Happy Thursday everyone!
I know, it’s a bit late in the week for this post. But I wanted to hold off so I didn’t spoil the surprise for the recipient of these goodies 🙂 thankfully they all managed to ship in one piece, after agonizing over bubble wrap vs Styrofoam peanuts (I went with bubble wrap)!
My recent s’mores French macarons post seemed very popular so I thought it might be nice to backtrack a little and feature the basic, plain-flavored, no fuss macaron recipe that has faithfully produced consistent results (after several months of trial and error). Consistent macarons, are they even possible?! While I do still get the occasional bad batch that leaves me scratching my head – probably some random human error here or there – gone are the days of anxiety and frustration to see if this time the macarons decided to cooperate or not. Anyone who asks me how I make macarons, I must refuse to take any credit and simply redirect them to the posts of macaron gurus Mardi Michels (eatlivetravelwrite) and Stella Park (Brave Tart). If you want to try your hand at macarons, I highly recommend you read their posts and blogs before attempting. This recipe and method time and time again leaves me with adorable macarons that, while may not be a perfect Pierre Herme masterpiece, are certainly beautiful and delicious enough to garner rave reviews from friends and families and total strangers. If you’re the type of person who also has enemies, these will impress them too though they may not admit it to your face 😛
I’d really like to emphasize that, while macarons for whatever reason impress the heck out of everyone and will immediately cement your status as the master baker of the family/friend circle/office, you in fact don’t need a million fancy expensive kitchen gadgets to deliver these beautiful meringue cookies. Here’s the equipment that I would suggest you need at a minimum:
Parchment paper or silicone baking liner
Macaron piping template (not strictly necessary, but it’s oh so helpful and free to just print out online)
At least an electric hand mixer, preferably with whisk attachment but beaters are fine too
Piping bag fitted with plain round piping tip
There, not so bad right? All these items (except for the oven haha) are fairly cheap to order on Amazon or find at a thrifty craft/kitchen store, so you can start your macaron adventures in no time with minimal start-up cost. All these items are also very much multipurpose so you’ll be using them all often once you get them (believe me, cupcakes are so much more fun to bake when you can play with piping tips!) Of course, as I’ve started to build my kitchen arsenal over time, there are some things that while not necessary, are certainly nice to have. But please don’t feel intimidated if you do not own and don’t plan on splurging on:
Helpful but optional:
Sifter or food processor/nut grinder
Stand mixer (my baby…my beautiful baby <3)
Now that you have all the things you need, on to the method.
Again, I stress to PLEASE read the amazing macaron guides over on eatlivetravelwrite and Brave Tart. I see no point in reinventing the wheel when there’s already a Ferrari on the race track. A few additional things though that I’ve come across in my experimentation are:
- Do NOT try to scale down these macaron recipes for a small batch, especially if you are a beginner in the world of making macarons. Working with a smaller batch makes it much more difficult to mix the dry ingredients and meringue properly – chances are you will end up with streaks of meringue hiding in the batter leading to cracking, or overmixing the batter leading to feetless, lopsided macarons, or even both. Trust me, you will not have problems finding people to eat your normal-sized batch of macarons!
- A lot of recipes and guides will stress you must sift and/or grind your almond flour and powdered sugar mixture. I’m lazy and I skip this step a lot – as long as your store-bought almond flour is finely ground (I use Bob’s Red Mill), it will not cause the macarons to fail as long as you’re willing to accept a few bumpier than perfect macaron shells – people usually don’t notice anyway because they’re too busy eating them :P. Instead of sifting, I usually just give a good whisking of the almond flour and powdered sugar together. If you don’t own a whisk, using a couple of forks also works in a pinch.
- No, you do NOT need a stand mixer. I love my stand mixer because it lets me keep my hands free so I can do other stuff while the meringue is whipping up, but an electric hand mixer works just fine (I would not suggest trying to hand whisk meringue if you’re an amateur baker…just buy a cheap hand mixer, you won’t regret it!). Use the times & power levels suggested on eatlivetravelwrite/Brave Tart, but be aware of visual cues – if the meringue does not look stiff and dry enough after the time/power levels suggested, beat for a minute or two more to make sure it can really hold up to the macaronage (the official term for mixing of macaron batter).
- Your oven may be different from my oven – there may be hot spots, it may run hot or cold overall, etc. This is where an oven thermometer comes in handy but is not strictly necessary. It may take a few batches to experiment what rack in the oven, what temperature to set the dial to, and how long to bake is ideal for your oven. For me, 17-18 minutes with the dial set to 300 F on the lower middle rack without rotating the tray at any point in the baking process is pretty much perfect.
