French Macarons

 

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I fell in love with French macarons when I had it for the first time in London at Ladurée. Although it has been at least 5 years now, I still have a very clear picture of the macaron store at Harrods in my mind. I was a student at the time so these little treats were especially expensive for me. I was shocked by how much they cost per piece! I would have never have thought that I could make these myself. I learned that practice makes perfect with macarons! You also have to be extremely patient during the entire process. There is a lot of waiting time involved in making macarons and it is really tempting to skip some steps along the way. Don’t be disappointed if you need to try a few times to make the perfect macaron. When I made these for the first time, they cracked and turned into huge flat cookies.

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I’ve made macarons using this recipe a few times now and they’ve turned out perfect for me. It takes a few tries to make macarons at home because every oven is different. Moisture is macaron’s worst enemy so you want to avoid making these on a wet rainy day. Humid conditions make it harder for the egg whites to reach a firm peak, which is crucial for the macaron’s texture.  It will take a few tries to know the perfect amount of time to whisk the egg whites. Under-beating or over-beating can cause the macarons to lose structure or crack. You definitely need a kitchen scale to make macarons because the ingredients have to be measured perfectly to achieve the best results. I’ve tried a few different fillings and will continue to post new fillings as I come up with more ideas.

Ingredients

Prepare all the ingredients and set aside. The egg whites must be aged for at least 2 days and be at room temperature prior to whisking. Prepare the piping bag and pastry tip as well.

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You may need to visit a few different stores to get all the ingredients but it is worth it! For ground almonds, some people prefer to blanch almonds and grind them in a food processor. I like to buy finely ground almond meal from the store since making macarons is already such a long process that I would rather have all the ingredients ready to go. I found finely ground almond meal at Whole Foods and Star Market (Bob’s Red Mill) and it works really well with this recipe. You can make about 4 batches of macarons with a 1 pound bag.

almondmeal

Another alternative is JK Gourmet’s finely ground almond flour, which you can find on Amazon. I prefer JK Gourmet’s almond flour over Bob’s Red Mill because it runs through the sieve much quicker and gives the macaron shells a very smooth look. If you have time, I say order these on Amazon!

almond flour

Powdered sugar is fairly easy to find at any supermarket. I also used caster sugar (baker’s sugar) in my recipe, which is extremely fine granulated sugar. You can find caster sugar at some supermarkets. I have seen caster sugar by CH brand at WholeFoods for an affordable price. The caster sugar used is this recipe is made by India Tree Gourmet Spices & Specialties. There are various different brands that you can find and they are generally the same. The super fine texture of caster sugar allows it to combine and dissolve really well with egg whites.

caster

Finally, it is important to age the egg whites for a few days before making your macarons. Aging egg whites allows the moisture content to evaporate, making it easier to achieve the right stiffness when whisking the egg whites. You should see some air bubbles in the egg whites after they have been aged for a few days. This means that some of the water content from the egg whites have evaporated. Separate the egg whites in a closed container making sure that no egg yolk gets into the container and then chill it in the refrigerator for 24-48 hours. I have tried allowing the aged egg whites to reach room temperature or using them right away and both ways work for me.  Patience is key when it comes to making the perfect macaron. When you have gathered all the ingredients it is time to start making macarons!

Mix together almond meal/flour and powdered sugar. If you have a food processor, pour the mixture and grind until fine. Sieve the mixture through a strainer.

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Grind any leftover almond meal in the food process and sieve through the strainer. Repeat this process until you have less than 1 tablespoon of almond meal and sugar left.

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Making the Batter

In a stand mixer using the wire elliptical whip attachment, whisk egg whites at medium speed (4) for about 1.5 minutes. When bubbles begin to form, slowly add caster sugar to the egg whites at medium speed (4) for the next 1.5 minutes. Once all the caster sugar has been added, beat at high speed (7) for about 3-4 minutes until firm peak forms. The numbers in the parenthesis represent the speed level for a KitchenAid mixer. If you are using a regular electric mixer you can ignore those numbers.

The egg whites in this picture below are not ready.

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When the egg whites have reached stiff peaks they are ready, you should be able to turn the mixing bowl upside down without any egg whites falling out like the picture below.  Some egg whites should also get clumped within the whisk attachment at stiff peaks stage.  If the egg whites look broken up, you have whisked them for too long so make sure to keep checking!

