July 02, 2012

One day, about two weeks ago, I managed to bake perfect macarons. And when I did, I baked some more!   So here's my recipe and success tips to make those little guys. I just have to warn you, they can be quite tricky you might have to throw away dozens of batches before one succeeds.

The macarons shown in the pictures are lavender-dark chocolate, so far my favourite flavor. But you can do many others, like raspberry (the easiest, you only put a few drops of red food colouring in the meringue and then fill them with jam), orange/lemon/lime (you can use extract or better, powder flavouring, widely available at grocery stores (I bought mine from Giant) or online).

Baking sheets (preferably thick to prevent the macarons from getting too brown).
Parchment paper (important, to prevent the macarons from sticking. Foil just doesn’t do it).
Pastry bag (1/2 inch or 1 centimeter opening)
Hand mixer with whisk attachment
Food processor

¾ cup ground almonds
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
¼ cup fine sugar
2 egg whites
Gel food colouring (important: do not use liquid because it alters the texture).
Flavorings (essential oils, extracts, powder flavorings, etc).

Prep work:
- If you are using whole dried almonds, blanch (boil in hot water) them for a few minutes to make the skins easier to peel. After that leave them in the oven for about 5 minutes at 300 degrees Fahrenheit to remove as much of the moisture as possible. Then grind them to a fine powder in a food processor.
- Up to a day before: separate the egg whites from the yolks, keep in a container with paper towel loosely tied on top in a cold place or in the refrigerator. It’s important to age the egg whites so they lose some of their moisture. An hour before you begin making the macarons, take the egg whites out to let them get at room temperature. If you’re in a hurry, put them for a few seconds in the microwave.
- Put the bowl and the whisk mixer attachments in the freezer for at least half an hour. This is a very important step to get a firm, glossy meringue, because you need to shock the room temperature egg whites.
- Process the ground almonds and the confectioner’s sugar together. Sift in a bowl. Mix in any powder flavoring (cocoa, instant coffee, etc.)

The delicate procedure:
1)      Beat the egg whites into stiff foam. Once they become opaque, start adding the fine sugar little by little. Keep beating them until they become firm and glossy like shaving cream. If you turn the bowl upside down and they don’t fall, they’re ready. Be careful not to over-beat them at this point because they could become runny again.
2)      Add a third of the almond-sugar powder and fold it carefully. This is where you add gel food colouring and liquid flavorings (be careful with those because they can alter the texture). Once the powder is well mixed in, add another third and repeat. Add the final third and mix it in, observing the consistency. This step is crucial because if the mixture becomes too runny, macarons won’t hold their shape once piped and might stick together, and if it’s too stiff, they will have a peak and not look like macarons. It should form a thick ribbon on your spatula.
3)      Put the mixture in a piping bag. An easy way to do this is to put the bag in a large cup, which makes it much less tricky to fill it.
4)      Pipe down the mixture on the parchment-lined baking sheets in small, evenly sized and spaced circles. This is where you sprinkle them with something if you want to (lavender buds, fleur de sel, etc.)
5)      Tap the baking sheets on a surface to release the air bubbles trapped in the mixture. This step is crucial because it will prevent cracking in the oven.
6)      Let the macarons rest for about 30 minutes to an hour. This step is also crucial because this is how they will form a little foot on the bottom. They are ready when you touch them and they don’t stick to your finger.
7)      Preheat your oven to 310 degrees Fahrenheit.
8)      Bake the macarons for 7 to 10 minutes. This can vary and depends of many things, including the size of your macarons and the heat/humidity of your kitchen. It is better to bake them to a minimum time of 7 minutes and progressively add minute by minute until they’re ready. Baking them too much might result in cracked tops and browned bottoms.
9)      Let the macarons cool for fifteen minutes. DO NOT attempt to take them off the baking sheet during that time: the insides can be still runny and the macaron will fall apart. 
10)  Assemble the macarons: add a little bit of filling on one shell then put the other shell on top.

Some filling ideas:
- For fruit-flavored macarons raspberry jam, orange marmalade, blueberry jam, etc.
- For caramel macarons: store-bought caramel sauce with fleur de sel
- For more refined flavors such as ginger or lavender: chocolate ganache (2/3 chocolate to 1/3 heavy whipping cream, microwaved for 20 to 30 seconds and stirred together.)
-For tiramisu: cream cheese OR Greek yoghurt, ½ cup confectioner’s sugar, 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder, 1 tablespoon of instant coffee, two tablespoons of whisky OR cognac.

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Erin @ Currently Coveting said...

I am always so intimidated by macaroons, but your instructions make it sound a bit better to understand, maybe I will give it a try!


Lady and Olga said...

ça a l'air dé-li-cieux ! :)

Eden Uyehara said...

Love this post and I need to try it out asap! I really appreciate the advise given on my blog. It helps a lot!!

Thanks for always stopping by!
Hope you have a beautiful day!!!

R. A. Mlinarchik said...

Wow! I agree with Erin-- Macaroons are way intimidating, but I like to imagine that I could make them. Great post!

TJF said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jacqueline davis moranti said...

Thanks for this awesome recipe! Will have to try this out!!!

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