I have recently discovered - and fallen in love with - french macaroons. I want to attempt making them at home. I have found a good recipe in the Bouchon cookbook. The recipe calls for almond flour (5 cups!), but also says you can make your own by finely grinding blanched almonds (and sifting out the bigger bits). I called a local source and they sell almond meal (in the refridgerator case).
So - my question is - is almond meal the same as almond flour? It does seem so, since the recipe says you can sub ground, blanched almonds for almond flour.
Any thoughts? Does anyone have experience baking these at home?
I make macaroon a lot. Here's what works for me--I go to costco and get a huge bag of almonds with the skin on. I blanche them myself then skin them. Then I toast them for about 10 minutes in a 350 oven and let them cool. Then I put them in the food processor and grind them till they are like a very coarse flour (I guess that would be almond meal). Put them in a jar in the freezer and I always have it on hand. Costco has a great price--9.99 for a huge bag. Anyway, as an aside, the recipe I use calls for superfine sugar. When I cannot find superfine, I just put the sugar in the food processor and pulse for a couple of seconds. The macaroons must be decent because the family loves them!
I used to ground my own blanced almonds but I could never get it fine enough. I use almond flour now and regrind it through my food processor then sift it. I made violet macaroons this past weekend and they were amazing. It is imperative that you let them sit at least 20 minutes after piping before putting them in the oven. I cook them with the oven door open to avoid browning. They are more beautiful if they retain their color. Let them cool completely (I cannot emphasize this enough) before trying to remove them. The French method is to spray a mist of water under the parchment immediately upon removing from the oven to aid in removal after cooling. It works. We will be offering them for sale in our store next year and there are a couple of great places in NYC to buy them.
As far as I am concerned the DEFINITIVE on-line place to get everything you ever needed to know about macarons is here:
Duncan is well known in the OZ blogging community as the Master of Macarons, and has several fantastic and easy to follow posts about them.
I have been lucky enough to sample his wares on several occasions and his recipes provided a better (IMHO) end-result than many macarons sold in French bakeries.
Any question you could possibly have about French macarons can be answered at his site.
If you've got almond meal (which is what I have), you can simply run it in the food processor with sugar for about 3 minutes to get a very fine almond flour. No sifting needed. I got this from Sherry Yard's gingerbread macaron recipe in the LA Times last year and it worked wonderfully.
Claudia Fleming's recipe in the Last Course dessert cookbook is a good one. It's for lemon macarons, but you can vary the flavor/filling if you like.
Multiple sifting is key, I believe, as well as the instructed time spent waiting to be baked after being piped out. (Piping will give you uniform, beautiful cookies, and it will go much faster).
It is so satisfying when the "foot" forms and they rise with shiny tops! Try this recipe, but beware, a drafty oven is sure to give you some ugly, cracked specimens.
Great! Thanks ChefJane, I'll look forward to the recipe. I have a nut grinder that I use to make a Swedish cookie with a french-macaroon style base called Choklad Biskvier (or Sarah Bernhardts). You grind up blanched almonds and add, along with bread crumbs, to sugar and whipped egg whites. The taste/texture of the macaroons I've had here in Seattle are similar to these cookies so I suspect the home-ground almonds will work too.
Here is the recipe. These are Chocolate ones... and i've taught this recipe many times, so not only does it work for me, it's worked in the classes as well.
MACARONS AU CHOCOLAT
10 to 12 filled macaroons
2 cups almonds
7 ounces bittersweet chocolate
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
4 large egg whites (5 ounces)
1 1/2 cups cane sugar
1 tablespoon unsalted butter for buttering baking sheet
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate
2/3 cup crème fraîche (or heavy cream [preferably not ultra pasteurized])
1. Preheat the oven to 275 degrees F. Toast the almonds on a baking sheet until browned, about 5 minutes. Remove, but leave the oven on. When cool, grind the almonds to a fine powder in a food processor.
2. In a small saucepan over very low heat, melt the 3-1/2 oz chocolate with the vanilla.
3. In the bowl of an electric mixer on slow speed, mix the egg whites, almonds and sugar until well blended. With the machine still running, add the melted chocolate mixture and continue beating until thoroughly blended.
4. Butter a baking sheet (or line with cooking parchment paper, then butter the paper). Spoon the batter onto the baking sheet, allowing 1 heaping tablespoon of batter for each macaroon.
5. Bake just until the macaroons are set, 15 to 18 minutes. They should be slightly firm but not dry. Transfer the macaroons to a rack to cool.
6. Meanwhile, prepare the filling. Break the chocolate into pieces and process in a food processor until very fine. Heat the crème fraîche to the boiling point, and with the motor running, pour it through the feed tube in a steady stream. Process for a few seconds to make sure the mixture becomes smooth. Transfer to a bowl and let cool until the mixture has reached frosting consistency..
7. When the macaroons and the filling have cooled, spread a heaping tablespoon of the filling on half the macaroons, and cover each with a second macaroon, making a sort of sandwich. The macaroons may be served immediately, though they are best if they sit for a few hours.
I use blanched almond meal and am happy with my results. I sift almond meal and powdered sugar in the tamis three times to combine and fluff.
I've read the eG thread too, found it helpful. msbo, what happened with the recipe that made you decide it was 'bad'? Are you talking about Nicole Kaplan's, or another recipe?
re: babette feasts
I used the recipe on a la cuisine, referenced in the thread. I think there were too many eggs. Or maybe it was a mixing problem? No smooth, shiny top, no feet. Just a sad, sad sight. They looked a lot like the picture of the Nigella pistachio ones posted early on in that thread (just not green).
There's a HUGE thread (16 pp) about this on egullet: http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?s....
I stumbled upon the thread (and apparently a bad recipe) and tried to make them this past weekend. Let's just say the final result wasn't pretty.
There's a fair amount of discussion in that thread about whether almond meal is fine enough, and whether the fact that oil is pressed out of the almond flour makes a difference. Several people ground their own almonds (with the sugar) in a coffee grinder, and then put them through a mesh strainer to get out the bigger bits.
Wish I had some more experience to share. I'll be watching this thread closesly, because I would love to try them again.