Macarons have been on my ‘to-make’ list for a while now but they’ve always been a little intimidating and since I don’t regularly keep almond meal in my cupboard, they’re never the first thing I think of when I go to bake something. I had read through many recipes online and while they’re all pretty similar, I ultimately settled on the Bouchon Bakery recipe, as seen on Annie’s Eats. Annie has a great macaron tutorial so check that out first if you’re looking for a visual step-by-step (the link back there will bring you to it).
The stars all aligned on Sunday…a napping toddler, all ingredients present and accounted for and a new digital kitchen scale gleaming on the counter, waiting to be put to good use. A kitchen scale is almost necessary for making macarons, since even the slightest variation can lead to failure. I just got a cheap one from Wal-Mart but it did the trick.
I was ready for my mission.
The almond meal, confectioner’s sugar and egg whites are weighed and mixed together to make a paste-like mixture.
Up next is the meringue. A simple syrup is made and the rest of the egg whites are beaten until soft peaks form, then the two are combined until stiff. This was my first time making a meringue too…so glossy! I only had a hand mixer since my stand mixer is in storage. It was a little tricky beating the egg whites with one hand, making sure the syrup didn’t get too hot with the other and then slowly combining the two, but I managed. A stand mixer would make this much easier though.
The meringue is gently folded into the almond mixture to make your batter. Add it slowly since you might not need all of it…you just want enough to get a smooth consistency that isn’t too runny or too stiff. I used just about all of the meringue and thought I used too much at first, but it ended up being perfect. You’ll know you used too much if the cookies spread out a lot when you pipe them onto the parchment paper. And if that does happen I’m not really sure how you would fix it so just don’t do it, okay?
The first batch, just out of the oven. And look! Feet! That’s what the little edge on the bottom is called…I got nervous that they weren’t coming out because they were almost done and were still flat on the sheet. But then, they magically started lifting off. Success!! The recipe says to bake them for 9-12 minutes but if yours are still flat, try giving them a little more time. Some of mine had to go up to 2-3 minutes longer. And some of them I pulled out too soon and they were still a little gooey inside.
I baked the macarons using both metal and stone baking sheets, both lined with parchment paper. I didn’t notice a difference between the two…both yielded some perfect cookies and some not-so-perfect ones. These were part of the second batch to go into the oven and sadly, they cracked. I really am not sure why but that’s kind of the way with macarons! Sometimes they just don’t like you. We still ate them and they were still delicious…just not as pretty.
While the macarons were cooling I made the filling. I decided on a chocolate ganache but added some almond extract to it to kick up the almond flavor. The cookies themselves don’t have a ton of flavor so most of it comes from the filling. A buttercream (lemon sounds dreamy) would also work great, and I’m thinking some type of thick caramel sauce would be delicious! Maybe next time…and next time I would make the ganache beforehand so it had more time to cool while I made the cookies. You live and learn!
Here’s the recipe if you want to give them a whirl!
yields about two dozen macarons
- 212 grams almond meal
- 212 grams confectioner’s sugar
- 82 and 90 grams egg whites, divided
- 236 grams granulated sugar, plus a pinch
- 158 grams water
Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
Weigh out your almond meal and confectioner’s sugar into a medium bowl. Whisk to combine and to get any clumps out. Add the 82 grams of egg whites (roughly 3 egg whites but make sure to weigh it) and stir to create a thick paste.
Put the remaining 90 grams of egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer with a pinch of granulated sugar. Don’t turn it it on just yet but have it ready and waiting. Combine the water and 236 grams of granulated sugar in a small pot. Clip on a candy thermometer and heat over medium-high until the syrup has reached 248˚F. When the syrup has reached 200˚F, start whipping the egg whites on medium speed until soft peaks form. If soft peaks have formed before the syrup has reached 248˚F, reduce the speed to low and keep the egg whites moving.
When the syrup reaches 248˚F, remove immediately from heat. Pour slowly down the side of the bowl of the stand mixer with the egg whites and then increase the speed to medium-high. Whip the meringue until thick and glossy and stiff peaks have formed. If you want to add some color to your macarons, now is the time to do so. A gel or powdered food coloring is recommended.
Gently fold the meringue into the almond mixture with a rubber spatula, about a third at a time, until you have a smooth batter that will pipe easily but also isn’t too runny. You may not need all of the meringue so don’t add it all at once. I used just about all of it without completely scraping out the bowl.
Fit a pastry bag with a round tip with about a 1/2” opening. Fill the pastry bag with batter and begin piping circles onto the parchment paper, about 1-1 1/2” in diameter and 1-2” apart. I actually liked the look of the smaller ones (and you’ll get more) so I would stick closer to 1” next time. To pipe the cookies, just hold the tip perpendicular to the cookie sheet and about 1/2” above it. Keep the tip in one place and just squeeze the bag until the batter spreads to a one-inch circle. To try to prevent a point from forming, I ended by pulling the tip off to the side. A point may still form but should smooth out if you have the correct consistency.
Place the baking sheets in the oven and reduce the temperature to 325˚F. Bake for 9-12 minutes, or until the tops are smooth and “feet” have formed. Allow to cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat the baking process for the rest of the batter, replacing the parchment paper for each batch and bringing the oven temp back up to 350˚F.
Make your filling (the ganache recipe I used is below). When the cookies are cool, match them up for size and pipe the filling onto one half. Carefully sandwich the two together.
dark chocolate almond ganache
yields enough to fill about two dozen macarons
- 5 oz. dark chocolate of choice (I used Ghirardelli)
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
Place the chocolate into a heat-safe bowl. Heat the cream on the stovetop until just boiling or heat in the microwave until steaming. Pour over chocolate and allow to sit for a minute or two. Add the almond extract and whisk until smooth. Allow to cool* until the mixture has reached the desired consistency.
*You can chill it in the fridge but stir it every 15-20 minutes and watch it so it doesn’t harden too much or you won’t be able to pipe it. I speak from experience. If the ganache does harden too much, just let it sit at room temp until it softens again.
Try not to eat it directly from the bowl.
And voilà! Easy as that. ;) These macarons were so delicious. The cookies had a crunchy outer shell and a light and chewy interior. The ganache was a perfect addition, lending a rich and silky decadence to the macarons. They were a little time consuming but definitely worth the effort. I can’t wait to experiment with different flavor combinations!