Saturday, October 1, 2016

French Macarons

"If at first you don't succeed, try, try again"

As a stubborn person, this is one of my mottos. Granted, there have been times when I've given up after the first try (e.g. I switched majors after failing student teaching and I gave up on my writing dream before I even considered putting my short stories together for a publisher) but those were things that I knew I realistically couldn't succeed at.

French macarons, however, are another story: I've tried 6 times to make them, usually after baking a present and I have leftover eggs.

  1. May 2015: Batter was too thick; I can't even remember how. Probably because I used liquid egg whites instead of fresh egg whites.
  2. June 2015: I didn't whip the egg whites long enough nor did I let the shells rest before baking them. And I used liquid egg whites.
  3. February 2016: After a lot of research and a lesson from Mom (and the internet) on how to whip egg whites properly for meringue cookies, I still got the same result as in June 2015 because I didn't let the shells rest.
  4. June 2016: I whipped the egg whites correctly. I let the shells rest. But when I pulled the baked shells off the parchment paper, they came apart. I think this was because I didn't let the shells cool first, something the recipe left out.
  5. August 2016: I might've over-whipped the egg whites because when I was folding them into the dry ingredients, the batter became thicker and lumpier than it should have been. And it stayed that way.
  6. September 2016: Success? I think so!

(It's quite possible that I had at least one other attempt but I can't seem to remember it)

(Lemon) French Macarons (source)


  • 1 3/4 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 3 large egg whites, at room temperature (I read a tip that said you don't need to do this but I think it helps)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup superfine sugar (I eventually found some but if you can't find any just run regular sugar through a food processor)
  • 2 to 3 drops gel food coloring (I used liquid even though you're not supposed to. Seemed to work fine)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, almond or mint extract (or any - I used lemon)
  • Assorted fillings (I used a can of frosting from the store but you can make your own)

  1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F using the convection setting (no idea what this is; not sure my oven has one. Don't think it mattered though). Line 3 baking sheets with silicone mats (or parchment paper).
  2. Measure the confectioners' sugar and almond flour by spooning them into measuring cups and leveling with a knife. Transfer to a bowl; whisk to combine. Sift the sugar-almond flour mixture, a little at a time, through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl, pressing with a rubber spatula to pass through as much as possible. It will take a while, and up to 2 tablespoons of coarse almond flour may be left; just toss it. (instead of whisking I ran the confectioners' sugar and almond flour through my food processor before sifting it to help with the grinding down.)
  3. Beat the egg whites, cream of tartar and salt with a mixer on medium speed until frothy. Increase the speed to medium high; gradually add the superfine sugar and beat until stiff and shiny, about 5 more minutes. (according to many sites I read, increasing the speed should happen every 3 minutes. It takes at least 9 minutes and 3 speeds to get there. To see if they're ready, remove the whisk attachment and turn it upside down. If only the thin wisps of some peaks fall over, the egg whites are ready.)
  4. Transfer the beaten egg whites to the bowl with the almond flour mixture. Draw a rubber spatula halfway through the mixture and fold until incorporated, giving the bowl a quarter turn with each fold.
  5. Add the food coloring and extract. Continue folding and turning, scraping down the bowl, until the batter is smooth and falls off the spatula in a thin flat ribbon, 2 to 3 minutes. (tip: if you're going to count how many folds/turns you do like some sites suggest, DON'T DO IT WHILE WATCHING A FOOD COMPETITION SHOW LIKE CHOPPED! Or at least do it when the counting down at the end of a round is done/not near.)
  6. Transfer the batter to a pastry bag (or other batter dispenser) fitted with a 1/4-inch round tip. Holding the bag vertically and close to the baking sheet, pipe 1 1/4-inch circles (24 per sheet). Firmly tap the baking sheets twice against the counter to release any air bubbles.
  7. Let the cookies sit at room temperature until the tops are no longer sticky to the touch, 15 minutes to 1 hour, depending on the humidity (during attempt #4, it was so hot and humid out that I waited over 2 hours). Slip another baking sheet under the first batch (a double baking sheet protects the cookies from the heat) (did not do this and cookies turned out fine).
  8. Bake the first batch until the cookies are shiny and rise 1/8 inch to form a "foot," about 20 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool completely. Repeat, using a double sheet for each batch. Peel the cookies off the mats and sandwich with filling.

Main sources I read: Food NetworkFood Nouveau, and Oh Sweet Day! However, there are a lot of tips, tricks, and guides that you can find both online and offline (mainly online) that can help you because these things are HARD to make.

Delicious! Crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside. I think I'm getting the hang of this. Also, who knew that chocolate (frosting I bought for attempt #4 when I almost made chocolate macarons) and lemon were a good combo?

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