Recently, Kyle and I went into New York City for the weekend. We absolutely had to stop by Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bakery, where we sampled many different things, including, of course, his macarons. We tried the vanilla, chocolate, salted caramel, and birthday cake macarons, and each one was incredible. As soon as you bite into the shells, they give way to a chewy interior and an intensely flavored filling.
It just so happens that today is my best friend Stef’s birthday, and she has a lot of food sensitivities. I decided to send her macarons because it would be a sweet treat, but the ingredients and size would limit any food sensitivity issues that she might have. So I wanted to figure out how I could make birthday cake macarons like the ones from Bouchon!
Stef and me in October 2015. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, STEF!
I used the Bouchon Bakery recipe for macarons, which apparently is the Italian method of macaron-making. People who know more than I do about baking say that it gives more stable results than the French method. I don’t know about all of that, but I do know that I’ve followed the Bouchon Bakery recipe a couple of times now and my macarons have turned out great! For the filling, I used a cake batter icing recipe that I found from Baker’s Royale. Apparently Bouchon actually uses crumbled pieces of cake in their icing, but I didn’t go that far. Even so, when all was said and done, the macarons tasted like yellow birthday cake, which is exactly what I wanted!
The finished product!
Bouchon Bakery Macarons
212 g (1 3/4 cups + 2 1/2 tabespoons) almond flour/meal
212 g (1 3/4 cups + 1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons) powdered sugar
82 g (1/4 cup + 1 1/2 tablespoons) egg whites
90 g (1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons) egg whites
236 g (1 cup + 3 tablespoons) granulated sugar
158 g (2/3 cup) water
Optional: Yellow food coloring gel
(Note: if you don’t have a food scale, you should really get one. They aren’t too expensive and it’s the easiest way to be exact in your measurements. After all, baking can be a very exact science!)
The macarons need to be as close in size as possible and a template is the easiest way to ensure that. Lay a sheet of parchment paper on a work surface with the long side facing you. Trace four evenly spaced 2 1/4 inch circles along the top edge (these make large macarons, modify the size if you wish, but keep in mind, the baking time will be shorter). Make sure to leave 1 inch of space between them. Trace three circles below each of those four, to make 3 x 4 macarons. Turn the parchment over and lay it on a sheet pan. Lift up each corner of the parchment and spray with non-stick spray to keep it from blowing up while the cookies are baking. Repeat with a second sheet.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Sift the almond flour and powdered sugar into a large bowl and whisk together. Make a well in the center, leaving a layer of flour at the bottom. Pour in the 82 grams egg whites and combine with a spatula. The mixture will turn into a thick almond paste. Set aside.
Place the remaining 90 grams egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Combine the 236 grams sugar and water in a small saucepan and heat over medium-high heat until the syrup reaches 203 F/110 C.
Letting the syrup continue to cook, add a pinch of sugar to the egg whites, turn the mixer to medium speed, and whip to soft peaks. If the whites reach soft peaks before the syrup reaches 248 F/120 C, reduce the speed to the lowest setting, just to keep them moving.
When the syrup reaches 248 F/120 C, remove the pan from the heat. Turn the mixer to medium-low speed and slowly add the syrup, pouring it between the side of the bowl and the whisk. The meringue will deflate. Increase the speed to medium and whip for 5 minutes, or until the whites hold stiff, glossy peaks. (Note: this is also the point where I added my food coloring.) Although the bowl will still be warm, the meringue should have cooled. If not, continue to whip until it is cool.
Fold one-third of the meringue into the almond mixture, then continue adding the whites a little at time (you may not use them all) until when you fold a portion of the batter over on itself, the “ribbon” slowly moves. The mixture shouldn’t be so stiff that it holds its shape without moving at all, but it shouldn’t be so loose that it dissolves into itself and does not maintain the ribbon; it is better for the mixture to be sightly stiff than too loose.
Transfer the mixture to a pastry bag with a 1/2 inch tip. Hold the bag upright 1/2 inch above the center of one of the traced circles and pipe out enough to fill in the circle. Lift away the pastry bag and fill the remaining circles on the first pan. Lift up the sheet pan and tap the bottom of the pan to spread the batter evenly and smooth any peaks left by the bag.
Add sprinkles to the circles of batter.
Place the sheet pan in the oven and immediately reduce the temperature to 325 degrees and bake for 9 to 12 minutes, until the tops are shiny and crisp. Set the pan on a cooling rack and cool completely. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees again.
Pipe the remaining meringue mixture into the circles of the second sheet pan and bake as directed above. Let cool completely.
Cake Batter Icing
Recipe from Baker’s Royale
1 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1/4 cup yellow cake mix
2-4 tablespoons heavy cream
3 tablespoons butter room temperature
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
Add all ingredients into a stand mixer bowl fitted with a whisk attachment. Mix on low speed until all ingredients are combined, then gradually increase mixer speed from medium to high and beat for 30-60 seconds on hight until icing is thick and fluffy. Add more powdered sugar to thicken consistency as needed or heavy cream to loosen consistency as needed.
Pair together macarons that match in size. Pipe icing onto one macaron in a spiral fashion, but do not pipe all the way to the edges. Top with a second macaron and gently press to spread the icing to the edges. Repeat with remaining macarons and filling.
The macarons are best if wrapped individually in a few layers of plastic wrap and frozen for at least 24 hours or up to 2 weeks. Defrost in the refrigerator for 3 hours, then bring to room temperature before seving. They can be served the day they are made or stored in a covered container in the refrigerator up to 2 days.