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French Macarons Before you begin: Choose a nice, cool, dry day to make these.

Humidity is not your friend. Because whipped whites are mostly air, if the air is too moist it can flatten your macaroons. A hot kitchen can also deflate whites. Separate your eggs in advance. Eggs are easier to separate when theyre cold, so separate them at least an hour and up to a day before, then cover with plastic wrap so it touches the surface of the egg, and just leave the whites on the counter. Mis en place. Have everything you need in place so you dont have anything to slow you down once your eggs are whipped. Ingredients1 cup confectioners sugar, 4.5 oz3/4 cup almond flour, 2.5 oz. (I made my own by processing almond slivers)2 large egg whites, room temperature (no farm fresh eggs! older eggs hold air better, and take them from the fridge the day before or the morning of and let them sit there happily on the counter and warm to room temp) Pinch of cream of tartar1/4 cup superfine sugar, 1.5 oz. (also called bakers sugar, Ive read you can make your own by processing granulated sugar, but have never tried it)3/4 cup seedless raspberry jam, for filling See MACAROON VARIATIONS and SUGGESTED FILLINGS on Marthas website, including chocolate, coconut, peanut, pistachio, raspberry, and vanilla bean Method1. Pulse confectioners sugar and almond flour in a food processor until combined. Sift mixture 2 times. (I found sifting with my usual flour sifter near impossible. The almond flour caked under the sifting hand and balled up over it. Instead I sifted with a simple bowlshaped sieve.) 2. Whisk whites with a mixer on medium speed until foamy. Add cream of tartar, and whisk until soft peaks form. Reduce speed to low, and then add superfine sugar. Increase speed to high, and whisk until stiff

peaks form (the recipe suggests 8 minutes, for me it took only 3 to 4 minutes, take care not to over-whip). If youre going to add color, I added food coloring towards the end of whipping my whites. I found I could use standard, water-based food coloring. Several of the recipes I saw recommended paste food coloring, but I didnt have any at the time, so I went out on a limb! The water-based stuff worked just fine.

3. Sift flour mixture over whites, and fold until mixture is smooth and shiny. I found the amount of folding to be crucial. Fold too little, and your macaroon shells will have peaks instead of nice rounded caps. Fold too much, and your meringue will drip into a mess of wafer-thin blobs. Tartlette recommends about 50 folds, until your batter has a magma-like flow. For me about 65 folds was just right. I find the batter has a little of a soft-toffee like sheen when it is ready. (UPDATE 02.10: stop by here to read about a macaroon class Tartlette taught). You can test a daub on a plate, and if a small beak remains, turn the batter a couple times more. If the batter forms a round cap but doesnt run, it is just right. When I spooned my batter into the pastry bag, the perfect batter started to just ooze out of the tip once the bag was full. If it stayed stiff inside the bag it was too stiff, if it dripped out too fast the batter was too runny. I found that doubling the recipe made this step very difficult for me, I found I would over fold to incorporate the flour mixture and I would end up with a runny batter.

4. Transfer batter to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain round tip. 5. Pipe 3/4-inch rounds 1 inch apart on parchment-lined baking sheets. I put the tip right in the middle of where I wanted each macaroon and let the batter billow up around it, then I drug the tip to the side of the round. (You can pipe 1-inch to 2-inch rounds, but you will need to add cooking time). Tap bottom of each sheet on work surface to release trapped air. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. (Different recipes recommend anywhere from no rest time to 2 hours rest time. I

was most happy with 30 to 45 minutes rest time, once the caps looked duller and had formed a slight crust.) While theyre resting, preheat oven to 375 degrees. 6. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees. Bake 1 sheet at a time, rotating halfway through, until macaroons are crisp and firm, about 10 minutes. After each batch, increase oven temperature to 375 degrees, heat for 5 minutes, and then reduce to 325 degrees. Every oven is different, so you may need to play with your oven temperature. The tops of the macaroon shells should not brown. 7. Let macaroons cool on sheets for 2 to 3 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack. If macaroons stick, spray water underneath parchment on hot sheet. The steam will help release macaroons. 8. Sandwich 2 same-size macaroons with 1-teaspoon jam. Serve immediately, or stack between layers of parchment, wrap in plastic, and freeze for up to 3 months. It takes only 30 minutes out of the freezer for macaroons to be ready to serve.

TROUBLESHOOTING: If youre wringing your hands in frustration because you cant get these little desserts to come out right, you are in good company. Me included. Here are a few things you can try to get that first perfect batch that will get you addicted to making macaroons. 1. Oven thermometer: Chances are, your oven is different than mine. Put down the few dollars it costs for a decent oven thermometer and you can know for certain that your oven temp is right. 2. A good baking sheet: If your baking sheet is too thin, the macaroons wont bake evenly or correctly. You can even try doubling up two thin baking sheets if thats all you have.3. Use old eggs: I know this may sound wrong in our world of refrigerating everything, but it makes a difference. Use eggs that are not too fresh and leave them on the counter at room temp for a day or two.