Macaron Madness: My Easy Recipe

Photo Credit: Cecilia Tao

Lavender Earl Grey and Raspberry Macarons by Yours Truly (Photo Credit: Cecilia Tao)

This summer, I joined the macaron-making conversation. Or madness. What have you.

photo 5

It happened on a whim. Ashley and I were trying to come up with a project (to entertain ourselves on a rainy summer day) and we finally decided to take the macaron plunge.

photo 1

Left: overmixed. Middle: too sweet. Right: curdled filling and undermixed

Little did I realize that I would become obsessed! I ended up making 9 batches within 5 days in order to test out ratios and methods for the perfect macaron (perfect: not too sweet, a nice flat top with no “nipple” on top, and good “feet” underneath — feet refers to that frilly part on the bottom of every professional macaron).

A good batch. Coffee Kahlua!

A good batch. Coffee Kahlua!

I ended up with so many macarons that I froze a bunch to give away as hostess gifts later. So if you have me over for dinner, you know what I’ll be bringing!

Lavender Plum!

Lavender Plum!

The Recipe

Here’s the basic recipe I finally decided on, after reading countless blogs and trying different variations, but always sticking with the French method. My recipe makes about 40 macarons each batch. You can also cut the recipe by using 2 eggs, 100 and 100 grams of icing sugar and almond meal or use 4 eggs, then 200 and 200 grams of icing sugar and almond meal. Basically, 1 egg yields about a dozen macarons. I’m writing out the recipe for about 40 (or loosely 3 dozen macarons) because that seems to work best for the amount of people that I tend to feed.

Ingredients:

  • 3 egg whites

  • 150g almond meal

  • 150g icing sugar

  • about  ¼ cup white sugar

  • a tablespoon of flavoring powder (ie air dried lemon rind, coffee granules, cocoa powder, matcha powder) and/or a teaspoon of powdered food coloring if desired

Directions:

  • Drop the 3 egg whites into mixer bowl. Let ‘em stand while you deal with the dry. (Note: don’t throw out the yolks! You can throw them into fried rice later, or whip up a hollandaise or an aioli)

  • In a food processor, ground Almond Meal to fine powder if it isn’t fine enough.

  • This is the part that takes the longest, especially if your Almond Meal was frozen or refrigerated: Sift 150g Almond Meal  through sieve, scraping with metal spoon,  together with 150g icing sugar and any dry powders  (matcha? coffee granules? cocoa powder? usually a teaspoon or so of each) if you want to incorporate for flavor and color. Throw granules back into blender if it needs a finer powder consistency. This step is also important for drying out any moisture in the almond flour.photo 3

  • Beat egg whites at speed 10 (in a Kitchenaid Stand mixer) till foamy like shampoo, then add the 1/4 cup white sugar whilst continuing to beat at speed 10

  • When Meringue passes “seattle space needle stage” into the stage where the meringue clumps heavily into the middle of the whisker when the whisker lifted, the meringue is ready. It will take about 2.5 minutes. This part was different from other recipes (which just called for soft peaks, not stiff peaks).  But it works like a charm to encourage good strong feeties later.

  • At this stage, you can also add any flavoring or color (ie a tsp of lemon rind, ground vanilla bean, ground coffee bean) into the meringue, and beat for another 30 seconds. Keep in mind that it’s better to use dry materials instead of liquid food colorings and extracts. Introducing moisture into the batter will throw it out of whack.
  • The “Macoranage”: Confidently fold the dry into the wet, keeping in mind that you are now folding the air back out of the meringue, until molten lava/thick ribbon stage is achieved and everything has come together. When you feel like you’re getting close to the proper consistency, try dropping some batter and letting it sit for a minute—the batter should slowwwwwly ooze back in, leaving an even top with no ‘nipple’. This is when you know your batter is ready. But be careful not to overmix or else you’ll have cracked tops! Your batter should slowly ooze off the spatula like a very thick ribbon of molten lava. It shouldn’t drop back down in clumps. But it’s a fine line between the two consistencies so proceed carefully!

  • Pipe onto parchment over templates (home-made templates underneath, on another sheet of parchment) and then wham onto counter to release air bubbles

    Those nipples should disappear after letting them rest.

    Those nipples should disappear after letting them rest.

  • Let rest at least 20 minutes while doing dishes and preheating oven. Very important for drying out the macarons—again so you don’t have cracked tops.

  • This batch was a touch overly browned for my liking

    Bake one tray at a time at 280F for about 20 minutes. Make sure the oven rack is in the centre position. These cookies are so finnicky that a lower or higher rack position can make a huge difference, again causing cracks or hollows.

  • Let rest at least 10 minutes until removing shells from sheet, otherwise they will stick. If they’re still sticking to the parchment after they’ve cooled down, then you under-baked them. But if they brown on top, then you’ve over-baked them.

  • Pair up those little suckers (one side up, one down) and pipe filling onto the up-facing half of each sandwich. Don’t wait too long to fill them, as the cookies do get moist and fragile with time. It’s best to fill them within an hour of coming out of the oven.

  • When piping the filling, I like to pipe a ring as close to the edge as possible, and then leave a gap and pipe a dot into the middle of the macaron. This is just because it makes the macaron look pretty along the edges of the sandwich, but also doesn’t overwhelm the taste buds with too much filling inside.
  • Delicately squish together…refrigerate for 24 hours to mature them, and then enjoy at room temperature.

 

Lavender Plum macarons all filled and ready to SQUISH!

Lavender Plum macarons all filled and ready to SQUISH! But if I were to redo these, I would pipe the filling in one circle closer to the edge, then pipe a dot in the centre, leaving the gap in the middle instead of the edge as you see in the photo.

 

Simple American Buttercreams for Filling:

The following buttercreams are a lot more fragrant and a lot less sweet than your average internet recipe—be forewarned. So top up the sugar if you have a sweet tooth. I personally just find that the macarons themselves are sweet enough to balance off the filling, so that you want a really well-rounded, intense flavor in the filling instead of a one-dimensional, sharply sweet one.

Coffee Kahlua Buttercream:

  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup icing sugar
  • 1.5 tablespoon kahlua
  • 1 Maxim/Indonesian Instant Coffee packet (it includes whitener)

Lemon Buttercream:

  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup icing sugar
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp lemon zest

Honey Earl Grey Buttercream

  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup icing sugar
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 earl grey tea bag
After a while, I just found myself experimenting with different buttercreams. All my recipes use the same basic base of 1/2 a cup of butter and 1 cup of icing sugar, but use your wildest imagination to dream up the other flavour elements.
Throwing a couple of tablespoons of jam into the icing is one other option (I’ve used homemade plum jam, strawberry preserves, homemade blackberry jam…). Or whip up a pistachio paste with pistachios and a bit of honey and BAM you can throw a quarter cup of that into the buttercream. Or go the ganache route—all basic ganaches consist of melted chocolate and whipping cream. Heat 1 cup of whipping cream over the stove until near-boil, and then pouring the hot whipping cream over 1 cup of chocolate chips. Let stand at room temperature for 1.5 hours, or until it’s thickened to piping consistency.
MMMMM….oh the options abound…..
,