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. With a rubber spatula, gently fold in desired food coloring and/or flavor extract, sugar and flour mixture into whipped 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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  • Jasper Tommy

    These look delicious and would make a perfect centerpiece at a holiday party! Would you mind sharing them on the USPS Facebook? Here’s the Link: on.fb.me/ujGGtE

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for your comment. The USPS page doesn’t allow status feed shares by other companies. Just tried and left a comment there. Sorry. Glad you enjoyed the video.

  • http://twitter.com/itsRobynwithay Robyn Davis Sekula

    This is great! Thanks for sharing this. The cookies really are lovely. I could see making a gift of them. 

  • http://www.sacatomato.com Lynn

    How apropos, just last night I made a template of circles for piping macaroons. Planning on making them this afternoon.  This is a first time for me thus I’m glad I can watch your video Lisa!

  • Anonymous

    Thanks, Robyn. Happy holidays!

  • Kristynstoia

    I have been trying SO many french macaron recipes too. This is the only one that worked, thank you! Everything was great except for the feet on the bottom of the macaron. What did I do wrong? I even let it form a “skin” overnight. 

  • Cherub08

    Hello,  Now that I learned the science of the macaron,  I find them easy to make..  one thing I make sure is the egg white MUST be stiff enough,  and they have to have that “skin”,  otherwise there will be no feet..  I find piping the easiest part of the whole process.  I do not use templates,  I just eye ball them,  when to start squeezing and when to stop.

    thank you for showing us how to make them..

  • Cherub08

    Hi,  I let mine dry for at least 45 mins.  to me 15-20 is not long enough to form a really good skin..  try again,  you will get there.

  • http://www.jordanwinery.com Lisa

    Hi Kristyn,

    The macaroon will form the skin within the 30-40 minute range. Allowing them to sit longer will not help improve the skin on top. The fat from the almond meal will eventually break down the air in the meringue. So if your cookies sat for a longer period of time (overnight) they will become somewhat deflated. So you may have let it sit too long and it lost what is called it’s “oven spring.”

    Hope that helps!
    Cristina

    ~ sent by Lisa for Cristina

  • http://www.jordanwinery.com Lisa

    Thank you! We’re excited to find so many fellow macaroon lovers.

  • Ruthy

    So I just made a batch. finished product was very airy and meringue like. Maybe I overwhipped the eggwhites? My almond flour did NOT look as smooth as yours in the video. Should I put it through the food processor? I also sifted the confectioners sugar.

  • http://www.jordanwinery.com Lisa

    Hi Ruthy~
    Here is Cristina’s reply. Thanks so much for watching and testing the recipe!

    Yes, I will pulse the powdered sugar and almond flour just a few times in the food processor to break down the almond a bit more, sorry if I failed to mention that in the video or instructions. Sifting it will also help….. As far as the texture goes, if they came out more “meringue-like” it sounds to me as though they stayed in the oven a minute or two too long, they should still have somewhat of a chewy and soft center. If they are slightly over-baked they will end up crunchy all the way through. It can be tricky since every oven is different, but I would say next time pull them out a little bit earlier. If you had over-whipped the egg whites like you mentioned, they would have been really dry and hard to fold your dry ingredients into. In that case, fold them more than you usually would with the dry ingredients to break down some of that air….. I hope that helps, let me know if you have any more questions, thanks for watching!

    Cristina

  • Anonymous

    Hi Ruthy,
    Thanks for using our recipe. Cristina’s reply is below.

    Yes, I will pulse the powdered sugar and almond flour just a few times in the food processor to break down the almond a bit more, sorry if I failed to mention that in the video or instructions.  Sifting it will also help…..  As far as the texture goes, if they came out more “meringue-like”  it sounds to me as though they stayed in the oven a minute or two too long, they should still have somewhat of a chewy and soft center. If they are slightly over-baked they will end up crunchy all the way through. It can be tricky since every oven is different, but I would say next time pull them out a little bit earlier.  If you had over-whipped the egg whites like you mentioned, they would have been really dry and hard to fold your dry ingredients into.  In that case, fold them more than you usually would with the dry ingredients to break down some of that air…..  I hope that helps, let me know if you have any more questions, thanks for watching!Cristina

  • Anonymous

    Hi Ruthy,
    Thanks for using our recipe. Cristina’s reply is below.

