This recipe uses an Italian meringue which is a little trickier to make than the French version, but the results are outstanding. I used the exact recipe from Bouchon Bakery, including the metric weights using a food scare. The American measurements from Bouchon Bakery are included, but I have not tried these measurements myself. Because these macarons are vanilla flavored I also filled them with a vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream. Alas I neglected to get a more perfect photo of the macarons, these are actually the leftover macarons from the cake after the Birthday party.
There are two methods for making macarons, either using French meringue or Italian meringue. Both methods used the same ingredients but it’s all about how the meringue is prepared.
French meringue starts with raw egg whites and granulated sugar that are whipped to stiff peaks, then the dry ingredients (ground almonds and powdered sugar) are folded into the whipped mixture. This results in a batter that is easy with a light and delicate batter.
Italian meringue starts with raw egg whites that are whipped to soft peaks before a boiled sugar syrup is poured into the egg whites and then whipped to stiff peaks. This method essentially cooks the egg whites as they are being whipped into a glossy meringue. The meringue is then folded into an almond mixture resulting in a batter that is stable and easy to use.
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- 212 grams finely ground blanched almond flour (or 1¾ cups plus 2½ tablespoons) Tip: I use Bob’s Red Mill Super-Fine Almond Flour
- 212 grams confectioner’s (powdered) sugar (or 1¾ cups plus 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons pre-sifted)
- 82 grams egg whites (or ¼ cup plus 1½ tablespoons)
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 90 grams egg whites (or ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons)
- Pinch of granulated sugar
- 236 grams granulated sugar (or 1 cup plus 3 tablespoons)
- 158 grams water (or ⅔ cup)
- Swiss Meringue Buttercream Tip: for this recipe I used the 4-cup version
- In a large-sized mixing bowl, combine almond flour and confectioners’ sugar; sift or whisk together to mix. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, add the egg whites and vanilla extract in the well, mix ingredients thoroughly with a wooden spoon. The mixture will be thick. Set aside.
- Place the egg whites and pinch of granulated sugar in a large bowl of a stand electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Set aside while starting the sugar syrup.
- In a medium-sized heavy saucepan combine sugar and water. Heat over low heat, stirring with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, until the sugar is completely dissolved and syrup looks clear. Stir gently to avoid splashing the mixture onto the sides of the pan.
- Begin Whipping Meringue: When the syrup looks clear increase the heat to medium and cook, without stirring, until the syrup reaches a temperature around 200 degrees F. using a candy or instant read thermometer to gauge the temperature. While letting the sugar syrup continue to cook, begin whipping the meringue; turn the mixer to medium speed and whip the egg whites to soft peaks, then reduce the mixer speed to low to keep the egg whites moving as the sugar syrup continues to cook and reach a temperature of 248 degrees F.
- As soon as the sugar syrup reaches 248 degrees F. immediately remove the pan from the heat.
- Finishing Meringue: Quickly, as soon at the sugar syrup is removed from the heat and the bubbling decreases a bit, increase the mixer speed to medium-low and slowly drizzle the hot sugar syrup down the side of the bowl, pouring the syrup between the side of the bowl and the whisk. Tip: Try not to allow any syrup to pour onto the whisk as it will spin the syrup around the sides of the bowl. The meringue may deflate as the hot sugar syrup is poured in. Be careful, the sugar is extremely hot and will burn your skin if you touch it.
- Once all the sugar syrup has been added, increase the mixer speed to medium-high and whip the meringue until it is cooled and has formed stiff glossy peaks, about 5 minutes. Tip: Touch the mixture and make sure it has cooled to room temperature, if not continue to whip until it is cooled.
- Fold mixtures together: Add about one-third of the meringue mixture to the bowl with the almond mixture. Gently fold the meringue into the almond mixture with a large rubber spatula. Continue adding and folding additional meringue to the almond mixture, a little at a time, until the batter is smooth and slowly runs off the spatula in thick ribbons. Tip: You will probably need most but not all of the meringue. The batter shouldn’t be so stiff that it holds its shape and doesn’t move, but it shouldn’t be so loose that it dissolves into itself and does not maintain the ribbon. It is better for the batter to be slightly stiff than too loose.
- Spoon a portion of the batter into the prepared pastry bag. Tip: Do not over-fill the pastry bag. the batter should just ooze out of the tip once the bag is full. If the batter stays stiff inside the bag it is too thick, if it drips out too fast the batter is too runny.
- Twist the top of the bag, hold the bag upright about ½ inch above the center of one of the traced circles and pipe out enough of the mixture to fill the circle. Fill the remaining traced circles on this first pan. Tip: Gently squeeze the bag and let the batter flow out, then as you release sweep the tip to the side rather than lifting straight up and forming a peak.
- Rap the bottom of the baking sheet a few times on the counter top to spread the batter evenly and smooth any peaks left by the pastry bag.
- Bake: Bake the macarons one sheet at a time. While baking, the macarons should form the classic “feet” around the bottom. Use a new parchment paper for each batch.
- If using a convection oven bake 8 to 10 minutes or until the tops are smooth and set.
- If using a standard oven, place the baking sheet in the oven and immediately reduce the temperature to 325 degrees F. Bake for 9 to 10 minutes or until the tops are smooth and set. After baking the first batch, reheat the oven temperature to 350 degrees before baking the second batch.
- After removing the baking sheet from the oven, place on a wire cooling rack to cool for about 5 minutes. Use a small offset spatula to loosen the macarons from the parchment and transfer to a wire cooling rack to cool completely. They should come away easily.
- Repeat the baking and cooling process with remaining batter.
- Prepare Swiss Meringue Buttercream or another filling of your choice.
- Spoon Buttercream filling into a pastry bag with a ¼ inch round tip. Start in the center, pipe buttercream in a spiral pattern on the flat side of a macaron cookie, not quite reaching the edges, then top with another cookie to make a Buttercream filled macaroon sandwich. Hold the macarons on the sides so the top doesn’t crack and press the two halves gently together to spread the buttercream to the edges.
- The macarons are best if frozen before serving. Freezing the macarons makes them chewier and helps develop the flavors. Layer the macaron sandwiches between parchment paper in a pan then tightly cover the pan with foil, and freeze for at least 24 hours or up to 2 weeks. Before serving defrost in the refrigerator for about 3 hours. The macarons may then be served chilled from the refrigerator, or brought to room temperature to serve. Store leftovers in the refrigerator. Tip: Swiss meringue buttercream filling is best if kept refrigerated.