thecookingchook

The personal stories and adventures of a nerdy food lover.

My love affair with French macarons

I love macarons. Ever since my partner brought home some Laduree macarons for me from Paris in 2008, I have been obsessed! When I started becoming a little more serious about my baking last year, I decided that I would try more challenging recipes, and from what I had read, French macarons do require some technical skill being the hardest type of macaron to make (more difficult than the Italian and Swiss meringue). For a little while, I was apprehensive about giving macarons a crack, until Cath Chen from Confessions of a Glutton blogged about making Raspberry Tea & Honey macarons. After reading her post, I was inspired to have a go. I decided that I would use Cath’s recipe and method to make the shells and fill them with a choc-mint ganache. When I popped the cookie sheet into the oven, I sat down to watch the maracons bake. I was so nervous! As soon as I saw the little ‘feet’ on my macarons, I was dancing for joy around the kitchen! I couldn’t believe that my macarons turned out so well!

Choc-mint macarons

I felt so great about my first attempt that the next week, I made another batch. The second batch didn’t turn out so great. I hadn’t folded the dry ingredients enough into the meringue and the mixture was too dry. They ended up really ugly and not very tasty.

Attempt 2 - ugly

After that horrid attempt, I was scared off making macarons again, but then Cath blogged about making Mojito macarons. These Mojito macarons looked so lovely, that I just had to get back on the horse and give macarons another go. If you’ve never made French macarons before, it’s really hard to get your head around how much you need to fold in your dry ingredients. To help me with this, I found an amazing troubleshooting guide on the HowToCookThat blog. This troubleshooting guide has helped immensely, and I haven’t had any issues since. Once you’re able to recognise what your mixture should look like after folding in the dry ingredients, you’ll make perfect macarons every time! I like to use Cath’s macaron recipe as a starting point because it makes roughly 15 macarons and that is the perfect number to share between two people! The macaron filling I chose for this batch was lemon curd. Lemon curd is a wonderful way to use up left over yolks! I used the same recipe as my lemon tart post from a little while back.

Basic macaron shell recipe
110g icing sugar
60g almond meal
60g egg white, aged (approximately 2 large eggs)
40g caster sugar
Colouring, if required (I use Wilton’s concentrated colouring gel)

Note #1: To age the egg whites, carefully separate the whites from the yolk into a small bowl. Cover the bowl with cling wrap, poke a few holes in the cling wrap and chuck the bowl into the fridge for at least 24 hours. This will help reduce the moisture content of the whites. When you’re ready to use the egg whites, take them out of the fridge and let them come up to room temperature before making the meringue. I usually like to age my egg whites for about two days. It also might be worth making the lemon curd the day before you bake the macarons, because the curd will need to be completely cooled before you fill the shells. Once you’ve added the butter to the curd, place some cling wrap directly on the curd before putting it in the fridge to cool. This will stop any skin forming over the top of the curd.

When you’re ready to make the macaron shells, combine the icing sugar and almond meal and sift the mixture twice. Discard any bits too big to pass through your sifter; you don’t want these bits in your macarons because they’ll make the shells look ‘gritty’.

Transfer the egg whites into a larger bowl. If you’re planning to add colour to your macaron shells, now is the time to do it. I’ve read that using colouring gel instead of liquid food colouring is better because it doesn’t affect the moisture content of the egg whites, which will ultimately dictate how well your whip up. Using an electric hand mixer, start beating the egg whites on medium speed until foamy, then switch to high speed and gradually add sugar. Keep beating the egg whites until stiff peaks form. To check whether or not your meringue has formed stiff peaks, turn the hand mixer off, pull the mixer straight upwards and turn the mixer on the side. If the meringue does not fold over itself, then your meringue is perfect. Another trick you could try is to turn your bowl upside down; if your meringue holds tight and doesn’t move, it’s ready to go!