    Yes, I will pulse the powdered sugar and almond flour just a few times in the food processor to break down the almond a bit more, sorry if I failed to mention that in the video or instructions.  Sifting it will also help…..  As far as the texture goes, if they came out more “meringue-like”  it sounds to me as though they stayed in the oven a minute or two too long, they should still have somewhat of a chewy and soft center. If they are slightly over-baked they will end up crunchy all the way through. It can be tricky since every oven is different, but I would say next time pull them out a little bit earlier.  If you had over-whipped the egg whites like you mentioned, they would have been really dry and hard to fold your dry ingredients into.  In that case, fold them more than you usually would with the dry ingredients to break down some of that air…..  I hope that helps, let me know if you have any more questions, thanks for watching!Cristina

  • Anonymous

    Hi Ruthy,
    Thanks for using our recipe. Cristina’s reply is below.

    Yes, I will pulse the powdered sugar and almond flour just a few times in the food processor to break down the almond a bit more, sorry if I failed to mention that in the video or instructions.  Sifting it will also help…..  As far as the texture goes, if they came out more “meringue-like”  it sounds to me as though they stayed in the oven a minute or two too long, they should still have somewhat of a chewy and soft center. If they are slightly over-baked they will end up crunchy all the way through. It can be tricky since every oven is different, but I would say next time pull them out a little bit earlier.  If you had over-whipped the egg whites like you mentioned, they would have been really dry and hard to fold your dry ingredients into.  In that case, fold them more than you usually would with the dry ingredients to break down some of that air…..  I hope that helps, let me know if you have any more questions, thanks for watching!Cristina

  • Anonymous

    Hi Ruthy,

    Thanks for using our recipe. Cristina’s reply is below.

    Yes, I will pulse the powdered sugar and almond flour just a few times in the food processor to break down the almond a bit more, but that instruction was included in the accompanying recipe with the video. Sifting it will also help….. Did you do either of those? As far as the texture goes, if they came out more “meringue-like” it sounds to me as though they stayed in the oven a minute or two too long, they should still have somewhat of a chewy and soft center. If they are slightly over-baked they will end up crunchy all the way through. It can be tricky since every oven is different, but I would say next time pull them out a little bit earlier. If you had over-whipped the egg whites like you mentioned, they would have been really dry and hard to fold your dry ingredients into. In that case, fold them more than you usually would with the dry ingredients to break down some of that air….. I hope that helps, let me know if you have any more questions, thanks for watching!

    Cristina

  • Anonymous

    Hi Ruthy,

    Thanks for using our recipe. Cristina’s reply is below.

    Yes, I will pulse the powdered sugar and almond flour just a few times in the food processor to break down the almond a bit more, but that instruction was included in the accompanying recipe with the video. Sifting it will also help….. Did you do either of those? As far as the texture goes, if they came out more “meringue-like” it sounds to me as though they stayed in the oven a minute or two too long, they should still have somewhat of a chewy and soft center. If they are slightly over-baked they will end up crunchy all the way through. It can be tricky since every oven is different, but I would say next time pull them out a little bit earlier. If you had over-whipped the egg whites like you mentioned, they would have been really dry and hard to fold your dry ingredients into. In that case, fold them more than you usually would with the dry ingredients to break down some of that air….. I hope that helps, let me know if you have any more questions, thanks for watching!

    Cristina

  • Lrosemeier

    A couple viewers have asked questions on YouTube. Below are Cristina’s helpful answers to their questions.

    Should I spray the parchment paper before baking?
    Most recipes will not ask you to spray your parchment first. If the macaroons are baked just right they will just come off easily, but  that is easier said than done.  But a tip, if they stick they may be either overcooked (dry and crumbly) or undercooked (may actually stick and the bottom stays n the paper but the top comes off).   If that is the case, you may want to adjust your baking time of temperature.  Another tip that is often recommended  is while they are still warm, flip over the entire sheet of parchment with the cookies attached, and lightly spray the back of the paper with water, or place a damp towel on it. In this way the steam will release the cookies.  Having said that though, I see nothing wrong with lightly spraying the parchment beforehand just to be safe.  But if you put too much it may cause the cookies to spread out so just use your good judgment.  Hope that helps!

