Our kids are kind of obsessed with macarons right now, and to be honest, I am too. They hadn’t even heard of them until a recent episode of the Kids’ Baking Championship on Food Network, where the contestants had to come up with unique macaron flavors. We all watch the show together each week, and that episode had us all talking about what flavor combinations we thought would be best. Our 8 year old mentioned he’d never tried one, so we made it our mission to find a macaron bakery on an upcoming trip to Dallas.
We discovered JOY Macarons, and had a field day picking among the many flavors they offered.
We bought half a dozen, started sampling, and then went back to buy a dozen more. We were hooked. In fact, while we were still in Dallas I ordered a silicone mat with a macaron template on Amazon so we could make our own macarons at home.
I’ll admit, I was slightly nervous about giving this a try. I’ve heard that macarons are notoriously difficult to make, so I prepared myself for a failure. Nonetheless, I got everything together (including my trusty assistant, E) and got to work yesterday afternoon. I’m happy to say we had success, and now I’m sharing what we did with you, step by step.
This is a basic macaron recipe that we colored purple (E’s request, if you can believe it) with a chocolate ganache filling. There are a million different variations (in fact, I plan to make chocolate macarons with a salted caramel filling this next weekend) but this is a great one to get you started.
First, equipment. The number one thing you need is a good digital scale. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, but you want accuracy in weighing out your ingredients. This is the one we have – it’s just $20, and it’s worked well for years. You’ll also want a mixer, a few bowls, a sieve or sifter (I’d recommend a sifter with a handle, although I used a sieve with a spoon), a spoon for scooping, and a measuring spoon for vanilla. A template for guiding your macaron size isn’t a requirement, but I’d highly recommend it. I got this cute one shown below that allows you to make smaller, larger, or even bear-shaped macarons if you’re feeling whimsical.
You’ll also want a piping bag equipped with a basic round tip. I used a plastic bag, but you could make your own out of parchment triangles as well.
There aren’t many ingredients you’ll need, although you may have to hunt a bit for two of them. You’ll need eggs, vanilla, powdered sugar, and then almond meal/flour and caster/ultrafine sugar. Our grocery store had both of the last two ingredients, but they’re not as common. You can buy almond meal online, or you can grind up your own almonds in a food processor. If you can’t find ultra fine sugar, you can run granulated sugar in your food processor as well to get it to a finer consistency.
Oh, and it also helps if you have a cute, super-eager helper.
Let’s get started. First, you’ll need to weigh out your dry ingredients. I set a big bowl on top of the scale, and a sieve/mesh strainer on top of it, then pushed “TARE” on the scale to zero it all out.
Place your almond meal in a little at a time until you have 180 grams.
Then zero out the scale again and add your powdered sugar, until you reach 270 grams:
Next you’ll sift the two ingredients together. I used a large spoon and this sieve, which admittedly took a good bit of time. I’m not sure if a sifter really would’ve sped things up that much, but you can decide which works better for you. Regardless, I can definitely see why sifting is an important step in this process. Look at my mixture before and after sifting:
You get a much finer product, which will give you a much more delicate macaron in the end.
Set the sifted ingredients aside; now it’s time to whip up some egg whites!
Using the scale, measure out 150 grams of egg whites. This ended up being 4 eggs for us. I just use the two halves of the shell to transfer the yolk back and forth, letting the whites fall into the bowl, but you can get an egg separator if this is something you’re nervous about doing.
Pour the eggs into your mixing bowl, and then measure out the ultra fine sugar; you need 100 grams.
Start mixing your egg whites on high with a whisk attachment, adding the ultra fine sugar in a bit at a time. Add in 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla, and any desired food coloring. Keep whipping your egg whites until they’re glossy with stiff peaks.
Add the egg whites to your sifted mixture:
And then here’s where it typically gets tricky. Many directions for macarons tell you to gently fold the egg whites in, using only about 30 strokes. I did a lot of reading, though, and discovered some people say not to worry about folding in the egg whites. I liked this idea better, because it seemed more foolproof. In this approach, once you have a good consistent mix you use a plastic scraper to press out the oxygen from your batter, a process called macaronage.
Your mixture will look shiny, but will still have a grainy look to it while you’re mixing; if you let it rest a bit, you’ll see that it looks very smooth.
Preheat your oven to 300 degrees, and then put your batter into your piping bag (and fold over the top of the bag first to make it an easier process):
Then start piping your macarons. The mat I used has a dot in the very center; I just piped directly on that dot, letting the batter spread out until it reached the edges of the circle (I used the larger circle, but will use the smaller one for my next batch).
You can see that when I first piped the batter it has a small peak; it very quickly settles and smooths out, as you’ll see below.
Once you’ve piped all your macarons, slam your baking sheet on to the table a couple of times to get any air bubbles out. Next…
For about 30 minutes, just let your macarons rest. They’ll form a “skin” and you’ll know they’re ready to bake when you (gently) touch them and they’re not sticky.
Now it’s time to bake your macarons. This can be another tricky step. I did another tray of macarons on parchment paper and baked them first as a trial. I baked them at 350 degrees, which I learned was a mistake – the “feet” of the macaron spread out wide and the tops browned. I could also see a few spots of oil from the almond meal on the surface.
They tasted fine, but didn’t look like I wanted at all. This is why I suggest baking yours at 300 degrees, with the caveat that you might even want to go lower based on your particular oven. There’s some trial and error to this part. I watched my batch carefully, and as the feet started to form I opened the oven up a bit to let some heat escape for a minute just to be on the safe side.
These baked for about 11 minutes; to see if your macarons are ready to remove, gently touch the top of one. If there’s some “wiggle” to it, you know they need to bake for 2-3 more minutes. Watch that they don’t brown; you want them to have a nice vibrant color.
Let your macarons cool before trying to remove them from your tray. If you’re not using a silicone mat, be sure and at least use parchment so that they’re easy to remove.
Now it’s time for filling; there are a ton of different options you can go with! Since this is a very basic macaron, you could go with a fruit filling, a caramel, or as we did, a chocolate ganache. Heat 1/2 cup of heavy cream just to boiling, then pour it over 4 ounces of semisweet chocolate chips in a bowl, and mix. I let my ganache chill overnight so that it was thick and easy to spread. Put just a bit of your filling in the center of a cookie, then top with another and gently press the sides together. You’re all set!
As always, I am hosting Mini Chef Mondays along with 11 fabulous bloggers! Read how Mini Chef Mondays started and how to link up!
Be sure to check out each of their Mini Chef posts as well. We would love it if you would share your Mini Chef posts with us each week, too! Follow along socially and join in on the fun by using our hashtag #MiniChefMondays to share creations your mini chef created in the kitchen. Additionally, if you have a kid-friendly recipe that kids can easily recreate, link up! Don’t have a blog? Share the URL of your instagram photo in our linky below.
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