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. sarah m.

    any suggestions on flavoring the meringue cookie part?

    ~Sarah

    p.s. thanks for posting this. These are on my baking ‘bucket list’ and so hopefully this will give me the omph to make them! Our customers have suggested some excellent flavors. Have fun with it. Mary@ KAF

    Reply
  2. Zorra

    Mmmmm… These have made it to hinterland of Columbus, Ohio–at somewhat more affordable prices. (One local boutique bakery shows some amazing colors and flavors at http://www.pistaciavera.com).
    Thanks for making an otherwise intimidating recipe look doable. Could you add espresso powder to the batter for coffee flavor?
    Any chance the unfilled macarons might freeze well?I think espresso powder would work very well for coffee flavor. These can be frozen before filling, but it is very important to thaw them completley to room temperature in the wrappings to prevent condensation, which would cause them to melt. Have fun with them. Mary@KAF

    Reply
  3. Berta

    I fell in love with macaroons after having Pierre Herme’s in Paris – but I can’t fly to Paris every time I want one, nor do I want to pay fancy bakery prices for them. Thanks for such a detailed how-to!

    Reply
  4. michellemabell

    Once again, thank you for such an in depth of ‘how to’ with pictures…How can I go wrong!!! You make baking and trying something new fun because I feel like I am right in your kitchen knowing what to expect or what I am doing wrong when it or if it goes wrong!

    Now are these anything like those delicious almond horn things (horseshoe shaped to die for taste) you used to sell in your bakery???

    Is adding the syrup to the egg whites anything like making marshmallows in trying to get it to come together? Just wondering if that is what I should be expecting?

    Thanks.
    Michelle These aren’t anything like the almond horns we sell in our bakery. Totally different “animal”. The technique could be described as similar to making marshmallows, with the sugar syrup going in slowly and the beating. Mary@KAF

    Reply
  5. Lenore

    They look yummy! just wondering…are they messy to eat? so many times, the filling squishes out the sides at the first bite. I’ll be making them as soon as the temp drops here in NC – too hot for the oven.,br /> It depends somewhat on how thick the filling is and how much you put in. Mary@ KAF

    Reply
  6. Wei Wei

    Oh GOSH. Thank you, THANK YOU! I’ve been looking for a good macaron tutorial for a while now, and its awesome to see one coming from one of my favorite baking blogs. By the way: have you ever seen people using 24- or 48-hour aged egg whites instead? Apparently it helps with feet development.

    Wei Wei

    Reply
  7. Heather

    I’ve always been afraid to make macarons because they seem too difficult. Thanks for the step-by-step instructions – I’m ready to try them now!

    Reply
  8. SMJ

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. Recent articles about macarons in the Wall Street Journal and the New York times had me wondering about these for a while. They made them sound very difficult to make, your directions make them look like something I could make. How many filled macarons does the recipe yield?It will make 20 to 22 filled cookies. Mary @ KAF

    Reply
  9. HMB

    You can grind your own almonds to flour by hand with a Mouli grater — they don’t get oily that way. It just takes a while! I also make hazelnut flour that way.

    Reply

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