If you’ve been here before, you know that I LOVE french macarons. In fact, as of right now, I’m pretty sure the only thing I’ve posted about has been the macaron, even though I bake plenty of other fun stuff (and hey, sometimes I even leave the kitchen and do other things, too). I figured it was about time for me to put together my list of secrets for perfect macarons at home so you guys can love them just as much as I do… and maybe so my coworkers can start making them for themselves if they happen to see this. 🙂
Blind love aside, the truth of the matter is: macarons are jerks. Maybe I find it relatable that they’re expensive and extremely picky about who they let woo them. Maybe, being the stubborn perfectionist that I am, I enjoy the challenge. Maybe I’m really just that chubby that I want delightful cookies at my disposal at all times. Whatever the attraction, like most of the guys I bring home, I’m willing to overlook their crappy personality for one reason or another, and it’s probably because they’re cute.
Like most people, when I first set out on my macaron journey, I was intimidated and nervous. I’ve seen tons of horror stories/photos all over the internet about flat, misshapen, cracked, abominations and I wanted no part in it. I wanted to go from 0 to macarons in one batch.
This brings me to my first, and if anything, most important rule for macaron baking: your first batch, maybe even your first few, will not be perfect, and that is OK. You’re making cookies, not performing potentially fatal brain surgery. If they do not come out as pretty as you had imagined – guess what! They will still taste utterly amazeballs. If they’re flat and ugly? Who cares? No one needs to know what they look like when you’re secretly stuffing the entire batch in your face, anyway. Just have fun with it. Relax, for once. Namaste, kitchen.
Now that you’re relaxed and one with your kitchen, let’s pick out a recipe. The following are my absolute go-tos and I have had great success with all of them. In addition to the recipes being great, there’s wonderful information in each article.
Indulge With Mimi’s Best Macaron Recipe – I really suggest starting out with this one to be honest. It’s very easy to follow AND the recipe doesn’t really yield that many macarons, which makes for less waste if you screw up.
BraveTart’s Macaron Recipe – The rolls royce of macaron recipes, by one of the internet’s most respected food blogs.
Wilton’s Macaron Recipe – If you’re not ready to spring for a kitchen food scale (which, you should, for a multitude of reasons), this is a good place to start.
On to the mise en place, oui? Let’s get you set up for macarons:
Day 1 – You will need
- 2 bowls (glass or stainless)
- White vinegar
- Eggs, separated. You can either dispose of the yolks or use them for another project, like curing them for example. Make sure to have more egg white than your recipe calls for.
- Almond flour/meal
- Plastic wrap
Spritz each of the bowls with the vinegar and wipe clean until they are completely spotless and free of grease/residue. In one of the bowls, place your egg whites. Cover with the plastic wrap and poke a few holes in the top, then drop off your egg whites in the fridge. In the other bowl, drop your almond flour. You can loosely cover with a towel, something that’ll let the air in but keep stuff out (like cat hair if you’ve got furballs like I do).
…. fast forward a couple of days ….
Day 3 – You will need
- 2 bowls (glass or stainless)
- 1 large mixing bowl (glass or stainless)
- White vinegar
- Your “aged” egg whites from day 1 – weighed out to amount called for in recipe
- Your “aged” almond flour from day 1 – weighed out to amount called for in recipe
- Castor Sugar – weighed out to amount called for in recipe
- Confectioner’s sugar – weighed out to amount called for in recipe
- Salt/Cream of tartar – measured out to amount called for in recipe
- A fine-mesh sieve
- A food scale (unless you chose a recipe that doesn’t use weight measurements)
- A food processor
- Stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment
- A pastry/piping bag fitted with a round tip
- A tall glass
- 4 large baking sheets
- 2 silpats OR parchment paper
- Printed macaron diagram (free to download in my next post!)
- A dehumidifier
- A SUNNY day 🙂
- Oven thermometer
So if this seems like a daunting list… that’s because it is! And I’m sorry. And I want you to know, macaron virgin, that this list will get smaller the more you experiment. Think of this set-up as you taking out a huge insurance policy on your first batches of macarons. In the above list is every single thing I can think of that will help make sure your macarons come out perfect. If you want to try and not age your egg whites or not hose down your bowls with vinegar, by all means, go for it. Just try and only get rid of one insurance policy at a time, that way you know if you absolutely must do something to ensure everything comes out OK.
Once you’ve assembled your list and have measured out everything per your chosen recipe, take your almond flour and confectioner’s sugar and throw them in the food processor, together. Pulse them until there aren’t any small pieces of almond floating around, but don’t go so far as to release all of the oils in the almonds and turn your mixture into a very sweet paste. Dump out your almond/sugar mixture into one of your two bowls, and use the other bowl with the sieve on top to sift the mixture. Make sure to sift TWICE.
Place your piping bag, fitted with a round tip, in the tall glass, being careful to have twisted the tip end of the bag so that no batter will be able to escape while you are filling. The tall class will help you to support the piping bag, leaving both of your hands free to fill.
Place your printed macaron diagrams on to two of your baking sheets, then cover them with either your silpats or parchment paper, depending on which you chose to use.
Turn on your dehumidifier and make sure the humidity is lower than 55, ideally lower than 50.
All of this sums up your mise en place and you’re ready to go! Stay tuned for my next post as we discuss how to use your home oven, proper “macronage” and piping, and filling/decorating!