Published on August 29th, 2013 | by Rachel Budke2
How to Make French Macarons
French macarons are one of my very favorite things. They are so dainty and pretty and yummy. I’ve been making macarons for a few years now, before I ever ate one from a bakery. Now, they are sold in so many different places and I love that. It’s come to my attention that, even though french macarons are wildly popular, people seem to be terrified to make them at home! Yes, they are tricky, but there’s no need to be scared of making cookies. You are braver than that! The worst that can happen is they won’t turn out. I admit, I’ve certainly made my fair share of sad-looking french macarons, but it’s a learning process. Every batch that doesn’t come out perfect gives you a chance to learn and improve.
The recipe that I use to make french macarons uses volume measurements, not weight measurements. I know that it is best to use a scale when baking, but this is the method that works best for me. My goal in sharing this is to help you tackle the basic steps of macaron making. The steps themselves are pretty basic, in fact, the recipe for french macarons is the only recipe that I have fully memorized. Be brave and learn how to make french macarons – you can do it!
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- 3/4 cup whole almonds
- 2 cups powdered sugar, divided
- 3 egg whites
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup cocoa powder (optional)
- Filling of your choice (buttercream, ganache, jam, etc.)
- Preheat oven to 325º F.
- Using a food processor, pulse the almonds until they have been ground into a fine powder, which is almond flour. Be careful not to grind the almonds too much, or you might end up turning it into almond butter!
- Sift together the almond flour and 1 cup of powdered sugar. Discard any large almond pieces that didn't fit through the sieve. However, if you have a lot of almond flour that is in larger pieces, use the food processor and sift again. If you are wanting to make chocolate macarons, sift in the cocoa with these ingredients.
- Using a mixer with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites, starting on a slow speed until they become frothy. Slowly increase the speed of the mixer until the egg whites reach the soft peak stage. For information of the stages of egg whites, here is a great link. With the mixer still running, decrease the speed and add in the remaining cup of powdered sugar, one tablespoon at a time, and beat for about 30 more seconds seconds.
- Carefully fold in the almond flour mixture, 1/3 at a time. Folding it together in batches helps to keep the batter light and airy.
- On a sheet pan lined with parchment paper, add the batter to a pastry bag and pipe it small circles. I usually do not use a pastry tip, and just cut the bag. If you are really wanting your macarons to be consistent in size, I would recommend using a pencil and cookie cutter (or jar/random round object) and trace circles onto the back side of your parchment paper. Make sure that you trace them on the back side so that you do not get pencil lead on your cookies. For a "typical" macaron size, trace circles that are about 1 1/2" in diameter. To pipe a smooth circle, I usually hold the pastry bag into the middle of the circle and squeeze until the batter almost reaches the outline. Stop squeezing and lift up your pastry bag. It takes a little bit of practice to make sure the batter is not piped out too tall or too thin, but you will find the best height after some trial and error. If you get a point at the top of your macaron, just gently pat it down.
- Before baking off your macarons, let them sit for 30 minutes. This helps the very outer layer of the macaron dry out a bit, which will allow the macaron to establish feet (the little ruffle at the bottom of the macaron shell).
- Bake the macarons for approximately 12-14 minutes. Be sure that you keep an eye on your oven, because I have found that the cooking time varies greatly depending on your oven. If the macarons do not cook long enough, they may collapse and be too chewy on the inside. If the macarons cook for too long, they may brown up too much. You can bake two baking sheets at a time, if you would like. Just be sure to put the oven racks in the upper 1/3 and lower 1/3 of your oven. If you bake two racks at a time, it will be harder for the macarons to bake evenly, so it's up to you in you want to bake them in separate batches or not.
- After cooling briefly, remove the macaron shells from the parchment paper carefully. If they were cooked properly, they will come off of the parchment very smoothly.
- Sandwich two macaron shells, using the filling of your choice. Great options are buttercream, ganache, jam, pastry cream, etc.
- Bon Appétit!