French Macaron Recipe that Anyone Can Follow!



French Macarons

So, I wanted to share my basic recipe for French Macarons (the little sandwich cookies, not the nasty coconut things!) with you!  While the recipe itself is pretty simple (I can hear French pastry chefs shaking their rolling pins at me as I say that), it is a bit tricky to pull off, so I’ve shared my hard-won (read many, many failed batches) tips; although I’m certainly no expert! 

Now, I can’t stand when a recipe makes you read the writer’s whole life story just to get how to bake something, so I’ve put the basic recipe right on top, if you’ve some experience with macarons, feel free to read that and stop.  If you’re more of a beginner, I’ve listed the more detailed version (including some pictures) a little further down! One note before I start, I’ve written this recipe generally, so it can be adapted to really any flavor; please let your imagination run wild and fill in your own tastes! 

So, without further ado, my French Macaron recipe!

Cookie Ingredients:
  • 1 Cup Powdered Sugar (120 grams)
  • 1 Cup Almond Flour (112 grams) (plus 1 teaspoon, maybe).
  • 3 Egg Whites
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • ½ Cup Granulated Sugar (100 grams)
  • ½ teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • ½ teaspoon Flavor of Choice
  • Gel Food Coloring

Icing Ingredients
  • ¼ Cup (1/2 stick) Butter, room temperature
  • 1 Cup Powdered Sugar (120 grams)
  • Heavy Cream (to thin)
  • ½ teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • ½ teaspoon Flavor of Choice
  • Pinch of Salt
  • Gel Food Coloring

Directions:
  1. Separate Egg whites and allow to come to room temperature; a few hours at least.
  2. Lay out your baking sheets and cover with parchment paper.
  3. Sift Powdered Sugar and Almond Flour, discarding bits that won’t go through the sifter (if it’s a lot, add another teaspoon of almond flour, this just depends on the grind you get), set aside. 
  4. Whip egg whites to soft peaks.
  5. Add Salt and Cream of Tartar, whip briefly to integrate.
  6. Add Granulated sugar slowly.
  7. Add flavor and color, slowly mix to integrate.
  8. Mix in Sugar/Flour mixture in thirds, mixing by hand between each third, using a strong rubber spatula.  Once the entire mixture is in, mix until fully integrated and you can use the ribbon of batter coming off the spatula to draw a full figure eight without the batter ribbon breaking (see picture below).
  9. Put batter into piping bag and pipe onto parchment paper-covered baking sheets.
  10. Tap the baking sheet firmly on the counter a few times to knock out the air bubbles, then rest for AT LEAST an hour (longer is OK) to dry out.  to lightly run your finger over the top without any sticking to making an impression.
  11. Heat oven to 300*F (275*F Fan/Convection).  Bake 15 minutes turning halfway through.
  12. Cool Completely
  13. To make the icing: Cream together butter and powdered sugar, add heavy cream if needed to thin mixture (you want it thin enough to pipe, but thick enough that it won’t fall out of cookie).  Add flavorings, salt, and gel coloring.
  14. Fill piping bag and pipe onto HALF of the cookies, sandwich together.

Detailed Recipe with Tips and Pictures:

1) Separate Egg whites and allow to come to room temperature; a few hours at least.  I like to separate my eggs first thing in the morning (when I’m cooking breakfast) and then let them sit on the counter (until naptime when I can bake).  This can also be done the day before and leave them in the fridge overnight.
My Mise en place

2) Lay out your baking sheets and cover with parchment paper.  I have those fancy silicone sheets that they sell for macarons, but I actually find that the parchment paper works better; I do use the silicone sheets as a guide for how big to make them, just lay the parchment paper over the silicone one. If you don’t have the sheets, you can trace circles on the backside of your parchment paper with a pencil; between 1 and 1.5 inches and at least ¾ of an inch apart; they will spread some as the batter settles.

3) Sift Powdered Sugar and Almond Flour, discarding bits that won’t go through the sifter (if it’s a lot, add another teaspoon of almond flour, this just depends on the grind you get), set aside. I find that using a kitchen scale gives a more precise result, which is why I listed the gram measurement as well.
Almond Flour in the sifter


4) Whip egg whites to soft peaks.  It takes a while, but keep an eye on them, they can go too far quickly and you’re going to mixing for a while still.

