French

Dorie Greenspan's Parisian Macarons

October 23, 2014

All week long, the lovely Dorie Greenspan is serving as a Guest Editor here at Food52, sharing recipes and stories from her latest book, Baking Chez Moi. We're also giving away a copy each day! Because we want to give the gift of Dorie.

Today: Learn how to make a fanciful and iconic Parisian treat.

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About twenty years ago my friend Anne Noblet brought me a box of beautiful chocolates from her home in Angers, in the Loire Valley, and told me that the chocolatier was also a pastry chef, a very good one. I quickly asked if he made wonderful macarons, and she just as quickly answered, “Macarons! Only Parisians care about them!” She was right then, but wouldn’t be at all right now. The macaron craze has spread across France and even jumped to America. 

These are not double-O macaroons, not Passover macaroons, coconut macaroons, or even amaretti types. They are small, sweet almond meringue cookies that, when properly made, puff into a smooth-topped matte round with a craggy ring on the bottom, referred to as “the foot.” The foot is the grand prize of macaron making and, like the smooth, uncracked top, it’s a sign of a job well done. There’s one more sign, which only becomes visible when you break into the cookie: a chewy interior beneath that outer shell.

More: Try another transatlantic treat -- Les Whoopies.

The shells themselves -- made of confectioners’ sugar, almond flour, egg whites, and a sugar syrup -- are always beautifully and fancifully colored but never have much taste. Taste is not their primary job. They were created to look pretty, provide crunch, and sandwich a filling, the star of the show and an element that invites fantasy and fun. Some pâtissiers have dozens of flavors, and no matter how many there are, each week there are new ones. Go wild with these -- everyone else does. 

This recipe is long, not because there’s so much to do or because what you have to do is difficult, but because there are so many things to look for. I’ve provided the best instructions I can, but you still might have to make these a couple of times to get them just right. You’ve got to learn about the batter and your oven. Much of what you have to do goes against established practice, so experience and trust are your best guides. Happily, most less-than-perfect macs still taste good. 

A few things to take note of before you start making macarons:

  • Egg whites: Some pros leave their egg whites at room temperature for a few days before using them -- you get a better meringue with old (more liquidy) whites. I leave them out overnight. If that makes you uncomfortable, separate the eggs and leave the whites in the refrigerator for a day or two.

  • Almond flour: The almond flour has to be absolutely free of lumps, so you must sift it or press it through a sieve. Never skip this step -- it’s imperative.

  • Measuring: If you have a scale, use it to measure the ingredients for this recipe. You want equal weights of almond flour and confectioners’ sugar. You also want 150 milliliters of egg whites. That’s about 5 whites. Just turn your glass measuring cup around to the metric side, you’ll have an easy time of it. It’s also easier to use the metric measure should you have to divide the egg whites in half.

  • Tools: Because you have to beat the egg whites and, at the same time, pour hot sugar syrup into the bowl, it’s best to work in the bowl of a stand mixer. You’ll also need a candy thermometer. And while you can certainly bake the macarons on parchment-lined baking sheets, this is a case in which silicone baking mats do a better job.

  • Timing: Filled macarons need to soften in the refrigerator for at least 1 day. Sorry, it’s the rule.

Parisian Macarons

Makes 45 macarons

2 cups (200 grams) almond flour (made from blanched almonds)
1 2/3 cups (200 grams) confectioners' sugar
About 5 large egg whites (150 milliliters), at room temperature
Food coloring (optional)
1 cup (200 grams) sugar
1/4 cup (60 milliliters) water

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Fillings:

White Chocolate Ganache

10 ounces (283 grams) best quality white chocolate, finely chopped
2/3 cup (158 milliliter) heavy cream
1 1/2 tablespoons (3/4 ounce; 21 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into 3 pieces

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Chocolate Ganache

8 ounces (227 grams) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup (240 milliliters) plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick; 2 ounces; 57 grams) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces, at room temperature

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Salted Caramel Filling

Scant 2/3 cup (140 milliliters) heavy cream
1 cup minus 2 tablespoons (175 grams) sugar
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks; 5 ounces; 142 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into 10 pieces
1/2 teaspoon fleur de sel or 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt, or more to taste

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Photo by Alan Richardson

We're giving away a copy of Baking Chez Moi every day this week! To win today's copy, tell us in the comments: Have you ever made macarons at home? Or do they totally freak you out? We'll choose winners this Friday, October 24th. (U.S. entrants only, please!)

Update: Andrew DickinsonsummersavoryCari Garcia, and Jazmin Lui are our winners! We hope you enjoy your copies of Baking Chez Moi

 

 

 

 

70 Comments

Sandra K. July 2, 2017
Love them. I never attempted to make macaroons. Find them intimidating.
 
Xochitl April 7, 2017
Freak me out, but I just might tackle them this weekend.
 
kak10956 January 16, 2015
Freak me out but they are my daughters favorite and with the high cost I'm motivated. Dorie has been my baking mentor and as usual makes this seem totally doable . I'm in
 
Hippy I. January 14, 2015
I love making Macarons. The flavor combinations are endless. I've been traveling to France for over 40 years. I always taste the latest flavors. I'm returning to France for 6 weeks this summer and will seek out all of the new trendy Macarons shops!
 
Nancy G. January 14, 2015
I have been wanting to make them, I guess today is the day! Just need to run to the store for almond flour.
 
Carol November 28, 2014
I have never made them, but have eaten many. I worked in a French bakery for 16 years. The pastry chef and his wife were from Paris. I enjoyed many authentic treats over the years.
 
augustabeth October 27, 2014
No, I have never tried! But someday...
 
Patricia N. October 24, 2014
My husband and I took a Macaron Class at Sur la Table. Several months later, I made Lemon Macarons with Raspberry Filling for a friend's fundraiser. I worried that I would blow it but I got a perfect shell on each one and even got "feet"! They were a huge hit and I look forward to making them again.
 
Terri October 24, 2014
My husband is the baker in the family and he has made them! I just read your tips aloud to him and he said "ahh-I left them out overnight but not in the fridge! I'll have to try that next time!"
 
Kim O. October 24, 2014
A tempting challenge. The recipe looks great!
 
Mary R. October 24, 2014
Mary R <br />I've not tried to make them. However, my four year old great granddaughter recently called to tell me that she had the best cookie ever ~ French macarons! It looks as if this recipe may be just the encouragement needed for me to try making them.
 
Hippy I. October 24, 2014
I've never made them, but I'm taking a class next Wednesday to learn how. I think I need to pay attention huh? LOL
 
Allison G. October 24, 2014
My son loves them so I guess I should try.
 
Andrea October 24, 2014
I have the ingredients on hand, but I've never worked up the courage to actually make them. I just tried macarons for the first time though and that may have to change!
 
Darlene-Randy D. October 24, 2014
I am up for the challenge! !!
 
Melissa D. October 24, 2014
I have never made any and am somewhat intimidated , however after reading this article I can't wait! !! Dore Rocks ! :) ♡
 
Lark October 24, 2014
I have neither made nor eaten macarons. I'm more interested in them from reading the recipe. I guess I'm inclined toward fruit desserts more than meringue.
 
Jazmin L. October 24, 2014
Macarons are going to be a milestone in my baking career when I work up the courage to make them. One day!
 
Rowena October 24, 2014
I've made them many times (thanks to Stella at BraveTart); macarons make the best gifts; the flavor combinations are endless!
 
QueDelish October 24, 2014
These look simply stunning! I have not tried making these gorgeous treats yet but with Silpat on hand, all I need is the candy thermometer and a lovely Sunday afternoon to embark on this recipe!