Bakery-style desserts are often significantly larger than you expect: giant cookies, towering slices of cake, even pastries as big as your face. A bakery where I used to work sold larger macaron sandwich cookies than I’d ever seen, piping them 3 inches wide instead of the typical 1 to 1 ½ inch size. This equates to 2 or 3 perfect bites. Larger macarons are even chewier, and have become my favorite style of macaron. The larger size also has other advantages: they allow for more filling, and even multiple varieties to get some nice contrast. Plus, their increased surface area makes them perfect for decorating, too. I would argue that since they’re gluten free, why not decorate them like sugar cookies using buttercream or royal icing (see more ideas in the Variations section below). —Erin Jeanne McDowell
- Prep time 2 hours 30 minutes
- Cook time 25 minutes
- makes 12 sandwich cookies
- Large Vanilla Macaron Shells
1 1/2 cups
(150g) finely ground almond flour
(226g) powdered sugar
(2g) fine sea salt
large (140g) egg whites
(99g) granulated sugar
(2g) vanilla extract
- Strawberry Cheesecake Filling
(226g) cream cheese, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups
(142g) powdered sugar
(176g) heavy cream
(15g) freshly squeezed lemon juice
(5g) vanilla extract
fine sea salt
½ cup (180g) strawberry jelly or jam [1 tablespoon (15g) per cookie]
- Line two baking sheets with parchment paper (use your flattest ones). Use a 3-inch round cookie cutter to trace rounds onto the parchment paper. Trace the circles in rows, spacing each about 3/4 inch apart from one another, staggering the rows to fit as many macarons onto the sheet as will comfortably fit (about 12 per sheet). Turn the parchment paper over so the ink won’t touch the batter when you pipe onto the paper. Fit a pastry bag with a large round tip (such as 803/804/805).
- Make the macaron shells: Sift the almond flour, powdered sugar, and salt together into a medium bowl. Repeat 1 to 2 more times—you’re trying to eliminate clumps, combine the dry ingredients, and also aerate this mixture. (If any rogue clumps of almond flour remain that won’t fit through the strainer even when coerced, discard them.)
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment (or using a large bowl and a hand mixer), whip the egg whites on medium speed until slightly foamy, 30 to 45 seconds. Raise the mixer speed to high and gradually add the granulated sugar in a slow, steady stream. Continue whipping until the meringue holds stiff peaks, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the vanilla and mix to combine.
- Remove the meringue from the mixer. Add about half of the almond flour mixture to the bowl and start to mix with a silicone spatula to combine. It’s OK to mix the batter a bit more vigorously at this stage—you’re sort of “tempering” the batter with the dry ingredients, which will make it easier to incorporate the remainder. You’re also intentionally starting to deflate the batter to get it close to the ideal texture.
- Add the remaining almond flour mixture to the batter, and fold gently to incorporate with a silicone spatula. Move the spatula around the outside of the bowl in a circular motion, then cut through the center and repeat. Rotate the bowl as you fold to keep working with all the batter evenly. The goal is to end up with a batter the consistency of “lava”—it should hold its shape when dropped from the spatula but slowly spread and lose definition (in other words: thick, but not so thick it holds any peaks).
- Gently transfer the batter to the prepared piping bag, filling it just over halfway full. Pipe the batter onto the prepared baking sheets using the guides to keep them evenly sized. Hold the pastry bag parallel to the baking sheet and begin to apply pressure, allowing the batter to flow out of the tip into a fluid round. Stop applying pressure just before you reach the end of your guide. Repeat until the baking sheets are filled up, refilling the pastry bag as needed.
- Gently tap the baking sheets on the countertop—this should smooth out the surface of the macaron and spread it slightly. If desired, use a needle or skewer to pop any visible bubbles on the surface of the macarons.
- Let the macarons rest at room temperature until they form a skin on the surface, 1 to 2 hours (it can take less time in a dry environment, longer in a more humid one). Towards the end of rest time, preheat the oven to 300°F with your oven rack in the center portion of the oven. (I bake one tray at a time because they are so finicky, but if your oven can handle it, you can bake both trays at once.)
- Bake the macarons until they have risen, forming a foot on the bottom, and the surface of the cookies is shiny, dry, and set, 22 to 25 minutes. Once baked, cool the macarons completely on the baking sheet. (The shells can be carefully stored in an airtight container, layers separated by pieces of parchment paper, and frozen for up to 3 months. When you’re ready, assemble the macarons using frozen cookies, then refrigerate overnight before serving.)
- Make the filling: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment (or to a large bowl, if using a hand mixer), whip the cream cheese and powdered sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes.
- With the mixer running on medium speed, add the cream gradually, allowing each addition to incorporate fully before adding the next. Scrape the bowl well once or twice through the process, then whip until the mixture is thick, smooth, and creamy. Add the lemon juice, vanilla, and salt and mic to combine.Transfer to a pastry bag fitted with a medium round or star tip. Transfer the strawberry jelly or jam to a pastry bag (no tip required).
- When the macarons are cool, gently peel them off of the parchment paper. As you work, you can pair up the macarons with their closest match, flipping over half of the cookies.
- Pipe a ring of filling around the outside of each of the flipped-over cookies, stopping just shy of the outside edge. Repeat on all the cookies, then cut a ½-inch opening from the tip of the pastry bag holding the jelly/jam, and pipe it into the center to fill it in. Place its cookie pair on top and press down gently.
- The macarons can be eaten immediately, but they are typically left to soften overnight, allowing the cookies to absorb moisture from the filling. To do this, transfer the cookies to an airtight container and refrigerate overnight. (The cookies can also be frozen in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before serving.)
Macaron Ice Cream Sandwiches: Instead of the filling listed above, scoop a mounded ⅓ cup of ice cream into the center of a macaron, and top with another macaron. Freeze for at least 4 hours before serving.
Macaron S’mores: Stuff two giant macarons with toasted marshmallows and a slab of chocolate!
Frosted Macarons: Make a batch of Italian Buttercream (https://food52.com/recipes/41452-italian-buttercream), and divide it into 4 or 5 bowls. Dye the buttercream in each bowl a different color with gel food coloring, and transfer to piping bags fitted with differently shaped medium tips (round, star, petal, etc.). Pipe a variety of effects of your choosing over the surface of the cookies, or in a ring/wreath shape around the outside edge of the cookie. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.