Master the macaron! Here's how to make light and airy macaron cookies that are slightly crispy on the outside, tender on the inside.
We're using Elle's Macaron recipe as a guide. "These are like cloud cookie sandwiches," says Elle, the recipe submitter. "And are delicious if done correctly."
What's the Difference Between a Macaron and Macaroon? Before we start with the macarons, if you came looking for that famous cookie of the American South -- the one made with shredded coconut -- it's called a macaroon. We can help you with macaroons, too. But if you're just here to dance the macarena, you're on your own.
Prep Your Ingredients
For the cookies:
- Separate three eggs, setting the egg whites in a bowl on the counter for at least 30 minutes to come up to room temperature. (Discard the egg yolks or save for another recipe, such as lemon curd). Weigh egg whites for a total of 100 grams.
- Weigh and set aside 50 grams of white sugar.
- Sift 1 to 2 cups to almond meal (also called almond flour) through a fine mesh sieve, discarding any large chunks. Weigh and set aside 110 grams of the sifted almond meal.
- Weigh and set aside 200 grams of confectioners’ sugar.
- Set aside any flavorings and food colorings you’ll be using.
- Chilled eggs will separate more easily than room-temperature eggs.
- Don't let any egg yolk get into the whites or they won’t beat into soft peaks.
- Keep all utensils and bowls very clean to ensure the egg whites come to a proper foam.
For the buttercream filling:
- Measure ¼ cup shortening.
- Soften ¼ cup butter at room temperature.
- Measure and sift 2 cups confectioners’ sugar.
- Measure ½ teaspoon vanilla extract (or the flavoring of your choice).
- Measure ¼ teaspoon salt (add salt to the mixture to taste).
- Measure 1 tablespoon milk.
- Set aside any other flavorings of food colorings you’ll be using.
Weather Advisory: Sorry people living in muggy parts of the country, but macarons are best made in low humidity. Too much humidity, and the cookies absorb the moisture and become chewy and a little soggy. For best results, bake them on a cool, dry day.
OK, Let's make some macarons!
1) Sift sugar and add almond meal
Sift the confectioners' sugar and combine it with the prepared almond meal.
2) Prepare baking sheets
Begin by cutting two sheets of parchment paper to fit inside your baking sheets, and tracing 24 1-1/2 inch circles on each, spacing them about an inch apart. Flip the parchment over onto the baking sheets. You will be able to see the circles when you pipe out the cookies. Here's a cool macaron template. Tip: To hold the parchment in place, use a dab of batter in each corner.
3) Beat the egg whites and sugar
Add the room temperature egg whites to the mixing bowl and turn the mixer on low. After about 15 seconds, increase the speed to medium and whip the egg whites until they are frothy and begin to turn opaque, 30 to 40 seconds longer.
Next, slowly pour in the sugar. Turn the mixer on medium high and beat until the egg whites are glossy, fluffy, and hold medium peaks. To check that the meringue is whipped enough, remove the whisk attachment and hold upright. The top of the peak should fall over slightly, but still hold its shape.
4) Add remaining ingredients
Gently fold in the almond meal and confectioners' sugar with a rubber spatula, adding 1/3 at a time. Now is the time to add flavor and color. Continue folding gently. When properly folded, the batter should flow in ribbons off the rubber spatula.
5) Prepare a piping bag
Next, place a piping bag fitted with a 2A tip over a tall glass. This will hold the bag in place as we add the batter.
6) Pipe the batter onto the baking sheet
To pipe the macarons, hold the piping bag directly upright and slightly above the parchment. Gently apply pressure to fill the traced circle with batter. Quickly sweep the tip sideways and move to the next circle. Tap the baking sheet against the countertop to remove any air bubbles and set it aside for about an hour, uncovered, to firm up the batter and form a thin skin on top.
If the disk of batter holds a peak instead of flattening immediately, gently fold the batter a few more times. Hold the bag sideways so the batter doesn’t spill between piping circles, and work quickly.
If some cookies are bigger or smaller, that's OK. You will pair them up once they are baked, and each cookie can find a match.
7) Prepare the filling
In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat together softened butter and shortening. Add confectioners' sugar, 1 cup at a time, scraping down the bowl between each addition. Then add flavor and color to the buttercream. We're using vanilla extract, salt, and a few drops of pink food coloring.
- Divide the icing before adding the food coloring and flavoring ingredients to make multiple icing flavors.
- Some cooks like to use gel food coloring instead of drops. You can use either type.
8) Bake cookies
When the unbaked cookies have rested an hour, preheat the oven to 285 degrees F (140 degrees C). Bake cookies one sheet at a time until set but not browned, 15-18 minutes. Let the cookies cool completely on the baking sheet before filling.
- It's a good idea to rotate the sheets halfway through baking.
- To know whether the macarons have baked properly, look for the “feet” or a ruffled edge around the bottom of each cookie.
- The tops of the cookies will feel dry to the touch.
9) Loosen cookies from baking sheet
Once the cookies are thoroughly cooled, use a spatula to gently lift them off the parchment paper.
10) Assemble the macarons
First, pair up the cookies that are similarly sized. Pipe or spread 1 to 2 teaspoons of filling on the flat edge of one cookie. Place the other cookie on top and gently press together. Repeat with remaining cookies.
Tips on storing macarons:
- Refrigerate the cookies in a covered container for at least 1 hour so they set completely.
- Filled macarons can be stored in a covered container in the refrigerator for 3 or 4 days, or wrapped tightly and stored in the freezer for 2 to 3 months.
Before you take a crack at it, see how it's done.
- Get more recipes for macarons and macaroons.
- Discover more French Dessert Recipes -- from Madeleine and mousse recipes to éclairs, clafouti, and other top-rated French pastries and desserts.