Macarons are sweet, chewy almond meringue cookies, sandwiched together with a filling. They’re one of my favourite cookies ever, and the flavour and colour combinations you can bring to them are endless.
Today we are sticking to a basic macaron recipe. Once you’ve got this down you can adapt them to make all the combinations you like!
A classic macaron biscuit has a glossy top that cracks when you bite into it. The interior is soft and chewy. The filling in the middle is what gives each macaron a unique flavour. You can fill them with jam, buttercream, curd, chocolate ganache…
I love using my berry chia seed jam as filling!
Making a macaron is not hard but there are a few crucial steps to follow. The first is measuring your ingredients correctly. For this recipe I really suggest using the gram amount that I have written to make sure it’s all the same.
I have used, for example, 3 egg whites but as eggs differ in sizes so much I have used 85 grams of egg whites. *Usually* a medium egg has 30g of egg white, which means it would be 90g total for three eggs. I have used 85g incase your eggs are on the smaller side and it saves you from having to crack open a fourth egg.
Ageing egg whites is something that is often advised when making meringue as older egg whites whip up quicker than fresh. Sometimes it can be hard to know at what stage your egg whites are so I add cream of tartar which will help give them the volume you need even if your eggs are fresher.
In a stainless steel bowl, they’re whipped with the cream of tartar until just holding a soft peak, then some white sugar is added a tablespoon at a time until the egg white has firm, glossy peaks and sugar grains can no longer be felt when a little egg white mixture is rubbed between your fingers. Stop beating once it gets to this stage, don’t over beat the egg whites.
Ground almonds are a key ingredient in macarons. You can use blanched or un-blanched almonds, but un-blanched will make a more rustic macaron with the little brown specks of almond skin.
The almonds, though already ground, are put in a food processor again along with icing sugar (powdered sugar) and blitzed until smooth. It’s then sieved and blitzed again if there are any lumps. Getting a very smooth and fine almond/sugar powder will mean your macarons won’t look as grainy. Later the almond/sugar is added to the whipped egg whites and it will be sieved again while it is being added. It’s then folded together, gently but well so that there are no clumps of dry almonds.
It is at this stage that colours can be added. I have tried colouring some of mine with natural colours like beetroot juice by grating the beet and squeezing out a few drops of red.
It did work but it also made the macaron spread out a little with that extra liquid being added, which made it quite thin. To colour it without changing the texture a gel colour is helpful but I choose to leave most of mine uncoloured to avoid unnatural food colourings.
The macarons are piped onto baking paper or a silicone sheet on abaking tray, circles of about 2.5cm. Free hand them or draw an outline on the underside of the baking paper. Then the baking tray is whacked a few times on the bench to remove any large air holes in the batter. This batch makes enough to fill two baking trays.
To get that crispy macaron shell, it is crucial you let the macaron sit out and form a little bit of a skin. Initially if you touched just piped macarons, they’d stick to your finger. Leave them to sit for about an hour (longer if it’s a humid day) until they no longer stick to your finger when touched. I like to pipe a little extra macaron to do this stickiness test on.
Once the stickiness has gone, they can be baked. You’ll use a very low oven temperature so the egg white doesn’t brown. The macarons will rise, their tops will harden and they should for ‘feet’ which are the ruffled edges of the macaron.
Keep an eye on them while they are baking. If they are browning too fast or the ‘feet’ are spreading out too much then your oven may be too hot and you should turn it down a little more.
Leave the cooked macarons to cool before carefully peeling them off the baking sheet.
Basic French Macarons
Chewy almond meringue cookies sandwiched together with a filling.
- 90 grams ground almonds
- 200 grams icing sugar
- 85 grams egg whites About 3 medium sized eggs
- 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 50 grams white sugar
In a food processor, combine the ground almonds and icing sugar and blitz until smooth.
Sieve into a bowl. If there are a lot of large ground almond bits remaining blitz and sieve again.
Whip the egg whites and cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Add in the salt and white sugar, a tablespoon at a time and keep whipping until stiff peaks form and you can’t feel grains of sugar when you rub a little between your finger.
Sieve the almond mixture into the egg whites and gently fold the almond mixture into the egg whites until it creates a sticky and well-incorporated batter. Spoon into a piping bag.
On baking paper or a silicone baking sheet, pipe little circles of about 2.5cm.
Once piped, bang the tray on the bench a few times to remove any air bubbles.
Leave the macarons to sit out for about an hour until they are no longer sticky when touched.
Bake at 150 degrees Celsius for 15-17 minutes. At the halfway mark, turn the baking tray around in the oven for a more consistent bake.
Leave the macarons to cool before peeling off the baking paper.
Sandwich together with your favourite filling (e.g. buttercream, jam, curd, ganache..)
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