How to make French Macarons: cookie recipe ideas and tips

by on December 13, 2011

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Looking for new cookie recipes for your cookie exchange, gifts or dinner party? Our resident videographer asked me to share one of my favorite cookie recipes, and I picked French Macarons. In this video, you’ll find tips and techniques for baking these delicate cookies, which aren’t as difficult to make as one might think. The key is finding the right recipe and following each step I share–from sifting techniques and preparing your ingredients in advance to whipping the perfect macaron texture to piping precise cookie shapes onto baking sheets. Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart Living. (If you’re curious about the difference between macarons and macaroons, click here.)

Recipe: French Macaron Cookies
SummaryThese delectable cookies in soft, sherbet-toned hues make a beautiful addition to any holiday dessert ensemble. Create an endless array of flavors and colors by simply adding different fillings and colorings. Recipe adapted from a Martha Stewart Living favorite.

Ingredients ~

For the cookie:
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 3/4 cup almond flour (regular flour cannot be substituted)
  • 2 egg whites, room temperature
  • Pinch cream of tartar (optional)
  • 1/4 cup super-fine sugar
For flavoring (choice of):
  • Food coloring (for strawberry macarons, pictured)
  • Flavored extract (pistachio used in green macarons, pictured)
  • 2 teaspoon cinnamon (for cinnamon macarons, pictured)
  • 2 Tablespoon TCHO cocoa powder (for chocolate macarons, not pictured)
For basic meringue filling:
  • 6 egg whites, large
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Instructions ~

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. The key to this recipe is in the preparation – have all ingredients measured and ready before you begin. Separate the eggs whites and keep at room temperature until ready to incorporate.
  2. In a food processor, pulse powdered sugar and almond flour. (If making chocolate or cinnamon macarons, the cocoa powder or cinnamon should be pulsed with the sugar and almond flour.) Sift combined mixture 2 times. Whip the room-temperature egg whites on high with a mixer until foamy and then add cream of tartar. Slowly stream in superfine sugar and whip until stiff and shiny, about 2 minutes on high.
  3. Gently fold in desired food coloring and/or flavor extract, sugar and flour mixture into egg white mixture. (Only a few drops of food coloring or flavor extract are needed. Add one drop at a time with the mixer on until the whites reach the color you want; the color and number of drops will not affect the recipe.) Fold the ingredients as little as possible until it is smooth, shiny and slightly runny. If it holds its form, it is under mixed. Scoop into piping bag fitted with a small round tip.
  4. Pipe onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, holding the piping bag in one place while applying pressure. Release pressure when a 1” cookie has been formed and gently swirl the tip out of the mixture without forming a peak. This will allow the cookie to remain smooth on top. Let stand at room temperature 30-40 minutes.
  5. Bake in preheated oven at 325 degrees for 5-10 minutes, until cookies are firm and crisp. Be sure to keep a close eye on the cookies – they should not brown on top. Remove cookies from oven and cool.
  6. For a basic meringue filling, place egg whites and sugar in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water. Whisk until sugar dissolves and mixture reaches 160 degrees on a candy thermometer. Remove from heat, whip on high speed until mixture is cool and stiff peaks form, approximately 6 minutes. Beat in vanilla extract. Use immediately.
  7. Sandwich 2 same-size macarons with 1 teaspoon meringue, flavored buttercream or other desired filing. Serve immediately, or stack between layers of parchment, wrap well in plastic, and freeze for up to 3 months.

 

Preparation time: 1 hour(s)

Number of servings (yield): 12 (makes 36 cookies)

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  • Mary

    I really enjoyed making these and learned a few things by trial and error – like how big to make the cookies and how long to keep them in the oven. I had no major issues (no cracks yay!), however I found the cookie a bit overly sweet, almost sickly. Any way to cut back on the sugar content but still retain the correct consistancy? Thanks for this great recipe!!

  • Geraldine

    Perfect! Your video along with the recipe helped a lot, after trying to make macarons twice with a diferent recipe, finally found a good recipe and instructions, thankyou!

  • lisamattson

    So glad you enjoyed it. Happy New Year and happy baking!

