Macarons are much easier than the “outside world” thinks.
I started making them 3 years ago and I feel pretty comfortable now. So here is a cumulation of my best tips & advice:
1. Have the right equipment. Use silpats, they are pretty much indispensable if you want nice-looking mac macs. Parchment paper won’t cut it. These are the silpats I have, they are a great value and have served me well thus far: HERE. Silpats and a large round pastry tip are the absolute basics you need. Sure you can fit your pastry tip into those fancy schmancy pastry bags, but cheap-A’s like me just use ziploc bags with the corner snipped off.
P.S. I’d also recommend a kitchen scale. Most macaron recipes will be in grams as that is a more precise way to measure. But I’ve also followed recipes in the American cup style with no problems as of yet 🙂
2. Follow Directions Exactly. Sift your ingredients, don’t over-mix, etcetera etcetera.
3. If you really want perfect macs, print out a macaron guide and slide it underneath your silpat while you’re piping. You can make them uniform this way. I’m generally too lazy and enjoy small imperfections.
4. What I think are the most important steps in mac-making: after they’re piped onto the pan, dropping the pans on the counter to smooth them out and release air bubbles (a couple dozen times). And then leaving them to dry before baking them. This is how they form a shell on the outside and will keep your macs from cracking while in the oven. If your macarons crack…it’s because you didn’t leave them out long enough. Or because you live in a tropical rain forest. I leave my macs out for 45-60 minutes before baking.
5. Bake your macs one pan at a time unless you have a big-A oven that can fit them all on one rack.
6. There are so many different types of macarons. The ugliest macarons I ever paid money for were at a French bakery in Vegas that had amazing Yelp reviews. They were not uniform, had ginormous ugly-looking feet and were stacked in big unsightly piles. But they were delish and people paid a butt-load for them. So there are a million different-looking macs; don’t be discouraged if yours don’t look like some bloggers’ perfect little mac…let’s be honest, it was probably the only perfect one out of 50.
Fresh Strawberry Macarons
- 100 g almond flour, sifted
- 100 g powdered sugar, sifted
- 2 egg whites
- pinch salt
- 55 g granulated sugar or caster sugar
- red gel food coloring (opt.)
- 1 cup fresh strawberries
- 1/2 cup butter, room temp.
- 1-1/2 cups powdered sugar, divided
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Combine the sifted almond flour and powdered sugar in a small bowl. Set aside.
Pour your egg whites, salt and a few drops of food coloring into a clean large bowl and beat until they start to set up. Then gradually add the granulated sugar while still beating. You are done when stiff peaks form and the egg whites don’t move even when your turn the bowl on it’s side.
Fold the almond flour mixture into the egg whites in 2 additions. Stop as soon as it is combined, about 50 strokes. Don’t over-mix.
Prep 2 large pans with silpats. Pour your batter into a pastry bag fitted with a large round tip. Pipe about 1-inch circles onto your pans, leaving about 2 inches of space between each macaron. Then with a wet finger, smooth down any peaks that you may have left while piping. Now, take a pan and drop it a few inches above your counter. Do this a dozen or so times to remove air bubbles and smooth out your macarons further. This is also helpful if you want your macarons thinner.
Let your macarons sit at room temperature for 45-60 minutes. When you touch your finger to a macaron the batter should not stick to you.
Place your rack in the middle of the oven and bake one pan at 300F for 7-8 minutes. Turn the pan around and bake for another 7-8 minutes. Repeat with the second pan. Let cool completely.
For the strawberry frosting:
Puree your strawberries in a processor and place in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and stir often until reduced to at least half, about 15 minutes. Set aside to cool.
In a large bowl, beat your butter until fluffy. Add 1/2 cup sugar and beat to combine. Then add the vanilla and 1 Tbsp strawberry puree; blend.
Pour in another 1/2 cup of sugar and 1 Tbsp of puree and beat to combine. Repeat until you’ve used all of the sugar.
Match together similar-sized macarons. Then pipe or spoon about a tsp of frosting onto each and sandwich together.