I don’t think I can adequately describe my frustration with the French method for making macarons. I’ve apparently managed to make every single error possible when making these squishy little bastards – but instead of making them all at once, I made them one at a time. This means multiple failures, each due to one particularly small offense, spread out over months and months of cravings for just one good macaron. Either I over mixed by two or three turns of the spatula, or I under mixed by two or three turns of the spatula. Two or three… that’s all it takes to go from magical cookie madness to flat discs of hollow wrath. Once I ended up with little beige UFO’s with no feet whatsoever. They tasted ok….just ok… but who wants to serve your family strange crunchy discs filled with jam? Turns out this was because I didn’t rest the macarons long enough for them to adequately dry out before baking them. One day…. one day soon I will conquer the dreaded French macaron, but until that day comes I will share with you the Italian method of making macarons – the method that I tried yesterday for the first time in my life and that came out perfectly with no complications, no failure, no stress. Take a look at these perfect macarons!
I mean… come on. COME ON! The very first try came out like this?? I’m sold on this recipe for life. The outside was lightly crunchy (and very fragile!) and the inside was chewy, slightly sticky, and melted sinfully in my mouth along with the chocolate ganache filling. The cookie itself is flavored very, very lightly with cherry extract – cherry has a tendency to turn from delicious to strongly medicinal if too much extract is used – and the inside is a simple silky milk chocolate ganache making the whole cookie a flavor explosion of chocolate covered cherries! Remember how I said I have experienced hollow macarons? These babies are most certainly not hollow:
If I had any of these left, I would be shoving them in my mouth real quick before anyone else could get to them. Luckily for me, my husband devoured the majority of them straight from the pan! 😉 So…. before we begin step by step instructions I’m going to give you a few macaron pointers that contribute to success.
Tips for Macaron Success:
- Measure everything in grams or ounces, do not convert recipes to cups. It may be a more convenient way to measure but macarons thrive on exact ratios of ingredients.
- Make sure the bowl you plan to whip the egg whites in is completely free of any oil or residue. You can lightly wipe it with vinegar before hand if needed.
- Each step is better achieved successfully by feel & look than by minutes mixed/boiled/stirred/folded. I can tell you 40 turns of the spatula but that may give each person a different consistency based on how extravagantly/accurately they “fold”. I could also tell you to beat your egg whites for exactly this many minutes at this speed and you could end up with over beaten egg whites which ruin a macaron. This brings me to the next tip:
- Follow along with the pictures – try to get your consistency to that of the picture. Stand by your ingredients the whole time and watch them. Have patience and you will be rewarded.
- After piping onto a cookie sheet, let them rest until you can touch them and they do not stick to your finger at all before baking!! Not resting enough can ruin your cookies.
- Preheating the oven completely is an absolute must. I put my macarons in at 280 instead of 300 degrees once and they never developed feet.
With that out of the way, lets begin. Print out your recipe and follow along. I gathered all of my ingredients and equipment in one location as you can see:
Those are room temperature eggs and my almond flour is super fine ground which is very, very important. I got 5 pounds of Wellbee’s Super Fine Almond Flour on Amazon for nothing! The first step is to prepare all of your ingredients. By doing this, your whole macaron making process will run very smoothly. Line your cookie sheets with silicone mats or parchment paper.
Measure your almond flour and powdered sugar carefully and sift together onto some wax paper and set aside.
Separate your egg yolks and whites, store the yolks in the fridge for another day, and split your egg whites half into your mixer bowl and half into a small bowl. Add this flour mixture to your small bowl containing half of your egg whites and mix together. It will seem like very little liquid at first but it will all mix together, don’t worry! This is the point where I add a few drops of gel food coloring and flavor extract too! As you can see its a fairly thick almond paste at the end:
Set that mixture aside. Now, measure your granulated sugar and water and put them in a small saucepan and place it on the stove. Don’t turn it on yet. Whip the egg whites in our mixer bowl until they hold stiff peaks and a nice glob of them is “stuck” in the whisk, being careful not to over beat.
Turn your mixer off and leave the whipped egg whites chill out for a minute. 🙂 Go turn on the stove to medium and bring your granulated sugar and water mixture to a light rolling bubble. Do not let it boil, you want to gently bring it up to 244 degrees without boiling. The light bubbling action will “stir” itself so you don’t have to lift a finger or brush down the sides of the pan. Once your mixture is at 244, turn your mixer with your egg whites on to medium speed, and drizzle your hot sugar syrup into the stiff egg whites. Be careful, that syrup is hot so take your time. You will end up with an Italian meringue (just like in my Italian Meringue Buttercream!) that looks like this:
Take 1/4 of this meringue and gently stir it into your almond paste. This will lighten it and make it easier to fold into the rest of your meringue.
