The first subject which came to mind when thinking about starting a blog was the exploration of my favorite sweet treat on the planet. Macarons. Not macaroons…Macarons. That most etherial of French delicacies. I love them. I mean, I really, really love them. So much so that I must limit myself to making them once (or perhaps twice) a month as I will eat the whole batch myself within a day or two. This series is all about French macarons. And today it begins with a French macarons basic recipe. This is the result of the obsession I have with these little magical treats. This is the base recipe which all others derive to produce Macarons which are crunchy but with a soft melted center. Delicious.
I have created a French Macarons Recipe File Page within the header of the blog so we can have all our Macaron fun in one place. As we move through different recipes I will post the links there!
I first discovered this exact ratio of ingredients on a French Blog called MaiTai’s Picturebook. It is a lovely read, beautifully photographed, all about Hermes scarves and life in the south of France. Sprinkled within are wonderful sight-seeing trips around France and here and there are the most terrific recipes. The proportions for Macarons are one of those nuggets!
This recipe is based on the ratio of ingredients based on weight not volume. In other words instead of measuring cups to determine how much of an ingredient we will use, we will weigh the ingredients in grams. Another notable difference in this recipe is that all the ingredient amounts are based of the weight (in grams) of the egg whites. After all, one cannot exactly know what a particular egg white will weigh. Once we know what the egg whites weigh we determine how much of everything else to use. Sounds complicated but in reality it is pretty simple.
Looking over this post I realize how daunting this all looks. I beg you to not be dissuaded. I made these instructions as complete as I could with as much detail as I could think of. Not to make it seem complicated but to give as complete a roadmap as possible. I really want you to charge ahead because making these is not difficult and is so rewarding. And if for some reason a batch does not work out…we are only talking about egg whites people.
Mise en placeMise en place (French pronunciation: [mi zɑ̃ ˈplas]) is a French phrase which means “putting in place”, as in set up.
Especially important is making macarons is mise en place. Why? Because once the process is up and running it is far easier to get reliable and consistent results with all ingredients weighed & sifted, piping bag prepared and baking pans ready. I find it is important to have a very clean work area and spotlessly clean utensils, bowls, etc. I know, it is always important, but especially so with whipping egg whites as they can be extra finicky and don’t like even a speck of oil or fat of any kind or they won’t whip properly.
Macaron Mise en Place
- 2 jelly roll pans or cookie sheets * Line pans with parchment paper
- Pastry Bag, 18-Inch
* Insert Ateco Pastry Tube – Plain – Size 8 for larger macarons or Ateco Pastry Tube Plain – Size 4 for smaller macarons into bag and set in a large drinking glass
- a Digital Scale (must be able to weigh in grams, which most do)
- Stand Mixer or Hand Mixer with whisk attachment
- Large Bowl
- Fine Sieve or Sifter
- Food processor fitted with a steel blade
- 4 Large Eggs (separated)
- Ground Almond Flour I prefer Bob’s Red Mill Flour Almond Meal, 16-ounces
- Confectioners (icing) Sugar
- Granulated (Caster)Sugar
- Gel, Paste or Powdered Food Coloring – I use Ateco
- Additional Flavorings (if necessary)
Time to Get Started! Step by Step Macaron Directions:
Egg whites are about 33-36 grams each and 2 make about 14 macarons. I like to use 4 egg whites which will fill two half sheet pans of macarons. If we are going to the trouble we should make enough to share!
First put a clean bowl on top of your digital scale. The scale will, of course, weigh the bowl (which we don’t want). The scale should have a “tare” button. What that does when pressed is to move the scale to “0” thus eliminating the weight of the bowl. Cool right?! Add your egg whites to the bowl. Now you have the amount of egg whites (in grams) you are working with. Set them aside.
The egg whites this time around were 132 grams.
There is a bit of math here…the amount of almond flour is determined by multiplying the weight (in grams) of the egg whites times 1.26.
