If you are anything like me you have been thinking about making Macarons for a long time. You have looked at a zillion recipes and have read how difficult they are, and how “accomplished” bakers find them almost impossible to make successfully. The one thing that made me (finally) stop reading and start baking was when my granddaughter asked if I knew how to make French Macarons. She had been to Paris and was introduced to the real thing. I had my work cut out for me! It wasn’t long before I was traveling up Interstate 95 with a container filled with Macarons. She declared them “better than the ones I had in Paris” (She might be a little prejudiced). That was all the encouragement I needed! I have been making them, with much success, ever since.
I hope that I will be able to de-mystify them enough for you to give them a try. They really aren’t very difficult and even the “flops” taste yummy. You can’t lose!
I had tried so many different recipes and techniques that my head was swimming. What did I learn? I learned that most of what is written about the process of making French Macarons is just plain hooey! If you think about it, what bakery has the time to make something that is so unpredictable? It finally dawned on me that if a bakery in the damp basement of a 300 year old building in Paris can turn out beautiful macarons day after day, then I could do it too! And so can you!
First I’ll tell you what you DON’T need to do.
- You don’t need to “age” your egg whites! I use pasteurized egg whites most of the time, any brand as long as they are 100% egg whites.
- You don’t need to let your macarons sit on the counter and develop a crust before you bake them.
- You don’t have to monitor the humidity level and only bake on a “dry” day.
- You don’t need to add your sugar gradually to your egg whites; just dump them into the bowl together.
Now I’ll tell you what you MUST do.
- You must beat your egg whites long enough. You want your egg whites to have a stiff peak.
- You must take care when folding your dry ingredients into your meringue (macaronage).
If you master those two elements, you will be successful almost every time, regardless of the recipe you use. I say almost because sometimes you will have a macaron (or 3) crack alongside a tray of perfect ones. I don’t always get cracked macarons but when I do they are often the last few that I pipe. My gut feeling is that it is because I have handled the piping bag so much the heat from my hand has broken down the egg whites. I have no scientific evidence to support that theory but it makes sense to me.
I have made a video to help you make successful Macarons the first time you try. It is the first time I have ever made a video and, let me tell you, it was really hard! I’m not professional, but, hopefully, it will help you.
- Flexible Spatula
- Digital Scale – I have found that weighing my ingredients is a far better predictor of success than measuring them.
- Parchment Paper or Silicon Baking Mat
- Cookie Sheets – I have the best success with cookie sheets that have low sides.
- 100g Almond flour
- 130g Confectioner’s Sugar
- 80g Egg Whites
- 40g Granulated sugar
- Pinch of table salt
Sift Almond Flour and Confectioners’ Sugar into a bowl and then whisk them together until they are well mixed.
Put egg whites, granulated sugar and salt into the bowl of your mixer. Start your mixer on medium (about 4 if using a KitchenAid) and beat for a few minutes. Gradually increase the speed to high and beat them until the meringue is stiff, glossy and almost dry. If you want colored Macarons now is the time to add a gel food color. I don’t recommend liquid food coloring.
Next, add about 1/2 of the dry ingredients to the meringue. Mix until incorporated. You don’t need to be too gentle at this point. Add the rest of the dry ingredients and mix gently until no white meringue is visible. If you watch my video, you will see that the motion to do this is to both fold and rub/smear the batter against the side of the bowl. Remember that macaronage (the French term for combining the ingredients) is about deflating the whites, so you don’t have to treat them gently. You want to knock the air out of them. Stir to deflate the egg whites until the batter is the consistency of lava and flows off your spatula. My video shows an example of the method I use to mix the batter.
Pipe the batter onto either parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. I have the best success with cookie sheets that have low sides, not sheet cake pans.
Bake at 300 degrees for about 15 minutes.
Check for to see if they are done by giving them a little wiggle with your finger. If the tops move easily, they are not done. You want them set but not firm. It’s better to be a little underdone than over done.
All ovens are different and if you aren’t sure that your oven is accurate, you may want to check it with an oven thermometer.
Let cool, match cookies and fill.
Refrigerate for at least 24 hours. You can eat them right away but they are best the next day. They also freeze beautifully, either filled or unfilled.