A few years ago I tried my hand at Macarons for the first time. I watched tutorials and YouTube videos. Quite frankly, I was scared me to attempt these tricky cookies, but I was also very determined. I had never even eaten a macaron up until this point, but I was hosting a baby “sprinkle” for my daughter and I wanted these persnickety little gems gracing the dessert table that day.
Every single video and tutorial was telling me that these cookies do NOT like humidity. Well, I live in South Jersey (like, as far South as you can go before landing in the water!), and we have a ton of humidity around here in the summer. Did I forget to mention the sprinkle was in June?!! Well, that wasn’t going stop me. Macarons can be made ahead of time. They keep really well in the freezer. I freeze mine unfilled in airtight containers. I remove them from the freezer the day before I plan to serve them. Let them come to room temperature before filling them. After filling them, place them in the refrigerator overnight so they can mature (or bloom). This allows the flavors to develop, and if you overcook your macarons, it softens them right up!
I would like to share some tips that have helped me make uniform, delicious macaroons. They are a tricky cookie to make, but once you get the hang of making them, you will be happy that you have them in your cookie arsenal. I love making them for friends as presents or just letting them show up on a special dessert table every now and then.
- You don’t need to “age” your egg whites. Just use egg whites that are at room temperature. You can help this process by putting eggs right from the refrigerator in warm water for about 15 minutes.
- I use cream of tartar in my egg whites to stabilize them. This will make your meringue results consistent every time. You don’t want to overbeat your egg whites. You want a stiff meringue, but not too dry. This can result in your meringue deflating, causing a hollow shell.
- Using a kitchen scale to measure ingredients will help with consistency in your baking also. If you don’t have one I highly recommend you invest in one PRONTO!!
- Sift the confectioners’ sugar, almond flour and salt 4-5 times. This makes for a really smooth macaron. Please don’t skip this step…you’ll thank me laterJ.
- Don’t over mix your batter. Stop mixing once it reaches the ribbon stage and you can make a figure eight while lifting your batter with a spatula (refer to video). The batter should be slow flowing and thick. Over mixing will cause cracks on the top, spreading, and no feet. It’s better to under mix than to over mix your batter.
- You need to allow your macarons to dry. I allow mine to dry for 30-60 minutes. The longer, the better. You will know it is dry once you can run your finger across the top of your cookie, and if the skin is dry, your macarons are ready. This step is VERY important and neglecting to do so will result in cracked macarons. The top needs to form a skin. If the skin isn’t thick enough, the air from the meringue will expand in the oven causing cracks to form on top, instead of forming feet.
- Everybody’s oven is different, but I like to bake my macarons in a 300 degree oven for 17-19 minutes. It is better to over bake than under bake your macarons. If they are under baked, the feet will stick to the parchment paper (or silicone pad) and the shell will peel away from the feet. If they are over baked they will be hard and crunchy, but they will become soft once you fill them and refrigerate (mature) them for 24 hours.
- 1 3/4 cups confectioners’ sugar (198 grams)
- 1 cup finely ground almond flour (96 grams)
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3 large egg whites at room temperature
- 1/4 teaspoon cream of tarter
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar (50 grams)
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract ( or flavoring of choice)
- gel food coloring
- 1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature (226 grams)
- 3 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar (340 grams)
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 3 tablespoons milk (46 grams)
Line baking pans with parchment paper or silicone mats. Wipe bowl down you will be mixing egg whites in with lemon juice so they are totally grease free (this helps the egg whites to whip properly).
Put the confectioners’ sugar, almond flour and salt in a bowl. Sift 4-5 times to make sure this mixture is lump free. This is going to make for a smooth macaron. Trust me, you do not want to skip this step! It really makes for a bit of “Wow” factor.
Place the egg whites and cream of tartar in the mixing bowl that you wiped down with lemon juice. Mix until soft peaks form and then gradually add the granulated sugar until it is completely incorporated and you have stiff (but not dry). You know you have achieved this if you can turn the bowl upside down and the meringue does not fall out. Add your flavoring and food coloring and mix until incorporated.
Gently fold the confectioners’ sugar/almond flour mixture into the meringue mixture 1/3 at a time. Continue to fold until the batter falls into ribbons and you can make the figure 8 (see video).
Place the batter in a decorating bag with a large circle tip and pipe 1 1/2 inch circles on the prepared baking pans. The macarons should be at least 3/4″ apart. “Drop” the baking sheets on a hard, flat surface at least five times to remove any air bubbles. I pop any visible air bubbles with a toothpick.
At this point the macarons need to dry for at least 30 minutes or up to an hour. This will allow a good skin to form on top. While they are drying, preheat your oven to 300 degrees.
Bake for 17-19 minutes. You should have good feet and the macarons should be dry. Remove the macarons and allow them completely cool on the baking sheets. The macarons will release easily at this point.
Make buttercream filling by placing the butter in a mixing bowl and beating until light and fluffy (about two minutes). Slowly add the confectioners’ sugar and beat until fully incorporated. Mix in the vanilla and milk and beat until fully incorporated. Place in piping bag and add a medium size dollop in the center of one of the macarons and top with another macaron to make a “sandwich”. Repeat with the remaining shells.
Place your macarons in an airtight container. If you can wait (that’s a big “IF”), allow your macarons to set for 24 hours so they can bloom. This will not be an easy task, but trust me, it makes a difference.
These little gems make a great gift or special dessert. They are going to go fast!! Enjoy!!