132 grams x 1.26 = 171.36 grams of almond flour
We know we need 171.36 grams of almond flour and so we weigh that next. Put a clean bowl on the scale and press the tare button and add almond flour until your scale reads 171.36 grams. Set aside.
The amount of confectioner’s sugar is determined by multiplying the weight (in grams) of the egg whites times 2.07.
132 grams x 2.07 = 273.24 grams of confectioner’s sugar
Weigh the confectioner’s sugar out and set aside.
Lastly it is time to find out how much sugar we need.
132 grams ÷ 3.6 = 36.66 grams of white sugar
Weigh the white sugar and set aside.
Now the fun really begins!
Sift together confectioners sugar and ground almond flour. Another option is to first run the confectioners sugar and almond flour through a food processor and then put through a fine sieve to remove bigger bits. This is called “tant pour tant” or half and half. Discard leftover bits and set the tant pour tant aside.
Time to Whip It Up!
In a stand mixer with a whisk attachment beat egg whites until they form soft peaks. Continue to beat while slowly adding granulated sugar.
Once the sugar has completely dissolved add food coloring and any additional flavorings the recipe might call for. When finished the egg whites should hold stiff peaks.
With a spatula fold the tant pour tant into to macaron base. There is no need to be super careful here…a little deflating of the egg whites is okay.
Make sure there are NO egg white streaks within the mixture. It should be lava like and a very smooth paste. Any egg whites not incorporated will not bake evenly and I promise it won’t be pretty! The mixture will, at first, appear as if it won’t ever combine, but never fear, soon it will turn to smooth lava.
Pour macaron paste into prepared pastry bag. Fold over end and twist to keep mixture from oozing out the top. Full disclosure…when I made the recipe which I photographed it was a bit runny. The macarons turned out great but I prefer the mixture a tad thicker in consistency.
Pipe 1 1/4-1 1/2″ rounds of macaron paste onto prepared cookie sheets. Space rounds about 2″ apart as they will spread. I use an Ateco #8 tip for larger macarons
or #4 for smaller macarons with an 18-Inch pastry bag for this process.
Once macarons are piped bang the cookie sheet on the counter three times to force any air bubbles caught under the surface to rupture.
Rotate the pan 1/2 turn and bang the sheet another three times. If there are bubbles remaining I pop them with a toothpick otherwise I won’t get that smooth macaron dome!
Let the pans rest for at least 1 hour (If it is a humid day I will wait even longer). What you want is the tops of the piped macarons will loose some of their shine. The photos below represent newly piped (on the left photo) and a bit duller (after 45 minutes on a rainy day). This is a good time to make the filling!
Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees.
Bake the macarons for 9-20 minutes. This is a large range of time. It can vary greatly depending upon how hot your oven runs and how humid the temperature. In actuality baking macarons is really just a process of drying out the meringue.
One good rule of thumb (a la MaiTai) is to wait until one macaron begins to crack and then the rest are sure to be done. Another tip from MaiTai, a way to know if they are approaching being done is when the kitchen begins to smell delicious! I just keep an eye on them and when they have risen, are a uniform color and smell delicious I know I am there. If there is any question about under vs over baking opt for over baking. Remember, you will be filling them with a wet filling which will soften the meringue while they rest (more about that later). I use MaiTai’s advice and once one has cracked I take the pan out of the oven.
Remove pans to wire racks.
When completely cool remove shells from baking sheets and match up pairs of similar size.
Fill with desired filling (either with a small spatula or pastry bag and tip). If I am using jam I just use an offset spatula…all other fillings I use a small pastry bag and tip.
Now comes the hard part. Wait. Yes, wait. At least one day. Place macarons in an airtight container and put them in the refrigerator. The texture completely changes in the 12-24 hours they ripen. If you don’t believe me eat one right away and then wait a day…the texture mellows in the middle and they take on that wonderful creamy consistency in the center with crisp outer shell. If you have baked them on the overdone side rest them even longer…although I can never wait more than a day. Macaron bliss!
