Recipe: Macarons

Initially, I was going to post the recipe on March 20th (Maracon Day) but after a series of tweets and everyone's excitement for giving these a shot, I think I'll just post it now so you all have a little weekend project. Now if you ARE going to make macarons this weekend, put three large eggs aside and let them get to room temperature. Do it now. No do it. Seriously. Go. I'll still be here when you get back.

OK! Here we go. This recipe is by Annie Rigg, author of several cook books and my current macaron recipe favorite. I say favorite because it worked the first time and I'm hoping it'll work again this weekend. It was encouraging because the other recipes I've tried, they all fell flat (almost literally) 2 out of 3 times I've tried them and they all seemed so tedious with tons of warnings and "do not do this" or "be sure to do that" or "if you do this this won't or will happen." TOO MUCH INFORMATION.

Annie provided tips (which I'll also share) and this recipe is for the basic macaron shell. I'll also have suggestions on fillings based on what I've used before.

Annie Rigg's Macarons from her book, Macarons: Chic & Delicious French Treats. You can buy it at Anthropologie.

Ingredients (weigh everything, have it all sitting there, ready and within reach)

200 g/ 1 1/2 cups icing/confectioners' sugar
100 g/ 2/3 cup ground almonds (I used almond meal in the bag from Whole Foods which seems to have the best price on it)
120-125 g/ 1/2 cup egg whites (about 3 large eggs)
a pinch of salt
40 g/ 3 tablespons caster/superfine sugar*


Equipment

Food processor
Hand mixer with whisk attachment
Large metal spoon, spatulas
Piping bag and 1-cm/ half-inch nozzle/tip
2 solid baking sheets lined with non-stick baking parchment
A damp towel (this is for you - it can get messy/sticky)


Prep:

Don't worry about preheating the oven just yet. There will be time after you're done.
Go ahead and use a cookie cutter or something circular that has a diameter of about 2 inches and draw circles on one side of the parchment paper as a guide.


Let's make these things already

  1. In your food processor, blend the almond meal with the confectioners' sugar till thoroughly combined (about 30 seconds) and set aside.

  2. In a clean, dry mixing bowl whisk the egg whites and salt with the hand mixer. Whisk till the foam holds a stiff peak.

  3. Turn the speed down to medium and start adding the caster sugar one teaspoon at a time. Mix well between each addition to properly incorporate sugar. Mixture should become thick, white and glossy.

  4. Now's when you will add the food coloring. Gel/Paste coloring is best, use a toothpick or one of those larger satay sticks and dip into the gel and stir into the egg white mixture and mix evenly, being sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula.

  5. Fold the almond/sugar mixture into the egg white mixture with the large metal spoon. Fold till the mixture is smooth (about a minute or less). The end result should drop from the spoon in a "smooth molten mass."

  6. Pour into piping bag and pipe onto parchment paper.

  7. Take the baking sheet and rap it firmly on your work surface just once, maybe twice. This is to get rid of any air bubbles that may have formed*.

  8. OPTIONAL: You can now take your crumblies or glitter/powder food coloring or any decorations and sprinkle them onto the macarons now.

  9. LEAVE THE MACARONS for at least 15 minutes, and up to 1 hour until to set/dry on a level surface. You want a "skin" to set over the domes and you know they're set when you very gently touch one with your fingertip and it doesn't stick or pull any off.

  10. Preheat your oven 325˚ F. Make sure the rack is in the middle of the oven. Bake for 10 minutes. If this is your first time baking these, start watching to make sure the macarons don't start to brown or get overbaked at about the 8 minute mark.




Fillings I've used:

Ganache
Buttercream (I like using a Swiss Meringue Buttercream because it's not as sweet)
I've made a hazelnut buttercream by whipping in Nutella
Jam (seedless)

Tips:

Weigh everything
There's some almond meal that comes with specks of almond shell/skin in it. Some recipes will call for you to sift the meal twice to get rid of large clumps so for this recipe's sake try to get the flour/meal that doesn't have any black specks in it.
All ingredients need to be at room temp
Use the right nozzle for piping
If your parchment paper rolls, you can put dots of the mixture on the corners to hold it down.
I've found that putting another rack on the shelf below the macaron rack helps keep the bottoms from browning.
Be patient with the drying. The batch I had sitting out longer formed nicer pieds (feet).
Everyone's oven is different. I have to up my temperature by at least 2 - 3 degrees to get this right and it also depends on the day. They bake differently in the summer than they do this time of year. Weird I know.
Don't be discouraged. These things aren't easy. It's easy to feel disappointed because you've spent money on the almonds or the almond meal and your kitchen's a mess. But when you get it right, even if you're like me and you don't particularly like eating those things, you'll be overjoyed and you can't wait to make them again.


Annie Rigg's book actually has a ton of alternative flavors you can make for the shells and fillings. There's also a recipe for lemon curd in the book. My other favorite book/recipe is I {heart} Macarons by Hisako Ogita (I also got it at Anthro, and you can see my post on that recipe here)  - I've had more success with his recipe than any other I've tried (and I have tried MANY in the past 2 years... holy cow it just occurred to me I've actually been trying to make these things since 2008 so.. approaching three years? Yikes.) I like Ogita's book because he has additional recipes in which you can use all the egg yolks you have leftover. His macarons are also really really pretty and for the batch I'm making tomorrow I may incorporate a few of his steps into Annie Rigg's process.

David Lebovitz has some good links for other recipes you can try.