I had wanted to make macarons for at least a couple of months. BUT, I had never tried a macron (or even seen one in person)! So one week before I planned to try to make them, I walked downtown to a bakery and carefully picked out two to try. I bought a lemon raspberry and a coconut lime. I carefully carried them home in their little package and bit into them delicately, one at a time.
I was amazed by how fragile they were, how tender the almond-based cookie, and how well the buttercream held the pieces together even as I bit into them. I immediately knew they would be difficult to recreate at home, just as all the recipes I had read were saying.
I have to admit, I was pretty intimidated by macarons. I made three different batches with three different recipes last Saturday, and I was really only happy with one of them. BUT, I do think that seeing the results of the other recipes was essential in the learning process. The only way to know what recipes mean when they say the batter should flow “like lava” is to get in there and experiment! I now think if I tried those two “failed” recipes (and let me be clear, both still made tasty cookies), I could get them to work much better, just by knowing what the batter should look like and what cookies should look like when they are ready to come out of the oven.
So, don’t be intimidated. I kept reading about how I should age my egg whites, and weigh out all my ingredients. And I did that for a few recipes. BUT, the recipe that I was happiest with? Measurements were by volume, and I just let my eggs come to room temperature for a few hours before separating them. I didn’t even sift my almond flour and powdered sugar together (although the almond flour was really fine as I bought it).
The recipe I was happiest with was from Broma Bakery.
The cookies and cream macarons turned out perfectly (in my humble opinion). The cookies have chocolate extract (I made my own), the buttercream has actual Oreo filling mixed in, plus lots of extra vanilla, and the whole combination tastes like an amazing cookified version of cookies and cream ice cream. I baked mine for exactly the 17 minutes and was very happy with the texture. I plan to make these any time I need to seriously impress somebody!
After my success with the previous recipe on Saturday, I made another batch of cookies and cream on Sunday, plus tweaked the recipe a little to make lemon macarons (see recipe below). I filled the lemon cookies with a lemon vanilla buttercream and a dollop of lemon curd. I probably could have cooked them an extra minute or two, because many of them ended up a little hollow, but they were still pretty and tasty!
I am definitely dreaming of other macaron flavors now, especially since I scored a 12 pack of Lorann flavoring oils for like five dollars the other day. Cake batter macarons? Rootbeer macarons? Cinnamon roll macarons? The future is bright, my friends.
(Or at least the baking future. The school future looks like drowning in rather pointless assignments, still not figuring out a direction, desperately hoping for more funding next year and/or a summer job, etc. BUT, in other big news, my partner and I have a place to live next year! And we will be all to ourselves and not have dumb loud downstairs neighbors or have to share space with anyone and I am So. Excited.!!)
Anyway, on to macaron recipes:
- 2/3 cup finely ground almond flour
- 1.5 cups powdered sugar
- zest of one lemon
- 1/4 cup white sugar
- 3 large egg whites (about 90g), room temperature
- pinch of salt
- 3/4 tsp lemon extract
- few drops of yellow gel or powdered food coloring (optional)
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Combine almond flour, powdered sugar, and lemon zest in a small bowl.
- Beat egg whites and salt on high speed for about 2 minutes, until soft peaks. Then add white sugar, lemon extract, and food coloring, and beat for 1 to 2 more minutes until very stiff peaks.
- Gently add the powdered sugar and almond flour mixture on top of the egg whites. Use a rubber spatula to slowly fold the ingredients together. (You should definitely check out Youtube videos or other online tutorials to help with the “macronage” part.) At the end your mixture should flow like lava off of your spatula.
- Transfer the mixture to a pastry bag and squeeze the stationary bag evenly to make about 1 or 1.5 inch circles. The batter should spread evenly and the tip should sink in with 30 seconds or so, leaving smooth circles. Let your circles sit out for at least 45 minutes to develop a bit of a “shell.”
- Preheat the oven to 300, and bake each tray of macarons nested on another baking sheet (so you have two sheets stacked on top of each other, one empty, one with the macarons– this helps them cook more evenly) for 17-18 minutes. The macarons should lift pretty easily off of the parchment when done but should not really (or just barely) start to brown.
- Allow macarons to cool to room temperature before removing. You can make the frosting during this step.
- 4 T butter, soft
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1/4 tsp lemon extract
- 1.5 cups powdered sugar
- 1-2 T milk or heavy cream
- Cream the butter and extracts until light and fluffy.
- Add the powdered sugar and the milk 1 T at a time until the frosting reaches piping consistency.
I used some leftover lemon curd from my Olive Oil Citrus Cupcakes. You only need about half a cup (if that). So you could use store bought, or make your own.
Putting it Together
- Pair up your macaron cookies with each other so that two cookies have about equal size/shape.
- Pipe a ring of frosting around the edges of one of the pair of cookies. Then either pipe or spoon about 1 teaspoon of lemon curd into the center of that ring.
- Gently place the other cookie onto the first, pressing down very slightly to stick them together.
- Let your macarons “mature” in an airtight container in the fridge for a day or two for best results before enjoying them. They should last in the fridge in an airtight container for about a week, or you can freeze them if you need to keep them longer.