These 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.
A word on 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.
A word on 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.
A word on 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 ml 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.
A word on 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.
And finally, a word on timing: Filled macarons need to soften in the refrigerator for at least 1 day. Sorry, it’s the rule. —Dorie Greenspan
- Prep time 27 hours
- Cook time 15 minutes
- Makes about 45 macarons
(200 grams) almond flour (made from blanched almonds)
1 2/3 cups
(200 grams) confectioners' sugar
large egg whites (150 milliliters), at room temperature
food coloring (optional)
(200 grams) sugar
(60 milliliters) water
Choice of filling: chocolate ganache, white chocolate ganache, salted caramel filling, or jam
- To make the macarons: If you are going to bake the macarons on baking sheets lined with parchment paper, you might want to make a template. Using a cookie cutter as your guide, trace circles about 1 1/2 inches in diameter on each sheet of paper, leaving about 2 inches between them, then turn the papers over on the baking sheets. If you’re using silicone mats, there’s nothing to do but line the baking sheets with them. Fit a large pastry bag with a plain 1/2-inch tip. (Alternatively, you can use a zipper-lock bag -- fill the bag, seal it and snip off a corner.)
- Place a strainer over a large bowl and press the almond flour and confectioners’ sugar through the mesh. This is a tedious job, but much depends on it, so be assiduous. Then whisk to blend.
- Put half of the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.
- Add food coloring, if you’re using it, to the remaining egg whites, stir and then pour the whites over the almond flour and confectioners’ sugar. Using a flexible spatula, mix and mash the whites into the dry ingredients until you have a homogeneous paste.
- Bring the granulated sugar and water to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat. If there are spatters on the sides of the pan, wash them down with a pastry brush dipped in cold water. Insert a candy thermometer and cook the syrup until it reaches 243 to 245° F. (This can take about 10 minutes.)
- Meanwhile, beat the egg whites on medium speed until they hold medium-firm peaks. Reduce the mixer speed to low and keep mixing until the sugar syrup comes up to temperature.
- When the sugar syrup reaches the right temperature, take the pan off the heat and remove the thermometer. With the mixer on low speed, pour in the hot syrup, trying to pour it between the whirring whisk and the side of the bowl. You’ll have spatters -- it’s impossible not to -- but ignore them; whatever you do, don’t try to incorporate them into the meringue. Raise the mixer speed to high and beat until the meringue cools to room temperature, about 10 minutes -- you’ll be able to tell by touching the bottom of the bowl.
- Give the almond flour mixture another turn with the spatula, then scrape the meringue over it and fold everything together. Don’t be gentle here: Use your spatula to cut through the meringue and almond mixture, bring some of the batter from the bottom up over the top and then press it against the side of the bowl. The action is the same as the one you used to get the egg whites into the almonds and sugar: mix and mash. Keep folding and mixing and mashing until when you lift the spatula, the batter flows off it in a thick band, like lava. If you want to add more food coloring, do it now.
- Spoon half of the batter into the pastry bag (or zipper-lock bag) and, holding the bag vertically 1 inch above one of the baking sheets, pipe out 1 1/2-inch rounds. Don’t worry if you have a point in the center of each round -- it will dissolve into the batter. Holding the baking sheet with both hands, raise it about 8 inches above the counter and let it fall (unnerving but necessary to de-bubble the batter and promote smooth tops). Refill the bag, pipe batter onto the second sheet and drop it onto the counter.
- Set the baking sheets aside in a cool, dry place to allow the batter to form a crust. When you can gingerly touch the top of the macarons without having batter stick to your finger, you’re ready to bake. (Depending on room temperature and humidity, this can take 15 to 30 minutes, sometimes more.) While the batter is crusting, center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350° F.
- Bake the macarons, one sheet at a time, for 6 minutes. Rotate the pan and bake for another 6 to 9 minutes, or until the macarons can be lifted from the mat or can be carefully peeled away from the paper. The bottoms will feel just a little soft. Slide the silicone mat or parchment off the baking sheet onto a counter and set aside to cool to room temperature. Repeat with the second baking sheet of macarons.
- Peel the macarons off the silicone or parchment and match them up for sandwiching.
- To sandwich the macarons: Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. You can use a teaspoon or a piping bag to fill the macarons. It’s up to you to decide how much filling you’ll want to use; some pastry chefs use enough filling to form a layer about half as high as one of the shells and others make the filling as tall as a shell, so they’ve got equal layers of shell, filling and shell. Spoon or pipe some filling onto the flat side of a macaron and sandwich it with its mate, gently twisting the top macaron until the filling spreads to the edges. Repeat with the remaining macarons and filling, then put the macarons on the baking sheet and cover with plastic film. (Or, if it’s easier for you, pack the macs into a container.) Chill for at least 24 hours, or for up to 4 days.
- Serving: Macarons are usually served as an afternoon treat with tea or coffee or after dinner or sometimes even after dessert. Take them out of the refrigerator about 30 minutes before serving. Storing: You must keep the macarons refrigerated for 1 day before serving, and they can stay in the fridge for up to 4 days. They can also be frozen, packed airtight, for up to 2 months; defrost, still wrapped, overnight in the refrigerator