Foamy whites Stiff meringue

Gently fold half of the icing sugar/almond meal mixture into the meringue until combined. Add the other half of the icing sugar/almond meal and gently fold until the mixture has an oozy, magma-like texture. This will take about 50-60 folds.

Fold dry ingredients in two batches Fold until oozy magma like texture

Line two large cookie sheets with non-stick baking paper. Transfer the macaron mixture to a piping bag that has a piping nozzle with a 1cm round tip fitted. Hold the piping bag at a 90 degree angle to the cookie sheet (that is, directly upwards). Squeeze out the mixture to form a 3-3.5 cm circle, then stop squeezing and move the bag in a half circle from a ‘six o’clock’ to ‘12 o’clock’ position. Make sure you leave a few centimetres between the macarons as you’re piping to allow for spreading. Once you have piped your mixture, tap the cookie sheets (hard) against a flat surface. This will get rid of any air pockets in your shells. Leave the macarons to rest and form a ‘skin’ for 30 minutes. 15 minutes into resting time, preheat oven to 140°C/120°C (fan forced). The surface of your macarons should be dry and not sticky when lightly touched. Shove the cookie sheets into the oven for 12-15 minutes. The ‘feet’ should start appearing after 5 minutes *insert happy dance here*

Leave macarons to rest for 30 minutes Macaron shells done

Leave to cool slightly on the tray then give the shells a gentle wiggle to lift them off the baking paper. Once they have completely cooled, match up the shells, place a dollop of lemon curd on one of the shells and sandwich the filling with the other shell.

Add a dollop of lemon curdCompleted macaron

If you’re not going to eat them straight away, store them in an airtight container in the fridge. From what I’ve read, filled macarons can be kept in the fridge for up to a week (I can’t vouche for this as the macarons are usually all eaten by the second day!). When you’ve pulled them out of the fridge, make sure you leave the macarons to warm up for 10 minutes before eating them.

Note #2: Please take the time to check out Cath Chen’s blog if you haven’t had a chance already, it’s absolutely fabulous! I’ve added the links to Cath’s blog as well as to her macaron posts at the beginning of my post. After making the lemon curd macarons, I also made a batch of choc-orange macarons too. It was raining macarons at The Cooking Chook household! Happy macaroning!

Choc-orange macarons

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55 thoughts on “My love affair with French macarons

  1. They just look lovely and I admire yout persistance with them. I looooove eating them, but can’t get myself into a head space to make them. Well done, you.

  2. Reblogged this on The Jackson Diner and commented:
    Thank you for sharing this great recipe.

  3. Oh my. I do love macarons too.

  4. Wow, very impressive! Makes me want to try making them again.

  5. PERFECTION! Wait until you have a Pierre Hermé macaron. I love Ladurée and I love macarons because of them, but once you have an Hermé one, you will never want to go back. Unfortunately, that will make you miss them even more! Check out their website, I think they must have the flavours listed… at least they can give us an inspiration when Paris is far…. 😦
    My head’s been buzzing with what flavour combinations I can put together lately… and if Hermé can go crazy, then so can I!

    • I have heard that Pierre Herme macarons are better than Laudree macarons. Unfortunately, there aren’t any stores in Australia so trying them will have to wait until I get a chance to go back to FRA or UK. I did get a chance to flick through his macaron book over the weekend, and it looked wonderful!

      • then you have better luck getting it in Japan then I do in Bordeaux! I swear, there are more Pierre Hermé stores outside of France than there are in France!

  6. These look wonderful. I haven’t made macarons in ages. I was obsessed with them for a while when the Adriano Zumba macaron craze swept through Sydney. They may be temperamental but so divine.

    • Of the many times I have traveled to Sydney, I have yet to try Adriano’s macarons. I have his Zumbaron book with all the crazy flavours too but I haven’t tried any of them yet either. Are his macarons really good?

      • They are good but I like the French ones better. His seem softer. I have been to his cafe bakery in Balmain and watched his pastry chefs make them through the glass window while eating lunch. It’s mostly automated. Except for the apprentices who were being taught to pipe by hand. A very laborious and exacting craft from what I could tell.

