Foolproof French Macarons

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French macarons are delightfully crispy-yet-chewy almond meringue sandwich cookies, not to be confused with coconut macaroons. Anyone who is fond of macarons knows that these little delectable cookies can cost up to $5 per cookie. WHY?! Because they can. And they’re adorable.

It has taken me THREE YEARS to fine-tune the process of making my own. I am now boldly calling my vanilla French macaron recipe foolproof, because every single cookie in this batch was perfect. I’ve decided to share this batch with one of my very best friends when we get together today to swap gifts. Read on for the recipe!

P.S. They’re gluten free!

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My sketchbook journal with the final recipe. As you can see, this book is well-loved!

Foolproof French Macaron Recipe
Adapted from I Love Macarons by Hisako Ogita
3 large egg whites, room temperature
5 Tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Gel colors, optional
2/3 cup almond meal (I used Bob’s Red Mill)
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Equipment:
2 sheet pans
Parchment paper or silpat sheets
Stand mixer
Spatula
Piping bag
1/4 inch circular piping tip

Beat the egg whites in the stand mixer at a medium high speed, until frothy (thinner than the texture of cappuccino foam.)

Gradually add granulated sugar, one tablespoon at a time, until fully incorporated.

Continue to beat the egg white mixture until glossy, with stiff peaks. Do not over-beat the meringue, or else it will take on a grainy texture.

Gently fold the vanilla extract and gel colors (if using) into the egg white mixture.

Combine the almond meal and powdered sugar. If your almond meal is coarse, feel free to sift it to achieve a finer texture.

Add half of the almond meal/powdered sugar mixture into the egg white mixture, gently folding to combine.

Once incorporated, add the second half of the dry mixture, folding to combine.

Using your spatula, scoop the outside edges of the macaron mixture into the center of the bowl and “punch” it down a few times, until it becomes the texture of molten lava. Do not over-punch it, or else the macarons won’t rise.

Fit the piping bag with the piping tip, and snip the corner of the bag off to expose the end of the piping tip. Twist the piping bag twice, and stuff the twist into the metal tip to form a “seal” in the bottom of the bag. This ensures that the mixture won’t leak out as you’re filling the bag.

Put the piping bag inside of a large drinking cup and fold the top edges over the sides of the cup to hold the bag open. This helps keep everything stable as you add the mixture to the piping bag. Once 2/3 full, twist the top closed and press the mixture through the piping tip.

Pipe the macaron mixture onto the two silpat or parchment paper-lined baking sheets by holding the piping tip over the center of each circle and squeezing gently until the meringue mixture fills the circle, then slowly lift straight upward.

I prefer to use a silpat similar to this one, but if you opt for parchment, trace 1 inch circles onto the parchment using a pencil and then flip the paper over to guide you. I’ve used the lid of a spice container as a guide, and it works beautifully!

Rap the sheets against your work surface a couple times to pop any big air bubbles that may have formed. Let the macarons dry on the baking sheets for at least one hour at room temperature until the cookies are dry to the touch. This part is crucial and it cannot be rushed. If the weather in your area is especially humid or wet, it may take up to two hours.

Place 2 of your oven racks on the lower half of your oven, and preheat the oven to 280 degrees F.

Bake the macarons for a TOTAL of 15-18 minutes.

After the first 2 minutes, open the oven door to let the excess steam escape.

After about 7.5 minutes, rotate and swap the two baking sheets. Bake about 7.5 minutes longer until the macarons are hardened but not mushy on the inside. Do not brown.

Cool the macarons on the baking sheets, on top of wire racks. Resist the urge to remove them from the sheets before they have cooled!

When fully cooled, fill and sandwich the cookies with your favorite fillings. I like to combine Straus butter with a little powdered sugar or strawberry jam! If you’re pressed for time, filling the macarons with Nutella is a great option. In this picture below, I’ve added a bit of cocoa powder to my butter + powdered sugar mix.

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I never skimp on the macaron filling!

Step-by-step photos:

Beat the egg whites on medium high speed until frothy, then add the granulated sugar a tablespoon at a time until combined. Then continue to beat the egg whites until they look like this:

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This is what stiff peaks look like! They hold their shape when lifted. In my first macaron making class, the instructor held the bowl upside down over her head. DON’T DO THAT if this is your first time working with meringue!

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Fold in the vanilla and gel colors gently. I’ve used a few drops of Wilton’s “No Taste Red” but the food coloring is optional. Add half of the almond meal/powdered sugar mixture to the meringue, folding to combine. Then add the other half, taking care not to over-mix. Scoop the edges into the middle of the bowl, punching it down with your spatula. You want the mixture to be just as thin as molten lava.

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Pipe the macaron mixture onto a silpat or…

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pipe the macaron mixture onto parchment paper marked with 1-inch circles!

Both methods work, but I prefer silpat sheets with the circles already printed onto them as guides.

Rap the sheets (gently tap them down) onto your work surface to pop any major air bubbles that may have formed during piping. Let them dry 1-2 hours at room temp until the macarons are no longer sticky, and dry to the touch.

Preheat your oven to 280 degrees F and bake for 15 min. total, letting the steam escape after 2 min. and turning/rotating the sheets halfway through until they look like this:

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Let the macarons FULLY COOL on wire racks and fill with whatever your heart desires!

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See the crackly bit near my thumb? That’s called the “frilly foot.” That’s the hallmark of a good macaron! I hope you’ll try this recipe and impress your friends and family with homemade macarons this holiday season!

Wishing you a very, very HAPPY HOLIDAY! May 2018 bring you lots of love and joy.

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