So you might wonder why I would try to bake such pesky cookies. The answer is simple: it’s either making them myself, or not eating them at all. Macarons are very hard to find outside of France. And … well … I just can’t help but love them! The color, the size, the taste: magnifique!
I don’t want to scare anyone off of making macarons. I think if you try a couple of times, you will get a decent macaron. Comparing recipes, I have discovered that there are a lot of different techniques being used, and you just have to find one that works for you and your oven. I remember things I did wrong the last time and I know now what I’ll do differently next time. So the process of making macarons is very individualistic.
All in all, I’m very pleased with the result and I’m very happy I made them. I’ve tasted macarons far worse than mine (store-bought ones, for instance). Not that mine were so bad! In fact, I rated them a 4.5 out of 5.
Rose Macarons recipe: adapted from Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook.
*Side Note: You might be surprised to learn that I used a Martha Stewart recipe instead of a Pierre Hermé recipe. That’s because all macaron-recipes are written in grams and I prefer to work with cups because I don’t have a kitchen scale (I really must purchase one!). If you do have a kitchen scale, I recommend working with grams because it measures everything more precisely.
Ingredients: makes about 30 sandwich macarons
- 1 ¼ cups confectioners’ sugar
- 1 ½ cups sliced almonds, finely ground, or almond flour
- 3 large egg whites
- pinch of salt
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 5 drops red food coloring
- Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or nonstick baking mats. (parchment paper supposedly gives better results) If you own a food processor, pulse the confectioners’ sugar and almond flour together for 20 to 30 seconds. Then, sift the confectioners’ sugar and almond flour together into a bowl; set aside.
- In a clean bowl, beat the egg whites on high speed until foamy; add salt and food coloring. (the color may seem a little too red at this point, but the color will fade somewhat once baking) Gradually add granulated sugar, 1 teaspoon at a time, until the whites reach medium-hard peaks.
- Sprinkle half of the sugar-almond mixture over the egg-white mixture. Using a large rubber spatula, fold until just incorporated. Add ¼ teaspoon vanilla and remaining sugar-almond mixture, folding until just incorporated. Firmly tap the bottom of the bowl on a counter or work surface to eliminate any air pockets.
- Transfer mixture to a large pastry bag fitted with a ½-inch plain tip (such as Ateco #806). Pipe mixture into 1 ½-inch circles on prepared baking sheet, leaving 2 inches apart from one another.
- Let the macarons rest for 45 to 60 minutes at room temperature. In the meanwhile, preheat the oven to 300ºF. Bake until macarons feel slightly firm to the touch and can be gently lifted off the parchment paper (the bottoms will be dry), 20 to 25 minutes. (At first I thought 20 to 25 minutes would be way too long. So I tried 15 minutes and they were not done. Then, I tried one batch for 20 minutes and the second bath 25 minutes. The 20-minute batch was also underbaked, but the 25-minute batch came out perfectly!) Let cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer parchment and macarons to a wire rack to cool completely. Using a small offset spatula, carefully remove macarons from parchment. (if they’re hard to come loose from the parchment, they’re underbaked)
- Spread 2 teaspoons buttercream on the flat sides of half the macarons; sandwich with the other halves, keeping flat sides down. Keep the macarons in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a day. Bring them to room temperature when serving.
Rose Buttercream filling:
- 1 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 3 tablespoons rose syrup
- 2 drops red food coloring
- 1 tablespoon milk
- Mix together the ingredients until the buttercream has a slight dropping consistency.
* Here are some helpful tips I’ve found on the web:
- Age the egg whites: this is called “liquefied” egg whites. Egg whites that have been separated for, ideally, a week before use and stored in the fridge. This will ensure the meringue won’t be grainy and will gain volume easily. I let mine age for 24 hours, covered with foil in the refrigerator.
- If you have a food processor, blend the almond flour and confectioners’ sugar for a few seconds: this will make the almond meal even finer.
- Sift the almond flour and confectioners’ sugar together: some even suggest sifting it twice.
- Beat the egg whites with a hand mixer: yes I know that stand mixer costed you a lot of $$$, but a hand mixer will get the job done so much quicker.
- Pipe the macarons 2 inches/5 cm apart from one another: not a single recipe I’ve seen required this, so I had to learn it the hard way; I piped mine ½ inch from each other and a lot of them grew together while resting and baking.
- Let the macarons rest for 45-60 min: this will ensure your macarons get their “feet”. The first time I made macarons, I let them rest for 30 minutes, and they did not get feet. Now I rested them for 45 minutes and – result - they have feet!
- Use a toothpick to pop some of the air bubbles: once you piped your macarons on parchment paper, that is.
- Mature your finished macarons: this apparently sorts out some of the imperfections and gives the macarons more flavor. Pierre Hermé says that the macarons don’t have the right texture the first day; they will be a little too dry.
*Side Note: If you are really interested in making macarons, there are a lot of great food blogs that write step-by-step descriptions. I found this post really helpful.