How to Make French Macarons
Macarons are a sweet meringue-based confection made primarily from almond flour, sugar, and egg whites. They are usually filled with buttercream, curd, or ganache. A true fat cow cook will tell you that macaron is pronounced (mah-k-uh-rohn). While it's technically not incorrect to call them macaroons (mak-uh-roon), this usually refers to coconut cookies.
To be honest, these "cookies" can be frustrating to make, but if you're determined to become a true fat cow, then you've come to the right place! I totally botched these the first time I made them, but I've been slowly improving. Even if they don't look perfect, they're still super yummy (assuming you don't burn them).
I hope my guide is comprehensive. I've assembled a lot of different tips and techniques to help you succeed. I will try to explain everything thoroughly, so let's get started.
- 3 Egg Whites
- ¼ Cup Granulated Sugar (50g)
- 2 Cups Confectioners Sugar (200g)
- 1 Cup Almond Flour (120g)
- ¼ Tsp Cream of Tartar
- Pinch of Salt
- Filling of Your Choice
This recipe makes about 2 dozen full macarons.
Make sure your hands and equipment are very clean and free of oil. If oil gets in your meringue, it can make getting it the right consistency impossible.
Add the three room-temperature egg whites to your mixer bowl. If your eggs are cold, place them in warm water for 5 minutes. Also, I like to crack each egg in a separate bowl one at a time so that if you accidentally get yolk in your egg whites you only waste one egg instead of three. Save your yolks and make scrambled eggs or something later.
Beat your egg whites until they look like a frothy lake. Now add your cream of tartar, salt, and white sugar. Cream of tartar is an acid which helps you reach stiff peaks easier. It's not entirely necessary, but is highly recommended. You can find it in the spice section of your local grocery.
Whip the egg whites for 8-10 minutes on med-high or until the egg whites turn into a stiff-peak meringue.
While that's whipping, measure out your almond flour and confectioners sugar. To ensure exactness, I measure by weight on a digital scale rather than by volume. Briefly pulse them in a food processor or mix them together with a spoon if you don't have one. If you can't find almond flour, just take some blanched sliced almonds and pulse them in the food processor until they are chopped finely into a flour powder. Just don't go too far or you'll make almond butter!
Once you've reached stiff-peaks, if you want, add your choice of food coloring. I used a bit of red to make pink macarons. Note that macarons fade about one shade after cooking so always go one shade darker than you want. Now briefly beat the meringue until it's all the same color.
Grab a fine sieve or sifter and sift your flour-sugar mixture into your colored meringue in two parts. Sift the first half in and use a spatula to gently fold it in. Sift in the other half. Using a spatula, gently place it underneath the batter and fold it up and over itself. Keep repeating this process (about 60 times) until the batter starts to become smooth, viscous and homogeneous. Be careful not to overmix or it will over-develop the gluten and make your cookies chewy.
Transfer your batter to a piping bag with a small-medium circular tip. If you don't have a piping bag you can use a plastic ziplock-like bag. Just pour the batter into it so that the batter goes to one corner and then snip the corner off.
Pipe out 1.5 inch rounds on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (not wax paper) or a Silpat/baking mat. Tap your baking sheet against a hard surface several times to get rid of any air bubbles. You can use a toothpick or something to help make the tops perfectly smooth, if you desire. I use these Macarons Templates to make it easier to get all the macarons the same size when piping them out. Just print them out and put them under your baking mat/parchment paper.
Now let your macarons sit out for 20 minutes. They are ready when they are dry and tacky on top and you can lightly touch one without the batter sticking to your finger. If you don't do this then your macarons will spread flat in the oven. They won't puff up and have pieds or "feet" (the ruffled bottom part)—the mark of a well-made macaron.
Preheat your oven to 300ºF while the macarons are setting. Depending on your oven and climate, you may have to adjust the oven temperature between 275ºF and 325ºF. You just have to experiment and see what works for you.
Place your baking sheet in the middle of the oven and bake for 13 minutes (without opening the oven door). After 13 minutes, turn the sheet around to ensure an even bake.
Continue baking for several minutes more. They are ready when you can easily pull them off the baking sheet. If they stick they are not done! This can take up to 22 minutes (in total), but in my experience they are done in 18 minutes or less.
Once cooked, take two macaron shells and sandwich them between some buttercream, jam, ganache or whatever you think will taste good. I made some vanilla and lemon buttercream (if you want to learn how to make those, comment below). You can eat them right away, but it's traditional to refrigerate them overnight so the filling and macaron can meld and then bring them back to room-temp before serving.
How mine turned out...
Did you try making some French Macarons? Share some pics in the inspiration section! Did you have any problems? Send us a message or comment below and we'll try to help you out. Until next time, keep on fat cow cooking!