Mastering Macarons: Tips from One Beginner to Another

Happy Monday, Friends!  Do you have a favorite dessert or dish that you love but are too intimidated to attempt yourself? Somehow I arrived late to the macaron party, but after tasting these delectable almond meringue cookies I began to contemplate baking my own...

French macararons for beginners

In part, I blame the baking shows I like to watch but y'all know I am a DIYer at heart! Because they are time consuming to prepare, they are pricey. However, I quickly realized that investing in a few supplies would cover the cost of half a dozen batches of the yummy treats compared to what I would pay for a dozen from the bakery. I figured the worse thing that could happen is that I would end up eating any mistakes. 😉 I made chocolate macarons with dark chocolate orange ganache filling, and I'm thrilled that my first attempt was successful! 

French macarons for beginners

Note, I said successful--not perfect! Although mine aren't perfectly pretty, I consider them a success because they tasted amazing, the cookie shells had "feet," and they didn't crack--these things are common trouble areas for beginners. Like any new project I tackle, I did some research and read many macaron recipes. Here's the consensus of tips musts I followed:

 Musts for Macarons

  • Invest in an oven thermometer to ensure an absolute accurate baking temperature.
  • Sift, sift, and sift again. (Some recipes suggest 2 and others say 3--I sifted my dry ingredients 3 times.)
  • "Age"* your egg whites and whip them at room temperature. (Separate your egg whites and refrigerate them a few days before you plan to bake. The day of baking, allow them to sit at room temperature for at least 2 hours prior to baking.)
  • Le Cordon Bleu  defines macaronage as the stage in preparing French macaron shells where the batter is worked until smooth, shiny and flowing.
  • Hate piping? I found this to be a great alternative to pastry bags. (Find other supplies I used at the bottom of the post.)
  • After tapping the cookie sheet several times to remove any air, allow the piped cookie shells to "dry" for 30-60 minutes before baking. 

macaron tips for beginners

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By now, you are probably getting the idea why they are so time consuming. This is not a last-minute dessert to whip up in a jiffy--I purposely cleared an afternoon. It took me 25 minutes to sift the dry ingredients alone, but when I saw the feet on those crisp little shells, it was worth the time I spent prepping! Scroll past the pin for my recipe. 

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macaron tips for beginners

Chocolate French Macarons with Dark Chocolate Orange Ganache Filling 

1 cup almond flour
3/4 c powdered sugar
2 T cocoa
3 aged* room temperature egg whites 
1/4 c plus 2T sugar
1/8 tsp cream of tartar

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. (I strongly recommend using an oven thermometer to double check your oven's temperature.) Sift dry ingredients 3 times and set aside. Beat egg whites until frothy, gradually adding sugar and cream of tartar. Continue to whip until stiff (about 4 minutes.) Fold dry ingredients into egg white mixture, using a spatula to make a figure 8 movement until batter is smooth and shiny. (Do not overmix!) Pipe your macaron shells --I recommend the bulb-shaped piping bottle and patterned baking mat at the bottom of the post. When the batter is the right consistency, the tips at the top will flatten out on their own. When you are finished piping the shells, firmly tap the baking sheet against the counter several times to remove any air and allow the shells to dry for 30-60 minutes. They are dry enough to bake when they aren't sticky. Bake for 13-16 minutes, turning the pan midway through baking. You should remove the shells when the tops appear firm. Cool thoroughly before adding ganache filling. 

Dark Chocolate Orange Ganache 
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
2/3 c chocolate chips 
1/2 tsp orange extract 

While the shells are drying, prepare your ganache. Microwave the whipping cream and chocolate chips for 45 seconds, stir until smooth, and add orange extract. Refrigerate until the shells are thoroughly cooled. 

What do you think--will you try making your own macarons? Leave me a comment about other intimidating recipes you have mastered! 

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  1. Those things looks delicious! Happy Monday. Hugs and blessings, Cindy

  2. I have been wanting to try macarons... and after watching lots of tv foodies talk about how hard and how much work they are.. I chicken out... Thanks for the push. I will try to do these soon..(as soon as the amazon tools arrive) Will let you know. I guess I hadnt thought about just eating my mistakes.

  3. If everything shuts down again and we are stuck at home again, I might try them. Otherwise, I'm not gonna lie. No, I won't. But yours are beautiful, and I would be just as proud to share!

  4. Hmm... I think I may give these a try. I have always been too afraid to try them, but they look delicious. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Honestly don't know; but I printed off a copy! When I first started working with the chronically mentally ill at NH Hospital in the early 70's, we had a cooking group. Our Canadian French recreation aide had us learn how to make cream puffs. I always assumed they were hard to make! Not. Just time consuming. Ditto for a Long Island-style cheesecake made by a legally blind social worker from NY. It took me, "normal" me, 20 min. just to mix the ingridients. I always wondered how long it took her doing so much by touch to do it. Even if I don't make fancy macarons, I might have some very tasty meringue cookies!!!

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