French Macarons at Home
|Pretty pistachio macarons, my favorite!|
Once I started making French macarons, I couldn't stop. I wanted to try new flavors, new colors, new techniques. For a few months it was an obsession. I dragged my husband across New York City and tried 5 different places in one day just to see the differences and compare my cookies to the bigwigs.
If you've been reading my blog, you'll know that it took me almost a week of attempts and experiments to figure these little cookies out, but I learned so much that now when I make macarons and something does go awry, I can usually figure out what went wrong, and in many cases fix the problem.
For example... behold my first attempt at using food coloring to get more vibrant shells.
The food coloring had upset the balance just enough that although my batter looked good and piped okay, my first tray came out horribly deformed and cracked.
The problem - I think the extra moisture cased these shells to be overly sensitive to the heat coming from the bottom of the oven, the thin skin couldn't contain the heat/steam during the rise, so they burst.
So I doubled my sheet pan and moved the tray one oven rack higher. Thankfully, this saved them! Behold my success when I put the two trays side by side.
As you can see, the feet are smaller than usual, but these ended up nice enough (I did blueberry jam filling) for my hubby to bring to a work event. So, for all those interested in making macarons at home, below is my current french macaron recipe.
The Boozy Epicure's Basic French Macaron Recipe
Makes about 100 shells or 50 cookies
210g powdered sugar
145g almond meal (or any nut flour combination)
50g granulated sugar
120g aged egg whites
1/2 tsp cream of tarter or 5g dehydrated egg whites
Start by prepping three half sheet pans with parchment paper or silpats. Have your piping template ready to go as well. I don't know about you, but I cannot pipe consistently sized and shaped macarons without a template. Also prep your piping bag with plain round rip.
Start by weighing out your powdered sugar and almond meal and placing in your food processor. I like to process mine for a full minute to get them mixed and break down any lumps. Sift the mixture into a bowl and move on to preparing the meringue.
Measure the granulated sugar into a small bowl. If you are using the dehydrated egg whites, mix them in with the sugar.
Measure your egg whites into a large bowl. Loosen up the whites by gently mixing them with a whisk by hand. Whisk in the cream of tarter then move to the hand mixer. Start the hand mixer on low speed and once the egg whites are foamy, start adding the sugar (mixed with dehydrated egg if you used it) a little at a time. Once the sugar is added, up the speed of the mixer and beat until just shy of stiff peaks.
If you are using food coloring, add it now and fold it gently into the meringue. Once it is incorporated, start adding the almond/powdered sugar mixture. I like to do this in 4 additions. Put some of the mixture in and gently fold together. One trick with macronnage, instead of using the spatula to cut into the mixture and fold, I like to rotate the bowl and scoop from the bottom and fold over itself. I feel like it is more gentle on the meringue.
Once the batter is mixed and coming off your spatula in thick ribbons (whatever you do, don't over mix!) add it to the piping bag and pipe your macaron shells onto the parchment or silpat with the template underneath. Once they are piped, remove the template, pick up the pan with both hands, and tap it formly on the counter a couple of times to bring up/pop any air bubbles in the piped cookies.
**Preheat your oven to somewhere between 285 and 310 degrees F.**
While your oven is preheating, let the shells rest. Depending on the humidity, it can take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour. They are ready to bake when you can touch the shells and they don't stick to your finger.
Bake the shells approximately 15 minutes, one sheet at a time. Start on the middle oven rack and adjust as necessary.
When they are done baking, let them cool, then sandwich the shells around the filling of your choice. I tend to do buttercream, but chocolate ganache, jam, and caramel also make tasty fillings. I tend to pipe the filling as well.
**Update 4/4/14** - I have recently moved to more consistent baking results following Pierre Herme's baking method, preheating the oven to 350, baking the macs for 12 minutes opening the oven door at the 8 min and 10 min mark to release steam. At the higher temp you do have to be careful about browning, but I've had more batches bake consistently this way.
If you are on your way to making these darling cookies I hope that I've helped. The bad news? Most of what I learned in my week of macaron making
won't help you in your pursuits for making French meringue macarons
yourself. I can't tell you how far to take your meringue or mix your
batter, it's something you learn by doing. I can't tell you the proper
temp or rack position for your oven, or how long it will take to bake
these in your home. And while I've now made countless batches of macarons
myself, I haven't yet dared to make them in anyone else's home, for fear
I'd have to waste a tray or two before I can get it right.
here are the tips I can pass on, and trust me, these aren't worthless.
And if you are an experienced baker already who has a good relationship
with your oven, these might be enough!
*Remember: these tips are meant for French meringue macarons only, I
will post later on Italian meringue macarons and Swiss meringue
macarons. They are very different.
1) You can grind your own almond meal or any nut flour. I prefer to buy mine. I find Bob's Red Mill Almond Meal to be my personal favorite. If you are grinding nuts from whole, make sure to grind them with the powdered sugar (or else you'll make nut butter) and make sure they get fine enough.
Use a hand mixer to beat your egg whites and take them to just shy of
stiff peaks. I find my KitchenAid is too powerful and gets me all the
way to stiff peaks before I am ready. I would love to try using a copper bowl, but alas, I use stainless steel. Whatever you do, make sure the bowl is impeccably clean and do not use a plastic bowl!
3) Process your
almond meal and powdered sugar in a food processor and sift through a fine
mesh strainer, it keeps the dry ingredients lighter and easier to
4) Cracked macarons? I find my macarons crack if they are too close to the bottom of the oven (move up the rack or insulate by double panning) or if they did not get a long enough rest.
The trick to straight up and down feet (vs lopsided) is a straight pan.
I'm sure you've noticed my beat up sheet pan from the week of
experimentation. It always gives me lopsided feet. I bought a couple of
new pans and voila!, straight feet.
6) You can use
parchment paper or silpats. Parchment will give you taller feet, but a
silpat has better insulation so there will be less chance of your shells
7) If browning is a problem, do not use a dark
sheet pan. I have one dark sheet pan and everything browns better/more
with it than with light pans. Great when I'm baking soft pretzels,
terrible when making macarons. Another tip, move the pan to a lower
rack, or put an empty sheet pan on the rack above your macarons while
baking. I could go into the details as to why these tips work, but trust
me, they work!
8) Hollow shells? You probably aren't
baking them long enough. Basically your macs
are rising but the interior doesn't get to set. So when your macarons
cool, the interior falls and you get hollow shells.
9) Food coloring - I prefer using gels since their intensity won't add a ton of liquid to the mix. I also add it to the meringue once I've gotten it to almost firm peaks. I do just one fold or two to get it started, then start adding dry ingredients. This means your macronnage is not only incorporating the almond flour and powdered sugar into your meringue, but incorporating the coloring as well.
If you've got questions, feel free to email. And if you've got other great tips or tricks, please let know!
Labels: Cookies, Macarons, Sweets