Aren't macarons one of the cutest cookies ever? Their cheerful colors and pretty ruffled edges, called "feet," are so elegant and dainty. Each macaron is a masterpiece of precision, patience, and practice!
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With only five basic ingredients, macarons are deceptively simple to make. These classic meringue cookies take a lot of practice to make perfectly, but are well worth the time and effort required to make them. Let's dive into some Frequently Asked Questions!
Who invented macarons?
These cookies have a long and somewhat complicated history. They are a variant of the Italian macaron, which is almond meringue that dates back to the 1500s. The concept of sandwiching two meringues with a filling began in the 1930s. Pierre Desfontaines and Claude Gerbet both claim to have invented this concept.
The first macarons actually were filled with a chocolate ganache instead of buttercream or jam. Nowadays, many flavors of macarons are popular, including coffee, pistachio, and raspberry.
What are macarons made of?
They consist of finely ground almonds, sugar, and egg whites. The cookies are baked, then sandwiched together with a filling, which may consist of buttercream, jam, ganache, or some other flavoring.
Why are they so expensive?
Macarons are expensive because they use a lot of blanched almonds, which are pricey. In addition, it takes a lot of skill and time to make macarons correctly.
Are they hard to make?
Macarons are easy to mess up because the batter is so delicate. The actual process isn't complicated or difficult; it's more about carefully following the recipe and knowing where to watch for mistakes.
My recipe uses the French method, which involves making a meringue with beaten egg whites and sugar. There is also the Italian method, which requires making an Italian meringue with hot sugar syrup whipped into the egg whites. I have only used the French method in the past, and since it's simpler, I would recommend it for beginners.
What's the difference between a macaroon and a macaron?
Macaroons are round coconut meringues, while macarons are flatter almond meringues. They are totally different, so please make sure to use the correct name!
Are macarons vegan?
No, they are not vegan because they are made with egg whites. Use this recipe for a vegan version.
How many calories in each cookie?
Each macaron with a 1 ¾ inch diameter and a filling contains 94 calories and 14g of carbs. A serving size is 2 macarons.
Can you substitute a different flour for the almond flour?
Yes, you can use any nut flour in place of the almond flour; just make sure to sift it with the icing sugar as the recipe states. Feel free to grind your nuts finely in a food processor if you like. Please remember that you absolutely cannot use wheat flour in macarons.
Do macarons need to be refrigerated?
Yes, they do. These cookies are very sensitive to moisture, and keep best in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 7 days.
Can you freeze them?
Yes, the plain macaron shells freeze very well. Package them in an airtight container to prevent them from getting crushed and freeze for up to 3 months. Defrost at room temperature for about 30 minutes before filling and eating.
There is a whole wealth of ways that macarons can go wrong! Here are a few common issues that you might encounter, and what caused them. If you want to deep dive into troubleshooting, Indulge with Mimi and Food Noveau have amazing articles to help you.
- No feet. The macarons didn't rest long enough before being baked, or the batter was too wet.
- Cracks. Too much air in the batter; you didn't drop the tray on the counter to knock out extra air.
- Sticky. The batter was overmixed or the shells weren't baked long enough.
- Hollow. The meringue was beaten too long before folding in the almond flour mixture.
- Wrinkles. The oven temperature was too low, the batter was overmixed, or the ingredients were in the wrong ratios.
- Lumpy top. You didn't sift the almond flour and discard the large pieces.
How to Make
Gather the ingredients. You'll need room-temperature egg whites that are a few days old, in addition to almond flour, icing sugar, caster sugar, and gel food coloring.
Sift the icing sugar and almond flour together 3 times, discarding any large pieces of almond flour between each sifting. This step incorporates the ingredients very thoroughly as well.
Pour the room-temperature egg whites into a grease-free mixing bowl and whisk with a hand-held electric mixer until foamy.
