Macarons – easier than you think, just watch the video!

Easy pink macarons | photo by Zoë François

The first time I had a true French macaron was while sitting at the now shuttered WD50 in New York City. It was the wild child restaurant of chef Wylie Dufresne, who was one of the first American chefs to deconstruct ingredients and synthesize them into new forms. It was all very mysterious and pretty tasty, but the most memorable thing we ate that night came out of my cousin’s purse. Samira works in the fashion industry and lives an impossibly global and glamorous life, which includes frequent trips to Paris. She and her brother, Riad, who was sitting with us, had a tradition of sharing a particular pastry from Paris every time she went. She pulled out the box and nonchalantly pushed it to Riad. This was so normal to them, that they barely acknowledged the act or the beautiful box as anything special. I, on the other hand, was near crazy with anticipation and finally told them to “open the &%$#ing box.” Inside were perfect, and I do mean perfect, macarons. They were like jewels. All different colors. Pink, gold, lavender and jade. They were delicate to the point of brittle on the outside and like a cloud on the inside, with a layer of super rich ganache or buttercream. I’ve made macarons, but they were never as ethereal as the one’s Samira brought home from Ladurée. This is no surprise. I was happy enough with mine and they were cheaper than a trip to Paris, but still not perfect. Then I watched Colette Christian’s Craftsy class on miniature French pastries and I figured out the small tricks I’d been missing. Turns out they are much easier than I thought. I’ve been making them constantly ever since.

This last batch I made for Passover and colored them purple to honor Prince. His passing has struck me in a deep way, deeper than I would have ever expected. His music was the sound track to my entire high school life and that was long before I moved to his home town. Back in the day I choreographed a dance to Little Red Corvette to audition for the dance program at my school. I danced my heart out to that song and got into the group. We were hardly Alvin Ailey, but it was my whole life at the time. I remember that audition like it was yesterday. I just hope Prince had even an inkling of his profound influence over so many people, not just musicians, but all of us who loved his music. I wish he could see how the world has exploded into a party to honor his legacy. Purple macarons and dancing in my kitchen are what I have to offer the celebration.

Easy Macarons | photo by Zoë François

Easy Macarons Recipe

Macaron shells – the following is a recipe I’ve used for years, but I have to say that I tried the one in Colette’s Craftsy class and I do like her proportions a bit better. I can’t print her version, but if you decide to sign up for the class you will have access to lots of her recipes. This recipe does require a Scale, otherwise there is too much variability in the measurements to come out well.

125g Almond Meal – (you want to use a blanched almond meal. I found a big bag at my local Costco. I tried the kind at Trader Joe’s, that still had some skin on it and the macarons were not as pretty with the brown flecks and they were a bit denser.) Store the leftover almond meal in the freezer to prevent it from going rancid.

225g confectioners’ sugar (powdered sugar)

130g egg whites (about 4 large egg whites) – you need to use real egg, pasteurized egg whites will not work.

110g sugar

Food Color – I like the gel colors for ease and intensity

Flavor extracts

Here is a video I made that may help:

To make the macarons:

Easy Macarons | photo by Zoë François

In a Food Processor, mix together the almond meal and the confectioners’ sugar until it is well mixed and very fine. You may need to scrape down the sides.

Easy Macarons | photo by Zoë François

Beat the egg whites until they are foamy. Sprinkle the sugar over them in a steady stream and then turn up the speed and beat the whites until soft peaks. At this point you’ll add any color and extracts. Continue beating until you’ve reached stiff peaks.

Macarons | ZoeBakes (14 of 15)

In three additions you will now fold in the almond meal mixture.

Easy Macarons | photo by Zoë François

Use a rubber spatula to fold them in.

Easy Macarons | photo by Zoë François

Once you have repeated this two more times with the remaining almond mixture, your batter will be quite thick.

Easy Macarons | photo by Zoë François

Collette has a fail safe way of knowing when your batter is ready. Here is a close approximation…first you press it up on the side of the bowl, and it will cling onto the sides without slumping into the middle. You want to continue folding the batter and repeat testing it on the side of the bowl, until it…

Easy Macarons | photo by Zoë François

Slumps down when you press it onto the sides of the bowl. Then you are ready to pipe. (see her video for more tips and greater details – which is the beauty of video)

Easy Macarons | photo by Zoë François

Using a Pastry Bag, fitted with a Round Tip, pipe the batter onto a flat baking sheet lined with a piece of parchment paper. In Collette’s class she has circle templates to print out as a guide of how large to make the dots and how far apart. If you are new to piping this template is a fantastic tool.

Easy Macarons | photo by Zoë François

Once you have piped out a full tray, you will bang the tray on the counter to work out some of the bubbles and flatten the macarons. Repeat with another tray until all of the batter is used up.

Easy Macarons | photo by Zoë François

Now you let them sit at room temperature until the tops are dry to the touch, about 30 minutes, but it will depend on the environment.

While you are waiting, you will preheat your oven to 330°F.

Easy Macarons | photo by Zoë François

Bake the trays one at a time for 11 minutes. If they are not set, then rotate the tray and bake for an additional 2 to 3 minutes. This may be slightly different depending on your oven. Let them cool before filling.

