Thursday, March 22, 2012

How to Make French Macarons



2 cups (8 oz.) powdered sugar
1-1/3 cups (4.5 oz.) finely ground blanched almond meal
3 to 4 large egg whites, at room temperature
1/4 tsp. almond extract
3 to 6 drops of food coloring to match your flavor (optional)
3/4 cup filling, such as lemon curd, chocolate ganache, buttercream, chestnut spread, Nutella, peanut butter, or jam
Tip: It's possible to grind almonds in a food processor with some of the powdered sugar, but for this recipe you want the almonds uniformly fine. I recommend using finely ground blanched almond meal from Bob's Red Mill.

Combine the powdered sugar and almond meal in a bowl and mix together thoroughly with a whisk or fork. Pass through a medium-coarse sieve to lighten and aerate the mixture (which makes it easier to fold).
In a glass measure, add enough egg whites to reach halfway between the 1/3 cup and 1/2 cup mark; or use a scale to weigh out 3.75 oz. of egg whites. Transfer these to a large bowl, and save the rest for another purpose or discard. With an electric mixer, beat the egg whites at medium speed until they form soft peaks when the beaters are lifted; add the almond extract and the coloring, if using. Beat at high speed until the mixture forms stiff but not dry peaks when the beaters are lifted. Pour all of the almond flour mixture over the egg whites. With a large rubber spatula, fold the almond mixture into the egg whites just until it is fully incorporated. The egg whites will deflate somewhat, but the batter will be thick and moist and almost pourable.
Drop heaping teaspoons of batter 1 inch apart on parchment-lined cookie sheets. Or transfer the batter to a large pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain tip and pipe out disks in the following manner: Hold the bag vertical with the tip about 3/8 inch from the pan liner. Squeeze the bag without moving it until a disk of batter 1 1/2 inches in diameter is formed. Stop squeezing a second or two before moving the bag to pipe the next disk. Repeat, piping disks 1 inch apart. Let the macarons rest for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the surface of the disks is ever so slightly dry-this slightly dry crust will help form characteristic little "platforms" at the base of each macaron as they bake.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400°F. Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven.
Slide two sheets of macarons into the oven and immediately turn the temperature down to 300°F. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until the macarons are barely starting to turn golden (they will be golden on the bottom, though you will have to destroy one macaron to find out). Rotate the pans from top to bottom and from front to back halfway through the baking time to ensure even baking. Set the pans or just the liners on racks to cool.
When the cookies are cool, lift a corner of the parchment pan liner. Holding a cookie with the other hand, carefully peel the liner away from the cookie (don't try to pull the cookie off the liner or you will lose the bottom of the cookie). Repeat with the remaining cookies.
Spread 1/2 to 1 tsp. filling on the flat side of a cookie and top with a cookie of matching size. Put the cookies on a tray and cover them with plastic wrap. Put the trays in the refrigerator to let the cookies mellow at least overnight and for up to 2 days before serving. Bring to room temperature for serving.

Lemon Curd Macaron Filling


This smooth, creamy mixture of lemon, eggs, sugar, and butter has a refreshingly bright, tart flavor.Yields about 1-1/4 cups
Watch The Video
Click here to find out more!
Click here to find out more!
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1-1/2 oz. (3 Tbs.) unsalted butter
3 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/8 tsp. kosher salt

In a 3-quart nonreactive saucepan, heat the lemon juice and butter over medium-high heat until just under a boil. In a medium heatproof bowl, whisk the eggs and egg yolk and then slowly whisk in the sugar until combined. Gradually whisk the hot lemon juice mixture into the sugar and eggs.

Return the mixture to the saucepan and set over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon and scraping the bottom of the pan frequently, until the curd thickens and coats the spoon, 2 to 4 minutes. Draw your finger along the back of the spoon; when the curd is done, it should hold the trail.

Remove the curd from the heat and strain it through a fine sieve into a bowl. Whisk in the vanilla and salt. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing the plastic onto the surface of the curd, and chill for 1 to 2 hours before using.

make ahead tips

The curd can be made up to 5 days ahead; refrigerate in an airtight container.






