I see you coming.. “Macarons are too difficult to make…it takes too much time…”
I got you. I have spent literally months to master the macarons mystery. The ingredients are simple, cute and humble BUT you need to respect some rules to reach to the final product; light, airy, meringue-like French macarons. I have been making batches and batches of macarons; they came out cracked, flat, misshaped, hollow…it really drove me crazy but my inner voice told me that I will master that recipe with determination and perseverance.
Today, I have decided to teach you how to make French meringue macarons, step by step, with videos and as much tips as possible (Italian or Swiss meringues can be used too, but this one is the easiest)
Do you know the story of the macarons? Let’s get to know our “target” in order to win it over! OOH, but first, let me tell you this; macaron is very different from macaroon. A macaroon is a sweet chewy lump of shredded coconut with golden crust. A macaron has two airy almond cookies that are sandwiched around a flavorful filling, like raspberry jam, or lemon curd – or even a chocolate buttercream. So, you see, one letter makes the whole difference! I will spare you the hassle of teaching you how to pronounce macaron in French, as at the end of the day, it will end up into your belly!
Birth of a macaron
The word macaron is derived from the Italian word, maccherone, meaning fine dough.
Catherine Di Medici, Henri II’s wife, is believed to have brought macaron in France in the 16th century. Back then, macarons were made —like the ones we know now— of almond flour, egg whites and sugar without any fillings.
Many years later, during the French revolution, two nuns from the city of Nancy in France started selling macarons to make a living. The macarons were still eaten like a regular cookie without fillings.
The macaron as we know it today, came out only during the 1890’s, brought by the famous Parisian sweets and bakery house Ladurée. Its founders began adding buttercream, jam, ganache and more to the macarons, to give it a new twist. The patisserie house if one of the most famous macarons spot in France and in the world. Another famous Parisian patisserie house, Pierre Hermé, is also well known for its high quality macarons.
Some chefs like to experiment many flavors, colors and shapes. They also like to bring in the savory touch; smoked salmon, preserves and many more!
How does a macaron taste?
When you bite into a macaron, you will be taken into a Parisian scenery, with the mesmerizing sound of an accordion, nice isn’t it? I am sure you would love it!
The thin and airy almond cookies will combine with the filling and burst into your mouth. It will melt and feel like your eating a crispy cloud!
Let’s get started! You can do it!
First and foremost, you MUST use a scale, mo negotiation! US cups standards won’t help you achieve the perfect results because you need to respect the ratios between each ingredient. Think of it as a magical potion!
Like I have told you earlier, the ingredients are really affordable and can be found in your pantries; almond flour, icing sugar, caster sugar and egg whites. Almond flour (if you do not have any and have plenty of time ahead, you could make your own. Here in the UAE, you can find so many brands like Bob’s Red Mill, or even your local supermarket have their own.
Icing sugar or powdered sugar, an easy to find ingredient and egg whites. The dry ingredients, almond and sugar, need to be combined in a blender or food processor to reach a s fine texture like below:
You need to sift the almond and icing sugar to remove any lumps that you will have to discard (maximum the equivalent of 1 teaspoon, if it is more, mix back in the blender and sift again).
Now the egg whites. It is important that you prepare this ingredient the day before because the whites need to “age”. What does it mean? You will need to separate your egg whites from the yolk the day before you want to make macarons. Place them in a glass container, covered with plastic wrap and poke some small holes. Store for 24 hours up to 4 days in the fridge and bring back to room temperature 20 minutes before using them. Therefore, when you do this step, it will guarantee a more stable meringue to bake macarons. Aging the eggs is important because it helps relax their proteins for baking.
Once ready, you need to beat your egg whites, on a stand mixer because it will save you time and arm energy! We will incorporate caster sugar gradually (in two times, first when the whites gets foamy and the rest when it starts to become fluffy) in order to create the macarons meringue. You need to reach stiff peaks and add the food coloring to combine.
Now, it is time to add in the almond, icing sugar to the meringue and we will start the macaronage! You will need to first mix the egg whites and powders together and then chase the air bubbles to have a smooth and shiny batter! This will guarantee you smooth and shiny macarons shells!
Mix the ingredients, no need to be gentle at this stage! You need to scrape down the sides of the bowl every now and then and use a spatula.