  • Azalea

    i always make it bad while baking step, i followed the instruction but the result the macarons is brown. what solution do you have to solve this? please i need your answer

  • iman

    hello i am about to make the macarons but i have seen my oven doesnt go to 325 degrees it only goes to 260 what should i do

  • lisamattson

    325 fahrenheit (US ovens) is 162.7 celsius. Try that.

  • lisamattson

    From Cristina: Each oven is slightly
    different, so the temps I gave may not work for your oven. You can
    try lowering the baking temp. Although, if you are baking in a convection oven,
    keep in mind that the heat is more aggresive and the temperature should
    always be lowered by 25 degrees for any given recipe. The macarons can be
    very sensitive also, keep a close eye on them during baking- if they seem
    close to being done they can quickly go from almost done to overdone.

  • erika

    My macarons are hollow and stick to the parchment paper. What am i doing wrong?

  • lisamattson

    They stick if they are under cooked, generally. They work best using parchment and you can also lightly spray the parchment first. Slightly hollow is normal but if the batter has too much air they will be overly hollow. You can prevent that by mixing the batter by hand a little longer to make sure some of the air is broken down.

  • DC

    Thank you for the video. I have a few questions:

    Are the 325 degree and 160 degree, fahrenheit or celsius?

    Butter: cold, just out of the regrigerator, soften or slightly melted?

    Thanks.

  • http://twitter.com/lisamattsonwine Lisa M. Mattson

    325 fahrenheit (U.S. ovens) is what we recommend. That’s roughly 162.7 celsius.

    There is no butter in this recipe that I can see; where did you find that? The eggs are room temperature in this recipe.

  • DC

    Thanks, Lisa. Sorry that I mixed up this with a recipe that I found somewhere else.

    So, in the sentence “the Whisk until sugar dissolves and mixture reaches 160 degrees on a candy thermometer,” the 160 is also fahrenheit?!

    Can I assume that, In another words, all temperatures in this site are in fahrenheit?

    Thank you for the great works.

  • Papisa

    Hi, would it matter if I don’t use cream of tartar in the mixture

  • http://twitter.com/lisamattsonwine Lisa M. Mattson

    The cream of tartar is optional.

  • http://twitter.com/lisamattsonwine Lisa M. Mattson

    Correct. We are based in California, and we use fahrenheit in the U.S.

  • Beth Trimble

    Hello – I have been making macarons for the past 3-4 months (almost daily I might add) – I am between fianlizing two recipies and wanted your opinion re: powdered egg whites – one recipie I have been working uses them in addition to the aged egg whites and another does not – what are your thoughts? Also, I am between letting the macarons rest room temperature for 30 minutes v. starting to bake them at lower temperature then raising it mid-way through baking…so many variables!

  • Corina

    Hello Christina,

    do I have to use the almond flour? could I use regular flour in this recipe? Thank You

  • http://twitter.com/lisamattsonwine Lisa M. Mattson

    Unfortunately not. The definition of a macaroon is that it is made using a nut flour, traditionally almond. Sorry.

  • suzq

    my macarons they brown up fast and they are still raw! wht is the problem?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=671258199 Esther Lee

    Hi. I’ve been trying a lot of recipes and every time, my macarons look perfect, but there is only one problem I cannot figure out. I have left comments on most recipes to find the answer I am looking for, but no one has answered me back. My macarons have great “feet”, barely any hollow inside, tastes great, slightly chewy, but I cannot seem to get it to crisp on the outside like the stores sells them. I have left it out to dry for 15 minutes, 30 minutes, 45 minutes, 60 minutes, and 75 minutes, and it doesn’t give me the slightly crispy skin after baking. Just about 30 – 45 minutes of drying, it does give me the dry skin, but after baking, i don’t get the crispy skin. I hear that the cookies have to mature after filling them for 24 hours, but the next day, it’s only chewy, but with a soft skin. could it be that there’s not enough sugar to make the outer skin crispy? or maybe i have to dry it longer? it has been frustrating me for over a month and i am urging to find out what i’m doing wrong to perfect the macarons. thanx. =)

  • lisamattson

    Hi Esther,

    The only possibility is that perhaps you could reduce the sugar in the recipe and
    see if that helps. Or try baking at a slightly higher temp.

  • Rem

    Hi There, Thanks for this wonderful receipt.
    How can I convert it to chocolate macarons? What should I add or subtract? Please replay to me as soon as possible as I need it before Thursday. Thanks again.