How-to make French Macarons by Crumb Boss

Grey Tea Macarons with Honey Buttercream Filling

How to make Macarons at home + recipe


How to make macarons: a detailed, illustrated step-by-step recipe

Macarons are a French delicacy I am completely crazy about. Since I can’t always be in Paris close to my favorite pastry-chef, Pierre Hermé, I have decided to make my own. It's not an easy task, and it needs a lot of patience. I learned how to make them in Paris, but when I came back I searched around the internet for some recipes providing the perfect ratios. I learned the hard way that macarons are capricious little wonders: add a bit of this or that, and your delicate balance tips over; I’ve seen my share of overbaked, flat, cracked or overinflated numbers coming out of my oven. No recipe is universal, and the most important thing is to go slow. Try cautiously with your own instruments, ingredients and oven. You will have to try more than once before achieving perfection. If they were so easy to do, wouldn’t everyone make them?
When I was looking around for recipes, I found plenty but few had illustrated steps to guide you through what’s OK or not in terms of texture, color and result. Since you can’t always have an experienced teacher showing you the first time, I figured I would allow you to benefit from my apprentissage and help you get to a happy result more quickly.
No single source can be given as a base for my recipe. I have gathered dozens left and right, tested and tasted and ended with my own proportions. Now I (almost) always make them successfully, so this is a good base to start with. I will guide you through the rest.
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** UPDATE! **
I finally wrote and published my troubleshooting post. Here it is! A Macaron Troubleshooting Guide: Useful Tips and Advice to Master the French Delicacy. If you're having any trouble making macarons, chances are you'll find answers in that post. If I missed something, send me a note or post a comment below!
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I have put together a short 5-minute video that shows you the key steps in making French macarons at home. There's nothing like having someone show you the way – at least, that's how I learned. The video, along with this post's detailed instructions and pictures, should allow anyone wanting to make this French delicacy at home succeed.
Watch the video below, or better yet, click here to view it in high-definition on YouTube. You'll be able to read the instructions more easily and see all the important details much better.
See also my "All About Macarons" page for more resources and links.
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Macarons: Basic Recipe
These ingredients will make the cookies. This is the base and what’s hardest to master. You should try to successfully bake a couple recipes of basic macarons before trying to mix in other flavors.
3 egg whites (from large eggs), separated at least 24 hours in advance and kept in the refrigerator
210 g powdered sugar
125 g almond meal
30 g regular granulated sugar
What you need – equipment:
It’s best to gather all the equipment you really need before starting. Yes, I did have to buy some of these tools before making my first macarons. The good thing is that none of the following tools are specific to making macarons so your new gadgets will help you make many other great desserts. Please, do take this excuse and go shopping. :)
Kitchen scale (yes, you do have to measure in grams, it’s more precise)
Food processor (really nice to have but not mandatory)
Hand or stand mixer with whisk accessory (mandatory unless you’re very courageous and/or strong)
Sifter or fine sieve
Big stainless steel bowl (cul-de-poule)
Another big mixing bowl
Spatula
Pastry bag and round tip (1/2 to 3/4 inch opening)
Large baking sheets, preferably 2 to 4 of them
Parchment paper
Various food color (liquid, gel or powder are all good)
A couple of days before you plan to make your macarons: Prepare your eggs. Separate them, putting the whites in a clean airtight container and reserving the yolks for another use. Now, your egg whites must “age”: they need to spend at least 24h (up to 5 days) in the refrigerator before you use them.
The morning of the day you plan to make your macarons: Take your egg whites out of the refrigerator and leave them to temper at room temperature for several hours.
Making the cookies:
Measure the powdered sugar and almond meal and put them in the bowl of your food processor. Finely grind the two together for a minute or two. Stop the processor, scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl, and process again for a minute.
Yes, you need to do this even though both ingredients are already powdered. This step blends the sugar and nuts perfectly together and gets rid of bigger bits that often remain in packaged almond meal.
You can grind your own almonds, just make sure they are peeled. And that you very finely grind them (add the powdered sugar to the almonds when they are coarsely ground to make sure you don’t end up with a paste).
