When I first wrote about March macaron madness, I was not kidding. I baked hundreds of macarons. Including the strawberry macaron recipe here. I'm sharing it because it disappeared the quickest when placed in front of my fellow students at the CIA at the time. So I figure among such a discerning audience as mine, it's worth passing on.
To succeed at French macarons, all you need is a bit of know-how and a little patience.
I know you're thinking: YEAH. RIGHT.
I get it. But bare with me.
All French macaron recipes are the same, whether you set out to create sinful strawberry or creamy coffee macarons. So before you start expanding your flavor horizons, I recommend first refining your technique with a couple of batches.
The two (not-so) elusive techniques for great French macarons are meringue, and macaronage (or how French chefs make the act of mixing sound glamorous).
After you've whipped, folded, and piped macaron batter a few times with success, you'll be poised to explore flavors and fillings, including this strawberry macaron recipe.
If this is your maiden voyage, check out my macaron tips, tricks, and troubleshooting before switching on that mixer or sifting any almond flour.
Because once you're comfortable crafting a basic vanilla macaron, the fun can REALLY start.
All macaron shells are simply small almond meringues, and big changes to the macaron shell ratio will give you less than ideal results. Best to stick with only the following ingredients, with a few exceptions.
- powdered sugar
- fine-ground almond flour (or blanched almonds ground up well in a food processor)
- fresh egg whites
- granulated sugar
- cream of tartar, optional
- red or pink food coloring, optional (plant-based gel or powder recommended)
- strawberry extract, optional
While I often bake my macarons au natural (no coloring), there's just something about a pretty-in-pink meringue shell. I recommend going easy on the food coloring here, just a little bit of gel-based color is all it takes.
If you're an avid baker, it can be worth investing in a plant-based, heat-safe food coloring powder like the ones from Nature's Flavors (not a sponsored link).
I make no secret of the fact that I despise artificial colorings, and a peer-reviewed study (the best kind) out of California found that food dyes can cause problematic behavior in kids.
Which most of us moms already knew.
Since you can't mess with the macaron formula too much or the shells will suffer, the fillings are where the flavor's at, my macaron mavericks!
For strawberry macarons, I love whipping up two easy fillings:
- Fresh strawberry jam
- French vanilla buttercream
Easy Strawberry Jam
Any strawberry jelly or jam will work here, of course! I like using gelatin with in-season berries because you can't beat the intense flavor. Or the speed at which the jam comes together since the gelatin sets fairly quickly.
- fresh strawberry purée (stemless strawberries blended or mashed through a fine-mesh sieve)
- granulated sugar, honey, or coconut sugar
- lemon juice
- powdered gelatin
- cold water
For a quick and easy strawberry filling, bring the strawberry purée, lemon juice, and sweetener to a simmer for about five minutes. Then whisk in bloomed gelatin (gelatin sprinkled over a bit of cold water) off the heat. Cool the filling in the refrigerator, whisking occassionally as it sets.
Classic French Buttercream
So silky, scrumptious, and not too sweet, I can eat it off a spoon! (Don't do this, not good for you).
My go-to French buttercream recipe is based on one by Chef Thomas Keller (I worked at one of his restaurants, and learned a lot).
While the ingredients here are simple and few, the technique of pouring the hot simple syrup into whipped, foamy eggs makes for a smooth, rich buttercream.
- granulated sugar
- unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into small pieces
- vanilla extract
- pinch of salt
To whip up a classic French buttercream, boil the sugar and water in a saucepan to the firm ball stage (248° F). Drizzle the hot syrup into whipped, foamy eggs (start whipping as the syrup boils). Continue beating until the mixture is room temperature.
Beat in the butter a pat at a time, and don't worry if the mixture curdles! This happens to pastry chefs in professional kitchens every day.
Just keep adding the butter and beating, and it will smooth out, then beat in the vanilla bean or extract. If you bought strawberry extract for the shells, a few drops into the buttercream will of course add more fun strawberry flavor.
Piping The Fillings
To make quick work of filling macarons, I scoop my fillings into a small pastry bag fitted with a small round or star tip.
Or more simply, use a plastic baggie with the corner snipped to create a small hole.
To fill with both jam and buttercream, pipe a ring of buttercream around the outside of half your shells. Be sure to leave a little space between the edge of the shells and the buttercream. Then squeeze a tiny dollop of jam in the middle.
If you go with one filling (and you still can't go wrong this way), pipe a small circle of filling in the center of the macarons. This is a great job to keep kiddos busy and learning in the kitchen. Fine motor skills in action!
When filling any macarons, the filling SHOULD NOT reach the edge of the shells. Less is more. Or when you bite into the macaron filling will squeeze out in every which direction. And French pastry chefs will turn over in the graves.
Because while crafting macarons can be fun once you get the hang of it, we're all really here for the eating.
And if I want strawberry jam anywhere, it's in my mouth. Not on my clothes.
Yours in the mac madness,
P.S. Don't forget to share your favorite flavor in the comments. The more the merrier!
The ratio and ingredients for French macarons do not really allow for adding flavor with fresh ingredients, without risking the integrity of your macaronage. Extracts and citrus peel are about all you can safely do in the absence of serious experimentation.
