They look so cute, so pretty, so beautiful, so delicate, so elegant, so divine, so simple to make… but they’re actually quite difficult to prepare. It’s one of the most challenging recipes I’ve made so far. I’m not joking, I promise!
They’re tiny but evil creatures, haha Being successful depends on many factors such as the right proportion of ingredients, the humidity, the meringue texture, the folding process (“macarronage”), the oven… even on your patience!
It’s not my intention to scare you, although it might look otherwise. The thing is, that is unusual to get them right at the first attempt. But, as I said in my previous post, you don’t have to throw the towel ever ; ) Maybe you might have beginner’s luck, who knows?!
Having said that, it’s important for you to stick to all the steps of the recipe and follow each tip. Macarons are really fragile and we must be quite methodical when making them.
Despite my previous speech, they are such a tasty bite that it’s worth to give them a try. D-E-L-I-C-I-O-U-S! In my opinion, it’s impossible to eat just one or two… ; )
For those who don’t still know what a macaron is, it mainly consists of two small and round shells (a baked mixture of meringue, ground almond and icing sugar) with some filling at your choice.
There are different kind of macarons, depending on the meringue they are made of, such as French or Italian Meringue. The recipe I’ll show you is based on the French one (the Italian one is even more tricky!!).
The following tutorial is based on the information I’ve been reading and learning about macarons throughout last months, as well as on my own experience with them ; )
French Macarons Step-By-Step Tutorial
- Kitchen Scale
- Food processor
- Mixing bowls
- Hand or stand mixer with whisk attachment
- Silicone spatula
- Piping bag
- Round nozzle (tip #12)
- Baking sheet
- Parchment paper or baking matt
- Macaron template (optional)
- Oven thermometer
Why is this equipment essential?
- Kitchen scale: As I previously said, we must be really methodic when preparing this recipe. It’s really important to measure each ingredient in grams to get a precise mixture. Proportions are key. Don’t add the ingredients roughly. Don’t use measuring cups either.
- Food processor: It’s useful to blend ground almond in icing sugar and get an even and smooth batter.
- Sieve: It’s needed to sieve the blend of ground almond and icing sugar and get a smoother batter, free (or almost free) of bits. Therefore, we’ll have a smoother and even macaron surface.
- Whisk attachment: It’s essential to whip the egg whites by adding air into the batter and get a nice and thick French meringue.
- Mixing bowls: When whipping egg whites it’s better to use a cold stainless steel one. They’ll whip up better!
All the tools we use to make meringue, including the mixing bowl in where we whisk the egg whites, have to be very clean, dry and grease-free. Otherwise, they won’t whip up properly. Clean the bowl by rubbing half a lemon if needed and dry with a kitchen towel.
- Silicone spatula: It’s used during the delicate folding process between wet and dry ingredients (also known as “macarronge”).
- Piping bag + Round nozzle (#12): Macaron shells are formed by piping the batter in small circles. If you use a bigger nozzle, it’ll be more difficult for you to control the piping.
- Parchment paper or baking mat: They prevent the shells from sticking on the baking sheet.
- Macaron template (optional): Useful to make even shells, same size (around 3-3.5 cm /1.2-1.4 inches). I’ll show you how to make one by yourself at home in one of the next steps.
- Oven thermometer: Each oven is different and sometimes they bake at a wrong temperature, different from the one we set. It’s really important to bake the shells at the proper temperature to prevent the macaron shells from cracking or drying (too high temperature), undercooking (too low temperature), etc.
♦ 50 grs Ground almond
♦ 100 grs Icing sugar
♦ 20 grs Caster sugar
♦ 60 grs Egg whites (~ 2 egg whites)
♦ 1/6 tsp Cream of tartar (you can use a pinch of salt instead)
♦ Optional: Paste food colouring (I didn’t add any to these macarons)
Useful Tips About Your Ingredients
♥ About the egg whites you’ll need:
• It’s better to use natural ones, although you can use both pasteurized and dried egg whites.
• Separate them from yolk in advance and make sure there are no egg yolk traces. Otherwise, the egg whites won’t whip up properly.
• Leave the egg whites to settle at least overnight (better 2-3 days, even up to 5 days), keeping them in an airtight container inside the fridge. The “older” the egg whites are, the better result, since they’ll have lost most of the humidity, and that’s what we’re looking for by using “aged” egg whites.
• Always bring them to room temperature before using. Don’t use cold egg whites.
• Each egg white weighs around 30 grs.
♥ What on Earth is cream of tartar?
• This ingredient helps to stabilize the egg whites and hold their shape once they’re whipped. You can use a pinch of salt or 2 tsp of lemon instead for this purpose.
Keep reading for detailed information about the process or click on the stage you’re interested in:
1) Weigh the icing sugar and the ground almond precisely in your kitchen scale.
2) Blend them together with a food processor for around 1 – 2 minutes. This will help to get a smooth batter.
3) Sieve the previous blend twice. This will also help to get an even smoother batter.
4) Get rid of large bits to ensure a smooth batter.
5) Set aside.
6) Mix the egg whites with the whisk attachment at medium speed until frothy (lots of air bubbles on the surface).
7) At this stage (frothy), without stopping your mixer, add the cream of tartar (or a pinch of salt instead).
8) Keep mixing at medium speed until you get a beautiful and light foam, with still some air bubbles. The whisk will leave noticeable tracks on the surface of the foam. Soft peaks are formed when lifting the whisk from the batter. This consistency it’s not stiff enough, it won’t work. We should keep working the meringue.
9) At this stage (nice foam, soft peaks), without stopping your mixer at any moment, turn your mixer to high speed (8 in KA) and gradually add the caster sugar in 3 additions, mixing well between each.