If you don’t have a food processor, you can still make macarons, but make sure to really thoroughly blend the almonds and sugar together. The consequence is that the texture of your macarons won’t be as soft and smooth.
After processing the powdered sugar and almond meal, you have to sieve the mixture. This is really important (especially if you don’t have a food processor) as it will get rid of the remaining bigger bits and ensure a smooth batter. You will see some of the almond refuses to pass though your sieve (see picture below). Don’t try to force it through; it’s ok to throw it away. The quantity shouldn’t be significant enough to unbalance your recipe.
Here’s what I generally have left after I sieve half of my almonds-sugar mixture:
How to Make Macarons
Set this bowl aside and take your bigger stainless steel bowl out. This kind of bowl is called a cul-de-poule in French and they are so useful in a kitchen that, if you don't have one already, you simply really should invest in a couple of them (different sizes). Stainless steel bowls helps egg whites get fluffy and firm.
Make sure your bowl is cold. Stainless steel usually remains cold by itself, but if it’s not, rinse it under cold water (or stick it in the freezer for a couple of minutes) and dry it before continuing. A cold bowl also makes egg whites happy.
Make sure your granulated sugar is measured and close to your working area. Put your egg whites in the bowl. Start beating them at medium/high speed with your mixer. Once they start to get bubbly and white and you see your whisk is lightly leaving marks, add a tablespoon of the granulated sugar.
How to Make Macarons
Continue beating and add the remaining sugar slowly over the next minute or two. Your eggs will now be white and fluff but not stiff enough. Continue beating at high speed until peaks form and remain up when you take out your whisk (stop your mixer before trying this!). When the egg whites are ready, you’ll notice that they seem dense and creamy and not as bubbly anymore. Here’s what they look like:
How to Make Macarons
How to Make Macarons
Now is the time to put your electric appliances aside. Your egg whites are delicate and you must treat them gently. If you wish to add color, now is the time to do so. I made lemon macarons. I added 15 drops of yellow liquid food coloring and the very finely grated zest of one lemon. Gently fold in the color using a spatula: slide your spatula on the side of the bowl under the egg whites and bring the bottom up to the top. Repeat this until the color is evenly blended. Now is not the time to be in a hurry: DO NOT whisk at any cost as it will deflate your egg whites and your batter will be ruined. At this point, the color of your batter (if you added food coloring) should be at least as intense as you want the final macaron to be. It will intensify and brighten a bit when you add the almonds/sugar mixture.
The batter is now matte, light and fluffy:
How to Make Macarons
Continuing your folding motion, start mixing in your dry ingredients a little at a time (you should add the whole thing in 4 or 5 additions). Carefully blend everything together, always sliding your spatula to the bottom of the bowl and back up to make sure no pockets of dry ingredients remain.
When your batter is evenly blended, it will look shiny and creamy:
How to Make Macarons
Prepare your baking sheets. Double the baking sheets (helps macarons rise and cook more evenly) then cover each with a well-measured sheet of parchment paper. I have tried silicon mats before and I don’t think they work well with macarons. Their rubbery texture seems to cling to the delicate and somewhat sticky cookies so that you more often than not end up with empty shells (the tender insides remaining stuck to the silicon).
How to Make Macarons
Now is the time to fit your pastry bag with its tip. I like to use disposable pastry bags that I wash 3-4 times before getting rid of them. I find that plastic pastry bags are more flexible and easier to work with than textile bags. They are also really easy to clean just by letting hot water run through them and they don’t stain.
To make the transfer from bowl to pastry bag easy, I stand my pastry bag in a measuring cup, folding or twisting the tip to make sure the batter doesn’t come out too quickly. If your pastry bags are long, fold it in half to make sure the batter gets to the bottom of the bag.
How to Make Macarons
Take your bag out of the cup, keeping the tip folded or twisted so that the batter doesn’t come out. Unfold the larger end of the bag and twist it shut close to the batter to push it down. As you lay your macarons on the cooking sheets, you will continue this motion (twisting the larger end of the bag with one hand) to put constant pressure on the batter and ease its way out on the sheets.
