Gingerbread Macarons

Ingredients
  • 3 egg whites, or 90g, aged*
  • 2 tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 200g powdered sugar
  • 110g almond meal/flour**
  • 1 tsp. each ground cinnamon, ginger, cardamom

* The egg whites need to lose a little moisture so they'll bake properly. At least the night before, or up to 5 days before you make macarons, put the egg whites in a bowl in the fridge (outside of the shell), with a loose paper towel on top. You can also leave them out on the counter overnight with a paper towel covering, to help them age quicker.

** Almond meal is expensive. I used natural/raw almonds (I like these because they don't process peanuts or other tree nuts in their factory, which is important for family allergy reasons. And they're reasonably priced -  Target frequently has 16-oz. bags on sale). Put the almonds in a wide bowl, pour boiling water to cover the top of the almonds, and let sit for 1 - 2 minutes. Drain the water and rinse briefly in cold water. Pour out onto a towel on a baking sheet and partially dry. The skins should slide off with a little pressure.

Method

1. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

2. Mix together powdered sugar, almond meal, and spices. Whisk well and then sift together. The almond pieces may be bigger than than the holes in the sieve so you'll have to whisk again after sifting.

3. Prepare the bowl and whisk attachment of a stand mixer by wiping each with a little lemon juice or white vinegar. If there's any leftover oil from your hands or something else you made in there before, the egg whites won't form the peaks like you need.

4. Combine the aged egg whites and granulated sugar in the prepared bowl. Beat on medium until you have a thick, glossy meringue (think: shaving cream-ish).

5. Remove the bowl from the mixer. Add the almond mixture to the bowl and carefully fold into the meringue. Make sure to count your folds and do not do more than 45 or 50. I'm usually around  40 - at about this point, drop a little on the prepared baking sheet - if the top folds over on itself, the batter is ready to pipe.

6. Fill a pastry bag, fitted with a large round tip, or a gallon ziploc bag (cut the corner off after filling) with the dough. It's going to leak out of the end when you're filling. Remedy this by either holding the bag closed with a hair pin just above the tip, or use some other device.

7. Holding the pasty bag completely vertical, pipe 1 1/2" circles on the baking sheet, about 1 1/2" apart. Set the baking sheet aside for about 45 minutes, to allow the macarons to form a skin on top of the cookies. (I wait 15 minutes before piping the macarons onto the second sheet, as it will sit on the counter an extra 15 minutes while the first batch bakes).

8. Bake in a 280° oven for 14 - 16 minutes. If you've done everything 'right', the cookies should get 'feet' about 6-8 minutes into the baking. This is the little, rough-looking layer at the bottom of the cookie - mine aren't perfect but they still taste wonderful. The cookies are done when the tops are dry to the touch and can be removed from the baking sheet with just slight pressure. (Pick an 'ugly' macaron to test this out on, in case it's not done, you'll destroy the cookie - better to ruin an ugly one).

9. Remove the cookie tray to a cooling rack. Let the macarons cool completely on the baking sheet.

10. Once cool, 'pair up' cookies with similar sized cookies. Flip over one of each pair, and pipe your choice of filling, below, on the upside-down half. Carefully pair up the halves - they can easily crack if you press down with too much pressure.

Fill with either Lemon Curd or Rum Buttercream, or another filling of your choice.

Source: Anne's Food