My very first attempt at making macarons
Helloooo, March! On this lovely weekend in the glorious third month of the year (because it’s my bday month, ayoo!) I decided to take a whack at something I’ve never made before – macarons. These illustrious French pastries have captured my heart and my stomach for ages. As you bite down, the outside is crispy, then your teeth sink into the chewy center of the cookie, and end in the creamy and luxurious filling. I wanted to see if I could make these myself, as they are pretty notorious for being tricky and finicky to create. I was emboldened with courage after my last success of making something off my “kitchen bucket list” – the Harry Potter sugar cookies decorated with royal icing. So, here I was, in a stand-off of bravery, just me, my stand mixer, and a whole lot of egg whites, ready to make chocolate strawberry macarons.
How the heck do I make macarons?
Macarons are so tricky to make because there’s a lot that can go wrong. If you whip too much air into your egg whites, there can be holes in your macrons. If you don’t whip them enough, your batter will be too runny and your macarons can become too thin. They might crack on the top (see below) or not rise properly to achieve the “feet” on the bottom, which is one of the trademarks of macarons.
There are many tips and tricks I found during my internet research to make the best chocolate strawberry macarons. Here are some helpful recipes and videos that explain what to do (and a lot of what not to do.)
1. Cupcake Jemma’s Macaron Master Class Video
2. Cupcake Jemma’s Chocolate Macaron Recipe Video (this is the recipe I used for the cookie part of these bad boyz)
3. Binging with Babish’s Mandalorian Macaron Recipe Video
4. Sally’s Baking Addiction’s Step-by-Step Guide to French Macarons
5. Tasty’s Macaron Recipe and Tutorial Video
You can test if your batter is mixed enough when you can drip the batter off your spatula long enough to form an un-broken figure-8, like the photo above.
A few tips and tricks
Pro Tip: If you’re new to macarons, use a template to make them all the same size. A template is a piece of paper or a silpat with equal circles already drawn/printed on it. I sort of winged it by eye and, as you can see, we have all sorts of sizes. This makes it much harder to pair them up to become sandwiches. (But it make a great excuse to just eat them fresh out of the oven
Pro Tip: Leave ample space between each macaron as you pipe them on your baking sheet. They will spread on the sheet, especially when you bang them on the counter. Yes, this part is necessary. Simply lift your sheet parallel to the counter, about one foot high. Then drop it down (this will be loud and may wake your neighbors.) Repeat three to four times. This helps any air bubbles rise to the surface and pop, as well as spread a bit more. So unless you want snowman macarons, give them some space.
Pro Tip: Allow your the tops of your piped macrons to dry out before putting them in the oven. When you run your finger on the top, they should feel dry and batter shouldn’t stick to your finger. This may take 30 minutes. This may take 3 hours. However long it takes, DO NOT put them in the oven until they’ve formed that nice shell on top. Otherwise, they’ll crack into a hot mess…
Filling macarons – endless possibilities
Macarons are centuries old, meaning they’ve had quite some time to develop unique flavor pairings. The macaron cookie itself can be any flavor you fancy – from chocolate or lemon, to coffee or red velvet! And the fillings are even more versatile, ranging from all sorts of flavors of buttercream, jam or ganache. You can paint real gold on them for a fancy touch, or roll them in sprinkles for a fun and festive flair.
I decided to keep it simple and fill mine with buttercream flavored with a few tablespoons of strawberry jam. Chocolate + strawberries = heaven, amiright?
Bonus: Macarons are naturally gluten free because they are made with super find ground almonds instead of flour. WINNING!
Let me know if you bake yourself some delicious chocolate strawberry macarons!!
Chocolate Macarons with Strawberry Buttercream
- 160 grams powder sugar (about 1⅓ cup)
- 170 grams super fine almond flour (about 1⅓ cup)
- 45 grams cocoa powder (about ⅓ cup)
- 1 splash vinegar (to wipe out a metal bowl, stand mixer bowl and whisk attachment to remove any traces of grease)
- 144 grams egg whites at room temperature (from about 5 eggs)
- 70 mL water (about ⅓ cup)
- 210 grams granulated sugar (about 1 cup)
Strawberry Buttercream Filling
- 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks) at room temperature
- 4 cups powder sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 Tbsp milk (or non-dairy milk)
- 4 to 5 Tbsp strawberry jam
Make the Chocolate Macarons
- Sift the powder sugar and super fine ground almonds into a large mixing bowl. If your ground almonds aren't' super fine, blintz them in a food processor a few times. Whisk in the cocoa powder. Set aside.
- Wipe a metal bowl with a paper towel and a tiny bit of vinegar to remove any grease from the bowl. Pour in 72 grams whites (from about 2½ eggs). Add the dry ingredients into the egg whites and mix with a spatula until it forms a thick paste. Set aside.
- In a small saucepan, add the water and granulated sugar. Heat on medium heat, until the syrup reaches 245°F (118°C).
- While the syrup is boiling, wipe out the metal bowl and whisk of a stand mixer with a paper towel and a tiny bit of vinegar. This will help the egg whites whip up. Add the remaining 72 grams of egg whites (from about 2½ eggs) to the bowl of a stand mixer. Whisk until it forms soft peaks.
- While whisking on a low speed, slowly and carefully add the syrup to the whipped egg whites by dripping it from the sauce pan down the inside of the bowl. Once all the syrup is poured in, turn the mixer up to high and whisk until it is glossy and shiny and it reaches stiff peaks – now you have meringue!
- Add a large dollop of the meringue to the cocoa mixture and stir it in to loosen it. Fold the rest of the meringue into the cocoa mixture with a spatula, being careful not to stir it too vigorously and risk losing all the air whipped into the meringue. To test if the batter is mixed enough, scoop your spatula into the batter, then with the spatula elevated a few inches high, try to draw a figure-8. When the batter is able to slowly drip off the spatula and form an unbroken figure-8, it's ready to be piped onto the baking sheet.
- Fill a piping bag with the macaron batter. Pipe it onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or onto a silpat. A template helps to pipe evenly-shaped circles. Space each macaron at least 1 inch apart, because they will spread. Drop the tray from about one foot off the counter 4 to 5 times to release any air bubbles. You can use a toothpick to pop any lingering air bubbles on the surface.
- Set the macaron-filled tray on the counter for 20 minutes or longer, until they feel dry and not wet or tacky on the top.
- Preheat the oven to 330°F (165°C). Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until the edges don't squish in when you nudge it with a spatula.
- Let the macarons cool completely, then lift them off the baking sheet.
Whip Up the Strawberry Buttercream Filling
- In the bowl of a stand mixer or in a large mixing bowl, beat the room temperature butter for a few minutes on medium speed, until it is creamy.
- With the mixer on the lowest speed, gradually add 3 cups of powder sugar. Turn the speed up to medium and keep mixing until all the sugar is combined into the butter and it looks pale and fluffy.
- Add in the vanilla extract and milk. Keep mixing until those are incorporated into the frosting.
- With the mixer on low again, add another ½ cup of the powder sugar. Depending on how stiff you want the buttercream and how it's currently looking, either leave it as is, or mix in the remaining ½ cup powder sugar.
- Finally, mix in the strawberry jam.
Assemble the Macarons
- Match the macarons into pairs of equal sizes (especially if you piped without a template).
- Add the strawberry buttercream to a piping bag. Pipe swirls of the filling onto one half of each macaron cookie sandwich. Gently press the other cookie on top. Voila! Chocolate strawberry macarons! Eat them now, or let them sit overnight for the best texture results.