It is hard to find a dessert more photogenic or delicious than French Macarons. While making French Macarons at home may sound hard, they can be very simple and easy to make. They have a reputation of being temperamental, but this post will answer all your French Macaron questions and outline tips for beginners to make perfect French Macarons at home.
What are French Macarons?
French Macarons are delicate cookies made from almond flour, powdered sugar, and whipped egg whites. The cookies are then sandwiched together with a filling of buttercream, curd, jam or ganache.
Are French Macarons Hard to Make?
No! However, they can be temperamental. Humidity in the air, oven temperature, overmixing and underbaking can all contribute to the outcome of the macarons. Practice makes perfect, so try and bake a batch and see how they turn out. Learn from your mistakes and try again.
How to Make Flavored Macarons?
There are a few ways to flavor macarons. To a flavor the cookie itself, you can add dried fruit powders, teas, nut powders and cocoa in with the almond flour. You can mix wet flavorings, like extracts and colorings, into the egg whites once they’ve been beaten.
You can also add flavor to the macarons in the filling. There are endless options of jams and curds that you can use to sandwich the cookies. If using buttercream as the filling, you can add fruit syrups, freeze-dried fruits or extracts to the butter and powdered sugar while whipping.
How to Make Macarons without Almond Flour?
Traditionally, macarons are made using finely ground almond flour. But they can be made with other nut or seed flours. Try using pistachio flour, sunflower seed flour, hazelnut flour, or pumpkin seed flour. These cookies will have a subtle flavor of the nut or seed used in the flour.
Can You Make Macarons Ahead of Time?
Yes, and you should. Fully assembled macarons taste better after “ripening” in the fridge overnight.
How Long Can You Keep Homemade Macarons?
Macarons can be kept in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week.
How Do You Store Macarons Without The Filling?
You can bake the macaron cookies ahead of time and keep in an airtight container or a zip top bag in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge before filling.
What Tools Do I Need To Make Macarons?
Though macarons require very few ingredients, they are easier to perfect at home with the right tools. For the best results, you will need these kitchen tools to make macarons:
KitchenAid Stand Mixer or handheld mixer
Fine Mesh Sieve
Silicone Baking Mats
Offset Set Spatula
Food Coloring Gel
10 Macaron Tips for Beginners
1. Keep it simple and don’t rush
It doesn't take much to affect the outcome of macarons. The easiest thing to remember when making macarons for the first time is to keep it simple. Don’t overcomplicate the cookies by adding lots of flavorings, colors, or decorations. Take your time when measuring the ingredients, mixing, piping and baking. Making macarons should be an enjoyable experience, so take your time and don’t rush.
2. Have everything ready before you start
Before you put anything in the mixing bowl, have everything you need out and ready to go. Have all ingredients measured and ready to add. Have your sheet pans and piping bags prepared and ready to use. This will make the entire process easier and less stressful if you aren’t scrambling to find everything at the last moment.
3. Make sure your bowls are clean
The bowl that you whip your egg whites in needs to be perfectly clean and free of any streaks of grease or traces of oil. Even the tiniest bit of oil or grease can prevent the egg whites from whipping up into a fluffy meringue. Stainless steel or glass bowls work best for whipping eggs. Put a splash of vinegar on a dish rag and rub the inside of the bowl to ensure the white whip up nicely.
4. Don’t skip weighing and sifting your ingredients
There can be a large discrepancy between a volume measurement of a dry ingredient and the weight measurement of the same. Weighing is a much more accurate way to measure out ingredients for macarons.
Another crucial step in making macarons is sifting the almond flour and powdered sugar together using a fine mesh sieve. The mixture should be light, fluffy and free of clumps. This ensures the ingredients get evenly distributed throughout the batter.
5. Don’t under-beat the egg whites or overmix the batter
This is perhaps the trickiest part of the making macarons. The egg whites should be whipped until they reach stiff peaks.
Remove the whisk from the mixer and flip upside down. If the whites stay up and don’t fall down, you have reached the “stiff peak” stage.
Another tricky part of making macarons is stirring the batter together. You want to evenly mix the dry ingredients into the whipped egg whites, without deflating them. Gently fold the ingredients over the top, then split the ingredients down the middle with the spatula, then repeat. You are looking for a wet sand texture. This can take between 50-75 stirs of the spatula.
6. Drop the tray
This might sound scary, but after you pipe your macarons on the tray, in order to get the air bubbles out, you need to drop the tray. Hold the tray evenly six inches above a flat surface. Let go and let the tray drop (loudly) on the surface. Repeat 1-2 more times. As long a the sheet pan hits the surface evenly, the macarons will stay in place.
7. Give the cookie enough time to dry out
It is important to let the cookies rest before baking. They need to develop a “skin” on the top that allows them to rise up in the oven. Allow 30-45 minutes for the cookies to rest at room temperature develop the skin.
8. Only bake one tray at a time
Proper heat circulation in the oven is crucial to a good bake on the macarons. Until you are very familiar with how your oven circulates heat, only bake one tray at a time. Set the rack in the middle of the oven and place the sheet tray on that rack. It is also important to rotate the sheet pan halfway through baking.
9. Let rest before filling
Don’t fill and sandwich the cookies until they’ve had time to cool down. Otherwise, the warm cookies will heat up the filling and ooze out the sides. Remove the cookies from the sheet pan once they are cool to the touch and let rest for at least 20 minutes before filling.
10. Let ripen in the fridge
Fully assembled macarons taste better after sitting the fridge for a few hours, or even better overnight. Plan ahead so you have time to bake them, let cool, assemble, and ripen in the fridge.
You don’t have to be an expert baker to make macarons at home.
Use these simple tips to help you bake the perfect macarons.