A couple of months ago, I went to a cookie swap at Hill Country BBQ in NYC. The Bloggers without Borders event was a fundraiser for Why Hunger. It was a great time and they actually had a special table for gluten-free cookies. I made coconut macaroons dipped in chocolate. There were a few other tasty gluten-free cookies on the table and I met some fabulous gf foodies/bloggers including Jill Brack at Glow Gluten Free and Justin Schwartz from Just Cook NYC .
At some point, a gorgeous plate of lemon macarons hit the table. I grabbed one, took a bite and fell in love! Before I even finished chewing, I frantically asked everyone around the table “Who made these amazing macarons!”. Shortly thereafter, I met the culprit, Katie Rodriguez, owner of KBR’s Kitchen and graduate from the pastry program at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris.
Katie is an amazingly talented baker, a self-admitted Francophile and a really wonderful person! We exchanged info and chatted about the possibility of her giving me a macaron-making lesson that I could then share with all of you. How sweet and generous of her to take the time to teach us all how to make these absolutely divine, naturally gluten and peanut-free treats. Personally, I just couldn’t wait to taste them again! Last week, I went and shadowed her while she made these coconut macarons with chocolate ganache filling. Here is everything I learned including the recipe written by Katie.
Macaron-making is a true art. It even has a name that signifies just that in France “macaronage” (sounds fancier when Katie says it than it does in my head as I butcher it with may bad French accent). Oh well. This isn’t one of my 5-ingredient, easy recipes. It may not even come out perfect the first time but, if you follow Katie’s instructions carefully, you will be able to make these amazing and decadent desserts at home.
Organization and preparation is key. You want to have all of your ingredients on hand and it’s best if they are at room temperature. Here’s Katie with all of the ingredients ready to go.
Silpat sheets are the best for baking and really provide Katie (as well as most bakers) with a great surface for creating even coloring for the end product. If you are planning to make macarons often, you should create a little template on parchment paper with circles, like Katie did below to help make them the same size every time.
Bob Red’s Mill is Katie’s favorite for the almond meal and she really likes to use these organic coconut flakes for the topping since they are more natural and not as sweet as other store bought brands.
When you are heating up the sugar and water, you want to be sure to use a candy thermometer since the temperatures are precise. Also, after you stream it in to make the italian meringue, this is what you want it to look like before you mix it in with the almond meal, sugar and egg white mixture (“very hard soft peaks”)
This is what the batter should look like before you start piping it to create the shells. See the nice sheen it has? Katie used the spatula to drop a little of the batter into the bucket to make sure it spreads, but not too fast.
Here is a nice sampling of macarons “drying” before going in the oven, some shells baked and ready to fill and a few packaged lemon and raspberry macarons gifted to me by Katie. They didn’t last very long…
Here’s a shot of the macaron shells getting filled with chocolate ganache. Mmmmm
Now you are ready to go. Enjoy and thank you so much, Katie, for the amazing day we spent together and all the great lessons you taught us with regards to the beautiful art of making macarons! Follow Katie at KBRs Kitchen on Facebook for updates on what she’s cooking.*
- MACARON SHELLS:
- ⅔ cup ground almonds (aka almond flour, almond meal)
- ⅔ cup powdered sugar
- 2 egg whites
- ⅔ cup granulated sugar
- 2 TB water
- 2 egg whites
- Unsweetened shredded coconut flakes (often found in organic section of grocery stores)
- CHOCOLATE GANACHE FILLING:
- ¾ cup chocolate
- ¾ cup heavy cream
- Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F (please note that oven temperatures vary and that for your oven many different factors will affect the outcome of the macarons. You may need to experiment a bit with rack positioning and temperature before achieving a perfect macaron).
- Place Silpats or parchment paper on 3 half sheet sized baking pans and place a plain, round pastry tip with not too large of an opening (about ¼ inch) in a pastry bag.
- Sift together the ground almonds and powdered sugar in a bowl.