    How do I add the chocolate flavoring? 
    This recipe came from Martha Stewart and her recommendation for the chocolate variation is to substitute 1/2 c. of the almond flour with 6 Tbl. dutch cocoa.  Dutch cocoa is much darker and has less acid than  regular cocoa powder so will give you a nicer color and flavor.  Just add it in with the dry ingredients and follow the directions.  Happy baking!

  • Caothang Nguyen

    Cristina,
    Thank you for sharing this recipe, It is very rare to see baker like you to give away secret and technique. I am going to practice this and planning to make them for my daughter Graduation Party coming up. Wish me luck!

  • Jese Lee

    Hi Cristina,

    thanks for all the tips and techniques.

    when you said use high speed to whip the egg white, what speed number do you actually use?

    also when you freeze the macaroon, will the moisture from the filling affect the cookie while defrosting?

  • http://blog.jordanwinery.com/ Cristina Valencia

    Hi Jese,

         When I whip the whites on high I will turn the machine all the way up.  But if you are still preparing your other ingredients or getting your pan and piping bag ready, you can turn the speed down to buy you more time.  The speed is really up to you as long as you end up with the desired result in the end.

         As far as defrosting the macaroons goes, they seem to do just fine.  Even when frozen, the cookie itself stays somewhat chewy and soft.  So I find that they defrost and are ready to eat very fast.  I even like them directly out of the freezer.  So if you decide to freeze them for a later time that shouldn’t give you any problems.  Hope that helps!

    Cristina

  • maggie

    Hi Cristina,
    Thanks for sharing
    for almond flour, how many gram is for one cup of it?

  • http://www.jordanwinery.com Lisa

    Hi Maggie,
    Conversions are available at http://allrecipes.com/howto/cup-to-gram-conversions/.

  • jessicaswan

    hi there, I had made my first batch of macaroon yesterday. However, i have met some problems. I let the macaroons to rest for two hours, but there are no ‘skin’ to form on top of it. Can you tell me the reason of not forming the ‘skin’?

    Thank you.

  • Kellymeadows

    i tried a recipe for macaroons and they turned out perfect the first time.  The next 3 times i’ve tried to make it, using the same recipe, it didn’t turn out.  They didn’t really form the skin. even after an hour.  I don’t understand.  Anyway, is it necessary to have the eggs sitting out for 2-3 days or is putting eggs out the day off and waiting awhile good enough?  I’ve been so disappointed with trying to make these after the first batch being perfect.  
    I’m going to try this recipe next.  I just hate wasting the ingredients.
    Any suggestions?

  • jp

    I try it tast too sweet if I want less how can do it?

  • Lilem96

    this is probs a stupid question but is the meringue filling is the suff in the middle right?
    its my first time making macrons and i want to get it right?
    also can u put a flovor in that instead of the macron shell and any color?

  • Erin

    Yes. That’s correct.

  • Anonymous

    Cristina has included several answers to multiple questions here. Thanks for watching!

    In
    regards to the question about substituting almond flour…
    The almond flour is really the key ingredient in this recipe.  But it
    is basically just finely ground almonds. You could try to replace it with any
    other type of  ground nuts and see how it turns out, although I have never
    tried it before.

    Several asked if they should add regular flour to change the texture. 
    Some recipes will call for a few tablespoons of all purpose flour in addition
    to the almond flour, but I have never really had much success with those
    recipes.  If you want to try the recipe using all purpose to see the
    difference in texture, I would suggest finding a recipe that includes it
    already since the ingredients are proportioned correctly.

    As far as the flavor and colors..
    Yes, you can use any extract or small amount of concentrate to create any
    flavor combination you want, and all colors will work the same.

    Questions about cream of tartar…
    Cream of tartar is optional.  If you don’t have it or choose not to use
    it do not substitute it with any other leavening agent, just leave it out.

    Question regarding the use of baking spray on the pan…
    Most people will tell you not to use any baking spray because the moisture
    in it may cause the cookies to spread as they sit on the paper.  I have
    occasionally used spray very lightly as extra insurance that the cookies will
    come off the paper and had no issues .  On the other hand, another method
    recommended for removing them is that when they are still warm, flip the entire
    piece of parchment over and place a slightly damp towel on the back of
    it.  The steam should make the cookies fall right off.

