I got hit with the macaron bug. When I tried them a few years back, I didn’t like the taste. I thought something was wrong with me because they look so beautiful and dainty and so are expensive that they MUST taste amazing! After multiple attempts at trying them (even 2 macarons in France when we visited) I gave up. Fast forward a few years: my friend made some, I fell in love, and decided to make some myself. Since I went gluten-free, most of my baking went out the door. This macaron adventure allowed to me to bake and experiment with a plethora of flavors and recipes and ideas.
Lots of recipes were successful, some not so much. My biggest problem was wanting to experiment too much, and macarons are finicky where don’t always approve. I’ve had many fails, here, look:
But a lot of macarons turned out beautifully.
However, I would encounter random batches of hollows, or explosions, or whatever, and knew that the recipe wasn’t perfect. Here is a recipe that FINALLY renders consistent results.
115 grams almond flour (about a cup)
115 grams powdered sugar (about a cup)
99 grams egg whites (about 3 large eggs)
80 grams granulated sugar (about 1/3 cup)
pinch of salt
I highly recommend using a scale to weigh ingredients because egg whites can range A LOT! Also since I sometimes grind up my own almonds, it really helps the amount be accurate and consistent.
Sifting business: the worst part of this whole process. I tried skipping it, I tried whisking it as a shortcut, I tried to throw in the almond flour/powdered sugar into grinder (it’s a tiny coffee grinder) and none of that seemed to do the trick for me. Sifting must be done. Sometimes I’ll add a few extra grams so whatever doesn’t make it through the sifter can be tossed out or saved for later without me having to grind it & then sift it.
The egg whites are to be at room temperature, whether they sit out overnight, a little while in warm water, or even having the egg whites microwaved for 5-10 seconds, depending on your microwave. BTW the microwaving helps a lot when it’s a humid day: the moisture gets sucked out after microwaving so there aren’t much problems with the shells drying.
Beat egg whites on medium high for about 30 seconds until foamy, pour in the sugar (& pinch of salt) slowly, increase speed. Beat for another 2-3 mins until it looks like this:
Make sure to not overbeat where the egg whites start falling apart. It looks like a broken sand castle at that point. BTW if you reach that state, don’t stress too much, just add some egg white to the mixture and take out a bit of the over mixed portion (try to keep it about the same amount) and mix it in. It usually fixes the problem.
Add about half of the flour mixture to the egg whites, gently mix it in with a rubber spatula. Once it’s somewhat incorporated, add the other half and do the same thing. When all the dry ingredients are wet, you can mix/fold more vigorously. The macaronage process is the official fancy term for this. I take the spatula and drag out the batter against the sides of the bowl, then scrape it back in and repeat a few times. When the batter starts looking beautiful you want to slow down. It will flow slowly off the spatula. If it’s flowing too fast, yeah I’m sorry, too bad: the batch is ruined. You’ll get flat macarons that will still taste good but they won’t look like they’re supposed to. It’s supposed to be like thick pancake batter. I have never seen lava in real life so I can’t say it needs to have lava-like consistency (which so many macaron blogs state).
Pour/scrape the batter into a pastry bag or zip lock bag.
Pipe out circles onto parchment paper or silpats. I printed a template of circles for myself that I made in Word and use it underneath the mats. Parchment paper bakes macarons a minute faster.
After they’ve been piped, tap the sheet a few times against the counter to flatten out & eliminate any air bubbles and then WALK AWAY. Let the macarons rest until they’ve hardened and have a little skin on tip. Basically when you touch them, it’s dry, and won’t leave any batter on your finger. Sometimes this takes as quick as 15 minutes, other days it could an hour. If it’s super humid, expect to wait over 2 hours for them to dry. Thus the microwave trick for the egg whites when you know it’s humid outside. Then preheat the oven to 295. My oven temperature is inaccurate; I actually set it to 275 but the thermometer reads 295. Buying the thermometer saved me lots of trouble. It costs about $4 at Safeway. Bake the macarons for about 13-14 minutes. When you try to lift if off the parchment paper and it lifts up, it’s done. On the silpat you won’t be able to lift it so don’t try that method to test if it’s ready. Wiggle the top of a macaron; if it’s very wobbly then it’s not ready, if it’s quite sturdy then it’s done. Let them sit and cool off on the pan before taking them off.
Fillings can be numerous! I’ll have another post for several different kinds of fillings, but the main point is to fill the macarons, put them in an AIRTIGHT container and stick them in the fridge. They need to mature to have the flavor fully take over the macaron shells. Eat them the next day!