Macaron Recipe (Adapted from Pierre Hermé)

I’ve tested many macaron recipes over the years. Overall, I’ve found that getting the right ingredients, understanding the techniques, and troubleshooting is significantly more important than the recipe itself (i.e. the slight differences in the ratios of the ingredients). Last week, we finally tested this recipe with a grade 11 student of mine making macarons for the first time. With some guidance, we had pretty good results. That’s when I know it’s time to share. For the sake of accuracy, we are not going to include any volumetric measurements for this recipe. Go get your scale!

Ingredients
Part 1:
150g powdered sugar/ fondant sugar (you can use icing sugar as a substitute)
150g almond flour
56.5g egg whites, aged 

Part 2 (Italian meringue)*:
80g water
300g sugar
3g egg white powder
113g egg whites 
*Note: You only need roughly half of the above meringue (205g), but I find that I am not able to make a proper Italian Meringue if I half the recipe. So you have 2 options: 1) only use half the meringue (make something else with the rest of it) or 2) double the mixture for Part 1 (almond/icing sugar/egg whites)

Instructions:
1. In a stainless steel bowl, sift together almond flour and powdered sugar. Next add aged egg whites to the sifted almond/sugar mixture (if you are adding food colouring, you can add it at this point).
2. Place sugar and water in a small pot and bring it to 118-120°C/ 244-250°F.
3. When the sugar/water mixture reaches 110°C/230°F, in a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, start to whisk the egg whites along with the powdered whites . 
4. Once the sugar syrup reaches 118-120°C/ 244-250°F, slowly pour it into the meringue in a steady stream (continuing to whip the egg whites all the while). Make sure that you pour closer to the sides of the bowl so that the whisk does not fling sugar everywhere within the bowl leaving you with more sugar stuck to the bowl than mixed into the meringue.
5. Continue to whisk on medium to high speed until the mixture forms stiff peaks. If the meringue hasn’t already cooled down enough, reduce the speed to low and continue to whisk until the temperature is less than 54°C/130°F.
6. Fold the Italian meringue with the almond/icing sugar/egg white mixture.
7. Continue to mix the batter even after the Part 1 mixture has been incorporated. At this point you need to “macaronner“: to mix to a point where excess batter on the spatula should drip onto the batter and take approximately 15 seconds to slowly disappear from the surface. The batter should resemble slightly runny cake batter, (Note: this process of mixing almond flour and meringue to make macarons is called macaronnage). 
8. Using a piping bag with a small round tip, pipe macarons onto a lined baking tray to the desired size.
9. To knock out any air bubbles, firmly tap the bottom of the tray or drop the tray on a flat surface from a height, this helps with “pied” or the “foot” of the macarons. 
10. Dry the batter at room temperature for 15 – 30 minutes until a slight skin is formed. 
11. Bake in a convection oven with low fan for 12-15 minutes @ 280°F. (Depending on your oven, you might have to rotate the pans halfway through baking.)
12. Cool at room temperature.
13. Pipe filling and refrigerate for at least 24-48 hours prior to consumption. 
 

Troubleshooting, tips and FAQs

On egg whites: By using aged egg whites, you can control the water content to a higher degree. Aged egg whites will have lost some water due to evaporation, resulting in a stronger egg white that will hold more air. If you do not want to age your egg whites, you can also buy a carton of egg whites or simply adding egg white powder (recommended amount is about 3% of the weight of the egg whites used in the meringue).

On almond flour: Prior to baking, spread almond flour on parchment to dry it out and keep it from clumping. Also, the finer the almond flour, the smoother the surface of the macaron will be.

On sugar: We suggest powdered sugar or fondant sugar because icing sugar will have a percentage of cornstarch (that will vary depending on the brand), if there is too much cornstarch this will dull the finish of the macaron. We use fine sugar for our meringue because the smaller crystals will dissolve in the whites much easier, ensuring a shinier macaron.

On food colouring: When colouring macarons, it is important to use water- or alcohol-based food colouring. If fat-based food colouring is used, it will collapse the whipped whites.

On dry ingredients: You can use a food processor to grind almond flour and icing sugar together to achieve a finer powder. Double sifting the mixture will also help to avoid any clumps and ensure a smooth surface.

On piping: Using the back of a piping tip or a ring, trace circles of desired size on parchment or paper to help guide you to pipe consistent shells. Lay your template underneath the parchment/ silicon mat (as long as your silicon mat is clear enough to see through). Alternatively, you can count while piping: position your piping bag as straight as possible, 2cm above the baking tray, pipe to desired size (e.g. for a count of 1,2,3…).

On baking: Even though your oven it set to a particular temperature, know that it varies and that the temperature displayed could be 10-15 degrees off. Ideally, the shells should not colour during cooking. If they are starting to brown, you can cover the tray with aluminum foil for the last 2 minutes. If the bottoms are over-cooked, you can add an extra tray underneath. In general, you will likely have to make some adjustments based on your oven.

After baking: Once you add your filling (I prefer ganache over buttercream, but that’s just me), you want the macarons to sit in the refrigerator overnight for a period of 24-48 hours. This allows for the moisture to migrate between the filling and the shell. Once softened, it can be kept in the freezer for up to a month, just take them out 2 hours or so in advance to let them come to room temperature. Macarons are best consumed at room temperature.

On fillings: You can use buttercream, ganache, curd, or jams (or a mix of any of these). Make sure that the fillings you choose aren’t too sweet to allow some balance with the sweetness of the shells.

Macarons are not round: The batter was likely over mixed and resulting in a consistency that is too loose to hold its shape.

Macarons are cracked: a few possible reasons for this:
did not let the shells dry enough to form a skin, or
they may be piped too large, or
the oven temperature is too high, or
the batter was under-mixed (too many air bubbles that will continue to expand when baked).

Macarons are not glossy: insufficient macaronnage (see instructions above), or the wrong sugars were used.

Macarons do not have “pied” or “feet”: the batter was not dried enough after its rest (the length of drying depends on humidity in the environment), or over-mixing resulting in too few air bubbles in the batter.

Macarons are hollow: the temperature of the oven is too low, so the interior won’t rise enough leaving a slight hollow space inside the shell.

Macarons seems oily on top: macarons may not be baked long enough or there could be an issue with the almond flour used.

Variations:

  • You can add different flavours in the macaron batter by adding powders, and/or substituting some almond flour for other ground nuts. Keep in mind that the powders will absorb some water from the batter and different nuts have different fat content so this may require some other adjustments.
  • You can add different flavours in the meringue by adding extracts/concentrates.

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