Now is the time to work your magic: you have to hold the tip of your bag with one hand to guide it, and hold the larger end with your other hand to push the batter down. Place your tip close to the parchment paper and twist the end of the bag so as to push the batter down and out to form 1 to 1.5” disks. You can set your macarons pretty close together as they won’t expand while cooking. When enough batter is out, stop twisting the end of the bag and swiftly lift your tip up to stop the batter from coming out. This is tricky:you will need practice. Mastering this technique will ensure your macarons are uniform in size and round.
How to Make Macarons
Now, don’t panic. Your macarons have a pointy tip that makes them look like lazy Hershey’s Kisses. Not to worry: as they rest before cooking, they will smooth out. You can help them though: lift your baking sheet up a bit and firmly bang it on the table a couple of times. This will even the caps and take the air bubbles out of them.
If you’re a perfectionist like I am, now is a good time to edit your macarons to make sure they will be perfectly round. I use a small silicon spatula to make oval caps round or smooth down tips that won’t come down. This step is absolutely not mandatory; imperfection can be very charming.
The next step will once again test your patience: you have to let your macarons rest on the baking sheets at room temperature for at least 20 minutes (some say a couple hours is best but I’m not that patient). You just have to. This step will “dry” the caps and help them rise later when they cook.
How to Make Macarons
Halfway through the wait, preheat your oven between 275 and 300°F (135-150°C). Every oven behaves differently. I have a gas oven and 300°F (150°C) is generally good for me. In some ovens, this temperature can be too hot, especially for light-colored macarons (you don't want them to brown). I prefer to play it safe, cook them at a lower temperature and leave them longer in the oven. You will have to test your own oven and stay close to it to watch over your macarons as they cook.
I baked these lemon macarons at 300°F (150°C) for 14 minutes. Your cooking time could be anywhere between 13 and 18 minutes. From 12 minutes on, watch closely, and avoid opening your oven door before that. Your macarons are ready when they look dry and matte and seem firm on their crown when you lightly tap on them. Overcooking the macarons will make them too crunchy and feel like meringue. Undercooking them will make them separate when you try to lift them off the sheets. I know, it’s tricky! After a while, you will know your oven and get better at figuring when your macarons are done. In any case, please play it safe when setting your oven temperature. Excessive heat is the macaron’s worst enemy: they will cook too quickly, cracking like meringue and browning, hiding their beautiful color.
When they are done, take the sheets out of the oven and let them cool on a rack. If you need to reuse your baking sheets for the next batch, let them cool 5-10 minutes in the baking sheet and then lift the parchment paper out of the sheet to set it directly on the cooling rack (this is why it’s good to have more than 2 sheets).
Once cooled to room temperature, your macarons are ready to be assembled.
How to Make Macarons
When they are perfectly cooked, they should lift easily from the parchment paper, have a flat bottom and a beautiful puffy crown. If they stick a bit, help them up with a thin stainless steel spatula so that they don’t separate or break. If they’re a bit overcooked, they will be hollow under the cap. You can still use them, you’ll just have to put more cream to assemble them (yum!).
Match the cap sizes that fit best together. For the filling, the possibilities are as great as your imagination is. For lemon macarons, you can fill them up with lemon curd as I did, or with a lemon-flavored buttercream. If you made pink cookies, fill them up with good-quality raspberry preserves or, if you feel decadent, with a mixture of mascarpone cheese and preserves. The only thing that’s important is to make sure the filling is firm enough to not drip out from the macarons. A great macaron should be able to stand on its side and not lose its filling.
Using an icing spatula (or just a regular butter knife) spread your icing on one cookie. Place the other cookie on the icing and press gently to stick them together.
Once all of your macarons are assembled, in an ideal world, you would put them in an airtight container, in the refrigerator and let them rest for another 24 hours. Yes, you need patience once again. They won’t be bad if you eat them right away. Letting them rest with their icing in really reveals the fine texture of the macaron. The humidity of the icing will get into the crispy caps and that’s what will make them crisp on the outside and so tender on the inside. Try to be patient, trust me, it’s really worth the wait. The good thing is that it’s a great dessert to make in advance and it will for sure impress your guests. They will be at their best if you eat them in the next 4-5 days.
Yes, these French cookies are a really fancy delicacy. No, they’re not easy to make. Yes, they require time, patience and practice to master. But it’s worth it really, and less expensive than a plane ticket to Paris.
How to Make Macarons

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