  • http://twitter.com/lisamattsonwine Lisa M. Mattson

    For chocolate I would add about 2 Tbl. of good cocoa powder in with the dry; it can go into the food processor with the flour and sugar.

  • chacha

    hi why is it my macarons has no feet and not shiny? please answer my question huhu:

  • Colleen Chevalier

    how many finished macarons (sandwiched) does this recipe make?

  • lisamattson

    36 cookies as noted in recipe.

  • Vee

    chacha: I think you underfolded your egg& flour. That was my experience

  • Zsuzsa

    Hi, I think it is a very good recipe and my macarons look great in the oven, they come up, they look firm, they have their feet but as soon as I take them out them get soft and lumpy. Not holding at all. Can you please give me your advice? Thanks.

  • Aubrey

    Hi Cristina!

    I was wondering if you had to use superfine sugar, or if you could use possibly make superfine sugar out of fine cane sugar?

    Thanks!
    Aubrey

  • Rebeca Ortega

    hello, I love the video, I jsut have one question. My macaroon instead of baking “up” they expanded to the sides, I ended up with a flat macaroon. The top “crust” did form. What did I do? over folded the batter? maybe baked them too long?(6 min ). thanks

  • lisamattson

    Hi Rebeca,

    We’re glad you enjoyed the video. Here’s our chef’s thoughts on your dilemma:

    My first thought would be a little too long on the whip which will weaken the
    protein “mesh”; the other thought would be a slow oven recovery when
    door is closed ( door may have been open too long?).

    Hope that helps. Happy baking.

  • Joyce

    Great video and very detailed steps! My macarons were a success :D Thanks for the recipe and demonstration!

  • lisamattson

    Hi Aubrey,

    Cristina is on a humanitarian mission in Africa for at least one year. I will try to get an answer from our chef, but I’m not sure how long it will take. Thanks for watching our video.

  • lisamattson

    Hi Zsuzsa,

    Cristina is on a humanitarian mission in Africa for at least one year. I will try to get an answer from our chef, but I’m not sure how long it will take. Thanks for watching our video.

  • lisamattson

    Hi Beth,

    Sorry for the delayed response, but Cristina is on a humanitarian mission in Africa for at least one year. I will try to get an answer from our chef; I’m not sure how long it will take or if he’ll have a recommendation. Thanks for watching our video.

  • Amira Alhendi

    your recipe is my go to recipe!

  • Erika R.

    Hi, I noticed in several adaptations of macarons all over the internet that ovens can be slightly ajar when baking, does this necessarily need to be the case with this particular version?

  • Kevin Anderson

    Cristina is a master demonstrator. She keeps your interest. But I noticed in the making of the pie filling you say 3/4c sugar the 1t sugar, but when mixing the ingredients you say 3/4 c and 3t of sugar confusing.
    Did u make a video for the apple filling?

    I know making instructional videos are time consuming, but yours are some of the BEST out there.

  • lisamattson

    Hi Kevin,
    Thank you so much for your kind words. We were alerted yesterday on Facebook to the apple pie filling recipe typo on the 3 tablespoons of butter and corrected it: http://blog.jordanwinery.com/2012/11/how-to-make-pie-crust-video-flaky-delicious-apple-pie-recipe/

    Happy holidays,
    Lisa

  • Serena Choi

    Hi I’m wondering when the recipe says it yields 36 cookies, is it 36 shells or 36 sandwiched macarons? Thanks in advance.

  • Kimbe160829

    I just made chocolate macarons and instead of the TCHO chocolate I used unsweetened cocoa powder do you think they are going to come out ok?

  • Joy

    hi! i’m really interested to make some lf these but just a few questions, do I bake these macarons in the top, middle or bottom rack? and what if my oven is a fan-forced oven? do I need to change the temperature?

  • Astrid

    Thank you so much for this great video. Can you tell me what size piping tip you used? Thank you!

  • Natasha Almeida

    hi i so do love macrons and i am definitely going to try this one and have not tried it before. i have a question though…i am living in a country (Kuwait) where it is usually difficult to get confectionery sugar…is it possible if i could replace it with icing sugar or could you suggest an alternative …any guidance will be much appreciated….Thanks Natasha