Five years ago the craze was cupcakes. Now it’s French macarons. And like those crazy cupcakes averaging $3 a pop, a single French macaron can cost you a pretty penny (or tens or hundreds). Most recently, as I can’t resist taste testing the new macaron in town, I bought 10 to share with my people from a pastry shop in Tampa, Florida. It cost me $18.75, and these were actually on the lower end of the macaron price scale at $1.90 a piece.
And that’s when it hit me – almost two dollars for one silly little macaron? For almonds, sugar and egg whites?!? You can bake them yourself, buttercream and all, in less than an hour for a fraction of the price. And they might even taste and look better (not that these were inedible by any standard).
This cost vs convenience realization inspired me to first convert my basic macaron recipe from weight to volume measurements so you don’t need a kitchen scale to getting baking, and second to break down how much one macaron really costs.
I tallied up the price based on a vanilla macaron recipe, but of course, the pricier your flavorings (extracts, liqueurs, chocolate, etc.) the higher your home cost. Although I doubt you’d ever reach two dollars a macaron (unless you put gold leaf in the batter).
So here’s the math… To avoid boring you with the extended conversion process, I simply put the end cost of each measured ingredient below. Unless otherwise noted, the prices are based on my local chain grocery store’s generic products. And I left out the pinch of cream of tartar I use and any food coloring because they’re ultimately negligible in such small amounts…
French Macarons Recipe Cost
2 fresh egg whites @ $1 (assuming the cost of the whole organic, grain-fed egg)
3 tablespoons of granulated sugar @ $0.16
1 1/4 cups of confectioner’s sugar @ $0.42
3/4 of a cup of Bob’s Red Mill almond flour @ $1.84
1 tablespoon of Bourbon vanilla bean paste or extract @ $1.40
8 ounces unsalted butter @ $2.10
2 large organic, grain-fed eggs @ $1
3/4 cups of granulated sugar @$0.61
1 tablespoon of Bourbon vanilla extract @ $1.40
Total Price = $9.93
That’s less than $10 for the whole batch – $0.33 a macaron! Kind of makes you want to start baking right away, doesn’t it? Makes me want to open a French macaron patisserie. Investors, please apply within.
Read this first for an in-depth look at baking French macarons, what not to do and how to easily customize flavors. Then if you like the idea of strawberry and lemon macarons go here. Fancy an orange creamsicle macaron? Or if you want to try your hand at those chocolate macarons above, read this post.
- Cookie Shells
- 1 1/4 cups confectioner’s sugar
- 3/4 cup of almond flour, or ground up slivered almonds
- 2 egg whites (from fresh eggs)
- 3 Tbs granulated sugar
- Pinch of cream of tartar
- 1 Tbs of [url href=”http://www.amazon.com/Nielsen-Massey-Madagascar-Bourbon-Vanilla-Paste/dp/B002HQE11O/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1346410015&sr=8-1&keywords=vanilla+bean+paste”] Bourbon vanilla bean paste[/url] (Williams-Sonoma or Amazon)
- Classic Vanilla Buttercream
- 2 eggs, large
- ¼ cup water
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 8 oz butter, unsalted, room temperature, cut into small pieces
- 1 Tbs Bourbon vanilla bean paste or extract
- Pinch of salt, to taste
- Sift confectioner’s sugar and almond flour. If using slivered almonds, grind nuts with confectioner’s sugar in a food processor for at least three minutes, then sift. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
- Combine the egg whites and granulated sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer (hand mixer works, too) and whip on high speed with a whisk attachment to a stiff meringue (resembles shaving cream). Add the cream of tartar and vanilla, and whip on high speed 30 seconds more to incorporate (add food coloring here).[img src= “http://edibletimes.files.wordpress.com/2012/03/img_2403.jpg” width=”300″ height=”200″]
- Add the dry ingredients, folding the batter until it flows slowly like lava. Transfer to a piping bag (or large plastic bag) fitted with a half-inch tip (I clip the bottom closed with a bobby pin to keep it from leaking out).[img src= “http://edibletimes.files.wordpress.com/2012/03/img_2420.jpg” width=”300″ height=”200″]
- Pipe batter into 1/2-inch circles onto baking mats or parchment paper. Tap the pans on the counter with serious force a couple of times, rotating once. Eliminate and peaks with a wet fingertip.
- Optional: To ensure your macarons grow little “feet” at the bottom, let the piped batter rest on the counter for 30 to 40 minutes. The shell will turn from shiny and sticky to smooth and dull.
- Bake @ 300° F for about 16 minutes, until tops are hard and do not pull away from bottoms when very gently lifted. Rotate pans halfway through baking, after 8 or 10 minutes. Cool completely before removing from baking mat or parchment. Fill with buttercream and store for 24 hours before serving.
- In a small saucepan bring sugar and water to a boil, and cook until it reaches 234° F on a candy or meat thermometer (on the fly it usually on takes a minute or two of boiling to become hot enough).
- While syrup boils, beat eggs in a medium mixing bowl on medium speed. When syrup reaches temperature, slowly drizzle into eggs, avoiding beater or whisk attachment (if using stand mixer). Beat until room temperature. Add butter in several additions and beat until smooth. Add vanilla bean paste or extract and a pinch of salt.
- The buttercream may appear broken (curdled), but keep beating and it will smooth out. Add extract or liqueur to taste. Store refrigerated, and bring to room temperature to use leftovers (it may need another beating to smooth out)
This buttercream recipe is from Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bistro cookbook.