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When the egg whites have reached stiff peaks, add 3-5 drops of liquid food coloring before mixing in the dry ingredients.

You must work quickly when adding food coloring and mixing dry ingredients. Folding the mixture too many times will make the batter too runny. This is not good because the batter may spread out too much and result in the macaron losing its structure. You want to gently fold the dry ingredients by inserting the spatula under the bottom of the egg whites then scooping it back up to the top, repeating this process until all the dry ingredients are well combined. I highly recommend using a stainless steel bowl for mixing so it will keep the batter cool the entire time. If you have a KitchenAid Stand Mixer, the mixing bowl that comes with it will be perfect for mixing.

Mix the dry ingredients in 3 separate batches until well blended. Do not use a stand mixer for this step!

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After adding the dry ingredients, the batter should look shiny and feel slightly sticky like this picture below.  Using the spatula, try drawing an “8” figure with the batter without any breaks. If you are able to do that,  the batter should be ready.

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Pour the batter in the piping bag with the pastry tip slightly twisted on the bottom. I recommend using a large piping bag that is at least 15 inches. Otherwise you may have to separate the batter into two batches.  I typically use Ateco pastry tip #804 or 806 depending on the size of the macarons I am making.

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Baking

Baking time and temperature will vary depending on the type of oven you use. Some ovens are hotter in a certain corner so you may want to turn the baking sheet around halfway through baking. It is better to bake at a lower temperature for a little longer on your first try because high heat can cause macrons to crack and brown too quickly. Bake at 275F-300F for 12-18 minutes. I baked my macrons at 295F for 15 minutes. Using a darker vs lighter baking sheet can affect the baking time as well. A darker baking sheet will cook the macarons fasters. There are many factors involved here so you will need to try this a few times before getting the best results.

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Line the parchment paper on each baking sheet. Set the pastry tip close to the parchment paper and push the batter out to form 1 inch circles. You will need to pipe quickly before the batter starts getting warm. Don’t worry about the pointy tips that forms on the top of each circle as you can smooth them out after you have worked through all the batter.

Once you have have finished piping all the batter, lift each baking sheet up a few inches above your kitchen counter and bang it on the counter multiple times (at least 5 times). This will smooth out the batter, remove air bubbles, and prevent hollow macarons. Use a spatula to smooth out any uneven circles.

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Leave the macarons on the baking sheets at room temperature for at least 30 minutes (up to 60 minutes). Halfway through waiting, preheat the oven to 275-300F. I preheated my oven to 295F. When the macarons are ready for baking they should lose their shine and look matte. Test it out by lightly touching one of the circles. If the batter is dry and not sticking to your finger, it is ready for baking.

Bake the macarons at 275-300F for 12-15 minutes. Baking temperature and time will vary by oven. Some ovens are hotter than others so you will need to experiment a few times. Begin monitoring the macarons around 11-12 minutes into baking. I baked these at 295F for 13 minutes. Undercooking the macarons will make them separate when you try to lift them from the parchment paper and also cause the middle to be hollow. Overcooking them will make them too crunchy and brown on top.

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When they are done, let them cool on a wire rack for about an hour. Once they have cooled, slowly separate the macarons from the parchment paper. If after an hour, the macarons are still not coming off the parchment paper easily, you may have undercooked the macarons. Don’t worry, you may still be able to save these macarons! Using your finger, dabble some water on the back of the parchment paper then try separating the macarons from the parchment paper gently. This should prevent the macrons from breaking. 🙂

Match up similar size macaron shells together for assembling. Spread the filling on one shell then gently press the shells together to form the macaron. Place assembled macarons in a closed container and refrigerate for 24 hours before serving.

Filling

I have two macaron filling recipes to share for this post. I used an almond buttercream for the macarons with no food coloring and a nutella buttercream for the mint color macarons. You can use any buttercream you wish to fill your macarons. I will also continue to share more macaron filling recipes so stay tuned!

Almond Buttercream
1/4 c unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 c powdered sugar
1 Tbsp almond extract

Mix butter and powdered sugar until well blended then add the almond extract and mix a little more.