- 4 Large Eggs (separated) and weighed (in grams)
- Ground Almond Four Flour (I prefer Bob's Red Mill Almond Flour/Meal) Total weight of egg whites x 1.26
- Confectioners (Icing) Sugar Total weight of egg whites x 2.07
- Granulated (Caster)Sugar Total weight of egg whites ÷ 3.6
- Gel, Paste or Powdered Food Coloring (I use Ateco gel or Wilton paste)
- Weigh 4 egg whites. Set them aside.
- Weigh the almond flour. It should equal the weight of the egg whites (in grams) times 1.26.
- Weigh the confectioner's sugar. Is determined by multiplying the weight (in grams) of the egg whites times 2.07. Set aside.
- Weigh the white sugar which is determined by dividing the weight of the egg whites by 3.6. Set aside.
- Process ground almond flour and confectioners sugar in a food processor. Put through a fine sieve or sift. Discard remaining bits.
- Beat egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment until they form soft peaks.
- Continue to beat while slowly adding granulated sugar.
- Once the sugar has completely dissolved add food coloring and any additional flavorings the recipe might call for.
- With a spatula gently fold the dry mixture into to macaron base. There is no need to be super careful here...a little deflating of the egg whites is okay.
- Make sure there are NO egg white streaks within the mixture. It should be lava like and a very smooth paste. Any egg whites not incorporated will not bake evenly and I promise it won't be pretty!
- Pour macaron paste into prepared pastry bag. Fold over end and twist to keep mixture from oozing out the top.
- Pipe 1¼-1½" rounds of macaron paste onto prepared cookie sheets. Space rounds about 2" apart as they will spread.
- Once macarons are piped bang the cookie sheet on the counter three times to force any air bubbles caught under the surface to rupture. Pierce any remaining bubbles with a toothpick.
- Rotate the pan ½ turn and bang the sheet another three times.
- Let the pans rest for at least ½ hour (I usually wait about an hour). What you want is the tops of the piped macarons will loose some of their shine.
- Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees
- Bake the macarons for 9-20 minutes. This is a large range of time. It can vary greatly depending upon how hot your oven runs and how humid the temperature. In actuality baking macarons is really just a process of drying out the meringue. So a cooler oven on a humid day will take longer than a hotter oven on a dry day.
- Remove pans to wire racks. Lift the parchement on each corner an put a few drops of water to help release the macarons. Be carefull...not too much water...literally just a couple of drops. Let cool.
- Remove shells from baking sheets and match up pairs of similar size.
- Fill with desired filling (either with a small spatula or pastry bag and tip).
- Now comes the hard part. Wait. Yes, wait. At least one day. Place macarons in an airtight container and put them in the refrigerator. The texture completely changes in the 12-24 hours they ripen. If you don't believe me eat one right away and then wait a day...the texture mellows in the middle and they take on that wonderful creamy consistency in the center with crisp outer shell.
Fillings and Flavorings
This is the easiest macaron filling there is…Chocolate Ganache. A simple and classic combination of chopped chocolate, heavy cream and butter. If you can boil water you can make ganache!
Since we have the digital scale out we will use it for the filling as well! I love the taste that two types of chocolate add to this ganache. I used both milk and semi-sweet. A pinch of espresso powder in this is a welcome addition if you happen to have some lying around!
- 80 grams Milk Chocolate
- 50 grams Semi-Sweet Chocolate
- 30 grams unsalted Butter
- 120 ml Double (Heavy) Cream
- Pinch of espresso powder (optional)
- Chop chocolates and place in bowl.
- Cut butter into cubes and add to chocolate
- Gently heat heavy cream over a low flame until just simmering
- Pour heavy cream over chocolate/butter mixture
- Stir until combined
- Place in refrigerator until ready to serve