Make French macarons at home? Mais oui!

Macarons: the French confection that’s sweeping the nation.

Or, the right and left coasts, anyway. Maybe Chicago?

Actually, I’m not sure where else these colorful cookies have landed just yet. They certainly haven’t made it up to our neck of the woods. Last time I checked Lou’s Bakery, I didn’t see them nestled in among the mile-high apple pies and sugar crullers.

So if you want to try macarons, you might have to order them online.

One problem. The first two sites I checked selling macarons offered them at $8.00 for four, and $22.00 for 15, respectively – before shipping.

HELLO. Guess if I want macarons, I’d best make them myself!

And actually, they’re not hard. Yeah, they’re a bit fussy, with some sifting and whisking and filling required. And, with boiling sugar syrup involved, they’re absolutely not something you make with kids or dogs in the kitchen.

But they’re totally do-able. Just follow these directions, and you’ll be enjoying crisp/chewy macarons in no time at all.

And without shelling out big bucks.

Sound good? Let’s get started.

There are a couple of out-of-the-ordinary ingredients you’ll need for these cookies. Almond flour (finely ground blanched almonds) gives them body; without almond flour, these cookies would be simple meringues.

Can you make your own almond flour by grinding blanched almonds in a food processor? No; they need to be ground in a special way that prevents them from becoming oily.

Cream of tartar stabilizes beaten egg whites, allowing meringue to hold and keep its shape. Substitute Bakewell Cream (Bakewell Cream – NOT Bakewell Cream baking powder), if you have it.

First step: Measure out 1 1/2 cups almond flour by stirring, then gently sprinkling into a measuring cup. If you have a scale, this is easy: weigh out 4 ounces.

Pour into the bowl of a food processor or blender. Add 1 cup (4 ounces) confectioners’ sugar.

Process for 20 seconds.

Sift to remove any large pieces, and to aerate the mixture. Set it aside.

Put 3 large egg whites, a pinch of salt, and a pinch of cream of tartar in a large bowl. Set it aside.

Combine 3 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon (1 5/8 ounces)  water and 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons (4 3/8 ounces) granulated sugar in a small saucepan. Stir over medium heat until the sugar dissolves, then bring to a rapid boil.

Boil for 2 minutes.

The temperature of the syrup should reach between 235°F and 240°F. When it does, take the syrup off the heat.

Immediately start whipping the egg whites, using an electric mixer.

When they hold a soft peak on the end of the beater, stop, grab the pan of hot syrup, resume beating, and pour the syrup steadily into the whites as you beat.

Stop to scrape the sides of the bowl midway through.

Be sure to get as much of the syrup into the bowl of egg whites as possible. It’ll be sticky.

Continue beating until the meringue is smooth, glossy, and forms soft peaks. This is EXACTLY what a soft peak looks like.

Fold in the almond flour/sugar.

You can just pick up the whisk and fold the almond/sugar in by hand; it goes quickly.

Once everything is fully incorporated, stir with a spatula until the batter runs in ribbons that disappear back into the mass in 10 to 20 seconds. Test frequently, and stop stirring when you reach this point.

Use a teaspoon cookie scoop or a pastry bag to deposit a generous teaspoon-sized round blob of batter onto a parchment-covered baking sheet.

Don’t have parchment? Use your silicone baking mat. No baking mat? Use non-stick aluminum foil.

Don’t have any of the above? Don’t make these cookies – really.

The test cookie should flatten out, rather than remain in a tall blob. If it doesn’t spread, stir the batter some more; your goal is a disc-like, fairly flat cookie.

As you can see, the cookies above didn’t spread…

So I stirred the batter some more.

Pictured at left is how the cookies should look. At right, the batter is too firm; stir some more.

Want to tint some of your macarons in fun colors? Now’s your chance. The ones you may have seen in a fancy bakery are often tinted blue, pink, yellow, or green.

I chose a drop or so of extra-strong gel-paste color

…to turn the batter a lovely pink.

See how nicely these are spreading? That’s your goal.