- There is some debate on the internet as to how long you can store macarons and how. I think some of it is dependent on personal taste and preference (though of course I’m sure there is a professional definition of a perfect macaron) – some people prefer it a little more crunchy, some prefer the texture of a “stale” macaron where it’s softer and chewier.
Once your shells are baked (or while they’re baking)…you got to think about the filling! For this particular batch, since these were an engagement congratulations gift to one of the most inspiring, kind, brilliant women I know 🙂 I went with the theme of classic flavor matches: matcha and red bean, mocha and salted caramel, and lastly cinnamon and apple.
Lastly and optionally, decoration – I’m not a huge fan of neon colored shells so most of the time I keep it simple with a dusting on cocoa powder or cinnamon, or maybe some sprinkles (put those on right after piping the shells before baking). A drizzle of chocolate is always yummy as well, which I did with the s’mores macarons. But to make this batch a little more special, I splurged (yay 30% off Michael’s coupons) on some food-safe gold spray paint to give it that little extra touch 🙂
Go forth and bake everyone – please let me know how your own trials and errors go! Let there be macarons for everyone!
It’s a Perfect Match(a) Macarons
matcha and red bean filling – makes enough to fill about 16 macarons, or more (depending how stuffed you want your macarons to be)
- ¼ cup white chocolate chips
- 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon matcha powder, or more to taste/color desired
- Roughly 8 teaspoons red bean paste
- Melt white chocolate chips and oil in a double boiler, or in 30 second bursts in the microwave and stirring in between bursts. If too thick, you can drizzle in a little more oil to thin it out.
- Once melted, mix in matcha powder gradually until the color you desire. Allow mixture to cool – it should be cool enough to handle but not so solidified that you can’t pipe it smoothly.
- Transfer mixture to a piping bag fitted with a small round tip or a Ziploc bag with a corner snipped off. Fill another piping bag with a small round tip or Ziploc bag with the red bean paste.
- Pipe a ring of the matcha chocolate mixture on a macaron shell, leaving space between the ring and the outside edge of the shell. Pipe red bean paste into the space left in the center of the ring of matcha. Gently press another macaron shell on top.
mocha and salted caramel filling – makes enough to fill about 16 macarons, or more (depending how stuffed you want your macarons to be)
- 2 tablespoons butter or vegan butter
- 2 teaspoons cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon espresso powder or more to taste
- ¼ cup powdered sugar
- Roughly 8 teaspoons salted caramel sauce (Trader Joe’s has a fantastic fleur de sel caramel sauce that’s pretty reasonably priced!)
- Optional – additional sea salt to sprinkle on
- Beat together the butter, cocoa powder, espresso powder, and powdered sugar.
- Transfer mocha frosting to a piping bag fitted with a small round tip or a Ziploc bag with a corner snipped off. Fill another piping bag with a small round tip or Ziploc bag with the salted caramel.
- Pipe a ring of the mocha frosting on a macaron shell, leaving space between the ring and the outside edge of the shell. Pipe salted caramel into the space left in the center of the ring of mocha frosting. If you like it more salty (like I do), sprinkle some sea salt over the caramel center. Gently press another macaron shell on top.
cinnamon and apple filling – makes enough to fill about 16 macarons, or more (depending how stuffed you want your macarons to be)
- ¼ cup your favorite cream cheese frosting, store bought or homemade
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon or more to taste
- Roughly 8 teaspoons apple butter – for DIY apple butter, all you need is applesauce (optionally add more cinnamon/other spices)! instructions included below
- Easy DIY apple butter!: heat applesauce on the stove to simmer (about medium or medium low), reducing down to about 1/3 or ½ volume depending how thick you like your apple butter to be (I like it thicker personally). While reducing, you can throw in any spices you want – in this case I tossed in some cinnamon to taste. Set apple butter aside to cool – it will continue to thicken as it cools.
- Mix together cream cheese frosting and cinnamon.
- Transfer cinnamon cream cheese frosting to a piping bag fitted with a small round tip or a Ziploc bag with a corner snipped off. Fill another piping bag with a small round tip or Ziploc bag with the cooled apple butter.
- Pipe a ring of the cinnamon cream cheese frosting on a macaron shell, leaving space between the ring and the outside edge of the shell. Pipe apple butter into the space left in the center of the ring of cinnamon cream cheese frosting. Gently press another macaron shell on top.