Vanilla Macarons

October 4 2020

Over the years, I have tried many, many macaron recipes. I struggled to get them right but I refused to give up trying. Why, you ask? Especially when there are so many wonderful bakeries nearby that sell them? Primarily because they never seemed to have the flavors or colors I wanted or simply the challenge of it all!

A macaron (not to be confused with "macaroon" is a little French confection. It is a puffy, airy meringue sandwich. It's primarily egg whites, almond flour and sugar. That seems easy enough, right? But there's a little finesse that needs to happen in order for these babies to be great!

I will include many tips in this post, so follow these and you'll be golden. The most excellent news is that this basic recipe can be adjusted with different flavors, colors, fillings. It's very versatile! I say give it a whirl...even if you have to try it a few's thrilling when it works, and if you follow my tips, it'll work!!

Macaron Tips

Read all tips and directions first: This sounds like a strange tip but you will be surprised how many people miss important points by not reading through the recipe and these tips before beginning. It will save you a lot of headaches if you read all of this ahead of time!

Age the egg whites: Separate the egg whites and leave them in a bowl that is lightly covered (I cover mine with tin foil) for 1-3 days at room temperature. The idea behind this is that you are dehydrating the egg white while keeping its protein bonds the same, resulting in better elasticity of the egg white. This causes the whites to easily whip up. Although this step tip isn’t crucial in making macarons, it just adds extra insurance that your whites will whip up. Furthermore, it eradicates the need to use cream of tartar or anything to aid in the whipping of the whites.

Wipe all utensils/bowls/apparatus with vodka or vinegar: Wipe anything that will be coming into contact with the egg whites with vodka or vinegar. This is to ensure no oil residue is present that would ruin your meringue!

Don’t under-whip or over-whip your meringue: An improper meringue can lead to loads of problems, namely hollow macarons! I have fallen victim to this myself! The best way to tell if the meringue is ready is by checking if it can form a ‘birds beak’ or as the French call it the ‘bec d’oiseau’. The meringue should still be soft, but stiff enough to create a shape similar to the soft curve of a birds beak.

Stop folding once the batter ‘ribbons’: When the macaronage process is complete, the batter should flow like lava, and ribbon off your spatula. If it falls off in chunks it is under-mixed, and if it runs right off the spatula without ribboning, it is over-mixed! The ‘ribbons’ of batter should disappear completely into the rest of the other batter within 30 seconds.

Tap the pan and remove air bubbles: Smack the pan against counter, rotate 90° and smack again, continue until all sides have been smacked. This has two purposes, the first being that is causes any air bubbles in the macarons to rise to the surface and pop – resulting in smoother and more stable macarons, and the second being that it causes the batter to flatten out along with any humps left over from piping.I usually smack mine more than 4 times. I just do it until I feel like all the air bubbles have surfaced and the batter has flattened nicely.

Use a toothpick to ‘pop’ any remaining air bubbles: Get up close and personal with your beautifully piped little macs and look for any remaining air bubbles. You are looking for any obvious ones, but also some hidden ones that may just look like a very slight irregularity on the surface, or even a tiny bump. Then use a toothpick and simply pop them, and lightly use the toothpick to swirl batter to fill the hole. I find if I skip this step I can sometimes be left with hollow macarons, so it is definitely important!

Allow the macarons to form a “skin”: This is crucial – I repeat THIS IS CRUCIAL. Do not skip this step whatever you do! This step allows the macarons to rise vertically and reduces the amount that it will spread out horizontally, leading to the oh-so-perfect little feet we’re after! The skin will form faster in cold dry climates, and conversely will take longer to form in hot humid climates. As a side note, macarons are very finicky with humidity – meaning that if you live in a very humid climate or it is a humid day out, you may have trouble forming the skin, resulting in failed macarons. I typically let my skin form for about 30 minutes, just to be on the safe side. You can tell when they are ready to go when you can graze your finger across the top and they feel dry and your finger does not pick up any batter.

Allow the finished and assembled macarons to sit in the fridge for one to two days before indulging: I know, I know… after you spend a few hours making any delicious pastry, all you want to do is chow down on your edible prize! But I urge you to resist – at least overnight. Waiting allows the macarons and the filling to blend together, bringing together the flavors and textures into one cohesive unit to be eaten. “Un-matured” macarons (freshly iced macarons) tend to fall apart or be too chewy, and are simply messy and not as delicious as matured ones. Lastly, certain fillings mature faster than others. Fillings with high moisture content (think jam, buttercream, custard) tend to mature faster than those with a low moisture content (ex: ganache).

