i’ve been on a sort of french macaron frenzy lately. i’ve been seeing these little beauties all over the blogosphere for the last couple of years, and at some point this past summer, i decided i was going to learn how to make them. i looked at tons of recipes and knew that they might be tough – it seemed like everyone out there had gone through a couple of failed batches before getting the process right. so with this in mind, i got started. batch one: fail. batch two: fail. batch three: fail. finally, i realized that i might not be able to figure it out on my own. so i signed up for a macaron baking class at sur la table, and it all became clear. to be honest, i’m not sure what i was doing wrong before, but after seeing the process from start to finish and then doing it myself with the guidance of a pro, i was able to replicate the results in my kitchen.
what i’ve learned is that french macarons are more of a method than a recipe… and once you know the method, you can swap in whatever flavors you want. there are a ton of different recipes out there, and it’s hard to know which ones will work and which ones won’t. but the one thing that is for sure is that every kitchen is different, so what works in my kitchen won’t necessarily work perfectly in yours. but with all that in mind, i’m going to tell you the basic recipe/method that works for me in my kitchen, and i’ll do my best to let you know which pieces you might need to tweak for yourself.
oh, and one more thing before we get to the recipe: french macarons are DELICIOUS. they are definitely my most asked for recipe (which makes it all the more frustrating that they’re probably the most difficult one to explain). they sound like a lot of work, but really, once you get the method down, they’re super easy. and when you bite through the light, crispy exterior to get to the fluffy, moist inside, you know they were totally worth the effort.
- 4 oz almond flour
- 7 oz powdered sugar
- 4 oz egg whites*
- 3.5 oz granulated sugar
- sift together the almond flour and powdered sugar. different brands of almond flour differ in how finely ground they are, so you want to get rid of any crumbs that are too big to fit through the sifter. i order my almond flour from nuts.com, and i find that i only lose a tiny bit from sifting. anyway... once you are done sifting, set the dry ingredients aside.
- put your egg whites and a pinch of the sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. whisk on medium-high speed until you see soft peaks. then, with the mixer on low, slowly add in the rest of the sugar, then turn the mixer up to high speed. whisk the mixture until it has stiff peaks.
- now, add your dry ingredients to the egg mixture all at once. with a spatula or a wooden spoon, fold it all together - at first it will seem like the dry ingredients won't incorporate, but just keep folding. you want to keep folding until the batter is "lava-like" - basically, it should fall from the spatula in thick ribbons that slowly ooze back into the rest of the batter. i don't know how to explain this any better, but stella goes into a lot of detail in her tutorial.
- line two baking sheets with parchment paper. put the batter into a piping bag fitted with a round tip and pipe it into small circles about an inch apart on the parchment. once you are done piping, take each baking sheet and bang it hard against the countertop a few times - this releases any air bubbles hiding in your batter. [some people say you don't need to do this, but i always do just in case.] now, let the baking sheets sit out on the counter for at least 15 minutes, until the macarons are dry to the touch. [again, some people say you don't need to do this. i have found that it makes a big difference in keeping my macarons from cracking in the oven.] while the macarons are drying, preheat the oven to 350°f.
- once the macarons are dry, set one of the baking sheets on top of another empty baking sheet and put it in the oven. bake for 12-15 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through baking, until the macarons peel off easily from the parchment. repeat with the other baking sheet. [there is a ton of variation in how long and at what temperature people say to bake your macarons. this is what works for me, but it all depends on how the heat circulates in your oven, the humidity in your kitchen, the quality of your baking sheets, and a whole lot more. so if this doesn't work for you, feel free to experiment with different temperatures and bake times.]
- let the macaron shells cool completely before filling them with your favorite frosting/ganache/citrus curd.