5) Add Salt and Cream of Tartar, whip briefly to integrate.

6) Add Granulated sugar slowly.  I measure out the sugar and pour it in slowly with the beater going.

7) Add flavor and color, slowly mix to integrate.  It’s ok if you don’t have gel food coloring, but it really is better because it adds color without adding liquid, which can thin your recipe.
All whipped ingredients


8) Mix in Sugar/Flour mixture in thirds, mixing by hand between each third, using a strong rubber spatula.  Once the entire mixture is in, mix until fully integrated and you can use the ribbon of batter coming off the spatula to draw a full figure eight without the batter ribbon breaking (see picture below).  This is one of the trickiest steps because you want to integrate the flour mixture without knocking the air out of the eggs.  I use the “round the sides then cut through the middle” method (a la Mary Berry).  You want to mix until everything is just integrated, once you have full integration and figure 8, stop mixing, not one more stroke! Seriously, Stop now! Also, some people say “30 strokes” is the exact right amount of mixing, but I don’t bother counting and just watch for full integration and “figure 8” as my tests. 
Figure 8 Test


9) Put batter into piping bag and pipe onto parchment paper covered baking sheets.  If you don’t have a piping bag, you can snip off the corner of a Ziplock, but this is a pretty thick mixture, so a piping bag is much better because a Ziplock can burst.  Use a small nozzle so you can control the size.  It’s better to put too little batter onto each circle and then, if you need to, go back and pipe some more into the middle because it’s very easy to make the circles too big and they’ll spread as they settle.  For filling the piping bag, I put it into the biggest cup I own to help it to stand as I fill. It usually takes me 3 baking sheets to use all the batter, most recently I made 62 cookies, but it varies based on how large you make the cookies.
My trick for filling the piping bag: use a large cup!


10) Tap the baking sheet firmly on the counter a few times to knock out the air bubbles, then rest for AT LEAST an hour (longer is OK) to dry out. Resting is VITAL! It allows the batter to congeal a little and firm up, which is the only way to get the characteristic feet. You should be able to lightly run your finger over the top without any sticking to making an impression.
Resting cookies!


11) Heat oven to 300*F (275*F Fan/Convection).  Bake 15 minutes turning halfway through. Bake your sheets one at a time, DO NOT try to bake them all at once. I have had to play A LOT with the time and temperature and, honestly, once I get something that I think works, it doesn’t the next time.  So, my advice is just to go slowly and pay attention (try not to do a lot of multitasking during this).  What you’re looking for is that they’re not overcooked (not brown on top, but a little golden is OK) and they come off the parchment paper cleanly once they’ve cooled (if some sticks, they’re undercooked).  This is the beauty of cooking the sheets one at a time, because you can change the time and temp between. However, because you can’t really tell if they’re under until they’ve cooled a bit, it’s hard to do even this, but at least you can tell if they’re overcooked and reduce for the next sheet.
Baked cookies, these got a little browner than I would have liked, but not enough to affect the taste, so no big deal!
Do you see the feet?


12) Cool Completely; I do overnight

13)To make the icing: Cream together butter and powdered sugar, add heavy cream if needed to thin mixture (you want it thin enough to pipe, but thick enough that it won’t fall out of cookie).  Add flavorings, salt, and gel coloring.

14) Fill piping bag and pipe onto HALF of the cookies, sandwich together.  As a variation, I sometimes pipe the icing just around the outside edge of the cookie and then fill the middle with something else (like jam, curd, etc) depending on the flavor.  I think that these are best if you give them a day for the flavors to settle, but they’re still good as soon as they’re assembled.  To store, put in airtight container and store in the fridge if they’re to be eaten in a few days or freeze for up to three months.
Here I made "Sorting Hat" cookies, so I piped white icing around the edge and filled with colored icing.
The finished product!

Flavor Variations: You can really go wild with whatever flavor you’re interested in making, the limit really is your imagination (and what you can find extracts for)!  You can use some natural flavors (lemon juice instead of extract, etc) but just be careful about the amount of liquid you add to the batter. I would invite you to share your favorite favors in the comments below!




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