Easy French Macaron Recipe

April 04, 2020
Most of the time, the assumption is the number of ingredients equates the level of difficulty or expertise needed to successfully completes a dish. Isn't that why 3-ingredients recipes are so popular on the internet? Not everyone wants to buy, store, and prep 10 different ingredients they're only going to use little of and not often, unless they love cooking. But that's not the case for the french macaron. The ingredients are minimal, but boy are they hard to master for a cookie.

The french macarons (not the italian macaroons!) are basically meringue-based almond cookies sandwiching different types of fillings (and thus, highly flexible in terms of flavorings) such as buttercream, curds, or ganaches. It sounds simple, but most people struggle to make them, because it's just one of those things you have to learn by practice.

In learning how to make macarons, I watch many, many youtube videos to see how they're supposed to be made, because recipes by themselves only goes so much in explaining how they're supposed to look like at each stage. Many bloggers will tell you to look for a 'lava' consistency or 'ribboning' when doing the macaronage -the mixing of the dry ingredients and the meringue, but for amateur bakers, we don't even know if we can make proper meringues in the first place! 

How stiff are stiff peaks? Should I start putting in the sugar now? Who knew that plastic bowls are a big no-no?

Let's start with the meringue : first, aging the egg whites are not crucial. Skip that step and save a day. Second, yes, a glass or aluminium bowl is important. Any trace of grease, and your meringue will not be as stiff as you need them to be. So be extra and wipe the bowl with vinegar before use! Third, professional bakers will tell you to do the bowl-over-head test to see if your meringue are ready, i.e. they've reached the stiff peaks stage. However, I keep having this nagging feeling that I must be dumb in understanding simple instruction, because when I stop at that stage, my macarons will fail and crack. In truth, you're probably going to want to keep whipping at least a couple of minutes longer until the meringue starts to clump around the whisk a little to ensure a successful macaron batch.

You will need 2 different types of sugar in this recipe, the powdered sugar (Puderzucker) and the castor sugar (feinster Zucker). While you're probably familiar with powdered sugar, apparently castor sugar isn't your normal everyday sugar (granulated sugar or Raffinade Zucker). But castor sugar is just a finer milled granulated sugar (insert face palm here). Believe it or not, I actually measured a sugar granule with a ruler, and granulated sugar has a diameter of 1 mm, which is 2-3 times as large as castor sugar.  However, you can totally use regular sugar to make the meringues. They will still work fine.

Have you ever wondered about the difference between almond meal, ground almond, and almond flour? Google will tell you they're the same thing, and it is, when you don't live in Germany. To make macarons, you need finely ground almond (gemahlene Mandeln), not almond flour (Mandelmehl), since almond flour in Germany means literally that -wheat flour substitute made from almonds that went through a de-oiling process, and this will NOT work.

As for the dreaded macaronage, unfortunately, yes, this is crucial, and you can only learn by making mistakes. Some swear by counting the folds, some goes by eye. Some stick to the fold-and-slash, some would rather smear the batter on the sides of the bowl (personally I find a combination of both to work best). I would suggest you watch the youtube videos, and.. simply practice.

Scales or no scales?
Almost everyone will tell you that you NEED a scale, to make macarons, since they're such a precise, sensitive cookies. I personally think it comes down to how perfect you want the macarons to be. I once made a batch with no sift, and no scale, simply using a liquid measuring cup and hoping for the best. I piped it with a  cut-off ziploc bag, for lack of proper piping bags. But still my macarons turned out fine. A bit grainy, sure, but they still have those sought-after feet, and they look just as good. Point is, it's possible.

I made these macarons with only a hand whisk,
a measuring cup, and a wooden spoon!

Making macarons require more than just the 4 ingredients, you need technique, patience, and concentration. It is a finnicky cookie, but ultimately, they're worth the effort.


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