How To: French Macarons -- Bring Paris to Your Kitchen W/ Vine
The first time I had a French macaron was in Paris at Ladurée and what a magical experience it was. I wasn't too sure what I was eating, but all I knew was that it was sweet (überly sweet, in fact), sticky and simply perfect.
Photos by Molly Dunn French macarons are not as difficult to make as they seem.
Ever since that first taste of a French macaron, I have been hesitant to try to make them at home. I didn't even know where to start. I have made macaroons (note the two "o"s) and those are easy, but I had never tried my hand at making the classic and popular French pastry. Yes, the French define these as pastries, not cookies.
After watching the MasterChef contestants make them during a pressure test challenge, I mustered up the courage to make them myself, and let me tell you, they aren't as hard as they seem.
Here's how you can make French macarons in your own kitchen; no need to wait until your dream trip to Paris to taste the real deal.
These are the basic ingredients you will need for a macaron:
- Egg whites
- Superfine sugar
- Confectioners' sugar
- Almond flour
- Cream of tartar
- Choice of filling
Preheat your oven to 300 degrees, then start preparing the ingredients. First, sift two cups of confectioners' sugar with one cup of almond flour. Almond flour is basically finely ground blanched, skinless almonds. So if you want to make your own almond flour, grind almonds until they're basically pulverized. The difference between almond flour and almond meal is that the almond flour is ground much finer. Place this sifted mixture aside.
Next, you will need to beat the egg whites. Beat three room-temperature egg whites in a dry mixing bowl (no water, oil or any other residue) at medium speed until they are foamy. At this point, add a pinch of salt and ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar, as well as ¼ cup of superfine sugar.
Note: superfine sugar is different from granulated sugar -- it has much smaller crystals.
The egg whites should be stiff enough to stick straight out from the mixer head.
Once the other three ingredients are added to the egg whites, beat on medium to high speed until stiff peaks form. You will know you have stiff peaks when the egg whites stick straight out from the mixer head without sliding off.
As soon as the egg whites are at the consistency you need them to be, you can add the gel food coloring to give your macarons that beautiful signature look. I decided to add a little bit of peach gel food coloring to make light pink/orange macarons. The color is up to you; if you want vibrant colors, add more food coloring. Macarons are supposed to be beautiful, so don't be afraid to mix in purple food coloring or a bright yellow dye.
Fold the egg whites with the almond flour-sugar mixture approximately 50 times.
After the food coloring is evenly incorporated into the egg whites, gently fold in the sifted almond flour and confectioners' sugar mixture. Fold the egg whites with the flour and sugar approximately 50 or 60 times. When folding a batter, flip your wrist to turn one side of the bowl's mixture onto the other.
As soon as you reach about 50 folds, the batter will be quite sticky and shiny; this is what you are aiming for.
Place the macaron mixture into a piping bag with a ½-inch piping tip. You don't want to be like Jonny on MasterChef, who used the tiniest piping tip and wasted a lot of energy piping 20 macarons, leading to his getting booted off the show.
Place a silicon mat or parchment paper on a cookie sheet and pipe 3/4-inch or 1-inch circles spaced about an inch apart from each other onto the tray. Pipe the macarons by letting the piping bag do the work for you; don't swirl the tip too much -- just let the piping bag dispense the batter onto the tray. Pull away to the side once you have created the correctly sized macaron.
Gently press down the tips on the macarons so they have smooth tops after they bake.