- In a separate bowl, mix together the two egg whites a bit (just until combined, not frothy) and pour on top of the almond/sugar mixture. Set aside.
- Measure the additional two egg whites into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Turn the mixture onto a medium/low speed (4 on a Kitchen Aid).
- Measure the granulated sugar and water into a small pot. Mix until combined and place over high heat (do not mix or stir while it is on the heat). Using a candy thermometer, bring the water/sugar mixture to soft ball stage, about 234 degrees F.
- When you see the thermometer reach about 215 degrees F, increase the speed of your mixture (to 6 on a Kitchen Aid) for about 1 minute and then increase the speed again (to 8 on a Kitchen Aid). It is important to note that the mixer needs to be on 8 (a high speed but not the highest) before the sugar reaches 234 degrees F.
- Once the sugar reaches 234 degrees F (soft ball stage), immediately pull it off of the heat and slowly stream it into the mixing egg whites to make an Italian meringue. Keep the mixer at the high speed until the meringue cools in temperature and reaches a very hard soft peak (not quite hard peaks, not quite soft, a bit in between).
- Add the meringue mixture to the almond, sugar, egg white mixture. Fold the meringue into the almond mixture until fully incorporated. Once fully incorporated, continue to fold while also scraping the mixture across the top to deflate it a bit. The goal is to reach a consistency in which the batter can be piped and spread a bit once piped but not too much. It should be neither too thick nor too runny (not as thick as a traditional cookie dough however not nearly as runny as pancake batter, think somewhere in between). A great way to test the consistency is to drop a dollop of batter into the bowl of batter with your spatula and see how long it takes to spread. It should take a few seconds, perhaps about 5-7. If you feel like you are waiting for it to spread for a while, the batter is not ready. If it runs immediately, the batter is too thin.
- When the batter reaches the desired consistency, place it in your pastry bag fitted with a plain, round tip and begin piping circles onto your sheet pan lined with a Silpat or parchment paper. Try to keep the piped circles consistently one size. Make sure to space them about 1.5 inches apart. When the first pan is fully piped, tap it on your work surface to release any air bubbles and quickly sprinkle the unsweetened shredded coconut onto each macaron shell. It is imperative that you work quickly as the coconut will not stick after a few minutes time. Continue piping the rest of the batter, tapping the sheet pans, and adding the coconut.
- When you have finished piping you will need to let the macaron shells sit until they have “dried” (i.e. formed a bit of an outer skin). This usually takes about a half hour. A great way to test if they are dry and ready to bake is to gently touch one with your finger. If any batter sticks to your finger, they are not dry enough. You should be able to touch them and have no residue on your finger whatsoever.
- Bake the macarons, turning once halfway through, for about 8-8.5 minutes. Immediately remove the macaron shells from the oven and take them off of the hot sheet pan by lifting the Silpat or parchment. Allow them to cool on your work surface. They will be cool enough and ready to fill when they easily lift off of the parchment or Silpat.
- To make the ganache filling, melt the chocolate over a double boiler. Set aside. Heat the heavy cream in a pot over medium low heat. Do not allow the cream to boil. It is ready when it is warm/hot to the touch but not scalding (you should be able to dip your finger in without being burned). Pour the warm cream over the melted chocolate. Slowly whisk to incorporate. Allow to either cool in the refrigerator or on your work surface until the ganache reaches a point where it can be piped onto the macaron shells without running. The consistency should be like a thick pudding.
- Fill half the macaron shells with the chocolate ganache and cover with the other half of the macaron shells. Enjoy!
- Please note that macarons freeze and refrigerate well.
Note: KBRs is not a gluten-free or peanut-free kitchen. Katie shared this recipe for those of us with celiac and peanut allergies to make at home. However, if you do not have those restrictions or are comfortable with eating them from her kitchen as long as the equipment is cleaned well and are local in the Metro New York area, you can order some of her fabulous desserts. Contact info is on her Facebook page.