Add the caster sugar one tablespoon at a time, whisking continuously, until the mixture forms stiff peaks. Be careful not to beat the meringue too long here, or it will cause problems later on.
Add the gel food coloring and the sifted dry ingredients and fold them into the meringue. Keep folding until the batter flows like molten lava, and you can make a figure 8 out of a stream of batter. It's crucial not to overmix here, or the macarons will be ruined.
Gently pour the batter into a piping bag fitted with 1 cm round nozzle, then pipe into 1 ¾ inch blobs on a parchment lined tray. Hold the tray a few inches above the counter and let it drop to knock out air bubbles from the mixture, then repeat about 4 times.
Let the macarons rest uncovered and at room temperature until you can gently touch them without the batter sticking to your finger. This can take anywhere from 20 minutes to a full hour depending upon the humidity, but don't skip this step. It's the only way your macarons will get the foot on them.
Once the cookies have rested, bake them at 275 F for 16-18 minutes, until the ruffled foot is crisp and not bendy. Let them cool on the tray for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the strawberry buttercream filling. You'll need softened unsalted butter, icing sugar, seedless strawberry jam, and vanilla extract.
Beat the butter with a handheld electric mixer until smooth, then sift in the icing sugar and beat until fluffy.
Add the vanilla and half of the strawberry jam, beat, and taste. Add more jam to taste.
Fill a piping bag with the strawberry buttercream and snip off the tip to create a narrow round nozzle. Pipe the filling in a spiral on a macaron shell, then gently twist a matching shell on top to create a sandwich. The filling should extend right to the edge of the macaron.
Preferably, refrigerate them for 24 hours before eating to improve the flavor. If you want to have one right away, that's no big deal!
Enjoy your beautiful strawberry macarons.
- Weigh your ingredients. Never use measuring cups for making macarons; it's imprecise and may cause your batch to fail.
- Use aged, room-temperature egg whites. They should be at least a couple days old for best results.
- Use blanched almond flour. This will reduce the brown flecks of almond skin in the macarons.
- Sift, sift, sift! This step is crucial to combine the dry ingredients and remove any chunks of almond.
- Follow the recipe exactly. Just a slight deviation from the proper method can ruin the result.
- Let the macarons rest before baking them. This is absolutely necessary for them to develop the ruffled foot.
- Almond Flour: finely ground almonds are a key ingredient in this recipe.
- Hand Mixer: effortlessly mix up a meringue with this little workhorse.
- Piping Bags & Tips: these reusable silicone bags and tips are a baking staple.
- Cookie Sheet: this light-colored baking tray bakes evenly and cleans easily.
- Parchment Paper: this insulates the macarons as they bake and helps them release easily.
Other Dainty Treats You'll Enjoy
- Ratafia Biscuits
- Earl Grey Shortbread
- Lemon Scones
- Mexican Wedding Cookies
- Chocolate Peppermint Cookies
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Learn how to make French macarons with these step by step instructions. This recipe will teach you how to make strawberry macarons with just a few ingredients!
For the Macaron Shells
- 3 large egg whites, at room temperature
- 1 ½ cups icing sugar (200g)
- 1 ⅓ cups almond flour (110g)
- ¼ cup caster sugar (50g)
- Gel food coloring (optional)
For the Strawberry Buttercream Filling
- ¼ cup unsalted butter, softened (57g)
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¾ cup icing sugar, sifted (100g)
- ¼ cup seedless strawberry jam
Making the Batter (35 min)
- Sift the icing sugar and almond flour together into a bowl, discarding any large pieces of almond flour left in the sieve. Repeat this process two more times until the mixture smooth and well combined.
- Place the room-temperature egg whites in a large, grease-free steel mixing bowl. Beat with a handheld electric mixer until foamy, then add in the caster sugar a tablespoon at a time, beating between each addition.
- Keep whisking until it forms stiff peaks. The meringue on the beaters should hold its shape in a stiff peak, with a slightly curled tip standing up tall and proud. You also should be able to turn the bowl upside down without the mixture falling out of it. Be careful not to under or overmix!
