Mad, Mad, for French Macarons (Recipe Updated!)

I love French Macarons.  Love.  Them.  They’re just so dainty, small, and so delicious.   Macarons pair great with coffee and tea, and they’re such a treat to have.  And I finally got the chance to make them again, with a few adjustments to my recipe.  After endless hours of researching the web for a recipe, I finally formulated an astounding, macaron recipe.  This recipe will give the type of macarons that are crispy on the outside, chewy and soft on the inside, and NOT hallow.

A perfect macaron is not hallow nor hard.  It’s slightly chewy, and the top of a macaron breaks into a soft center after you bite into it.  A perfect macaron rises with wonderful, ruffled feet.

There’s no reason to master macarons on the first try, so if this doesn’t work out for you, PLEASE do not give up.  Remember, macarons are meant for eating.  It’s like riding a bike, you need to try it a few times before you get the hang out it.  And when you fall, get up and try again.  Try macarons again, and instead of getting a scraped knee, you’ll have a perfectly delicious cookie.  A macaron is simple, the technique is what gets people all frustrated.  And all it takes is just another fold of the batter and your batter is done.  Fold too little?  Your macarons won’t turn out well either.  Forget to tap the pan against the counter?  Bummer you’ll have cracks.  I’ll admit, it took me a couple of tries before I could get the macarons right. 

I can’t guarantee you a perfect macaron every time with this recipe because everyone’s ovens and folding and things are different.  What might work in my kitchen might not work for yours.  But, I think that if you follow my directions to a T, you’ll end up with great French Macarons.

Ingredients:

Makes about 50 macarons

  • 4 ounces (115g) blanched almonds or almond flour
  • 8 ounces (230g) powdered sugar
  • 5 ounces egg whites (144g)
  • 2 1/2 ounce (72g) sugar

Directions:

  1. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and trace about 1 1/2 inch circles onto your parchment paper as a template.  Flip the parchment paper over, pen/pencil/marker side down.
  2. Next, weigh out your  almond meal and powdered sugar.  The measurements given in the ingredients are sifted measurements.  So, get our your fine mesh sieve, and sift your powdered sugar and almond meal into a bowl to measure.  The reason why I’m using weighted measurements is because weighted measurements are more accurate and they yield better results than volume measurements. (Cups, teaspoons, etc)

DSCN1025 DSCN1029 DSCN1033 DSCN1037 3.  I recommend wiping down your mixing bowl with a lemon to remove any sign of grease that might disrupt your egg whites from getting to full volume.  I just cut a lemon in half and wiped it down the bowl.  DSCN1040 DSCN1041 4.  In a disposable piping bag or a cloth pastry bag, snip off the end and place a large round tip on the end to pipe your macarons. DSCN1050 5.  Weigh out your egg whites and sugar.

*Temperature and age of the egg whites DO NOT matter.  I’ve down macarons with eggs straight out of the fridge and they were perfectly fine!  DSCN1054 DSCN1055 6.  Dump your egg whites and sugar into your mixing bowl.  Place the whisk attachment on your stand or hand mixer.  Many recipes can be made without a mixer, but for  macarons, you’re going to need a mixer.  Turn the mixer to medium, about a 4 on a Kitchen Aid, and whip them for about 3 minutes.  The egg whites might not seem foamy at first, but please hesitate from beating them on full speed at first in order to produce the fluffiest meringue possible. You’re just unraveling the egg proteins right now. DSCN1057 DSCN10587.  Now, increase the speed to about a medium high, a 7 on a Kitchen Aid stand mixer and continue whisking for an additional 3 minutes. DSCN1060

8.  In the meantime, combine the almond meal and powdered sugar into a mixing bowl and re-sift them together.  This ensures that your dry ingredients are completely fine to result in the shiniest and smoothest macarons, ever.

DSCN1059

DSCN10629.  After the 3 minutes have passed, increase the speed on your mixer to 8 and beat for a final 3 minutes.
DSCN1064 DSCN1066DON’T STOP WITH YOUR WHIPPING NOW.  YOUR MERIGUNE IS NOT READY TO BE BEATEN INTO THE DRY INGREDIENTS YET.

10.  At this point, turn off your mixer and add any extracts or coloring to your meringue.  If you’re just starting out, I wouldn’t recommend adding any color to your macarons.  I know this may seem bland and boring, but any additives are just more opportunities for your macarons to go wrong.  Now, whip the egg whites on the highest speed for one additional minute.
DSCN1068 DSCN1069

The egg whites should clump in the middle of the whisk attachment.  If they haven’t yet, then your merigune is not ready yet.  Continue whipping until they are so.

11.  Dump all of the sifted almond meal and powdered sugar into your merigune.  These next couple of steps are the most crucial part to making your macaron.  Whatever you do next can make or break your macaron, and this is where a lot of people mess up.  Begin folding your meringue and almond meal mixture together using a scoop and smear motion.   The folding of your meringue and almond meal mixture is called macaronage.  DSCN1071 DSCN1072 For the first 25 strokes (of scoop and smears) the macaron batter may look hopeless.  The batter will be very stiff and lumpy.  But keep on going, for about 15 more strokes.  The batter should be just about right.  The batter should be viscous and flow in beautiful, thick ribbons off your spatula.  Undermixed batter will still be quite thick, while overmixed batter will resemble pancake batter. Keep in mind that macaronage is about deflating the egg whites, so don’t be shy and knock the air out of those egg whites.  Excess air will result in cracks in your beautiful macarons, which is something you definitely don’t want. Evaluate your batter one stroke at a time. DSCN1073 DSCN1074 Eventually, the macaron batter should be thick enough that it can mound up upon itself, but enough fluidity and viciousness that it will flatten back into the macaron batter within about 10-20 seconds. The batter should be lava-like.  DSCN1075 DSCN107612.  As soon as your batter is ready, transfer it into your piping bag and begin piping your macarons!  Just simply pipe straight down and pull the bag up and release pressure to pipe your macarons.
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13.  Once you’re down piping your macarons, hit your pan HARD on your countertop about 3-5 times, once on each side.  Doing this will knock any air out of the macarons that will turn into ugly volcanoes and cracks in the oven.  Also, this will help create the beautiful feet that is the true mark of a macaron.

14.  Also, a key tip in getting the feet in your macarons is letting them rest on the counter top for about 30 minutes. This dries out the macaron shell and makes the macaron rise up in the oven, rather than spreading out.  Your macarons will be ready to put in the oven when they are no longer tacky to the touch.

15.  While you’re waiting for your macarons to dry out, preheat your oven to 300 degrees.  After your macarons are dry, pop them right into the oven for about 16 minutes.  Once your macarons are done baking, let them cool completely on your pan before you try peeling them off. DSCN1093

When your macarons are cooled, fill them with your favorite fillings, spreads, or frosting!  The macarons in this photo are filled with some apricot jelly I found in my fridge.

Against all the laws of baking, macarons actually get better with age.  Macarons are at their prime 24-48 hours after baking.  The tops become crispier, the macaron shells absorb the flavors of the filling and the shells become a little softer.
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