More Tips:

Find “perfect pairs” before you start icing, this way you will reduce the number of mismatched pairs, resulting in more perfect macarons!

Macarons hate too much moisture – so if it’s an excessively humid day, maybe wait until a less humid day!

If you’re prone to minor hollows, try cooling the macarons upside down once you’ve peeled them off the baking mat.

It really is crucial to sift all the dry ingredients – you don’t want macaron tops that are uneven or grainy!

Vanilla Macarons

Makes: 48 shells or 24 sandwiches

Prep Time: 35 minutes Cook Time: 16 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour 21 minutes

1 cup + 2 tbsp confectioner's sugar

1 1/3 cup superfine almond flour

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/8 tsp Kosher salt

1/2 cup egg whites (from 4 large eggs), room temperature and aged, if possible (see tip above)

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Food coloring drops

1 cup Classic Buttercream Frosting (made without the cream cheese option)

White non-pariel Sprinkles, optional

White chocolate, melted, optional

Put oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 300°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. The parchment must lie flat in the pans so trim if necessary. Using a 2-inch round cookie cutter as a guide, trace 24 circles, an inch apart, onto each piece of parchment paper with a pencil. Flip paper over to prevent pencil marks transferring to your macarons.

Sift the confectioner's sugar into a medium bowl, then add the almond flour and whisk to combine. In a small bowl, stir together the granulated sugar and salt.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk the egg whites on medium speed until frothy. Slowly add the sugar mixture a spoonful at a time while whisking. Add vanilla and 2 drops of food coloring (if you desire a deeper color, add more drops). Increase the speed to medium-high and whip until the meringue is glossy and holds medium peaks. Scrape into a large, wide bowl.

Add one-third of the almond mixture and fold together with a large rubber spatula. Fold in the remaining almond mixture in 2 additions, continuing to fold until the batter is completely combined and soft but thick--it should flow back into itself, much like the consistency of running lava. The meringue will deflate, but do not over-mix or the finish shells may tilt or loose their lacy foot.

Fit a large piping bag with a 1/2-inch plain round tip. Fill the piping bag half full so it will be easy to handle. Secure the top with a clip or elastic. Holding the piping bag upright just above the baking sheet and in the middle of your pencilled circle, squeeze out a mound of batter, stopping just before it reaches the edge of the circle. Repeat until the batter is finished. Work quickly when you refill the bag to avoid mixing the batter any further. Once all the shells are piped, gently tap the bottom of each baking sheet against the counter to knock out any air bubbles and to smooth out the tops. If using white non-pariels, sprinkle over the shells at this point.

Allow the piped shells to sit, uncovered, for 30 minutes or until a thin skin forms. (This will assist in creating the much-desired lacy foot.) The shells should feel dry to the touch on top. The length of time they need to sit will vary depending on the time of year and the humidity.

Bake for 4 minutes. Rotate the baking sheets front to back and top to bottom and bake another 4 minutes. Rotate the sheets once more and bake for 6 minutes or until the macarons have a lacy foot and a smooth, crisp, slightly shiny top that is uniform in color. If you lightly touch the top, it should not deflate or give. If the top seems to slide slightly, bake for 2 more minutes and test again. Allow the shells to cool on the baking sheets. If using the melted white chocolate, put into a plastic baggie, cut a tiny hole in the corner and pipe drizzle over the cooled shells.

To Fill Macarons:

When filling the shells, it is fastest and easiest to lay out all the sandwiches in rows on a clean counter with several inches in between each sandwich. Then remove the top shell and place it directly beside the bottom shell. The bottom shell will have the inside facing up and the top shell will have the top facing up. This will ensure that you fill only the bottom shells and that you pair them with the tops that you selected for them earlier.

Fit a piping bag with the same tip you used for piping the macarons, and fill it with the classic vanilla buttercream. Pipe a teaspoon-size dollop of buttercream onto each bottom, leaving a small outer edge unfilled. Once all the bottoms are piped, gently replace the tops to create a sandwich. Lift each sandwich and gently apply pressure from both sides to close the sandwich and spread the filling to the edge. Don't press the top down while the macaron is still on the table of the bottom shell will crack. The finished macarons can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Recipe from Bobbette & Belle

Macaron Tips adapted from Food Duchess

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