These cute French cookies are known for being both delicious and tricky to make. Although they do take some time and patience, the end result is well worth the effort! You don’t have to be an advanced baker to succeed, but general knowledge of baking and cooking can be helpful.
These instructions will take you through detailed steps to ensure that your macarons turn out perfectly every time. For a first time maker, I would set aside around 3 hours to make these, start to finish. However, not all that time is hands-on. Hands on time is around an hour. Set aside an afternoon to learn these tasty treats that are sure to impress.
Step 1: Assemble Your Ingredients
You will need:
2 cups powdered sugar - 2 Tbs
2 Tbs cocoa powder
1 ½ cup almond flour/almond meal
4 egg whites at room temperature
½ cup granulated sugar
Step 2: Assemble Tools
You will need:
2 bowls (you can use 1, but you’ll have to wash it)
Mixer (I use a hand mixer here. A stand mixer also works wonderfully. If you want to make these with a whisk, that works; keep in mind they will be far more labor intensive)
Piping bags or Ziploc bags
Optional: I like to print out a pattern to pipe my macarons to keep them uniform. This can be found here.
Step 3: Separate the Egg Whites
Carefully separate the yolk from the white and set the whites aside in a bowl. It is important that there is no yolk in the white or they will not whip up properly. Because eggs whip better at room temperature, let them sit for 20-30 minutes.
To speed the process, put the eggs in a bowl of warm water before separating them.
Step 4: Create the Meringue
With the hand mixer on low, start whipping the egg whites. Starting on a lower speed will help develop the protein bonds and make the eggs easier to whip.
When they look frothy, increase the speed and whip until foamy and pillowy. Slowly add the granulated sugar. If you add it all at once you risk deflating the eggs.
Keep mixing until the egg whites and sugar are glossy and form soft peaks. When you take the beaters out, the eggs should droop but still stick to the beaters.
Step 5: Prepare the Dry Ingredients
For smooth macaron shells, you must sift your ingredients before combining them.
Sift the powdered sugar onto a piece of parchment paper and then spoon it into the measuring cup. Scrape across the top with a butter knife or other flat edge. Put the sugar in a clean, dry, bowl.
Repeat with the almond flour.
Carefully remove 2 Tbs of the powdered sugar and replace with cocoa powder for chocolate macarons. These have a delicate chocolate flavor rather an intense one.
Stir all dry ingredients until well combined.
Step 6: Combine Dry Ingredients and Meringue.
Caution: This step and the following are known as “macaronage” and this is typically where people go wrong. It is important to mix the ingredients to the right texture or your macarons will not turn out.
Add about half of the dry ingredients to the meringue. Fold this in until combined. Folding is a way of gently mixing. Scrape the spatula around the sides of the bowl and then pull it down the center. Refer to the picture for a better visual.
Now add the rest of the dry ingredients and fold until combined.
Step 7: Deflate the Batter.
At this point, the texture should be similar to the first video. It will fall off the spatula in clumps. To reach the proper consistency, you must “deflate” the mixture.
To deflate, scrape the mixture against the walls of the bowl with the spatula. Repeat this until the batter forms a ribbon when you lift up the spatula and melts back into the rest of the batter. Refer to the last video for the texture that you should aim for.
The hardest part of these cookies is over! From here on out, they are relatively straightforward and easy.
Step 8: Prepare Your Piping Bag
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. I put my guide under the paper so I can pull it out from underneath before baking.
Put your piping bag or plastic bag into a glass and fold over the edges. Use the spatula to add half the mixture to the bag. Cut across the bottom of the bag.
Step 9: Piping the Cookies
Hold the bag over the sheet and pipe your macarons. When the whole sheet is piped, tap it on the counter to burst any air bubbles. If you used a guide, remove it from under the parchment.
Repeat this with the remaining batter.
Step 10: Let the Cookies Dry
Let the macarons sit on the counter until a skin forms over them. Depending on the humidity, it can take anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour. When you can touch them and your finger no longer sticks, they’re ready to cook!
Step 11: Baking the Macarons
Preheat the oven to 300 F. When the oven is hot, put the tray in the middle rack. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until they no longer stick to the parchment paper.
Remove the shells from the parchment once cool.
Store in an airtight container until you are ready to fill them or eat them.
Step 12: Prepare the Filling
Because most homemade macarons use buttercream as a filling, the options are nearly endless. For these, I chose an almond filling but you can use any flavor you'd like.
For this you will need:
6 Tbs soft butter
½ cup powdered sugar
The remaining almond pieces- about ¼ cup.
Simply combine all the ingredients in a bowl with a whisk or electric mixer.
Step 13: Assemble the Macarons
Match up shells that are the same size and arrange them on your workspace.
Fill your piping bag with the buttercream in the same way as before. Use the bag to put a dollop of filling in the center, then put the two shells together.
Enjoy! You have successfully completed homemade French macarons. These cookies may seem daunting but they are so rewarding and are always a huge hit as dessert or a gift.