Easy Macarons | photo by Zoë François

I posted a picture of the macarons cooling on instagram and got a bunch of comments and questions about the set up. When I redid my kitchen I based the entire design on having a Rolling Sheet Pan Rack. I’d always used them at work and knew how convenient it is to have a spot to put hot trays somewhere out of the way. I didn’t want it blocking traffic in the house, so we came up with this garage for it to sit in under the counter. Pro tip: The rack is taller than a standard counter, so my husband cut it down by a few inches to fit under the counter. If you are interested in doing this, let me know and I’ll ask him how he went about it. Pet tip: If you have a puppy (as I do), you may need a garage door or baby gate to keep them out of it.

Easy Macarons | photo by Zoë François

Once they are cooled. Flip over every other shell. Try to match up same sized shells. Unless they are all exactly the same size. 😉 Collette’s template will help with this, but they are never exactly the same size.

Easy Macarons | photo by Zoë François

Use ganache or buttercream to fill your macaron shells.

Easy Macarons | photo by Zoë François

These are filled with a raspberry-white chocolate ganache. Think raspberry berets! Heat 4 ounces heavy cream in a sauce pan to a simmer, turn off heat and add 8 ounces finely chopped White Chocolate (Do Not use coating chocolate, it doesn’t melt the same and it is very waxy.)

Top the macarons and store in the refrigerator until ready to serve. They last for a few days.

Easy Macarons | photo by Zoë François

I decorated them with an Food-grade Luster Dust. A little extra flair to honor Prince.

Easy Macarons | photo by Zoë François

Easy Macarons | photo by Zoë François

30 thoughts to “Macarons – easier than you think, just watch the video!”

  1. Zoe, one reason I love you is that you are so generous in promoting others at the Craftsy platform! The first time I tried one of these was last week and I’m 67! Inconceivable !! I will try your recipe and check out Colette’s class!

    1. Hi Debbi,

      I agreed to do a Craftsy class because I think they are really well done and so helpful. I did Collette’s class and realized I like the way she does them better than how I learned in culinary school. How could I not share that! 🙂

      Thanks, Zoë

  2. These are beautiful, Zoë. I do agree that macarons are easier to make than people think and there is something rather therapeutic to the process. But I do have a question – I usually use powdered coloring but do have gel here in the house: my question is, why does the color of my macs fade during baking? Why can’t I get gorgeously-hued macs? How much gel do you add for your quantities of sugar/almond and does gel fade less than powdered colorings? Thank you!! And Happy Holiday to you and your family!

    1. Hi Jamie,

      I use the gel coloring and tend to go a little more intense than I want in the end. They mute when you add the almond meal and then again in the oven. I love the idea of using the powdered color, but I bet they are not as intense, so you may need more to get the color you want. Is the color even when you use the powder?

      Cheers, Zoë

    1. Hi Jess,

      Oh, that is a great question. I have heard of using other nuts, but never doing it without nut meal of some sort. I will have to do a little investigating.

      Thanks, Zoë

    1. Hi Sally,

      You are way too kind, I promise, you’ll see how easy it is. If there is credit to be given, it is to Collette!

      Cheers, Zoë

  3. How long can I store macarons? I’d like to bake, wrap up, & travel (bake on Tuesday or Wed, travel on Thurs). Is refrigeration necessary? Do you have suggestions for packaging? I can’t wait to try your recipe!

    1. Hi Barbara,

      You can make the shells ahead of time and store them for a couple of days if they are well wrapped and it isn’t too humid. After you fill them, you want to refrigerate them and they can last for another couple of days well wrapped.I actually like to fill them the day before and keep them in the refrigerator before serving. You want to make sure you set them in a single layer, since they are very delicate and can get crushed rather easily.

      Thanks, Zoë

  4. Thanks for the tips! I have made countless batches of macs and yet never had a fail proof method. I have some of yours in the oven cause I’m always up for trying again! But they’ve got no feet and cracks on the top. I know it’s impossible to troubleshoot because so many things can go wrong. But do you have any suggestions?

    1. Hi Molly,

      It is either that you need to stir more before you put the batter in the piping bag, or that you need to let them rest longer, so they develop more of a skin on them before baking. Does one of those seem to be the culprit?

      Thanks, Zoë

  5. you gave a quick raspberry white chocolate ganache recipe, but the ingredients are only cream and white chocolate, what kind (seedless jam) and how much raspberry should I use for the filling. My 12 yo daughter wants to make macarons and your tips and video make me think we can do this

    1. Hi. I just added a tablespoon of raspberry jam, it actually had the seeds.

      I’m so thrilled your daughter is going to make them!

      Cheers, Zoë

    1. Hi Allison,

      I typically use rose water that I find at the middle eastern market. I make my own vanilla and I use Lcfinn for some of the specialty flavors.

      Thanks, Zoë

  6. Hi! Question for you: can you make these larger or does the recipe and cook time need to be adjusted

    1. Hi Sarah,

      Yes, you can make them slightly larger or smaller, they may just take a little longer to dry and bake.

      Thanks, Zoë

  7. Hi Zoe,
    I just purchased Colette’s class and love it 🙂 I do have a question about the meringue though. Her technique is a little different than what all other bloggers say. To me it still looks medium peaks 🙁 What is your opinion on that?

    1. Hi Anuja,

      I would go by what it looks like and maybe not what she is calling it, since people may call a stage of meringue different things. Each technique will behave differently, so I would try each and see which one you like best. If the meringue is too stiff, I find they tend to be hollow.

      Thanks, Zoë

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