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Nutella Buttercream
1/4 c unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 c powdered sugar
2 Tbsp + 2 tsp nutella

Mix butter and powdered sugar until well blended then add nutella and mix a little more.

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Makes 30 macarons (60 shells)

90g egg whites (little less than 3 large eggs), room temperature
110-115g finely ground almond meal
200g powdered sugar
50g caster sugar
food coloring (optional)

2 sheets of parchment paper
2 large baking sheets
1 piping bag (15 – 17 in)
1 pastry tip (Ateco #804 or #806)
flat spatula
fine strainer
kitchen scale
food processor
electric mixer

1. Separate the egg whites in a closed container and age them in the refrigerator for 24-48 hours. Remove the lid and let the egg whites sit in room temperature for 2-3 hours prior to baking. Line each parchment paper on two baking sheets. Prepare a piping bag with the pastry tip attached and stand it in a wide mug. Keep the pastry tip twisted or folded on the bottom so when you add the batter later it does not leak.

2. Mix together almond meal and powdered sugar in a large bowl.

3. Pour the mixture in a food processor and grind for a few minutes.

4. Sieve the mixture through a fine strainer to get rid of the bigger bits. Grind any leftover almond meal in the food process and sieve through the strainer. Repeat this process until you have less than 1 tablespoon of almond meal and sugar left.

5. In a stand mixer using the wire elliptical whip attachment, whisk egg whites at medium speed (4) for about 1.5 minutes. When bubbles begin to form, slowly add caster sugar to the egg whites at medium speed (4) for the next 1.5 minutes. Once all the caster sugar has been added, beat at high speed (7) for about 3-4 minutes until peak forms. When the egg whites are ready, you should be able to turn the mixing bowl upside down without any egg whites falling out. If the egg whites look broken up, you have whisked them for too long so make sure to keep checking!

6. You will need to work quickly in the next few steps. Add 3-4 drops of liquid food coloring and fold the egg whites gently using a spatula until the color is evenly blended.

7. Fold in 1/3 of the almond meal and powdered sugar mixture at a time into the egg whites. Slide the spatula to the bottom of the bowl then bring the spatula back up until you do not see any more dry ingredients. Repeat this motion until all the dry ingredients have blended well into the egg whites. The batter should be slightly sticky and have a shiny look when it is evenly blended. Do not use the stand mixer to whisk ingredients.

8. Pour the batter into the piping bag. If your piping bag is smaller than 15 inches, you may want to separate the batter into two batches.

9. Line the pastry tip close to the parchment paper and push the batter out to form 1 inch circles. You will need to pipe quickly before the batter starts getting warm. Don’t worry about the pointy tips that forms on the top of each circle as you can smooth them out after you have worked through all the batter.

10. Lift each baking sheet up a few inches above your kitchen counter and bang it on the counter twice. This will smooth out the batter and remove any air bubbles. The pointy tip should begin to flatten out after this step. If not, use a clean spatula to flatten out the circles that still have a pointy tip. This step is not crucial unless you are a perfectionist like me 🙂

11. Leave the macarons on the baking sheets at room temperature for at least 30 minutes (up to 90 minutes) for drying. Halfway through drying, preheat the oven to 275-300F. I preheated my oven to 295F.

12. When the macarons are ready for baking they should lose their shine and look matte. Test it out by lightly touching one of the circles. If the batter is dry and not sticking to your finger, it is ready for baking.

13. Bake the macarons at 275-300F for 12-15 minutes. The temperature and baking time will vary depending on your oven. Some ovens are hotter than others so you will need to experiment a few times. Begin monitoring the macarons around 11-12 minutes into baking. I baked these at 295F for 15 minutes. Undercooking the macarons will make them separate when you try to lift them from the parchment paper. Overcooking them will make them too crunchy and brown on top.

14. When they are done, let them cool on a wire rack for about an hour. Once they have cooled, slowly separate the macarons from the parchment paper.

15. Match up similar size macaron shells together for assembling. Spread the filling on one shell then gently press the shells together to form the macaron.

16. Place the assembled macarons in an airtight container and chill in the refrigerator for 24-48 hours.  Aging macarons will help prevent hollow shells and improve the texture.   Just make sure to return the macarons to room temperature before serving.

Trackbacks

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