This is a comprehensive guide to making handmade French macarons for beginners. This page includes a tried-and-true recipe, as well as plenty of success tips, descriptions, a method overview, a tool list, and connections to my favourite macaron resources and other recipes on the internet.
MERINGUE MADE FROM Correctly BEATEN EGG WHITES: The majority of French macaron batter is made up of meringue made from properly beaten egg whites. I strongly advise using fresh egg whites rather than egg whites from a carton for the best and most consistent results. It's critical that no egg yolks are used in this recipe. Any fat (yolk) in the egg whites would prevent them from attaining stiff peaks, which is a critical step in any French macaron recipe, as I told you in our Swiss meringue buttercream recipe.
Age the Egg Whites: It's a good idea to chill the egg whites for at least 24 hours before starting this preparation. Why? Separated egg whites that have been placed aside ahead of time have a chance to relax, improving their flexibility throughout the whipping process. When it comes to whipping egg whites into a towering volume, elasticity comes in handy. Some bakers skip this step, claiming it is a waste of time, but I can assure you that matured egg whites were absent from the majority of my failed macaron batches. I recommend separating your egg whites, covering them, and refrigerating them 1 day ahead of time. It's not going to harm you.
CREAM OF TARTAR: This item isn't in my original recipe, but it's something I started using after baking successful batches of marshmallow meringue and chocolate swirled meringue cookies. It simply adds a layer of protection. Let me explain: the acidity in cream of tartar helps the egg whites hold on to air and prevents them from collapsing, just as the sugar (described below). You probably already have this ingredient on hand if you're baking snickerdoodles or angel food cake. It's available along with the spices.
SUPERFINE SUGAR: Beat superfine sugar with the egg whites + cream of tartar in three additions. The protein molecules in egg whites will collapse if sugar isn't added. What is superfine sugar, and how does it differ from regular sugar? It's standard granulated sugar, ground much finer than confectioners' sugar, but not quite as fine as confectioners' sugar. Caster sugar is another name for it. The granules of superfine sugar are the finest size for providing the greatest structure for French macarons. Confectioners' sugar dissolves too rapidly in the egg whites, whereas granulated sugar is simply too grainy.
Because superfine sugar is hard to come by in my local supermarket, I manufacture my own by crushing regular granulated sugar in a food processor or blender. It only takes a few seconds and is quite simple.
FINE ALMOND FLOUR: Almond flour is the only flour that works in this French macaron recipe; however, if you're allergic to almonds, Stella Parks' nut-free macarons are a good alternative. (I haven't tried them myself.) Use almond flour rather than almond meal. Almond flour is derived from blanched, skinless almonds and is significantly finer. Almond meal is coarser and contains the skin of the almond.
You can manufacture your own almond flour, but be careful since almonds can release their oils quickly, clump together, and turn into almond butter. It may be simpler to simply purchase a bag of fine almond flour. I use and enjoy Bob's Red Mill brand, which is widely available in most supermarket stores these days.
CONFECTIONERS' SUGAR: Confectioners' sugar gives the macaron batter body and sweetness. To make sturdy, more consistently effective macarons, I use equal amounts confectioners' sugar and almond flour in this new recipe.
GEL FOOD COLORING (OPTIONAL): Tinting the macaron batter with gel food colouring is absolutely optional. The macarons will be a natural beige hue if you don't colour it. (And a colourful filling may be a lot of fun.) Avoid adding liquid food colouring in your macaron batter because it will ruin the consistency. Use 1-2 drops of gel food colouring instead.
I prepared three unique batches of the macarons shown, using dusty rose, aqua, and fuchsia. I haven't tested powder food colouring, but it should be fine. Use a teeny-tiny quantity.