The macaron is such a simple looking dessert, consisting of two almond meringue cookies with a filled in centre. Yet its looks are quite deceiving, as it takes a while to master, and a batch in itself takes a few hours (and a bit of patience) to put together. It took me almost two years of practising every few months, to finally get the desired look, flavour and texture. I also did a macaron class at a culinary school in Paris where I gained a few tips before practising some more and finally getting it right. It is a bit of a process to get a recipe completed, but it is definitely worth it.
In Paris, there are macarons in pâtisseries, Salons de thé (tea rooms), grand épiceries (large grocers) and even McDonald’s outlets. As the French love to indulge, but usually only in small amounts, the macaron is the perfect size. Boutiques that specialise in macarons are also common, with a few well known ones being Ladurée, Pierre Hermé and Fauchon.
In Australia, the popularity of the macaron has increased within the last five years, so much so that Ladurée has opened two salons de thé in Sydney. I, myself had run a little business that I had named Macaron Boutique for a year in 2012 dedicated to making these little treats. It was a lot of fun, but also a lot of work.
So from my experience, I would love to share with you a recipe to try, as well as a few tips. This recipe is a combination of recipes I have tried and taken bits and pieces from to form my own. It is based on the Italian meringue.
Macaron Recipe Makes approximately 40 macarons (80 shells)
(Please note – I have converted the measurements into the imperial system so is approximate)
- Egg whites
- 2 x 75g (2.6 oz) of egg whites
- 200g (7 oz) Icing sugar
- 200g (7 oz) Blanched almond meal
- Food colouring
- 200g (7 oz) Caster Sugar
- 75ml (2.5 fl oz) Water
- Sieve (not necessary, just ensure the icing sugar has no lumps)
- Food processor (can do without though)
- Candy Thermometer
- Electric Mixer
- Piping bag and 11mm / 0.4″ nozzle
- Baking trays and paper
- Rubber spatula
- Pre-heat the oven to 160˚C /320˚F.
- Separate the egg whites, 75g each into two bowls.
- Put the almond meal into a food processor for about a minute.
- Sieve the icing sugar into a bowl.
- Mix together the icing sugar and almond meal, then mix in the first bowl of 75g of egg whites, adding the food colouring to the desired colour. Set aside.
- On the stove, put the water and caster sugar together with thermometer onto medium heat, until the temperature reaches 118˚C/244 ˚F (while waiting, complete step 6), then take off the heat.
- Start beating the second bowl of egg whites with an electric mixer until you get soft peaks.
- Slowly pour the sugar syrup into the soft peaks of the egg whites while still beating. Keep beating for 10 minutes until the meringue cools.
- Using a spatula, carefully combine the Italian meringue with the almond mixture you prepared earlier. Be careful not to over beat the mixture. You need some air bubbles for the biscuits to rise, but also need to beat off a bit of the air so that you get uniform shells. The mixture should be smooth, but not too runny. This is the hardest part of the recipe, which takes the longest to get right, as you need to judge the amount of air in the mixture.
- Transfer the mixture into a piping bag that has the 11mm / 0.4″ nozzle attached.
- Pipe out 3-4cm / 1″-1.1″ (or any size or shape you wish!) rounds onto the baking paper.
- Leave aside for about 20 minutes or more to rest (add 10 minutes more on a humid day). They are ready when the shells do not stick to your finger when you touch them gently.
- Bake in the oven for about 12 minutes (or more depending on your oven), until the dome has risen. You know they are done when the shell is set hard (firm to touch) and the colour lightens.
- Leave to cool before removing from paper.
- Fill with desired filling – ganache, jam, buttercream, or anything else you desire – the choice is yours!
- Eggs whites should be at room temperature. For best results, separate the egg whites a few days before and keep them in the fridge until the night before you will make the macarons.
- Liquid food colouring gives a very light colour result, I found colouring in gel or paste form to give a more vibrant result. You will need about a teaspoon, but can add more later (once you add the meringue, you’ll get a better idea of colour).
- When mixing the almond mixture and the meringue, put a third of the meringue mixture in at a time, so that it loosens the mixture.
- When piping out the circles onto the baking paper, set the nozzle perpendicular to the tray, half a centimetre from the tray. Squeeze the bag with enough pressure to get some mixture out. Squeeze until you get a circle big enough, stop squeezing, then swiftly pull the nozzle up and flick it to the side to detach the mixture from the nozzle. If the mixture is at the correct consistency, the peak should fall. Otherwise, you can use your finger to flatten it.
- Before resting, tap the tray onto the table to help rise any air bubbles, and it may also help flatten any peaks (as long as the mixture is the right consistency).
- I find it best to cook a tray at a time, but depending on your oven temperature (and your available time) you may wish to put in another tray. You may find that the cookies on the edge may be lopsided and a little more coloured than those in the middle.
- If the macarons do not come off the paper easily, and stick, they are not yet done.
- Cracks appear on the shells if they have not rested adequately or if it is a humid day as the “skin” hasn’t formed properly.
- Macarons are best consumed 24 hours after you make them. After filling them, refrigerate them and then leave them out (if you can!) to reach room temperature. They will store well in the fridge for up to 5-7 days. They can also be frozen for a few weeks and are best thawed out in the fridge for 24 hours before consuming.
- No matter how they end up looking, they will still taste amazing, so enjoy, and keep practicing.
This is a complex recipe with many variables, so you can see how much work goes into making a batch. Please leave a comment or contact me for any questions. If you do try it out, I’d love to hear how you went!