When thinking of macarons, you probably think of Ladurée as they are one of the top premier sellers of macaron in France. They offer dozens of flavors and almost every tourist will stop there to have their first macaron. These delicate almond-meringue cookies are not cheap, Bottega Louie in LA downtown sell theirs for $2.50 per tiny piece.
These French sandwich cookies are made entirely of almond powder, egg whites, and sugar. The most difficult part is achieving the right consistency and presentation of the macaron shells. The technique for making macarons is a little tricky as there are so many factors at play – the amounts of ingredients, the mixing of the batter, the length of resting time, the oven tempearture, the baking time, etc. All of these things can cause problems. The first few times I made them, no feet were developed at the bottom. Although the flavor was still good, I failed. I tried many online recipes before I found one that worked for me. Some have more sugar which will make the shells very glossy but the sweetness is too overpowering. I did a lot of reading online and practiced to understand the chemistry behind it. “Not So Humble Pie” blog is a great troubleshooting guide and has a lot of useful tips, I recommend everyone read it before starting the baking process.
gel food coloring
|Egg whites (about 3 eggs)
Cream of Tartar (optional)
- Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone liners. Prepare a piping bag with a round tip. You can place the bag into a measuring cup and cuff the bag’s opening over the top, this makes the bag easy to fill hands-free.
- Sift almond meal and powdered sugar together to remove any clumps, sift twice if possible. Set aside. (picture 1)
- Weigh out the egg whites into a large stainless mixing bowl.
- Begin beating the eggs on low speed. Once the egg whites are very foamy, begin sprinkling in the sugar as you beat. Increase the speed to medium, you can add in cream of tartar to stabilize the meringue if necessary, and beat the meringue to stiff glossy peaks. Add the food coloring (It takes 2-4 drops of gel) and mix. (Pictures 2 and 3).
- Add about 1/4 of the almond/sugar mixture and fold in until no streaks remain. Continue to add the almond mixture in quarters, folding until you reach the proper batter. It should take roughly 50 folds until the mixture is smooth and a very viscous liquid, not runny. Over-mixing the batter, your macarons will be flat and have no foot, under-mixing the batter, they will not be smooth on top. (Pictures 4 and 5)
- Pour the batter into your prepared piping bag. (Picture 6)
- Place a tiny drop of batter at each corner of the baking sheet to secure the parchment paper. (Picture 7)
- Pipe rows of batter (dollops a little bigger than a quarter) onto the baking sheets, giving them space to spread.
- Tap the pan on the counter several times to bring up any air bubbles (this prevents cracking).
- If you want to sprinkle nuts on top, do it now so that they will stick to the top of the shells. (Picture 9)
- Allow the cookies to rest on a level surface for 30-60 minutes. Until they are no longer tacky to a light touch.
- While the cookies are resting, you can preheat your oven to 300F.
- Bake the cookies for 16-20 minutes.
Parchment produces taller compact feet, the Silpat baked cookies’ feet tend to be shorter and a bit ruffled. The cookie from the following picture was baked on parchment paper.
The bottom of the shell should be flat and easy to come off the parchment paper, it shouldn’t be sticky.
The delicate shell had a crunch outside but yet was moist so it melted in your mouth.
- If you’re using stainless steel container to beat the egg whites, feel free to add a pinch of salt, 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar or couple drops of lemon juice to help strengthen the egg whites.
- Only use gel coloring.
- If your oven is a fan-forced (convection) oven, do not turn on the fan. Each oven is different, I placed an oven rack in the upper 3rd as the heat was too strong at the bottom or middle rack. You will need to know how your oven works and adjust the rack position.
My favorite macaron filling is the Raspberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream (recipe here), you can choose any fillings you want and a lot of them can be found on Martha Stewart‘s website.
Basic Swiss Meringue Filling
6 large egg whites 1 1/2 cups sugar 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Place whites and sugar in a heatproof mixer bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Whisk until sugar dissolves and mixture registers 160 degrees on a candy thermometer. Remove from heat, and whisk on high speed until mixture is cool and stiff peaks form, about 6 minutes. Beat in vanilla. Use immediately.
Basic Swiss Meringue Buttercream Filling
Basic Swiss Meringue + 1 1/4 pounds (5 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
Chocolate Ganache Filling
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 1/2 ounces dark chocolate, finely chopped (preferably 70 percent cacao)
1/2 ounce (1 tablespoon) unsalted butter, softened
- Bring cream to a boil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Pour cream over chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Let stand for 2 minutes. Add butter, then whisk mixture until smooth. Let cool, stirring often. Use immediately.
- Macarons by Amy! (amytakesonthebigapple.wordpress.com)
- Macarons in Paris (everywhereist.com)