Picture this, close your eyes, maybe plug your ears: you’re sitting outside a café in France, beautiful people walking past, sipping your Espresso with a plate full of French Macarons…by Yourself! Oh a girl can dream.
Well, that doesn’t happen as often as we would like, so lets try this. A nice iced(cause lets face it, its too hot for hot coffee at the moment) pumpkin spiced coffee you made from your Ninja Coffee Bar cause its Uhhmazing, with your reasons for living screaming in the background over a toy, as many as you can fit on your plate and any flavor you can imagine, French Macaron, you made in your kitchen…By Yourself!
Yes, now that is possible!
Yes, I use that thing ALOT!
Now, the French Macaron (Mac-a-RON)
not to be confused with the delicious coconut drop cookie, the MacaROON, is a difficult, but simple with the right direction, meringue based filled cookie made with finely ground almonds, powered sugar, and egg whites. Simple enough right. Ehh. These babies are very temperamental, but with some practice, you too could become a Macaron Master.
I’m not going to lie to you, for me, it took about 4 batches to get the technique to my liking or any Macaron snobs liking..4!! See below for my first and not so successful try.
Now don’t get me wrong, these babies were SO tasty! Coffee French Macarons filled with Coffee Buttercream. I mean I’m drooling right now, they tasted that good. But the overall look of them, tisk tisk. Here’s what happened:
- My almond flour that I used wasn’t as fine as it needed to be, which gave them the grainy, non-shiny tops.
- I also took my meringue a little too far, meaning I over beat my egg whites, which led my Macarons to be hollow. Instead of having that addictive chewy, yet crunchy shell, you just get a crunchy shell that falls to pieces when you bite into it. Not what you want in a macaron!
My second attempt came out a little better with the troubleshooting:
These babies are my attempt on “Blue Velvet”. I didn’t have red food coloring, so I went with what we had in the pantry, blue. A little cocoa power in the shells filled with a cream cheese buttercream.
This time I made sure to ground up my almond flour and sift my powered sugar and almond flour twice and that seem to work pretty well. The shells came out pretty shiny and smooth, not perfect, but better! Practice doesn’t make perfect, it makes you better! Right. Must I mention Those FEET! So pretty!
Oh, in case you’re not sure what the term “feet” means, it’s when the air bubbles get released through the bottom of the shell (ill show you how to achieve this below), leaving you with those pretty little feet. Now, these feet are a little “too big” (you know what they say about a macaron with big feet) haha but ill take it.
The problem with these Blue velvet macarons are…THEY ARE HOLLOW AGAIN! Those pretty things above have a dirty little secret hiding deep in their shells. Dang it! Also, I had to adjust the recipe a little bit because these tasted a little too much like powdered sugar. Not my favorite!
Yall I wasn’t lying when I said this took me 4 tries! Hopefully, it doesn’t take you this many BUT if it does just know, you’re not alone!
For attempt number three, I decided to go back to the first recipe since it was so Tasty! The coffee macaron shells but with a coffee cream cheese buttercream ( I made coffee cream cheese buttercream this time because I made these the day after I made the “Blue Velvet” and had cream cheese buttercream left over, so why not!) I really wanted to get these perfect, so I kept trying day after day.
I finally figured out the shiny smooth tops! Beautiful! These were just as good as the first time I made them, and 10 times as pretty. BUT, you guessed it…HOLLOW!
Yall, I could not figure out this over beating egg whites deal. It was driving me NUTS! BUT, I also found out the reasoning behind my “tall feet” with all my research. They both come from the same culprit. With failure comes Success!
I was overbeating my meringue, taking it a little too far past the “stiff peaks stage” (see below) but I also was not mixing my meringue with my dry batter enough. This technique is called “The Macaronage” which is mainly the French term for the proper way to mix your wet and dry ingredients together. I might have been taking my meringue a little too far, but I also was not deflating enough air out of my batter with the proper “macaronage” which led to the hollow shells and tall feet.
After 3 failed attempts. Yall I only say failed because the technique just wasn’t Right! It just wasn’t. Those three “practice” attempts showed me what I was doing wrong and how I needed to correct them.
Cue in attempt Number 4:
Number 4, Fourth times a charm, the favorite child! (ha) Lemon Macarons with Cream cheese buttercream and homemade lemon curd!
YALLLL! Summertime on a plate, so yummy! Here’s how my success finally came through. Step by Step so hopefully you don’t have to go through as much Almond flour as I did. That stuff is not cheap!
First, the recipe! This is the basic recipe I use for the start of most my macarons. It’s super easy to tweak and make into a more elegant flavor!
*Note: This post may contain affiliate links, which means I receive a commission at no additional cost to you if purchased through the link.*
Important items you will need:
- Baking sheets
- Parchment paper or silicone mat
- Standing Mixer with the whipping attachment(I LOVE my Kitchen Aid)
- Piping bags and tips
For the Macaron shells you will need
- 3 room temperature egg whites(some recipes will call for “Aged” egg whites, I personally have never had an issue with just room temp whites)
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 3/4 cups powered sugar
- 1 cup Almond flour (if you cannot find this, you can buy regular almonds, blanch them, and ground them at home. That’s all Almond FLOUR is!)
Four ingredients! That’s all. Super simple grocery list!