Here is how to remove the air from the batter, see the technique I use below; some recipes advise to do strokes, it is fine too. This is not a race, so please, you need be gentle in your movements!
The batter should be glossy, sticky and create a “ribbon” flow. If you fold too much, there is no way back. I recommend you check the consistency every 3 folds or so in order to reach the texture like below. Make an eight shape with some of the batter, it should disappear within 10 seconds, then it means it is ready for piping.
Now you need to pipe that silky batter!
I have a Decomax Pen from Lekue, which is very useful to pipe macarons. You can also place your batter in a piping bag with a round 1/2 inch tip. If you do not have a tip (nozzle), you can cut the tip of your piping bag to with the desired size.
Place a macaron silicon mat (which gives better results) or a baking paper on a baking tray (place some batter on the four sides of the tray and press the baking paper down, so it won’t fly in your oven!).
When you pipe your macarons, you need to have your wrist and hand up straight; do not bend them. Apply a gentle pressure on your piping bag and pipe some batter, you d not want to put too much as the macarons will spread and you don’t want to end up with a pool of batter! So, once you piped a round of batter, release the pressure and make a circle motion and remove your hand. I use here a macaron mat, but there are load of templates that you can download online, print them and place under baking paper and voilà! You see that I do not fill the whole circle with batter because after it’ll spread
Tap your tray gently on the kitchen counter to release the air bubbles from the batter and use a toothpick to remove them.
Did you think they are ready to be baked yet? Nope! You will have to, you MUST leave the glossy rounds to dry for at least 45 min (maybe more depending on the weather and house temperature). This crucial step cannot be skipped because the air will help to create dry shells. Thus, the macarons will be ready for baking and won’t be sticky nor shiny anymore.
I usually leave them in my living room with AC on (I live in the UAE so that is much needed!). Macarons don’t stand humidity, heat. So please, do not do the dishes, do not cook while you are doing macarons. Macarons are very selfish and they need your full attention in order to be a success!
You know they are ready when you pass your finger on top of the shells and it comes out completely dry! At this stage, preheat the oven 160ºC.
Now, let’s bake them!
Macarons need around 10 minutes to be baked. Place the tray on medium rack and keep an eye on them without opening the oven door. The shells should be crispy and develop the famous ruffled “feet” (pieds in French).
I filled mine with a blueberry buttercream but that part is up to you. Macarons fillings are hard to count; ganache, jam etc…
Preparation Time: 2 hours Bake: 10min
10-15 Filled macarons (5cm Ø)
Use a scale to weigh each ingredient carefully.
- 40g icing sugar (confectioners’ sugar)
- 50g almond powder/flour
- 40g room temperature egg whites (1 or 2 eggs)
- 40g caster sugar
- Food coloring (gel or powder only, liquid will not work because it will affect the batter consistency)
- Filling of your choice
- Place the icing sugar and almond powder into a food processor/mixer and pulse for about 3-4 times, 30 seconds each, to combine and have fine mixture.
- Beat egg whites into a stand mixer bowl on medium speed for a minute. When it gets foamy, add the caster sugar in two times and increase to high speed. DO NOT overbeat, if you are using food coloring add it at his stage and beat on low speed.
- Fold in the dry ingredients into the egg whites and slowly fold using a spatula (see instructions above and video). The batter should be shiny, sticky (see the video instructions above)
- Line two baking sheets (if not using silicon mat) on a baking tray. Fill a piping bag with the batter and pipe the macarons, making sure to hold the bag vertically close to the baking sheet (without touching it= see the video above)
- Once piped, let them seat until the shells dry out, in a dry and cool place, 45min- 1hour.
- Once they are ready (see the instructions above), preheat the oven 160ºC, place the tray on the medium rack and bake for 10min.
- Once baked, let the shells cool down completely before removing from the baking sheet/mat.
- Fill the macarons with your favorite filling. For better taste, macarons should be stored 24 hours in the fridge before eating them! What a torture I know!
- Tools used: Kitchen scale, spatula, Kmix stand mixer, bowl, 1/2 inch tip. piping bag/Decomax,
- Egg whites: It is very important to use aged egg whites. Separate them the day before, cover them, let them sit in the fridge and bring back to room temperature 20min before using.
- Food coloring: add a little at the time, I usually add 1/2 tsp for the whole batter because the texture and color intensity will be affected if you add too much.