Wonderfully delicate, melt-in-your-mouth pastries! Here's a reliable, small-batch French macaron recipe with both weight and volume measurements. Fill your almond macaron shells with a simple American buttercream, or any jam, thick pudding, curd, or fruit preserves you have on hand.
You can add a touch of any baking extract you like to the batter. But I recommend first refining your skills before experimenting. Free printable macaron templates are great for ensuring your shells are all the same size.
For a silky French buttercream, use the recipe from my first article on French macaron troubleshooting.
To whip up an easy chocolate ganache, measure out equal parts dark chocolate chips and heavy cream. Then bring the cream just to a boil and pour over the chips in a heat-proof bowl. Let the mixture sit for five minutes, then whisk until it's smooth. Cool to room temperature (or chill in the refrigerator) before filling the shells.
- 60 grams/2 ounces fresh egg whites (from about two large eggs)
- 30 grams/3 tablespoons/1½ ounces of granulated sugar
- 120 grams/4.5 ounces/1 cup + 1 tablespoon confectioner's sugar
- 78 grams/2.75 ounces/about ¾ cup almond flour (or blanched almonds)
- pinch of salt
- few drops of lemon juice, white vinegar, or a small pinch of cream of tartar, optional
- 1 teaspoon of an extract of choice, optional
- gel or powdered food coloring, optional*
Before you begin, mise en place. The translation is everything in place. Gather and measure your ingredients. Prepare your equipment. Preheat your oven. Get it all together.
- Preheat your oven to 300° F/150° C.
- Line two baking pans with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Place two printable macaron templates side-by-side underneath the parchment paper.
- Snip a small bit of the corner off of a piping bag or large plastic baggie, and insert your small, round piping tip. Push a bit of the bag inside the large end. This will keep the batter from leaking through when you pour it in later. Place your piping bag tip-side down in a large cup or glass, and fold the top of the bag over the edges.
- Place the egg whites in a large bowl or bowl of a stand mixer with a whisk attachment. Whip on medium speed until foamy.
- With the mixer on, rain in the granulated sugar.
- Turn the speed up to medium-high (or high on a hand mixer). Beat the whites to a firm peak meringue. The meringue will be shiny and create pointy peaks that curve over ever so slightly off the end of the beater. Add any extract, if using, and beat a few more moments.
- Sift all the dry ingredients directly into the bowl with meringue.
- Fold until the batter flows slowly and ribbons off the spatula. Mix slightly vigorous at first, then use classic folding strokes; scraping around the sides of the bowl, the up from underneath the mixture, and over through the top.
- Transfer to your piping bag (or large plastic bag) fitted with a small round tip. Lay the bag down and press any air bubbles out gently through the top. With the side of your hand, push against the bag to get the batter as far down as it will go (without squeezing it out through the tip). Then lift it up, holding it horizontally, and twist the bag at the top of the batter. Grip the twisted part with your dominant hand, and hold it upside-down to prevent leaking before you pipe.
- Pipe circles of batter onto the parchment paper using printable templates as a guide. Hold the piping bag vertical, and about a quarter-inch above the pan. Squeeze the batter out until you reach the inside edges of the black circles. Then immediately stop squeezing and flick the pastry tip away in a circular motion. After every few macarons, push the remaining batter down the bag and reset your grip.
- To help the tops of piped batter settle, lightly tap underneath the pan.
- Optional: Let the piped macarons rest on the counter for 10-20 minutes.
- Bake for about 14 minutes, rotating the pan(s) once halfway through baking. The large the shells, the longer the baking time. Macarons are done when the tops don't move away from the frilly bottoms when gently nudged with your finger.
- Cool a few minutes. To remove easily, press gently from underneath the paper and carefully peel the shells off.
- Match up the baked macarons to create like-sized pairs.
- Pipe or dollop your filling of choice on one-half of each pair, and top with the other shell.
- Store chilled and serve at room temperature.
Adding Food Coloring
If you want to make the deeply-hued color macarons that line bakery cases, use gel food coloring, not liquid. The amount of liquid food coloring you need to get a deep color will ruin the nice, dry meringue you spent almost ten minutes making.
I also like commercial food color powders, including Nature's Flavors. If you do choose a powder (I like them because many are plant-based), be sure it is designed for heat exposure. Many of the plant-based powders available will brown in the oven.
On piping... Unless you are an old pro at piping, a printable macaron template ensures your shells are all the same size.
On almonds... If working with whole or slivered almonds, grind the almonds with confectioner's sugar in a food processor for a couple of minutes. Stop the processor once or twice to redistribute the mixture.
On silicon baking mats... Silicone baking mats are great tools for any baker. But they're not as essential for macarons as they are for say, tuile. Parchment paper is less expensive, and it's the choice of most professionals. If you prefer a silicone mat, be sure to keep it free of residual grease from baking cookies and the like. Or reserve it only for macarons. Outside fat molecules from butter and oil could cause problems with macarons.
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