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French Macarons

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.

Ingredients in French Macarons: A Quick Guide

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.



Ingredients
  • . 100 g egg whites (usually between 3–4 large egg whites)
  • . 1/4 teaspoon (1g) cream of tartar
  • . 1/2 teaspoon extract such as vanilla, almond, coconut, etc (optional)
  • . 80g superfine sugar (aka caster sugar, see note)
  • . 1–2 drops gel food coloring (optional)
  • . 125g almond flour
  • . 125g confectioners’ sugar
  • . desired macaron filling (some options listed in notes)
Directions
  • 01.Wipe down a large glass or metal mixing bowl with lemon juice or vinegar. Add egg whites. Cover and refrigerate for 24 hours, then bring to room temperature.
  • 02.Line 3 large baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper. Set aside.
  • 03.Add cream of tartar and extract (if using) to egg whites. Using a handheld mixer or stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat together on medium speed until very soft peaks form. This takes a few minutes of beating. At first the egg white and cream of tartar mixture will be foamy, then the bubbles will begin to tighten and the beaters will leave tracks as the egg whites build volume. Once they begin leaving tracks, you likely have soft peaks. Stop beating. Add about 1/3 of the superfine sugar. Beat on medium-high speed for 5 seconds, then with the mixer continuing to run, add another 1/3 of the sugar. Beat for 5 seconds, then with the mixer continuing to run, add the remaining sugar. Beat on medium-high speed until stiff glossy peaks form. (This means the whites have stiff, smooth, and sharp points in the bowl or on the lifted whisk attachment/beaters. Stiff peaks do not droop down. You can turn the bowl upside down and the egg whites will not move or spill out.) Using a rubber spatula, slowly and gently fold the food coloring (if using) into the egg whites.
  • 04.Sift the almond flour and confectioners’ sugar together in a large glass or metal mixing bowl. Use a spoon to help work any larger pieces through the sieve. You don’t want to discard a lot of that because then you won’t have enough dry ingredients in the batter.
  • 05.Slowly fold the beaten egg whites into the almond flour mixture in 3 separate additions, folding until combined before adding the next addition. After you add all of the egg whites, pay very close attention to the consistency of your macaron batter. Continue folding the batter (which deflates air) until it thins out into the consistency of honey.
  • 06.What’s a more helpful cue is the figure 8 test. Drop the macaron batter off of your spatula in the form of a figure 8. The figure 8 should take no more than 10 seconds to sink back into itself. If it takes less, your batter was overmixed and is too thin. If it takes longer, continue slowly folding the batter to deflate more air, then perform the figure 8 test again. It’s best to go very slow so you don’t accidentally overmix.
  • 07.Spoon the macaron batter into a piping bag fitted with a medium round piping tip, such as Wilton 12, Wilton 1A, or even Ateco 806. The macaron batter is very drippy, so transferring to the piping bag can be messy.
  • 08.Holding the piping bag at a 90 degree angle over the baking sheet, pipe batter in 1.5 – 2 inch rounds about 1-2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets. I usually pipe little mounds– see video tutorial above. The piped macaron batter flattens out. Bang the pan a couple times on the counter to pop any air bubbles, then use a toothpick to pop any remaining air bubbles.
  • 09.Let the piped macarons sit out until they are dry and no longer tacky on top, usually 30-60 minutes. This time allows the top to firm up and form a skin, which helps the macarons rise UP and form their trademark ruffly “feet.” Do not let them sit out for longer than they need to because they could begin to deflate.
  • 10.Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 325°F (163°C). Bake for 13 minutes. As the macaron shells bake, they should form feet. To test for doneness, lightly touch the top of a macaron with a spoon or your finger (careful, it’s hot). If the macaron seems wobbly, it’s not done and needs another 1-2 minutes. If it seems set, it’s done. Basically, bake until the macarons don’t move around when touched. Let the shells cool on the baking sheet for 15 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to continue cooling. The macaron shells may stick to the parchment paper/baking sheet if you try to remove them too early. If this is happening, let them cool on the baking sheet a little longer before removing.
  • 11.After cooling, the shells are ready to fill and sandwich together. I have plenty of filling suggestions in the recipe notes below. You can spread filling with a knife or pipe it using the same round tip you used for the macaron batter.
  • 12.You can eat right away or, as some professionals prefer, cover and refrigerate them 12-24 hours so the macarons and flavors can mature. Bring to room temperature before serving. (I usually just serve them right away!) Cover leftover macarons and refrigerate for up to 5 days.
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