It took me a good long while to master these cute little cookies; having made so many, I think I can now say I have nailed it. Two resources were instrumental in my success: the cute little book I love Macarons by Hisako Ogita and the (ambitiously titled) video The Science Behind French Macarons by Thomas Joseph and the Martha Stewart team.
I am using quite a bit of equipment for this, and the recipe is not for the sloppy or the faint of heart. In any case, even if you follow my recipe to the letter, it might happen that the macarons fail. In that case, have a look at the troubleshooting guide below, and try, try again. Here we go!
The recipe can be found here, and the corresponding video is here. For the record, my mistake in many failed attempts was that I did not whip the eggwhites and sugar mixture enough. Note that this recipe calls for 6 min whipping with the KitchenAid; if you are doing it with a hand-held mixer, you can expect to spend a good 10 min mixing.
I know someone who tried to make macarons with an old-fashioned egg beater, the one that does not need electricity. Optimists…
- 71 g sliced blanched almonds
- 117 g confectioners’ sugar (i.e., powdered sugar)
- 2 large egg whites, room temperature
- 53 g granulated sugar (i.e., regular sugar)
- Jam or other filling; recipes for some of my favorites are listed below
- KitchenAid or a decent hand-held mixer fitted with a whisk attachment
- Food processor
- Fine-mesh sieve
- Large bowl
- Piping bag, jar or glass to hold the piping bag
- Baking parchment
- Two baking trays
- Two copies of this template, glued together to fit the baking tray
Preheat oven to 175˚C. Place almonds in a food processor; process until as fine as possible, about 1 minute. Add confectioners’ sugar; process until combined, about 1 minute.
Pass almond mixture through a fine-mesh sieve. Transfer solids in sieve to food processor; grind and sift again, pressing down on clumps. Repeat until less than 2 tablespoons of solids remains in sieve.
Whisk egg whites and granulated sugar by hand to combine. Beat on medium speed (4 on a KitchenAid) 2 minutes. Increase speed to medium-high (6) and beat 2 minutes. Then beat on high (8) 2 minutes more.
The beaten egg whites will hold stiff, glossy peaks when you lift the whisk out of the bowl. Add food coloring, if desired, and beat on highest speed 30 seconds.
Add dry ingredients all at once. Fold with a spatula from bottom of bowl upward, then press flat side of spatula firmly through middle of mixture. Repeat just until batter flows like lava, 35 to 40 complete strokes.
Rest a pastry bag without a tip inside a glass. Transfer batter to bag.
Prepare the baking tray: place the assembled template in the tin and line with parchment.
Snip a hole in the bottom of the piping bag to have the batter flow at the speed you are comfortable with when piping. With piping tip about 1 cm above sheet, pipe batter into a round, following the template, then swirl tip off to one side. Repeat, spacing rounds to follow the template. After filling the first sheet, set the batter to the side while you bake the first batch. Tap the sheet with your hand from the bottom 5 to 8 times to release air bubbles. Carefully remove the template. Place the baking tray with macarons into another baking tray.
Bake the first sheet, rotating halfway through, until macarons are risen and just set, 13-15 minutes. Let cool. Repeat until you have used up all the batter.
Pipe filling on flat sides of half of cookies; top with remaining half. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate.
Tips are mostly taken from this book.
When the macaron cracks
- You did not use two baking trays when baking.
- The oven was too hot, and the bottom of the baking sheet got too much heat.
When the macarons are not glossy
Possible cause: insufficient macaronage.
Macaronage is the process of incorporating the sifted almond flour and powdered sugar into the whipped egg whites. The amount of mixing varies, depending on the strength of the whipped egg whites and the amount you are mixing: e.g., if you double the amount of the batter, you will have to do a few extra strokes. When ready, the mixture should just flow from the spatula.
When you cannot make a pied
Possible cause: you left the piped macarons out to dry for too long.
The recipe above does not need any drying time, and this is the main reason why I love it: it removes one variable to tweak.
When you see oil stains
- You used old almond meal. It is better to use almond flakes rather than pre-ground almond meal, as the oils in the nuts are less likely to be rancid; it is easier to use flakes rather than skinned whole almonds because flakes take less time and are easier to grind.
- You did not bake the macarons long enough.
- You mixed too much during macaronnage. Remember, be like Goldilocks: not too much, not too little.
The three fillings below are my favorites, but I do not shy away from all sorts of colours and combinations. I have not yet met a macaron I did not like.
This recipe is mostly taken from here.
- 65g sugar
- 30 ml water
- 2 egg yolks
- 55g unsalted butter, softened
- 1/4 tsp green food coloring powder, optional
For the pistachio paste
- 35 g shelled roasted salted pistachios
- 1 tbsp water
- First, make the pistachio paste. In a spice grinder, grind the pistachios with the water to make a smooth paste. Set to side.
- In a small saucepan, combine water and sugar and heat it over medium heat. Stir the mixture until the sugar is completely dissolved. Then bring it to a boil and cook until the syrup reaches 120°C.
- In a mixing bowl of a KitchenAid fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the egg yolks for 2 minutes. While the mixer is running on low, slowly pour the hot syrup into the egg yolks. Increase the speed to medium high, and beat the mixture until it cools down to 40°C, just barely warm to the touch. The mixture will become smooth and white.
- Add the butter a tablespoon at a time. Then add the pistachio paste and food coloring, if desired. Continue to beat the cream until nice and smooth.
Dulce de leche filling
Dark/white/milk chocolate ganache filling
- 100 ml whipping cream
- 100 g dark/white/milk chocolate
- Bring the whipping cream to a boil in a small saucepan.
- Put the chocolate in a bowl and pour the hot whipping cream over it.
- Whisk to combine.
- Cool the mixture to room temperature before you use it.
- Ganache can be stored in the fridge; warm it up a bit before using.