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4 ingredients of difficulty

You’ve heard of the “Six Degrees of Separation” before, right?  The idea is that everyone is six steps away from any other person on Earth, so that a chain of, “a friend of a friend” can, on average, connect any two people in six steps or fewer. It was originally set forth by Frigyes Karinthy and then popularized by a play written by John Guare.

That really has nothing to do with today’s recipe, I just love the idea of that, how connected we all are… OK, on to macarons, French macarons to be exact. These are a completely different breed than the coconut macaroons you might be more familiar with.  Those are easy to make, these are not!  And the only reason we even attempted them in the teen class graduation last week was that one of my long-time students, Steven, requested to make them. Steven has been coming to Les Petites Gourmettes since he was 8 years old… he is now 16 and drives himself to class.  How time flies!!!

We did a pretty decent job with our macarons, and I feel confident passing this recipe along to you.  I researched online for a couple of days before coming up with a composite of various people’s recipes and thoughts on how to make macarons easily on your own, and this ended up working darn well.  It’s just hard to imagine that 4 simple ingredients (sugar, almonds, egg whites, and water) could become so difficult to master.

photo courtesy of essencebakery.com

So… if you love French macarons like I love French macarons, I suggest you skip making them yourself and instead drive directly to Essence Bakery and buy a box. I dare you to make it home without cracking into that puppy! Well, you may succeed if you have lunch there first, which you should!  And be sure to tell my good friend, owner/chef Eugenia Theodosopoulous, that I sent you!  Then eat your amazingly delicious and perfect macarons and thank me later!

LPG Macaron

French Macarons

1  1/2 cups finely ground blanched almonds (or almond meal, conveniently found at Trader Joe’s)
1  1/4 cups powdered sugar
3 large egg whites, beaten lightly in a 1 cup liquid measuring cup and divided in half
2  1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
Sugar Syrup
3/4 cup granulated
1/4 cup water

Chocolate ganache for filling, if desired

Process the ground almonds and powdered sugar in the bowl of a food processor to combine well, set aside.

In the bowl of a standing mixer, whip half of the egg whites to soft peaks, add the 2 1/2 tablespoons of granulated sugar, and whip on high until completely combined.

Sugar Syrup: In the meantime, in a small saucepan over high heat, bring the water and granulated sugar to a boil, and heat to 230 degrees on a candy thermometer.

With the mixer running, slowly add the boiling syrup to the egg whites in the mixer and continue to whip on medium-high speed until the mixture is completely cooled and you have a shiny meringue, about 12 to 15 minutes.

Mix the remaining half of the unwhipped egg whites left in the 1-cup measuring cup and the almond/sugar mixture in a large bowl. Lighten the almond mixture by stirring in one-fourth of the meringue. Then carefully fold the almond mixture into the meringue.

Preheat the oven to 320 degrees.

Another longtime student, Jordan, is in the background as Stephen pipes out the macarons.

Fill a pastry bag, fitted with a plain tip, with the macaron mixture and pipe macarons about 2 inches in diameter on a Silpat-lined baking sheet.

Bake in preheated oven for 12 to 16 minutes, until the tops, are set but the macarons are not completely dry.

Remove to a rack to cool and fill if desired with chocolate ganache; sandwiching two macarons together.

Makes about 2 dozen macaron “sandwiches”

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