To be honest, I didn’t really care for French macarons (not to be confused with macaroons or coconut macaroons) the first time I tried them. But this French macarons recipe can make a believer out of anyone. The macarons are delicate with a sweet, creamy filling you’ll adore. Plus, you can use this macaron recipe as a base for a ton of other flavors!
For a long time, I passed on eating macarons because I had never enjoyed my first experience with them. It wasn’t until one day, when I was living in New York, my roommate returned to our apartment with an assortment of macaron flavors from Ladurée.
Suddenly, I understood what the entire craze over French macarons had been. The macarons were chewy, light, and had a delicious macaron filling made up of flavors like caramel, strawberry, and raspberry. The cookies had that inexplicable macaron texture; you know, the one where you bite into the cookie and it sort of sticks to your teeth because it’s so chewy.
After experiencing the best macaron recipe I’d ever had, I embarked on a quest to make macarons myself. I was in search of the best French chocolate macaron recipe (right here, friends!) as well as the best vanilla macaron recipe – one that could easily be used as a base for a ton of other flavors, in addition to serving as a tutorial on how to make macarons for beginners.
French Macarons Recipe Step by Step
Making macarons can be a daunting task; whoever searched the web for an easy French macaron recipe was fooling him or herself. This is because the process of making French macarons requires exact precision in weighing your ingredients and requires a little bit of pastry technique to do it.
As a pastry instructor, it’s one of my favorite classes to teach because it’s such a visual process. Photographing, even videotaping, the process never quite demonstrates the exact stiffness of the egg whites or the velvety, ribbon-like flow of the batter the way teaching it in person does.
Macaronage, or the act of mixing the dry ingredients with the egg whites, is such a delicate act and is done by feeling and eyeing the batter. Over mix the batter, and you’ll get pancake macarons that may never grow their “feet” (the ruffled edges on the bottom of the shells). Under mix the batter and your macarons may never even themselves out into the flat, smooth looking shells they’re known to be.
That perfect consistency requires a practiced eye, but in general, you don’t want your macaron batter to fall of your spatula so slowly that you’re sort of waving the spatula around to encourage batter to fall off. By the same token, you also don’t want the batter falling off your spatula faster than you can blink. To a certain regard, it’s a bit like making pancake batter and achieving that perfect in-between consistency.
All this is to say that patience is a virtue with French macarons and practice makes perfect. I don’t intend to scare you away from making macarons. In fact, I hope to do quite the opposite and be an encouraging friend for you in the kitchen, urging you not to give up and keep trying your hand at this pesky French recipe.
Because French macarons are so worth the hassle and effort. Not only are French macarons expensive here in the States (and even Paris shops too!), but it’s really hard to find decent ones that achieve that irresistible texture and flavor.
These French macarons are made from a basic vanilla macaron recipe, sans the vanilla paste to make room for apricot flavors. The macarons can be tweaked to reflect whatever color you desire your macarons to be. For this recipe, I added a small drop of red dye to give them a slightly pinkish/peach appearance, as I wanted them to match their apricot mascarpone filling.
Note: If you want a darker color and are tempted to use more food dye, make sure you use the powdered kind to avoid the risk of over-liquifying the batter; macarons can be that temperamental to extra ingredients. It’s best to start off with a powdered dye when dying macarons, unless you are doing a very pale color like I’ve done here (a drop or two typically won’t affect the macaron batter).
French Macaron Filling Recipe
Classic macaron fillings tends to be some kind of jam, ganache, or buttercream. You could use Nutella, or mix Nutella into softened butter for a chocolate buttercream. You can also just smear some raspberry jam between some bright, pink macaron shells and call it a day.
I wanted to make the filling for these French macarons a little bit more decadent by adding some mascarpone cheese to my apricot buttercream mixture. The cheese gives an extra creaminess to the filling, subduing the overt sweetness that can sometimes arise with a buttercream filling.
They also say that macarons are better after they’ve been refrigerated for a day, which is entirely true. It makes the macarons chewier, and in this case, it also made the filling that much more creamy. You normally might bite into a macaron and feel the chewy texture of the shells and taste the slightest hint of buttercream as it quickly dissolves in your mouth.
With these mascarpone filled macarons, the taste of the filling is preserved in your mouth just a second or two longer as the creaminess of the cheese is slower to dissolve than simple buttercream. The apricot preserves also add a slight fruity essence to the filling, adding depth of flavor to the sugar-based cookie.
How to Make Macarons for Beginners
I tried to be as detailed in the recipe notes as I could to help you create your macarons at home. Some tips you want to keep in mind:
- Measure your ingredients, using a scale whenever possible
- Don’t over-mix your egg whites. Your egg whites should be stiff, but still matte (not glossy).
- Be very gentle when you fold your egg whites into your macaron batter.