Now the Directions:
Start with getting everything you need ready. This helps a ton with the rushing and sweating part. (ha no? Just me?) I start with getting my cooking sheets covered with parchment paper(you can use a silicone mat if you have one. They also make these super cute silicone mats made for making macarons, these are perfect because they have the shapes already on making it super simple to have the same size macarons!)
Have your piping bag fitted with the tip you need (for piping out the batter I like to use Wiltons number 12 Round tip)
Now, measure out your powdered sugar and almond flour. (if you need to ground your almond flour a little more than go ahead and do this now. I use my Ninja Blender. BUT do not process them for very long, unless you want some almond butter. Just a couple pulses will do.) After you have done this, go ahead and sift your powered sugar and almond flour together, twice if you feel like you need to.
Here comes the temperamental part. Start to whip your egg whites. SLOWLY at first. I start mine out on number 2 on my kitchen aid mixer ( I truly LOVE my mixer!).
When they start to look foamy,
Add in your sugar. SLOWLY. Do not just pour all your fourth cup in at once. Once the sugar is incorporated, turn your mixer up a little ( I go to number 4 now) and whip for about 2 minutes. It will start to look like this:
Turn the mixer up again (to 6) and whip again for 2 minutes. At this point, your meringue will start to get thicker, you can add in your food coloring if you want color to your shells. Try to use a food coloring gel instead of a liquid coloring. Adding a lot of extra liquid to your batter can mess up the texture and the way it bakes up. *Side note, when you bake your shells, the color tends to fade a bit, so you might try adding a little more coloring to get your desired color. ( in the picture below, I wanted a dark grey color and this worked out perfect)
Now, up your mixer one more time (to 8) and whip for about 1.5 minutes. Once your egg whites start to get glossy and to the stiff peak stage (which means when you pull your attachment out of the egg whites, they make a peak in the bowl and does not fall. When the meringue stays inside the attachment (or in the bowl when you hold it upside down..Dairy Queen style) like this:
You are done. Stop. No more whipping! You want to take it JUST to the beginning of the stiff peak stage. That has been my issue. I would take it just a little past and it does make a BIG difference.
Now, were going to add our meringue to our dry batter(almond flour and powered sugar we sifted earlier) Take about a third of your egg whites and add to your dry ingredients. Take your spatula and start to incorporate them together.
- TIP: Take the spatula around your bowl, going underneath all your batter, and then through the middle and up against the side of the bowl to squeeze out some air each time you stir! (does that make sense?) Once all that is combined, add in the remaining egg whites and keep folding and squeezing till you get a batter consistency that resembles..Alot of people say a consistency that looks like “molten lava” Well, I had to google what that looked like haha I don’t know about you but I have never seen molten lava up close 🙂 So what I do is when it looks right to me, I like to take my spatula above the bowl with some batter on it, make a figure eight in the bowl and when it falls off the spoon easily, but not like soup, and the figure eights stay in sight without completing fading back in the batter, you can stop.
THIS IS TOO THICK:
THIS LOOKS PRETTY GOOD:
Once you feel like your batter is nicely combined, you can now transfer it into your piping bag and pipe your circles onto your baking sheet. If you use the parchment paper instead of the macaron silicone mat, you can draw out your desired size on to the parchment, flip it over so you can see your circles but you don’t have to worry about the ink getting on your cookies. Or you can just eye ball your sizing. I like mine to be about 1.5 inches. Once you have them all piped out, here’s the fun part, take your baking sheet and bang it on the counter about 3 times, rotate and bang again 3 times. The reasoning behind this fun little step is getting all those pesky air bubbles out so your tops don’t crack. THIS is what gives you those pretty little feet.
Let your shells rest/dry on the counter for about 20 minutes. This step is also crucial! This allows the macarons to develop a skin on top and allows all the air bubbles that escape to escape from the bottom, giving you “feet”. Once you can touch the macarons without getting anything on your fingers your good to start baking. ( this picture is from my cookies and cream macarons, so I dusted the tops while they were still “sticky” with some crushed up cookie pieces)
Preheat to 295 degrees. Try to bake one pan at a time, they just come out better when they don’t have to share heat. Bake for about 16 minutes. Let them completely cool and then you can FILL them. YUM!
You can fill these babies with just about anything! Buttercreams, jams, curd, marshmallows..etc! Pipe your filling onto one shell, and top with another shell closest to size. I like to let my macarons “mature” for a day in the fridge until I dig into them. They just taste so much better once all the flavors have had time to develop.
Here is a picture of my Cookies and Cream Macarons (all the pictures above are from this recipe, so I thought i’d give you the final product!)
**In case you started drooling over those coffee macarons too, ill drop the Coffee buttercream recipe here for you in case you want to fill your beautiful Macarons with it! 🙂
-1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted room temperature butter
-2 1/2 cups powered sugar
-1 teaspoon Vanilla
-1 1/2 teaspoons instant coffee dissolved and cooled in 1 TB hot water
Combine the butter and powered sugar until fluffy. Add in your vanilla and cooled coffee and mix till you get the consistency you like.
I like to add in some extra instant coffee granules to the finish buttercream for a little added texture and crunch.
I really hope this was helpful to you. I know what its like to go about blind and have to try 4 times to get something that looks like a French Macaron. Haha Good luck and happy baking!