French Macarons are widely known as the most difficult cookies to make. I disagree. These delicate meringue-based filled shells are not only easy to make, but delicious. You can flavor them to your liking and fill them with anything from a simple buttercream to chocolate ganache. They can even be made in all colors of the rainbow to match the theme of an event or to make that perfect gift. Now, the first step to the perfect French Macaron is the right recipe, and here it is!
Carefree Collegiate’s Infallible French Macarons
- 3 egg whites (room temperature)
- ¼ cup white sugar
- 2 cups confectioners sugar
- 1 cup homemade almond flour (SEE RECIPE BELOW)
- Pinch of salt
- ¼ tsp cream of tartar (You can omit if needed, just may take a bit longer to reach stiff peaks but the recipe will still work)
- Flavored extract (I’m using Coconut)
- Food coloring
- 2 cups sliced, blanched almonds
Butter Cream Filling:
- ½ cup salted butter
- 3/4 cup powdered sugar
- Flavor of your choosing (1 tsp. of Extract, 1 cup of pureed fresh fruit or berries and juice, 1 tbs. of cocoa powder. I am using coconut cream)
- Food Processor (if making your own almond flour)
- Electric Mixer
- Measuring cups and spoons
- Piping bags and tips (or a gallon Ziplock bag will suffice in a pinch)
- Parchment paper or Silpat mats
First we will begin by making the almond flour which might I add is not only expensive but difficult to find! I make my own by simply throwing 2 cups of sliced, blanched almonds into a food processor until they are a fine powder. It will look something like this.
Then, I run the powder through a sieve to remove all of the large chunks and discard them. Now just set the almond flour aside so we can begin making the macaron shells.
To make the macaron shells, begin by retrieving your three eggs and separating your whites from their yolks. Discard the yolks or keep them for your morning omelet! To bring the egg whites up to room temperature you can either allow them to sit out on your counter for a few minutes or place your bowl of egg whites into a larger bowl of warm water.
After testing the eggs to ensure they are at room temperature, place them as well as the white sugar and cream of tartar into your electric mixer and beat them on high until stiff peaks form. What does stiff peaks look like you might ask?
If you draw your mixer out of the meringue and it looks like the picture above, you are ready to move on to the next step. But, if it looks like the picture below, beat it a bit longer!
Now that your meringue has reached stiff peaks, you can add your food coloring and flavored extract before removing it from the mixer. Beat only for a few seconds until incorporated! Remember, the color will fade when the rest of the dry ingredients are added and the shells are baked so make it a few shades darker than desired.
Now it is time to add your almond flower and powdered confectioners sugar. Remember that BOTH of these ingredients should be run through a sieve before adding to your mixture. Add them gradually using a spatula and a folding motion.
IMPORTANT: DO NOT OVER MIX!!!
If you overmix the batter your macarons will not get the cute little lacy “feet” around the bottom edge that you see at the top of the page. Instead they will be flat, hard and burn. Mix until the batter falls off your spatula in “ribbons” as shown below.
My batter is a little lumpy because my sieve was lost somewhere in my kitchen. BUT HAVE NO FEAR! Your macarons will still come out even if the batter is a little lumpy, they’ll just be harder to pipe onto the cookie sheet.
Now that your batter is mixed and ready, prepare two cookie sheets for baking by lining them with either parchment paper or a Silpat mat. I prefer a Silpat mat because they dont tear.
Then fit a 1/2″ tip to your piping bag and fill it with the batter. If you dont have a piping bag, you can fit the tip to a gallon Ziplock bag or simply cut off the corner.
If you struggle when filling a piping bag, place the empty bag in a glass tip down and open the bag over the edges of the glass just as you would a trash bag in a trash can. Then you can easily fill the bag with less air bubbles and mess!
Twist off your piping bag and move over to your lined cookie sheets. Piping perfect circles takes a little practice, but most of the time if you get close the macaroons will spread out a bit and correct themselves.
Pipe in a circular motion, beginning with the outside of the circle and finishing in the middle. Traditional macarons are about 1 inch in diameter, but I prefer to make them slightly larger.
If you make one too big don’t stress! Just pipe another the same size so it will match up to be filled. It is Also good to make sure you piped an even amount of shells.
Now that they’re all piped and beautiful, pick up each tray and carefully tap the bottom of it on your counter 2 or 3 times. I usually do this 2 to 3 times per side. This will cause some of the air to release from the cookies so they don’t crack as well as help stamp down any unwanted peaks on top of the cookies from piping.
Now for the important part… LET THEM SIT!
That right, let the cookies sit on your counter until they have formed a film on top so that if you touch them, they dont stick to your finger. From my experience, this can take anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour depending upon humidity. BE PATIENT! The skin is what causes those beautiful “feet” to form at the bottom of the cookie. These ridges are what characterize a French macaron.
Now would be a great time to preheat your oven to 300 degrees!
While your waiting for those cookies to sit or bake it’s time to make your filling!
My favorite filling is a buttercream. It contrasts the sweetness of the cookie well and can be made in any flavor under the sun; not to mention it is beyond easy and I almost always have the ingredients on hand.
Just throw your butter, sugar and flavoring, (I used 1/2 cup coconut cream) into a mixing bowl and beat it until it is well combined! It’s that easy folks! Then put it into a piping bag and wait for those shells!
Once the shells are good and ready pop them in the oven for 20 minutes. I usually bake my sheets one at a time in the middle rack to avoid having to turn them.
Watch them carefully! Depending on your oven they may take more or less time. If they are starting to get a little golden on top, take them out!
Once you take your macarons out of the oven, allow them to cool completely before removing them from the sheet. If you try to take them off while they are still warm they will crush and stick! Again, be patient!
Once cool, remove all of your macarons from the sheet and pair them up with shells of the same size then fill them by piping the buttercream onto one shell and gently sandwiching the other on top.
Your result will be something like this!
Feel free to comment with any questions!