Ever since I did a project on French cuisine, I’ve been obsessed with certain little almond meringue cookies called macarons. Now, I use the term “cookie” loosely because I really have no idea how to categorize these finicky little things. And this obsession was reignited with a fiery passion after trying macarons made by Pierre Herme.
After that moment, I proceeded to waste an obscene amount of egg whites, almonds, and sugar. It wasn’t like I was planning on eating all those calories, so in the trash went each cracked and misshapen batch.
However, after testing various ratios and temperatures, I’ve finally come up with what I’ve deemed as the perfect macaron recipe, which also happens to be very simple.
Basic Macarons (French Meringue)
Makes 32 shells (16 macarons)
50 g ground almonds, blanched
50 g confectioners sugar
40 g room-temperature egg whites (around one large egg)
40 g white sugar
Preheat the oven to 350 F (This is the ideal temperature for my oven. Because each oven is different, you may want to start at 325 F. I know that my oven is on the cooler side, which is why my temperature is higher than normal, so make adjustments according to your oven.)
1. Sift the almond meal and confectioners sugar together. Set aside.
2. In a pristine mixing bowl, start whisking the egg whites at a high speed.
3. Once it begins foaming, start slowly pouring in the sugar. Continue whisking the egg whites until glossy and medium-stiff peaks appear.
4. Pour in 1/3 of the almond meal/confectioners sugar mixture in and fold it in thoroughly using a spatula. There’s no need to be extremely gentle at this stage. This step is called the macronnage and it is key to the success of the macarons.
5. Pour the rest of the almond/confectioners sugar mixture into the egg whites and fold it so that everything is incorporated thoroughly. The mixture should become more glossy and it should be able to form ribbons when lifting the spatula. However, there is still more folding to be done. Be more gentle at this stage. The egg whites should not be able to hold their form, and they should slowly sink down until somewhat flattened. When making a ribbon on the surface, the ribbon should sink in and disappear at around 20 seconds.
6. Fill a pastry bag with the batter and pipe onto parchment paper or a silpat mat. When piping the macarons, keep the piping tip still while piping to get a round macaron. Swirl the tip on the top to finish piping. If you’re like me and you can’t pipe evenly spaced or sized macarons for your life, a handy-dandy template will do the trick. I used this one from yumarama.com and I’ll never go back again. Print two to fit on either half of the baking pan and lay your parchment on top. Make sure to slide out the paper before baking it! The batter should perfectly fit one pan.
By the time you finish piping a row of macarons, the first macaron you piped in the row should already be almost perfectly settled.
7. Tap the pan to get rid of the air bubbles within the batter. Sometimes, using a toothpick to burst the bubbles at the surface can really help. Let your macarons rest until a skin forms on top. The macarons will become less glossy as the skin forms.
8. Put the macarons in a preheated oven, with an empty pan on the rack below it. Having the double pans lets the macarons rise more evenly, especially if you have an oven with uneven temperatures. If you started at 350 F, turn the temperature down to 325 F at around the 5-6 minute mark. Rotate the pan when you decrease the temperature.
9. The macarons should be done at 12-13 minutes. If the tops don’t move from the feet when nudged, they are done. The macarons should not brown, but slightly overcooking is better than undercooking. The macarons will stick and the feet will shrink if they are undercooked. Once you add the filling and refrigerate it overnight, slightly crunchy macarons as a result from overcooking won’t be a problem. Gently remove the macarons from the parchment and let it cool on a wire rack.
– If your macarons are cracked on top and/or there are no feet, it is probably a mixing problem. You might have over or undermixed during the macaronnage step. Letting it rest (if you haven’t already done so) may also help.
– If the macarons don’t smooth out on their own after you’ve piped them, you’ve undermixed.
– If your feet look like they exploded and have overgrown, decrease your oven temperature. However, if your feet look very small and minimal, increase the temperature. The feet should start to form at around the 4-5 minute mark.
– If the macarons have crooked feet, use the double pan method as the temperature in your oven isn’t equal. Often, the macarons around the edges of each batch come out crooked due to my terribly uneven oven, despite using a double pan.
– Aging your egg whites isn’t really necessary, but having them at room temperature helps a lot. They whip up much faster and easier. Separate your egg whites straight out of the fridge then let the egg whites come to room temperature.
– If your macarons stick to the baking sheet or the feet shrink after coming out of the oven, bake them for a little longer. Each oven is different so baking times and temperatures will differ as well.
– You technically should blanch your almonds but I’m just lazy. The little specks you see are the skin – I call them specks of lazy. Quite fitting, I think. However, if you decided to blanch them, make sure to dry them!