But whip up the strawberry filling below, and your macarons will be singing Strawberry Fields before you know it!
For macaron shells
- 180 grams confectioner's (powdered) sugar
- 108 grams almond flour (or blanched, slivered almonds)
- 3 fresh egg whites (about 90 g)
- 45 grams granulated sugar
- pinch of cream of tartar
- pink or red food coloring, plant-based recommended, optional*
- ½ teaspoon strawberry extract, optional (OliveNation sells one on Amazon)
- 1 cup strawberries (150g/5 oz), stems removed and puréed in a food processor or blender
- 2 tablespoons/1 ounce granulated or coconut sugar, or 1 tablespoon honey (adjust more or less for the sweetness of your strawberries
- ½ lemon, juiced
- 1 teaspoon powdered gelatin
- ¼ cup cold water
- Line a couple of baking pans with parchment paper (or silicone baking mats, if you prefer). If using a piping template, place the templates underneath the parchment.
- Preheat oven to 300° F.
- Grind almonds with confectioner's sugar in a food processor until the mixture resembles sand. Or if using pre-ground almond flour, sift with confectioner's (powdered) sugar. If using powdered food coloring, whisk it into the dry ingredients here.
- 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 (if using, not essential), and food coloring, and whip on high speed 30 seconds more to incorporate.
- Fold the sifted dry ingredients into the whipped meringue until it ribbons when you drizzle it off the spatula. It should settle back into itself in about 20 seconds. Be careful not to over-mix.
- Transfer to a piping bag (or large plastic bag) fitted with a half-inch pastry tip. I like to push a bit of the bag into the wide end of the pastry tip before filling it with batter, this keeps it from leaking.
- Pipe batter into even-sized circles onto a silicone baking mat or parchment paper. If your batter doesn't settle into flat circles, gently tap the underneath of the pans to help the circles flatten out.
- Optional: Let the piped macarons rest on the counter for 10 to 30 minutes. The shell will turn from shiny and sticky, to smooth and dull.
- Bake at 300° F for 14 to 16 minutes, rotating the pan once the signature “feet” form. Take the shells out of the oven before the bottoms begin to brown.*
- Cool a few minutes before removing from baking mat or parchment. Fill with buttercream and store chilled for 24 hours before serving.
Fresh Strawberry Filling
- Sprinkle gelatin evenly over cold water in a small bowl. Let stand for 5 to 10 minutes until gelatin blooms (thickens in the water).
- In a small pot over medium-high heat, combine puréed strawberries, sugar, and lemon juice.
- Cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes, stirring often until it thickens slightly.
- Add gelatin mixture off the heat, and whisk until fully dissolved.
- Cool in refrigerator, stirring occasionally to smooth out. The filling will set relatively thick.
French macarons are baked once the tops don't wiggle away from the bottoms when lightly nudged. If you bake the shells too long and the bottoms brown, simply brush them with simple syrup before filling.
If using gel food coloring, beat it into the meringue at the end of whipping. If using a heat-safe food coloring powder, sift it in with the dry ingredients.
Keywords: french macarons recipe, strawberry macaron recipe, strawberry filling, gelatin
Frequently Asked Questions
No way, chef! Baking up lovely French macarons like you see in pastry shops is a matter of mastering two simple techniques: Meringue, and macaronage (the mixing).
Many Edible Times readers find success the first time out! My free French Macarons: Simplified quick-start guide is a great way for beginners to dive right in and succeed from the start.
Absolutely not! I've seen French chefs whip up meringue with a whisk and a good helping of elbow grease. You absolutely don't need a stand mixer, and a basic hand mixer gets the job done just as well (without all the whisking).
You also don't need an expensive macaron baking mat. One of my free printable templates under parchment paper works better, anyway. Just subscribe to my free macaron quick-start guide and I'll email you the link.
ALSO, you don't need an egg separator 🙄. I saw this on a popular blog by a home baker, and couldn't believe my eyes. A waste of money, just like those macaron pans.
The only kitchen tools you need for French macarons are:
-sifter or mesh sieve/strainer
-whisk or electric hand mixer
-parchment paper (not wax paper)
-baking pan or cookie sheet
-pastry bag or large plastic food storage baggie
-small round pastry tip (less than $1 at most craft stores like Michael's or Joann's)
Since the tried and true macaron shell recipe is best left alone, most of the flavor in any French macaron will come from the fillings. And the sky's the limit!
If you do want to infuse the shells with flavorings, it's best to stick with a small amount of concentrated extract. For citrus macarons, a tiny bit of zest can be whisked into the dry ingredients, then sifted out. This allows the citrus essence to transfer to the almond flour but prevents excess oil and moisture from messing with the meringue.
More Macaron Madness
- How to make strawberry French macarons + two easy fillings
- Why all French macaron recipes are really the same (and how to make the delicate pastries)
- The key to chocolate macaron bliss + three macaron myths busted
- How not to make macarons, part deux: myths busted
- The easiest way to make coffee macarons a little bit (or a lot) Irish
- How not to make French macarons, seriously