French macarons are known to be one of the trickiest cookies to master at home. They are often described as finicky, delicate, and down-right rage-inducing.
First and foremost, I watched this video from Entertaining with Beth on how to get a flawless batch of macarons. I used her recipe for the cookie element and used a basic buttercream recipe for the filling. This was my first attempt at them and I couldn’t be happier. My biggest worry was that I wouldn’t get “feet” on my cookies. The signature feet on macarons are the part that anchors the base of the cookie and the tops; it should appear ruffled and airy.
There are so many great tips in her video that I need to share. I would have been completely stranded otherwise. Sifting the almond meal and sugar to rid of lumps and allowing the batter to sit before baking are two very important and essential steps (more detail below in the instructions).
A couple of things I would change—I used a small tip to pipe the batter which was a small mistake (the recipe is still very doable) it just took much longer. Using an inch tip will help move things along much quicker. There is a part of the process where you need to bang the cookie sheet on the counter to release air bubbles; if piping takes too long, you may struggle to get air bubbles out because the tops of the cookies thicken. If this does happen and you see air bubbles under the surface that aren’t rising up, simply get a toothpick and lightly tap wherever you see bubbles.
Once your cookies come out of the oven they should have the consistency of eggshells on the top, and be slightly chewy in the centre. I botched one or two while piping them out which ended up being my taste testers.
Makes 24-30 macarons
For the cookies:
- 3 eggs, at room temperature
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup almond meal
- 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
- Food colouring of your choice (I used red gel colouring)
For the buttercream filling:
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
- 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
- 2-3 drops red food colouring
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
Separate the egg whites from the eggs; discard yolks. Place the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment and mix until frothy. Add in salt, cream of tartar and granulated sugar, then mix on high for 8-10 minutes until still peaks form (really, they shouldn’t be runny at all).
Add the desired amount of food colouring. I used red gel dye, but you can use drops or any other colour you want. In my experience pale colours are more flattering to the cookie.
Sift almond meal and confectioners’ sugar. If you’re like me and don’t own a sifter, you can use a fine sieve and run the mixture through that to get rid of any chunks. This makes a huge difference in the final product so do not skip this step.
Fold the almond meal/sugar mixture into your egg white mixture by hand. Take note: mixing will make or break your macarons. Under mix and they will mound and crack—over mix and they will be too flat and lack feet (in case you missed what “feet” are, read above). I mixed mine with exactly 75 turns of a rubber spatula, making sure to scrape along the sides of the bowl often; the consistency felt and looked similar to melted marshmallow. Fit a piping bag with a 1-inch tip and fill with batter.
Pipe out 1-inch rounds on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (not greased, not wax paper). Once you finish piping out one pan, grab either side of the cookie sheet and bang it hard on the counter 4-5 times to release air bubbles. If you can see air bubbles but they do not pop on their own, use a toothpick. Repeat until all the batter has been piped.
Again, this is a key step in gaining your feet. Allow the cookies to rest, unbaked, for 20 minutes on the counter before putting them into the oven. When the time finally comes to bake them, only do one sheet at a time so ensure they bake evenly. Once they have rested, bake each pan for exactly 20 minutes, then remove from the oven and allow them to cool before trying to transfer them.
Meanwhile mix the buttercream. In a small bowl, mix together butter, sugar, vanilla and desired food colouring. It may not look like a large amount, but a little bit goes a long way in this recipe. Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a 1/2-inch tip or use a small flat spatula to ice the cookies.
Gently reverse cookie shells on their backs, and pipe a small mound of filling on one of them. Top with the other shell, and repeat until all cookies have been used to sandwich some buttercream filling. Your French macarons are ready to be gawked at and devoured.