Ingredient List Print Recipe
For the Cookie Base
- 185 g confectioners’ sugar
- 185 g almond fl our
- 65 g egg whites
For the Italian Meringue
- 185 g plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 75 g egg whites
- Pinch of cream of tartar
- Food coloring, as desired
I had the good fortune of working at one of the most famous macaron palaces in the world—Ladurée, in Paris. At the time, the macarons were still being made by hand and the gentleman who made them spent eight hours every day piping them. He was so fast that it sounded like a machine gun going off as the metal piping tip slapped the baking sheets. My version uses an Italian meringue, which produces stable, consistent macarons and helps create an evenly risen “foot,” the ruffled base edge around the bottom of the cookie. One of the crown jewels of French pastry, macarons are not hard to make, as long as you control the variables: your meringue, the humidity level in the room, and the almond flour you use. It’s also imperative that the measurements are exact, so these ingredients must be weighed.
Makes about 150 cookies (75 macarons)
Line 3 baking sheets with silicone baking mats or Teflon-coated baking paper. To prepare the cookie base, using a very fine sifter, sift together the confectioners’ sugar, almond flour, and cookie flavoring, if using, in a large mixing bowl (1). Add the egg whites and stir gently until the ingredients are evenly moistened.
To make the Italian meringue, put the 185g sugar in a small saucepan (the smallest pan you have). Add enough water (about 2 tablespoons), stirring with a finger, to make wet sand; wet your finger again and wipe down the sides of the pan. Put the pan over medium heat and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, put the egg whites in a standing mixer bowl with the whisk attachment with the remaining 1 tablespoon sugar and the cream of tartar and turn the mixer on to medium-low speed.
Once the sugar has dissolved, dip a clean pastry brush in cold water and wash down the sides of the pan. When the sugar is at a rolling boil, raise the mixer speed to medium-high. Cook the sugar to 244°F (firm-ball stage). When the egg whites have volume but are still soft, turn the mixer to low speed and slowly drizzle the sugar directly onto the egg whites between the side of the bowl and the outer reach of the whisk (this prevents splattering). Whip the whites until firm and glossy but not dry, about 5 minutes.
Add a small amount of meringue to the cookie base and stir with a rubber spatula to lighten the mixture (2). Add food coloring as desired. Add the whites in 3 batches, folding gently between additions to combine. When the egg whites are completely mixed in, pull the spatula through the batter and over the surface as if folding, pulling a ribbon of batter over the surface (3). The ribbon should settle very slowly into the batter. If the ribbon rests on the top without settling, the batter is too stiff; fold the batter 4 or 5 more times to loosen but not liquefy it. If the batter is too loose, the cookies will not hold their shape and will spread when baked. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Transfer the mixture to a piping bag fitted with a 3/8-inch straight tip. Pipe quarter-sized rounds of batter onto the prepared pan, about ½ inch apart. Pipe the batter from an angle, away from you. Stop squeezing the bag and drag the tip counterclockwise through the surface of the batter until the batter stops coming out of the tip (4).
Let stand at room temp until they are dry to the touch and have formed a shell on the surface, 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the humidity level in your kitchen.
Bake 2 pans at once for 8 to 10 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through, until the cookies are risen and set but not brown. Let the cookies cool completely on the pan. Bake the remaining pan.
Store the cookies in the freezer in an airtight container until ready to fill.
Note: Macarons can also be colored and flavored with powdered ingredients that will sift well with the almond flour in the cookie base. You can also sprinkle a little of the flavoring on the top of the cookies directly after piping them.
Macarons can be filled layered with a number of fillings—jam, buttercream, ganache, thick nut pastes (praline), or even just peanut or almond butter.
Whatever filling you choose, though, must be thick enough to sandwich between cookies without dripping out. Typically I will color the cookies to match the filling flavor. Plain macarons can be tinted pink and filled with raspberry-mint Jam or plain vanilla buttercream. Tint your macarons yellow or orange and fill them with a citrus vanilla buttercream.
Pipe the filling with a small pastry bag or resealable plastic food bag onto one cookie before sandwiching another cookie (bottom to bottom) on top. I also like to sprinkle very finely chopped nuts on the cookies the moment they are piped if I am filling them with a nut-flavored filling.
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