- Add some gel food coloring. Use a little more than you would like, as the color will lighten.
- Gently pour in the sifted almond flour and icing sugar mixture and carefully fold it in with the spatula. The mixture will deflate some, which is what we want, but be gentle. Keep folding until the mixture is smooth and perfectly well mixed. Most importantly, the mixture should fall in a smooth ribbon without breaking when the spatula is lifted from the mixture. You should also be able to make a complete figure 8 with the batter; if not, keep folding a little longer and test again. This process is called macaronage. Stop as soon as the batter is ready; under or over mixing here is potentially fatal! It's better to be a little undermixed than overmixed.
- Gently spoon the mixture into a large piping bag fitted with a 1 centimeter round tip, twisting the top of the bag to seal.
Piping the Macarons (15 min + 20-40 min resting)
- Line three large rimmed cookie sheets with parchment paper.
- Pipe 1 ¾ inch circles of batter in rows, spacing them about 1 ½ inches apart. Hold the piping bag at a 90-degree angle to the tray and lift it straight up. If there are little tips on the top of the macarons from piping, just smooth them with a lightly damp finger.
- Hold the cookie sheet about 10 inches above the countertop and drop the tray onto the counter. Repeat this 4-5 more times. This knocks out air bubbles, which is crucial to a good result.
- Let the macarons rest uncovered at room temperature. They'll need to sit until you can gently touch the batter without it sticking to your finger. Depending upon the humidity in the room, the resting time could take anywhere from 20 minutes to 1 hour. Don't skip this step, though, or the macarons won't have the delightful ruffled edge, called a "foot," when they are baked.
- Before they are done resting, preheat the oven to 275 F.
Baking the Macarons (16 min baking per tray)
- Bake the macarons at 275 F in the middle of the oven for about 16 minutes. Only put one tray in at a time.
- Test them by lightly tapping on the ruffled edge, or "foot," of the macarons. It should be perfectly crisp and not even a little bit bendy or soft. The tops should also be crisp.
- Let them cool on the tray for 10 minutes, then carefully peel them off the parchment and let them cool completely.
Making the Strawberry Buttercream (10 min)
- Place the softened butter in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat on medium-high speed until fluffy. Sift in the icing sugar and beat until well combined.
- Beat in the vanilla and half of the strawberry jam, then taste. Adjust the amount of icing sugar and strawberry jam to suit your tastes, making sure that the icing is a light pink and has a good strawberry flavor.
- Spoon the icing into a piping bag fitted with a small round tip and twist the top of the bag to seal.
Filling & Chilling the Macarons (20 min)
- Pair similar-sized shells together.
- Pipe a small blob of icing onto the center of a shell, then gently twist the top shell until the filling almost reaches the edges.
- The macarons can be eaten immediately, but their flavor improves after 24 hours of refrigeration. Store them in an airtight plastic tub in the fridge for up to a few days.
- Follow the recipe exactly. This is a very delicate recipe, and one wrong move can spoil the result.
- Use a kitchen scale to weigh the ingredients. Do not use measuring cups here, because they are not as accurate as a scale.
- Use the right egg whites. To get the maximum volume out of your egg whites, they should be a couple of days old, have a thick (not runny!) texture, and absolutely must be at room temperature.
- In a hurry? Warm up your egg whites faster by putting them in a grease-free stainless steel bowl. Set the bowl inside of another shallow bowl filled with hot tap water. Let the whites sit in the bath for about 15 minutes, or until they've warmed up to room temperature.
- Every oven behaves differently. I recommend using an oven thermometer to determine if your oven is actually baking at the correct temperature. You may need to adjust the temperature up or down a little to accommodate.
- Category: Cookies
- Method: Baked
- Cuisine: French
Keywords: best macaron recipe, strawberry macaron recipe
This post was originally published on January 28, 2018.