A lot of people get the wrong impression about macarons and avoid making them because they’re supposedly the most difficult thing in the world to make. Truly, they’re not difficult at all. What is difficult is mastering them. For some reason people mistakenly think if something can’t be mastered on the first try, it’s too hard to fool with.
But there’s no reason to master macarons on the first try. Unless you just burn the crap out of them, they’re going to taste phenomenal regardless of their flaws. It’s like leaning to ride a bike, except that when you “fail” you get delicious cookies instead of a skinned knee. So relax. Tell yourself it’s okay if they don’t have feet, it’s okay if they crack, it’s okay if they’re hollow.
Each time one of those things happen, you have a chance to learn about what went wrong with your technique if you want to learn. If you don’t care about learning, focus on flavor, have fun making a tasty cookie and leave obsessive perfectionism to the professionals.
If this is your first time making macarons, read through these posts to familiarize yourself with some common problems and mistakes.
Macaron Mythbusters: 10 myths you don’t need to worry about (with my recipe anyway). Macaron Ten Commandments: 10 important points to remember when macaroning All About Hollows: pointers for honing your macaron technique and minimizing hollow shells Macarons Are For Eating: macarons are crazy delicious; don’t forget that in pursuit of perfection!
I get a lot of macaron emails each week and most of them are about a question already answered in one of those posts. Essentially everything I know about macarons is here, so please check out those posts before emailing. If I haven’t covered your question or problem, snap a pic of your tray of macarons and upload it to the Facebook page so I can help you troubleshoot (seeing them still on the baking sheet tells me a lot!).
Otherwise, get a pot of tea or coffee going and enjoy your macarons!
4 ounces (115g) blanched almonds or almond flour, or whatever nut you like 8 ounces (230g) powdered sugar*
5 ounces egg whites (144g), temperature and age not important! 2 1/2 ounce (72g) sugar
the scrapings of 1 vanilla bean or 2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp (2g) kosher salt
approximately 10 ounces (290g) Swiss buttercream
If you’d like to see step-by-step photos of this recipe, Mardi from Eat. Live. Travel. Write. has posted some fabulously detailed images here.
Preheat the oven to 300° and have ready a large (18”) pastry bag, fitted with a plain tip. If you haven’t wrangled a pastry bag into submission before (or if you have and found it frustrating), these 12 tips for using a pastry bag will make the process mess and stress free; take the time to read them before you get started and you’ll do great!
You’ll also need two parchment lined sheet pans ready too.
I am hopelessly impatient and given to rushing, even when I know better. So to prevent my macarons from growing ever larger as I pipe, I use a 1 1/2” cookie cutter to trace out guide-circles (about an inch apart) and then I flip the parchment paper over, ink side down.
If you use almond flour, you lucky dog, simply sift it with the powdered sugar and set aside. If a significant portion won’t go through your sifter, however, you’ll need to grind them up until they do.
In that case, or if you’re using whole nuts, bust out your food processor. Process the almonds and powdered sugar for about a minute. Take out the mixture and sift it, reserving whatever bits don’t pass through the sieve. Add these bits back to the food processor and run the machine for another minute. Sift again. You should have about 2 Tbsp of slightly chunkier almond bits, but hakuna matata. Just add those into the dry mix.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the egg whites, sugar, vanilla bean (not the extract), and salt and turn the mixer to medium (4 on a Kitchen Aid). Whip for 3 minutes....
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