My very first attempt at making macarons did not turn out very well. I didn’t pay attention to my technique and completely overmixed the batter–the cookies turned out flat and had no feet at all. After several months of practice, I am proud to say that I can bake beautiful, tasty French macarons on a large scale! There are still times when I don’t make perfect macarons (they really can be finicky), but for the most part I have, dare I say, mastered the French meringue method.
I’ve tested several recipes since I first started making macarons, but the one that I most closely followed was Not So Humble Pie’s. For the filling, I have made flavors ranging from a simple chocolate ganache to a pumpkin buttercream.
I completed a major macaron project just a few weeks ago–making hundreds of rose and lavender macarons as favors for my brother’s wedding. I based my rose and lavender buttercream recipes on the ones from You can do it…at home! and Plant Food Fabulous. It took awhile to get into the flow of the large-scale process, but towards the end I was able to produce a good number of batches in one day.
Ingredients for Macaron Shells:
125 g (1 cup + 2 Tbs) almond flour or 125 g (11/4 cups) blanched almonds
215 g (13/4 cups) powdered sugar
100 g (3 large) egg whites, aged
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
35 g (3 Tbs) granulated sugar
1-3 drops gel food coloring (optional)
chopped almonds, flower buds, etc. for shell toppings (optional)
Prepare the dry ingredients: Grind the almonds and powdered sugar together in a food processor for 2 minutes, stopping once or twice to scrape down the sides. Sift the mixture twice, regrinding any large pieces of almonds if necessary.
Prepare the meringue: In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk the egg whites on low speed until bubbles begin to form (speed 4 on the KitchenAid mixer for 1 minute), then add the cream of tartar. Continue to mix on low speed until the cream of tartar has dissolved and the egg whites appear frothy (about 1 minute). Add the granulated sugar in three portions, while mixing on medium speed, until the sugar is dissolved and the egg whites have soft-medium peaks (speed 6 on the KitchenAid mixer for 2 minutes). Continue mixing on high speed for 1-2 minutes, until the egg whites have firm, glossy peaks (speed 8 on the KitchenAid mixer). Add food coloring, if desired, then beat on the highest speed just long enough to evenly disperse the color (speed 10 on the KitchenAid mixer for 30-60 seconds).
Perform the macaronage: Gently fold the dry ingredients into the meringue in 2 to 3 portions. To properly fold in the ingredients (i.e., to evenly mix while deflating some of the air in the meringue), scrape the spatula along the bottom of the bowl, then bring the spatula to the top and press down into the batter. Check the consistency of the batter in between every few folds. The batter should slowly fall off the spatula in ribbons, and any peaks should flatten out in about 15 seconds.
Pipe the batter: Transfer the batter to a piping bag fitted with a round tip (about a 1-cm diameter). Pipe circles on a baking sheet fitted with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Use a template to ensure uniform circles.
Rest the piped batter: To eliminate any air bubbles, firmly rap each baking sheet against the counter (while keeping the sheet level). Place decorative toppings on half of the shells, if desired. Rest the sheets on the counter for 30-60 minutes, until the tops of the shells form a skin–the batter should not stick to your fingers when lightly touched.
Bake the shells: Bake the macaron shells, one sheet at at time, at 275-325°F for 15-18 minutes, until the shells don’t wobble and can be easily removed from the parchment paper. Allow the shells to cool down before filling them.
Makes: 30-35 filled cookies
I normally bake only one sheet at a time, but time and oven space were big issues for making large-scale batches. Halfway through baking my first tray of macarons, I moved that sheet one level down and placed a second tray of macarons above them. For the rose macarons, I added one drop of red food coloring to create pink shells, and sprinkled the top with chopped almonds (this was more for the look than the flavor). I placed 3-4 lavender buds on the shells for the lavender macarons.
Ingredients for Rose Buttercream
100 g (1/2 cup) granulated sugar
65 g (2 large) egg whites
155 g (11 Tbs) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into small cubes
1 Tbs + 2 tsp rose water
Prepare the meringue: Place the sugar and egg whites in a double boiler and whisk continuously, until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture reaches 160°F. Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer and whisk the egg whites on medium-high speed, until a stiff, glossy meringue forms and the bowl is cool to the touch.
Make the buttercream: Switch out the whisk with the paddle attachment, and beat the meringue on medium speed while slowly adding the butter. Make sure each addition of butter has blended in before adding another chunk.
Flavor the buttercream: When all the butter has completely blended in, add the rose water to the buttercream mixture. Continue beating until the mixture is well-combined.
Makes: 2 cups
Ingredients for Lavender Buttercream
60 g (1/4 cup) heavy cream
1/2 tsp lavender buds
113 g (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
200 g (12/3 cups) powdered sugar
1/4 tsp salt
Steep the lavender in cream: Place the heavy cream and lavender in a saucepan over medium heat, until it comes to a boil. Leave the lavender to infuse in the cream for 30 minutes off the heat. Strain the mixture and allow the cream to cool to room temperature.
Make the buttercream: In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter until creamy. Add the sugar and salt, then beat on low speed until well-combined. Continue beating while adding the lavender-infused cream, one tablespoon at a time, until the buttercream reaches the right flavor and consistency.
Makes: 3 cups
I tend to have leftover buttercream after filling one batch of macarons, but the great thing about buttercream is that it stores well. Buttercream can be stored in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for a few days, or in the freezer for a few months. To reuse the buttercream, simply whip it in the bowl of a stand mixer until it comes to the right consistency.
Prepare the buttercreams: Place the buttercreams in the refrigerator if they are too soft to work with. When ready to use, transfer each buttercream to a piping bag.
Assemble the macarons: Match like-sized macarons to each other in pairs. Pipe the buttercream in the center of one cookie. Gently press down on the filled cookie with the other cookie until the filling just spreads to the edges.
Mature the macarons: Place the macarons in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for 24 hours (to allow the flavor and moisture of the filling to infuse into the cookies). Allow the macarons to come to room temperature before serving.
Macarons can be stored in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week, or in the freezer for a few months. Since I had to make several hundred macarons ahead of time, I stored most of mine in the freezer, then in the refrigerator one night before the big event. After my big project, I’m a little macaron’ed out at the moment. However, I do plan on baking macarons again and will create different flavors I haven’t tried yet!