10) Keep mixing for a while at high speed (8 in KA) until you get a really creamy, even, glossy and thick meringue, with no longer visible air bubbles. This is the French meringue texture we’re looking for. The mixing time will depend on the room temperature, humidity, etc. Whatever the case may be, some more minutes of mixing before adding the caster sugar will be required.
TESTS to know if your French meringue is ready (stiff peaks stage):
• Pay attention to your whisk: the meringue will clump inside it.
• Lift the whisk from the meringue: you’ll get stiff peaks, that is, peaks that hold their shape with upright tips.
• Turn the bowl upside down: the meringue doesn’t slide off. It’ll remain in the bowl.
When you get this texture, it’s important not to over-beat, as we can “break” the meringue!
Note: If you want to add some food colouring, do it right when start getting stiff peaks and mix just until combine.
11) Gradually add the dry ingredients to your meringue in 3 additions.
12) Gently fold the mixture by means of a silicone spatula in order to get the right consistency (neither too stiff, nor too runny). Fold well between additions, around 50 folds in average (never mix!). You should get a smooth and glossy batter, with no visible dry ingredients (lava-like consistency).
How to fold the mixture? Slide gently your spatula from bottom to top and from top to bottom, making circular movements. Repeat this until the mixture is evenly blended.
TEST to know if the consistency of the batter after the macarronage is correct:
• Lift the spatula with a portion of batter and let it fall: a large “thick ribbon” of batter will flow downwards smoothly (lava-like consistency).
During the “macarronage”:
• Don’t overfold: otherwise, the mixture will be too runny and the piped shells won’t keep their shape, they’ll spread and they’ll come out completely flat and irregular from the oven, even feetless.
• Don’t underfold: otherwise, you may have uneven cracked macarons or macarons with an important pocket of air inside. They also may look like a meringue cookie instead of a nice and flatter round shell.
13) Attach a plain nozzle (#12) to the piping bag and fill it with the macaron mixture by scooping carefully with a silicone spatula. Tighten the piping bag on top after filling it.
14) Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or place a baking mat on it.
You can use a macaron template to make evenly sized macarons. Make it by yourself at home by using wax paper, a 3 – 3.5 cm (1.2 – 1.4 inch) round cutter and a permanent marker. Don’t forget to leave a gap of 4-5 cm (1.6 – 2 inch) between each circle. Make sure the template fits on your baking sheet. It’ll be reusable.
15) Pipe the shells onto the parchment paper or baking mat and remove the macaron template carefully.
16) Tap the bottom of the baking sheet against your worktop in order to remove any peaks and/or large air bubbles (do it twice if necessary). In addition, you can remove the most rebellious air bubbles by means of a toothpick and/or flatten the peaks with a small palette knife. You have to proceed quickly when doing this, before the batter starts drying, in order to prevent the macarons from marks. Despite this useful tip, if peaks keep after tapping the baking sheet, it’ll mean that the consistency of the batter is not right.
17) Leave the shells to dry for around 1 – 2 hours or until no longer tacky. The time will depend on the ambient humidity. After this, a thin layer will be formed on top. You’ll notice it by gently touching the macaron surface.
You can’t skip this important step by any means, since we want the macarons to lose humidity and form the mentioned thin layer on top. This layer will help the macaron to form the well-known feet during the baking process, as the heat won’t be able to escape through the top and it’ll escape through the bottom. So don’t leaving them to dry before baking can produce both cracked and footless macarons.
18) In a preheated oven at 150 º / 300 F (read an oven thermometer), bake the macarons for around 10-14 minutes. It’s difficult to set a steady baking time, since each oven is different and the temperature varies.
TESTS to know if the macarons are ready during baking (always once the foot is formed):
• Tap a shell: it’ll sound hollow.
• Crack a shell with your finger: a thin crust should be broken.
• Remove a shell with a small spatula: it’ll come off easily.
Don’t let the macarons get brown on top, as we just want them to dry, not to cook. They have to keep the original colour.
Rotate the baking sheet halfway through baking process to allow an even baking, if needed.
During the baking process:
• Oven temperature too high: cracked shells on top /Browned macarons.
• Overbaking: dry and crunchy macarons, like meringue cookies.
• Underbaking: macarons will separate when trying to lift them off the baking sheet / They’ll stick to the parchment paper after baking, breaking very easily / They can look hollow inside.
19) Let them cool for 5-10 minutes on the baking sheet. It’ll be easier to remove the shells from the parchment paper if you do it. After that, place them on a cooling rack and let them cool completely.
20) Once the macarons have cooled, you can fill them with chocolate ganache, buttercream, jam, toffee, peanut butter… Anything you fancy! In that occasion, I used pink coloured vanilla buttercream My favourite!
It’s easier to fill them by means of a piping bag, applying the filling just on the bottom of one shell. Be careful when handling the shells, since they’re really fragile and they can break easily.
21) Combine a couple of shells (one unfilled-one filled), press them gently to spread the filling, and you’ll have your macaron ready.
22) EAT THEM with no regrets!
24) Feel free to have seconds!
If you’re not going to consume your macarons immediately, you can store them:
• Unfilled macarons: can be stored in an airtight container for 3-5 days.
• Filled macarons: keep them in an airtight container inside the fridge up to 2-3 days. Bring to room temperature before eating them. They are even tastier 1-2 days after having been made!
I’m aware that I must practice and practice to get the perfect macaron. And I will!
Once you feel confident with basic macarons, you’ll be able to apply your own twist (different colours, flavours, even different shapes…).
P.S: don’t confuse macaron with macaroon. They’re not the same!