How To Make French Macarons

by Caterina Borg, Good Food Gourmet on February 16, 2011

Many of you have tried the many traditional types of Italian macaroons made from coconut and almond, but have you ever had the opportunity to try a French macaron? “What’s so different between a macaroon and a macaron” you may ask? Well, as it turns out …a lot really.

A macaron (pronounced ma-ka ro) is a sweet confectionery made with egg whites, powdered sugar, granulated sugar, almond flour and food coloring/flavoring. The macaron is commonly filled with buttercream, ganache or jam that is sandwiched between two cookies. The confectionery is characterized by its smooth, domed top, ruffled circumference (referred to as the “foot”), flat base, crispy exterior and mildly moist interior that easily melts in your mouth.

Macarons can be found in a wide variety of flavors that range from the traditional raspberry, chocolate, almond, pistachio and mocha, with many new and exciting flavors seen in upscale pastry shops and boutiques daily, like for example, the Japanese green matcha tea flavor that I recently had the opportunity to try. As I mentioned before, the English word macaroon generally refers to the traditional coconut and almond cookies that are readily found, and many have adopted the French spelling of macaron to distinguish the delicate sandwiches from their counterparts.  This has caused confusion over the correct spelling of the cookie/biscuit. Some recipes exclude the use of macaroon to refer to this French confection while others think that they are synonymous.

These little gems are challenging to make simply because there are so many things to consider. I have spoken to many people over the years who simply end up walking away from the task in sheer frustration.  But don’t fret, I’m here to demystify many of the untold secrets…

My friend Lorraine Elliott who writes the most popular blog in Australia called Not Quite Nigella, recently took a master class on these little delicacies, and I remember making a mental note to revisit her article for additional pearls of wisdom. The recipe Lorraine provided from her class was easy enough, but I would change one thing that I picked up from experience over the years. Her instructor suggests using a TPT mixture of ground, blanched almonds and powdered sugar. TPT is a French term that stands for Tant Pour Tant, which essentially means equal parts, and in this case it’s equal parts of ground almonds and powdered sugar. To be honest, you would save a great deal of time if you simply used almond flour which is already ground and dried for you. Simply add the powdered sugar to the almond flour and you are well on your way.

Some of the important things to remember when making French macarons are…

  • Must use an Italian meringue method which creates a stronger and more reliable product.
  • Successful macarons should have a smooth top, have a shiny finish and have a frilly base.
  • Use egg whites that have been sitting in the refrigerator for a few days, these always make the best meringues.
  • Use almond flour (otherwise known as almond meal) in equal amounts with powdered sugar.
  • Cook the macaroons in a 300°F oven with the door cracked open so that the steam can vent out.
  • Create a template that you can use under your parchment sheet to assist you in keeping the sizes uniform.
  • After filling the macarons, allow them to rest in the refrigerator for 1-4 days to achieve that melt in your mouth texture.

French Macaron Recipe (makes about 100 pcs)

Cookie Paste:

300 grams almond flour

300 grams powdered sugar

120 grams egg whites

2 Tablespoons instant espresso coffee or use Trablit coffee extract, if you can find it

**If you are using instant coffee, add the granules to the egg whites and stir well until they dissolve before incorporating with other ingredients.

Italian Meringue:

300 grams granulated sugar

75 grams water

120 grams egg whites

First you need to add the first four ingredients into a bowl and using a wooden spoon mix everything together well until you have made a paste. Cover this and set aside.

In a clean bowl of a stand mixer add the other 120 grams of egg whites. Then in a small stock pot add the granulated sugar and water and cook this until it has reached the softball stage. Here you are making an Italian meringue, so check out my step by step tutorial.

Once your meringue is cool, add a little into the bowl of paste to lighten it a little. Here you are actually sacrificing a little meringue in order to fluff up the paste, so that the rest of the meringue can be easily incorporated.  Once all of the meringue has been incorporated add the batter to a pastry bag that has been fitted with a medium sized round tip like this…

Put your template under your parchment paper and pipe out the rounds. Do not take the batter all the way to the edge, because it will spread a little. Tap the tray on the counter a little bit, and then allow this to stand at room temperature for about 15 minutes so that the surface of the macaroon is dry to the touch when they are placed in the oven.

When they are ready to bake, preheat your oven to 300°F and bake the macaron for 30 minutes. When ready, remove from the oven and allow them to cool completely. Add the filling of your choice to another pastry bag (with the same style tip) and pipe out a little mound onto the flat side of one cookie, and then sandwich it with another. Repeat until all of your macarons are filled, then cover and refrigerate for at least 24 hours…then enjoy.


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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella February 16, 2011 at 11:48 p

They look wonderful Catarina! You certainly mastered them beautifully! And thankyou so much for the kind words. I can never get enough macarons! :P xxx

avatar Caterina Borg, Good Food Gourmet February 19, 2011 at 9:25 p

Hi Lorraine…you did an incredible job at the class…this was a really well thought out recipe. I used almond meal/flour because it takes the guess work out of worrying about the moistures. It works beautifully…

avatar Caterina Borg, Good Food Gourmet February 19, 2011 at 9:26 p

The pleasure was all mine…I am always glad to help

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