French Macarons have been around for a long time, but it wasn't until recently that they began to pop up in the United States. For the longest time, they remained a Parisian delicacy. But Americans have finally figured out why they are so popular in France (because they are awesome) and how to make them for themselves. Now, there are Macaron shops popping up all over the place. But for some reason, people still seem them as a "difficult" cookie to make at home. Yes, they can me a little bit finicky at times, but if you follow the instructions carefully and make them a few times - you will get the hang of it. They are not THAT hard.
I know this because during my time in NYC, I worked in a wonderful bakery called Macaron Parlour. The head baker and owner, Christina Ha, spent months perfecting the art of the macaron and even took classes in France to make sure she was creating the best cookie possible. She is a wonderful baker, boss, cat mama and person and she taught me everything I know about macarons. And for that, I will be forever grateful - because I really love making (and eating) macarons. Ok, mostly eating - but you have to make them before you eat them!
So today, I am going to tell you the top 5 things I learned about making macarons.
- A good macaron has a flat top with a crinkled rim at the bottom. The crinkled rims are called the "feet". If there are no feet, this means you over mixed the batter.
- You do not need to use aged egg whites. At some point, someone started a rumor that you need to use aged egg whites to make a good tasting macaron. This is totally false. Fresh egg whites work just fine.
- The egg whites do not have to be at room temperature. This is another rumor. Cold egg whites whip up just as well as room temperature egg whites.
- You have to sift the almond flour and powdered sugar together. It is important to make sure these two dry ingredients are completely mixed and fine in consistency. Macaron batter does not do well with chunks of dry ingredients in it.
- Piped macarons need to "rest" before they go into the oven. Once you have piped your macarons, you need to let them sit out for about 30 minutes. This allows them to form a skin before you put them in the oven to bake.
So there you go. There are a ton of tips and tricks out there for making the "perfect macaron", but I think this is a pretty good starting point.
The other thing you should know is that there are two methods to making macarons - some use a French Meringue and others use and Italian Meringue. This recipe uses the French Meringue. Both methods work just fine, this is just the method I prefer.
- 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 cup + 2 tbs almond flour
- 3 eggs whites
- 1/2 cup sugar
- Food coloring
Vanilla Buttercream Filling
- 1/2 cup salted butter
- 1 3/4 cup powdered sugar
- 1/2 tsp milk
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
for the shells:
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
- Prepare a pipping bag with a round tip with about a 1/4" opening (Ateco #804 is what I use) and a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- In a medium bowl, sift almond flour and powdered sugar together. Set aside.
- In a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, beat egg whites on high speed until they form soft peaks.
- Lower the mixer's speed to medium and add sugar.
- Put mixer back on the highest speed and beat until they form stiff peaks.
- With the mixer still on high speed, add food coloring a few drops at a time until you get desired color.
- Take bowl off of mixer and add almond flour/sugar mixture.
- Using a rubber spatula, aggressively fold in dry ingredients until the batter starts to loosen and becomes a little runny. To test if the batter is ready, lift a small amount of batter from the bowl and drop it back into the batter. If it does nothing, keep mixing. If it slowly melts back into the batter after 20-30 seconds, it is ready.
- Put batter (about 1/3 of the mixture) into prepared pipping bag and cover the rest of the batter with saran wrap.
- Pipe 1 1/2" circles on prepared baking sheet and firmly tap the bottom of the tray so the batter flattens out. Repeat with remaining batter.
- Add a few sprinkles to each macaron.
- Let them rest for 30-45 minutes until they form a skin.
- Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until they are set.
- Let cool before peeling them off parchment paper.
*Makes about 25 macarons
for the buttercream:
- In a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, cream butter until it is soft and smooth.
- Add powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla and mix until light and fluffy.
1. Peel macarons off parchment paper and pair them according to size.
2. Using a piping bag with a round tip (wilton tip #6 or #7 should work) pipe a spiral on one half of a pair of cookies.
3. Sandwich the cookie pair together.
Storage - Macarons have a very good shelf life. They can be wrapped in plastic wrap and stored in the fridge for up to a week or in the freezer for up to a month. Just make sure they are brought back to room temperature before serving.