Add your lightened almond paste to your meringue and fold gently. You can alternate between folding, scraping the bottom, and lightly smacking the mixture against the sides of the bowl to get some of the air bubbles out. I have heard from numerous sources that you will fold anywhere from 30-60 times but the real trick is in the texture and look. You want your batter to fall in a thick ribbon from the end of your spatula and for it to assimilate back into the batter slowly after 8-10 seconds. It will look like this:
It is *always* better to stop every few folds once your mixture is coming together and try the ribbon trick. This will ensure that you do not under or over mix your batter. Under mixed batter will leave little points on your cookies that do not flatten on their own and will lead to cracked, less pretty cookies:
Once you get a thick ribbon that melds back into the batter smoothly, stop mixing!! Over mixing will create hollow and/or flat, non feeted discs that are sure to disappoint. Using a pastry bag and a round tip, pipe one inch circles on your cookie sheets, making sure to leave room in between as they will lightly spread. Some people trace one inch circles onto their parchment paper and turn it over on the cookie sheet to use as a guide! Once your cookies are piped, lift your cookie sheet and let it fall onto the counter with a thwack! This will get the remaining air bubbles out of your macarons.
Let these rest. Depending on humidity it can take anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour. I’ve noticed that with French macarons, it always takes me closer to an hour or even longer for them to rest. Italian macarons were much faster for me. After 30 minutes I could touch the top of the macarons lightly and they didn’t stick to my finger at all. This is what you are looking for – they develop a nice smooth, non sticky surface that you can touch when they are fully rested. Preheat your oven to 300 and bake the cookies for 18-22 minutes. At 18 minutes you will check the cookies by lightly touching the top of one and if it moves away from its “ruffled foot” at all, its undercooked. They will no move when pressed lightly when they are done. This is what your cookies will look like:
See those pretty ruffled feet?? Perfect!! Those shiny, smooth tops?? Heaven!! Let them come to room temperature before even attempting to move them. I use an angled frosting smoother to lift them from the mat, believe it or not. Its delicate and easily maneuverable so that I don’t accidentally hit one of the other cookies. You can fill them with ANYTHING under the sun, but I used a thick milk chocolate ganache.
Be careful not to fill them too much or your pretty filling will drip right out of the sides. When you press the macarons together, DO NOT press down on the middle, they will easily crack. I like to twist the two together like an oreo, gently twisting/smooshing the ganache to the edge of the macaron. Once your macarons are filled, enjoy or garnish them with melted white or milk chocolate. These may be a tricky and time consuming treat, but they do not disappoint in looks OR flavor!
- 3.5 ounces egg white (approx. 3 eggs), divided in half
- 4.9 ounces finely ground almond flour
- 4.9 ounces powdered sugar
- 3.5 ounces granulated sugar
- 1.4 ounces water
- 4 ounces good quality chocolate, chopped or in chips
- 1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 tablespoon butter
- Prepare 2 cookie sheets with silicone or parchment paper.
- Add half of your egg whites to a small bowl.
- Sift your almond flour and powdered sugar together onto some wax paper and dump it into your small bowl containing half the egg whites. Mix thoroughly until combined. Add gel food coloring and/or extract to this paste. Set aside.
- Add the remaining half of your egg whites to a very clean, residue/oil free mixing bowl and whip on medium to medium high until stiff peaks form and the whites get "stuck" in the whisk. Turn off mixer and begin next step.
- In a small saucepan add granulated sugar and water and bring to a light bubble on medium heat. Do no stir, the bubbling will "stir" itself. Do not bring to a heavy boil or hot sugar will harden on the sides of the pan or burn.
- Once the sugar reaches 244 degrees, turn your mixer back on to medium high and slowly drizzle the hot sugar syrup into the stiff egg whites. Mix until the meringue has cooled, 3-4 minutes.
- Add 1/4 of your meringue to the almond paste you set aside earlier and mix gently to lighten the mixture.
- Add your lightened almond paste mixture to the rest of the meringue and fold gently until batter runs in a thick ribbon off the spatula and flattens back into the mixture after 8-10 seconds. Do not over mix!!
- Using a piping back and round pastry tip, pipe 1 inch circles onto your prepared cookie sheets, leaving room in between for them to spread out.
- Once a cookie sheet is filled, lift it up and let it fall straight back onto the countertop to pop any air bubbles in the macaron shells.
- Let shells rest for at least 30 minutes, or until the tops are not sticky at all and you can touch them without disturbing the batter.
- Bake at 300 degrees for 18-20 minutes until you can lightly press the top of the cookie and it does not shift at all from its ruffled "foot".
- Let cool completely before filling. Twist the halves together, do not press them together or push on the center of the shell.
- In a microwave safe bowl, add all ingredients and heat 30 seconds at a time until completely melted. Make sure to stir after every 30 seconds.
- Let cool slightly until it thickens, and pipe or spoon onto your macaron shells.
- For other flavors you can add extracts easily or replace up to .7 oz of the powdered sugar with unsweetened cocoa powder or dried fruit (ground into a powder).