    Question asking if @ 4:33 I combined buttercream with jam as I suggested on the
    video…
    YES!

    One person wanted to know why, after letting her macaroons sit for 2 hours, did
    they not form a skin?  ( She was using another recipe)
    The reason that this would happen could have to do with humidity or too much
    moisture in the air.

  • Anonymous

    Lilem,
    On our blog post, I posted a list of answers to several French macaroon baking questions sent to Cristina. Your question is included. Thanks for watching!

  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous

    Kelly,
    On our blog post above, I posted a new comment with a list of answers to several French macaroon baking questions sent to Cristina. Your question is included. Thanks for watching!

  • Anonymous

    Jessica,
    On our blog post above, I posted a new comment with a list of answers to several French macaroon baking questions sent to Cristina. Your question is included. Thanks for watching!

  • Iliketoeatmango

    After folding, my mixture is too thin.  After I put it into piping bag, it simply dipping to the cookie sheet.  It cannot hold the height as per what I saw on your video.  Please advise which step I did it wrong.  Thank you.

  • Anonymous

    It sounds as if the batter has been over
    handled, or overmixed.  Remember that all the fat in the almond flour will
    break down all the air in the egg with each fold.  You therefore should
    strive to fold it in gently and with fewer strokes.  If you are very
    gentle and your batter ends up thick and lumpy, no worries: just keep folding
    until you get the right consistency.

  • PATRICIO

    REALLY NICE. THANKS!!!

  • Y.

    Hi , I would like to thanks for the recipe first. I have some enquires to ask. When i bake my macarons for 10mins , the macarons just stick on my non-greasy paper. So i thought its not baked enough so i bake it for 10-20mins which then my macarons turn brown and too crispy. What went wrong ? I tried for 3-4 times but i still couldnt get the macarons beautifully coming out from my paper. Thanks!

  • lisamattson

    You should allow the macaroons to cool completely before lifting them off the paper. When they are warm they will still be slightly sticky, and will harden as they cool. If you did let them cool and they were still sticky, you were right in baking them longer. 10 minutes may have been too much time. Since they are sensitive, I would check them every 2-3 minutes.

  • Carla M. Jones

    If the stick, you can also place them in the freezer for a couple of minutes. The thermal shock between hot and freezing makes them unstick instantly and easily.

  • MACARONLOVER

    Hi :) My macarons also stuck to my parchment paper. I thought of something to help me get my macarons completely and nicely off the piece of paper. Hold up the paper (and make sure you don’t drop it!!!) and dip your finger into water. Spread the water on the back of the paper where the macaron is (remember the entire bottom of the macaron, more like the paper itself, must be dabbed with water) then leave it for like 10-15 seconds. You should beable to peal the paper away from the macaron as the water somehow ‘melts’ / ‘softens’ the paper. :D have fun!!!

  • http://www.jordanwinery.com Lisa

    Thanks for sharing. Someone did just ask if there is a substitute for parchment. Cristina says:
    No, parchment is all that you should use. The cookies will definitely stick to the pan, foil, glass or anything else.

  • Pingback: Dear Pastry: French Macaroon « The Pastry Diaries

  • Ana

    Hello! This looks like such a lovely recipe and I feel like you understand the confusion we people get upon seeing all these different ways of making the same cookie (to let sit out, to not let sit out, how much of this, how long, etc, etc.)! I was wondering what to do since I don’t have a food processor. For the almond flour and powdered sugar, do you think I can just use a blender or is that not good? Thank you :D

  • lisamattson

    A blender will not be the same, but you can certainly try it. If you have a
    good high quality blender it will do just fine. A blender that does not
    have much power may just get clogged up.

  • lisamattson

    Thanks! You definitely need to use the parchment paper.

  • Anon

    Is it alright to use regular sugar instead of superfine?

  • Michelle L

    Your definition of 1 cup is equal to how many grams actually? Because different cups comes with different sizes.

  • lisamattson

    Here’s an online research for converting cups to grams. http://allrecipes.com/howto/cup-to-gram-conversions/

  • lisamattson

    Michelle,
    Cristina is referring to a standard measuring cup.

  • Tiffany

    Can you use less powdered sugar rather than the 1 cup?