      • That’s interesting what you’ve said about the texture, because I tasted Italian meringue macarons for the first time over the weekend. A friend of mine made a batch for me to taste test, and I noticed that the shells were different too. It didn’t have the same crispy crunch when you first bite into the shell. I’d love to be an apprentice under Adriano – I think he is an extremely talented patissier.

  7. You are giving me confidence to try these. I just pinned your post. Thanks!

  8. My attempts at macaroons are always either amazing or tragic! Can’t seem to get anything either side of that. These looks delicious. Especially the lemon curd ones. Xxx

    • Thank you 🙂 I freak out everytime I make them because they’re so temperamental. I’ve been told that the Italian meringue macarons are more forgiving, so once I get my butt into gear and get myself a candy thermometer, I’ll give those a try.

  9. Love macaroons!!! 😀 I’m about to attempt to make some macaroons tonight actually. Yours looks really good! Might give your recipe a go sometime.

  10. Mmm, it looks so ymmy, maybe I will have a try. Aren’t they taste too sweet?

    • They are sweet, but that’s how macarons are supposed to taste. I don’t think they are too sweet though, however, I do know some people that don’t eat macarons because they think they taste too sweet. I guess it just depends on your palate.

  11. Wonderful post! I’ve been thinking about trying macarons for a while, and you’ve just convinced me to give it a go. Thanks for providing such detailed instructions. It really helps to know what can go wrong and how to avoid that.

  12. The macarons look lovely!

  13. These turned out amazing! I had a go at making macaroons once, and it was disastrous. They’re so hard to make. Think I might give it another go after seeing these though.

  14. We’re heading to France in May. Herme is definitely on the ‘must do’ list…as is my own attempt at making macarons. If you don’t put it the food colouring, how white is the macaron? I’m wondering if I can get away with a white macaron/meyer lemon curd filling…

    • If you imagine the icing sugar and almond meal together, that’s what the colour of plain macaron shells would look like, so they are quite white. It doesn’t mean you can’t have white shells with a lemon yellow filling though. The shells taste the same regardless of whether you add colour to them or not.

  15. I’m guessing the almond meal would make them slightly off white. I was imagining a macaron with a high contrast between the white and yellow. I suppose this is the reason you rarely see white macarons as most prefer to tint them slightly.

  16. Mircel McSween on said:

    Hi I have nominated you for the Illuminating Blogger Award for informative, illuminating content ~ Instructions and your blog badge are at http://foodstoriesblog.com/illuminating-blogger-award Congrats 🙂

  17. Pingback: What do you do with leftover lemon curd? Make lemon curd butterfly cupcakes! | thecookingchook

  18. cookyblogy on said:

    Reblogged this on cookyblogy and commented:
    A project for another day!

  19. Definitely will try this my daughter would love this for her snacks! It looks so pretty.. Thanks for sharing..

  20. Delicious! Seriously craving macarons now, but my somewhat ‘loose’ recipe following skills mean I will have to leave it to the experts for now. But those mojito ones almost make a girl want to try baking!

  21. tashly323 on said:

    You’ve got me inspired! I’m going to give it a go! GF too! Thank you! 😉

  22. They look lovely! Macarons frighten me. They look far too fiddly and now you tell me they have feet?! I think I will stick to popping them in my mouth.

    • Sometimes just eating is enough. There’s heaps of stuff that I feel that way about. Macarons for me aren’t that bad, but there is that element of pre-planning that does make them a bit tedious.

  23. I’ve tried so many times now. I wish you’d make me some 😦

    • Hahaha! Macarons will reward those who are persistent! I did a bit of research on the method before launching into making them, and not all of my batches turned out. I just kept persisting with them 🙂

  24. Pingback: Macarons | Stefan's Gourmet Blog

  25. Your macarons are beautiful!!

  26. Pingback: A dedication through macarons | thecookingchook

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