles to guide you. Fill the whole sheet with circles or just a line of circles down one side. I am terribly impatient and will only do two lines at most, ok maybe even just a 1/2 of a line. Then flip the parchment paper over, ink side down.
Sift the almond flour with the powdered sugar and set aside.
Get out your timer. The age and temperature of your egg whites do not matter. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the egg whites, sugar, and salt and turn the mixer to medium (4 on a Kitchen Aid). Whip for 3 minutes. They will be quite soft at this stage.
Increase the speed to medium-high (7 on a Kitchen Aid) and whip another 3 minutes, then crank the speed to 8 for another 3 minutes.
At this point, turn the mixer off and the almond extract and whip for a final minute on the highest speed, just for good measure, and to evenly distribute the flavor.
Now you should have a very stiff, dry meringue. When you remove the whisk attachment, there should be a big clump of meringue in the center, just knock the whisk against the bowl to free it. If the meringue has not become stiff enough to clump inside the whisk, continue beating until it does.
Transfer the meringue into a larger bowl for easier mixing and folding. Add in the dry ingredients all at once and fold them in with a rubber spatula. Use both a folding motion (to incorporate the dry ingredients) and a rubbing/smearing motion. You want to deflate the meringue against the side of the bowl. This is not a gentle process.
After about 30 to 40 turns with the spatula, you should have what looks like molten lava. To test it, plop some of the batter onto itself. It should slowly reincorporate back into the batter in about 25 seconds. If it just sits there, keep folding. If it's much faster than that, like pancake batter, it's gone too far and it's back to the drawing board. Try not to let that happen.
Put 1/2 of the batter into the piping bag. With the nose of the tip placed directly onto the parchment paper, pipe your circles stopping 1/4 inch from the edge. After piping, take your cookie sheet and rap HARD on the counter two times and then two more times after rotating your sheet 90 degrees. This will dislodge any remaining air bubbles causing your macaroons to crack.
Bake for 18 minutes or until you can easily peel them off the parchment. Cool thoroughly on the pan and then fill them with a generous dollop of buttercream.
Recipe credit: Bravetart Thank you Stella Parks for inspiring me to jump head long back into the sweet side of the kitchen! :)