Allow to rest in a dry place with good air circulation (a counter top is fine) until you can gently touch the tops and come away with a clean finger, about 2 hours.

See how their shininess has dulled as they’ve rested?

Towards the end of the resting time, preheat the oven to 275°F.

Bake the cookies for 25 to 30 minutes, till firm on the top. They’ll develop a “fuzzy” ring around the center; that’s a good thing!

Remove them from the oven, and cool completely on sheet.

Use a thin spatula to carefully separate them from the parchment or foil.

Next, choose your filling. Jam, ganache, frosting, nut butter – anything your heart desires.

I thought ganache would be a suitable filling. After all, when is it not?!

Combine 6 ounces chocolate chips with 4 ounces heavy cream.

Microwave till the cream is very hot and starts to bubble around the edges.

Stir to combine. Keep stirring till smooth and shiny.

Plop a heaping teaspoonful onto half the cookies. Top with the remainder of the cookies.

Raspberry jam is a nice choice with pink cookies.

Easy!

And lovely.

Nutella, anyone?

Tower of macarons!

These cookies are best eaten within 24 hours; they don’t hold particularly well, so make them the day of your party.

Read, rate, and review (please) our recipe for Macarons.

And, if you’re at all nervous about making the boiling sugar syrup for this classic macaron recipe, try our Simple Macarons, using a basic uncooked meringue.

PJ Hamel
About

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was a Maine journalist before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. PJ bakes and writes from her home on Cape Cod, where she enjoys beach-walking, her husband, two dogs, and really good food!

comments

  1. Candice

    This looks like a fun recipe to try, but I am allergic to almonds. Has anyone had success using other nut flours? If so, which? Thank you.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Candice, some allergen-friendly baking bloggers have reported success using ground pumpkin or sunflower seeds (sifted to remove any large pieces) in place of almond flour. We haven’t tried this here in our test kitchen, but it definitely seems like a promising avenue to pursue, especially at this time of year when all things pumpkin are so easy to come by! If you do try experimenting with this, definitely let us know how your macarons turn out! Kat@KAF

  2. C.B.

    Hello, two questions..

    1. Can I make these 3 weeks ahead and freeze them?

    2. Can I add a flavor extract or with that ruin the texture?

    Thanks!!

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi C.B., macarons tend to get soggy if they’re frozen already filled. To ensure the cookies maintain their pleasant texture, consider freezing the cookie halves and filling them once they’re thawed and are at room temperature. The cookie shells can be frozen for up to three months in an airtight container. As for your question about adding a flavor or extract, you’re more than welcome to experiment with different flavors. We find that adding extracts and oils tends to impart an artificial flavor, so instead, we like to use real ingredients to flavor the cookies. Here are some of our favorite flavor variations:
      – For coffee-flavored macarons, process 2 teaspoons espresso powder with the almond flour and sugar.
      – For chocolate macarons, sift 1/4 cup cocoa with the 1 cup confectioners’ sugar you’ll be processing with the almonds. Cut the amount of almond flour to 1 1/4 cups. Process as directed.
      – For pistachio macarons, use 3/4 cup almond flour and 3/4 cup pistachio flour, adding a drop or two of gel paste green food coloring and pistachio flavor, if desired. Add the color and flavor when whisking the nut flour into the meringue.
      – For hazelnut macarons substitute 3/4 cup hazelnut flour and 3/4 cup almond flour for the 1 1/2 cups almond flour, proceeding as directed.
      – For raspberry macarons, fill the cookies with raspberry jam and color the batter with a drop or two of gel-paste or powdered food color.

