Basic French Macarons Recipe

July 10, 2015


It's been two years since I embarked on the quest to making macarons, the temperamental yet irresistibly loveable French dessert that has won over my heart. I believe that my first batch of successful macarons is my personal defining moment as a baker. *cues emotional music*


I still remember the failed batches of cracked macarons (which I still get from time to time) with all the wasted ingredients and sweat poured in my stuffy kitchen; Each batch of unsuccessful macarons is a reminder of the effort and skills behind making them, and totally justifies paying a few dollars for this french cookie.


My miserable macarons

I've been wanting to share a macaron recipe for the longest time. While I was not confident enough at first, when I was finally ready to write about it, I didn't know where to start. There's so much to share about baking macarons that it can be overwhelming.


Thus, I decided to start with the basics of making macarons. There are two different methods, the French and Italian meringue method. I will be sharing the French meringue method on how to make simple macaron shells.


As this is a post on how to make basic macarons, I will not be flavouring the shells with anything but vanilla essence. This does not mean they will be tasteless, because the macaron filling will slightly seep through into the shell and infuse it with its flavour! 


Today's post will be a basic French macaron with dark chocolate filling, which is the most popular flavour among my friends and family. However, you can always replace it with your favorite filling! You can view my other macaron fillings here.

Before we start, here are the basic goals when making macarons:
1. The shells must form "feet": What are "feet"? They are the little frilly things on each macaron shell, and you know you've probably made them right if they form.

Macaron "feet"

2. The shells should not crack:. Be it cracking like the ground after an earthquake, erupting like a volcano, or collapsing in like a land mine, the shells should be dome-shaped.

3. Texture: The shells should be crispy on the outside (like an egg shell), and chewy on the inside. 


There are two important steps to making macarons:
There are many other factors that can determine the success or failure of macarons, but the list might be too overwhelming and will be introduced in a later post. 

1. Making the Meringue: A meringue is basically egg-whites and sugar. Simple ingredients, but also simple to mess up. I personally feel this is the quintessential step to making macarons. Over-beat, and your macarons will crack. Under-beat, and the 'feet' will not form. 

2. Macaronage: This process involves folding the ground almonds and sugar into the meringue, and gently scraping air out. Like the meringue, when you over or under mix, too much air or too little air might have been mixed out. This might cause cracking, or no feet will be formed. 

Let's start!





BASIC FRENCH MACARONS
Servings: ~ 25 macarons
Equipment: Electric mixer, baking sheet/parchment paper, piping bag
Time: 45 min Active Time + Baking Time

INGREDIENTS
[For Macaron Shells]
Meringue: 70g of Egg whites (around 4 eggs) + 90g of Castor sugar
80g of Ground almonds
80g of Powdered/icing sugar
1 drop of Vanilla essence
Colouring (optional)

[For Dark Chocolate Filling]
1 tablespoon of Heavy cream
150g of Dark couverture chocolate chips

DIRECTIONS
[For Macaron Shells]
First, we will prepare the meringue! 
1. Using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites on low speed until it is white and frothy (approximately 1 minute)
2. Gradually add 1/4 of the sugar and continue to beat on low speed
3. When the first addition of sugar has completely dissolved (approximately 1 minute later), gradually add another 1/4 of the sugar. 
4. Increase the mixer speed to medium, and repeat step 3 until all the sugar has been incorporated.
5. Continue to beat the egg whites and sugar until stiff peaks form. Stiff peaks are the little 'tips' that form when you lift up your electric mixer. It's not supposed to flop down (those are soft peaks). Also, when you turn your bowl upside down, the meringue should stay in the bowl without pouring out.




Your meringue is now ready for the macaronage. 
6. In a separate bowl, sift the icing sugar and ground almonds. This will ensure smooth macaron shells. Once sifted, mix the icing sugar and ground almonds well. 
7. Add the vanilla essence, icing sugar and ground almonds to the meringue. Using a spatula, gently fold the icing sugar and ground almonds. If you wish, you can add colouring to obtain your desired colour. 
How to Fold? Folding the mixture involves lifting the bottom of the mixture to the top using a spatula, and rotating the bowl slightly. 
After each fold, use the spatula to gently scrape the top surface of the mixture. This helps to remove some of the air from the meringue. 
8. Repeat step 7 until you get a molten-like mixture and drips down like a ribbon when lifted. Be careful not to over-mix otherwise the shells won't rise. 

Now that we're done with the two most important steps, it's time to pipe out the macarons! 
9. Transfer the batter into a piping bag fitted with a round tip. On parchment paper or a baking mat placed over a baking tray, pipe out the macarons. Ensure to leave space between each shell as they tend to spread. 
10. After piping, knock the bottom of the tray against a flat surface to get rid of air bubbles. 
11. Let the shells dry for approximately 30 minutes. You should be able to touch it gently with the tip of your finger without it sticking. NOTE: To all fellow bakers who live in Singapore/a humid country, it is highly recommended to let the shells dry in an air-conditioned room! 


Piped macaron shells, waiting to enter the oven!

And finally, time to go into the oven. 
12. Bake in a preheated oven at 150C for 10-13 minutes. Be sure to keep a close eye on the oven as they over-cook easily! Also, as each oven is different, you might need to test around with the temperature for successful macarons. Let the shells cool before removing from the parchment paper/baking mat.

[For Dark Chocolate Filling]
1. Warm up the heavy cream in a microwave or in a saucepan. 
2. Pour over the chocolate chips and melt it over a water bath. 
3. Stir it occasionally until you get a smooth texture. 
4. Transfer the filling to a piping bag and pipe them on to your macarons. Note: Before piping, it's a good idea to pair up the macaron shells (as the sizes might differ slightly). This will make it less chaotic and frustrating when you sandwich the macaron shells together, and helps to achieve prettier macarons. 


Once you've nailed the basic macarons, the rest, they say, is up to the baker himself to perfect. Please don't give up even if your macarons turn out atrocious. Mine were awful too (remember the horribly cracked macarons above? hahaha). Just keep trying, tweaking the method, portions, and temperature slightly. Get experimental.

Good luck!

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