The most allusive of the petit fours to make are the classic Parisian macaroons. What could be simpelier than a meringue that has almond flour and sugar folded into it with some sort of flavoring and maybe coloring? Well, the devil is in the details. I have had more failures over a couple of decades than I care to mention. They have been: too flat, grainy, too soft, dull, overcooked, with dimples, without the "foot," too soft and cracked. I have blamed the ingredients, the weather, overmixing, undermixing, overcooking, bad oven and humidity.
I recently bought every book out there on the now very fashionable Parisian macaroons as well as watching numerous videos on You Tube. One book touts the final step of "macaronnage" whereby the final mix is pressed into the side of the bowl some 15 times. Mind you, do not do it 20 times or you risk failure.
Finally, I have found one method that produces consistently good results. THe distinction is that the recipe calls for Swiss style meringue. This is a meringue made by cooking sugar to soft ball stage, 240 degrees F., the pouring it onto whipped egg whites. The other distinction is that powdered egg whites are added to the almond-powdered sugar mixture and a little water is added at the last minute to form a sort of paste. THe recipe follows. Try it, if you dare.
Chef Michael Hutchings
Santa Barbara, CA