      We hope this helps, and happy baking! Kye@KAF

  3. Pam

    Will this recipe work at high altitude (6500ft) as written? I know to adjust the temperature of the syrup; it is the amount of ingredients and baking time I am concerned about.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      We’ll have to admit that we’re a bit hesitant about how successful you’ll be, Pam. Macarons are notoriously finicky, even when you’re not baking at elevation. That doesn’t mean we discourage you from giving this a try, but we do think you’ll need to make some adjustments according to our High-Altitude Baking Guide. Changes include increasing the oven temperature slightly and decreasing the baking time by about 5-8 minutes; reducing the sugar by about 2 tablespoons, and adding a bit more flour and water. Starting with a half batch may be smart in case you need to make further adjustments to achieve the texture you’re looking for. Good luck and happy baking! Kye@KAF

  4. Allison

    In France, when macarons have a color, it’s generally associated with a flavor– purple for violet, pink for rose, yellow for geranium, green for Jasmine, etc. When and how much flavor do you add so that the integrity of the batter is not compromised?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Great question, Allison. You can add color, just a couple of drops, to your whipped egg whites by gently folding it in with a spatula before adding the almond flour. Depending on how vibrant you want the color, additional drops will lend a darker more rich coloring. Happy baking! Annabelle@KAF

  5. Helen

    Great and detailed way of making macarons. I live in Nigeria and almonds and almond flour are way too expensive to buy. Can I sunstitite almond flour with cashew nut flour or full fat peanut flour? Both cashew nut and peanuts are readily available and I have a food processor that can turn them into fine flour. I look forward to your response

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Helen, the fat content of these three nuts vary quite a bit, which impacts how they behave in baking. Almond flour provides the perfect balance of tenderness (fat) and structure to make delicate, slighty chewy macarons, and we imagine this would be difficult to replicate with another kind of nut flour. However, if you’re feeling adventurous and would like to give it a try, you’re more than welcome to, knowing that you might end up eating something yummy that doesn’t quite resemble a traditional macaron. Cashew flour might the more likely of the two to yield success. Good luck! Kye@KAF

  6. Paty

    There are 8 oz. in a cup, not 4 oz…..”Pour into the bowl of a food processor or blender. Add 1 cup (4 ounces) confectioners’ sugar.”

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Paty, thanks for double checking. We’re referring to weight when we talk about ounces, not fluid ounces, and one cup will weigh a different amount depending on what’s in the cup. For example, one cup of confectioner’s sugar weighs 4 oz, but one cup of granulated sugar weighs seven ounces. For a detailed breakdown of volume to weight conversions, please visit our Ingredient Weight Chart. Hope this helps! Mollie@KAF

  7. Kate

    This was a failure, the macarons did not puff up as expected, I’m not sure why. They stayed as flat as when I put them on the baking sheet. Could the meringue have “fallen” during the 2 hour time they had to sit prior to baking?

    Thanks,
    KEB

    Reply
  8. Maria flores

    I couldn’t make it .. awww ..at the end it was to thick .. can you help me out what was mistake .. this is my four time do this .. an it hard

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Aw shucks, Maria. We understand it’s disappointing when recipes don’t come out right. We’d love to help you perfect your macarons. If your batter was particularly thick, there may have been a measuring error (too much of the dry ingredients), so try measuring by weight using a scale next time. (It’s a worthy investment!) Also be sure you’re using a finely ground blend of almond flour; our almond flour is super finely ground for a melt-in-your mouth texture. If you’re still feeling stumped, give our Baker’s Hotline a call at 855-371-BAKE(2253) so we can troubleshoot further. Hope that helps! Kye@KAF

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Kate, both of our macaron recipes use real egg whites as we like the body and texture they contribute to the these delicate cookies. However, if you like using meringue powder for other baked goods, you’re welcome to give it a shot. Consider using at least 1 or 2 real egg whites to complement the meringue powder. Happy baking! Kye@KAF

  9. Ahra

    Hi

    I’ve followed the recipe and it turned out okay for the first time attempt. But I find cookies too sweet. Is it okay to reduce sugar a bit?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Ahra, we’re glad to hear you gave these French cookies a try! While they can taste a bit sweet, reducing the sugar can negatively affect the texture of the cookies. You could try reducing it just a bit (about 10%), but any more than that may end up causing problems. Instead, we recommend experimenting with tart or bittersweet sandwich fillings that will offset some of the sweetness. A fresh fruit filling is also a nice way to go. We hope you give it a try! Kye@KAF

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