- Your macaron batter should fall off your spatula in slow, steady, velvet-like ribbons. You shouldn’t have to shake your spatula to get the batter falling, nor should it whizz down in the blink of an eye.
- When you pipe your macaron batter out, it should slowly and slightly spread out to be a flat mound rather than a completely flat pool that doesn’t hold it’s round shape very well.
- Buy a macaron mat to help you make evenly sized macarons – you can find my favorite on here!
- If you see any air bubbles in your piped out macaron batter, you can poke them with a toothpick.
Other Notes for Making Macarons
If you’re deciding between almond flour or almond meal, I always say go for almond flour. Trader Joe’s sells almond meal for an inexpensive price compared to the almond flour brands I see at regular grocery stores, however, if you use the almond meal, you’re going to have to do a lot of sifting with your flour sifter.
This is because almond meal tends to contain a coarser texture with bits of almond skin in the blend. The French macarons photographed for this recipe were made with almond meal, so you can see the little specks from the almond meal in the macaron shells. The end flavor and taste, however, will be the same so it’s just a matter of preference and whether you want the extra bit of labor in your macaron-making process.
If you have any questions about making French macarons, please feel free to ask below or send me an email. You can also always join my online class with video footage here!
Get the macaron baking mat I use to make perfectly even macarons!
French Macarons Recipe
Delicate French almond cookies filled with an apricot-flavored mascarpone filling.
for the macaron shells
- 90 g almond meal or almond flour
- 175 g powdered sugar
- 45 g granulated sugar
- 3 egg whites
- 1 drop of red food dye powder is better, or powdered dye
- gold sprinkles optional
for the mascarpone filling
- 1/2 c unsalted butter room temperature
- 4 oz mascarpone cheese
- 1/3 c powdered sugar
- 1 1/2 tbsp apricot preserves
Begin by adding your almond meal and powdered sugar to a food processor. Pulse for 10 to 15 seconds, until the two are combined well. Pour the mixture through a flour sifter to break up any clumps and catch any unwanted scraps from the almond meal; set aside.
In a large stainless steel bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk your egg whites on high speed until they lose their yellow tint and become extremely frothy.
Gradually add the granulated sugar in and continue mixing on high speed. Once the egg whites have obtained soft peaks (meaning when you lift the whisk in the air, the egg whites tips easily curl downward), add in the drop of dye if using liquid dye. Continue whisking until the egg whites have obtained stiff peaks but are still matte in appearance (they shouldn't be glossy). You want to keep checking on the egg whites during this entire process so that you don’t overmix them. They should still have a slightly glossy appearance, but they should look much stiffer than they did at the soft peak stage; only the very, very tips of the egg whites should slightly curl. You should also be able to hold the bowl at a slight angle and not having any of the egg whites moving around.
Now, add 1/3 of the dry ingredients into the egg whites. Use a rubber spatula to gently fold the dry ingredients into the egg whites. This will help loosen up the batter. Again repeat with another 1/3 of the dry ingredients, gently folding them in.
Now, add the remaining dry ingredients and very, very delicately fold them into the batter. You want to end up with batter than falls off your spatula slowly and evenly, dropping into the bowl in a ribbon-like manner. If it’s falling way off way too slowly in clumps, continuing folding a few more times and check again.
Line a baking sheet with a macaron-stenciled silicone mat, or a piece of parchment paper. Place a large pastry bag fitted with a plain tip into a large, tall glass. Then, fill the pastry bag with your macaron batter. The batter will probably be oozing out of the tip so just work quickly to transfer the bag from the glass to your baking sheet. Pipe 1 inch wide blots of batter; after 15 seconds, the batter should smooth out and become closer to 1 1/2 inch wide rounds. Space the macarons about 3/4” apart. If you’re using a macaron-specific mat, then simply fill in the stenciled circles just until you’ve almost filled the entire circle, leaving room for them to even out.
Give the baking mat a gentle tap or two to pop any air bubbles. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Then, let the macarons rest on the mat for about 15 minutes or so, until they’ve slightly dried in appearance. Then, very gently drop a tiny pinch of gold sprinkles in the center of half of the macaron shells. Let the macarons rest for another 5 minutes, then place in the oven to bake at 325°F for 10 minutes. Reduce the oven to 285°F and continue baking for another 7 minutes.
Let the macarons cool on the sheet. While the macarons cool, create your filling. Beat the butter and mascarpone on medium speed until they’re combined and creamy. Add in the powdered sugar and apricot preserves and mix until combined.
Once the macarons are cool, fill a ziplock bag or pastry bag with the filling. Make a small cut on one of the tips of the ziplock bag (if using), and pipe the filling onto the bottoms of the macaron shells that don’t have sprinkles. Take a macaron shell (with sprinkles) that matches in size and gently press down onto the filling to create a sandwich. Place in airtight container and refrigerate overnight for best results.
You might end up with a few cracked shells, and this will most likely be due to pesky air bubbles, so don’t fret!