So last weekend, for Cookie Monday, I made a triple recipe of these bad boys.
Macarons. I freaking made macarons. From scratch. For the first time ever.
I decided I wanted to make them, and as most people know, when I decide something, I make it happen. So I did a LOT of research to figure out the best methods for making them. Some people say to leave the egg whites out overnight to age. Some people say to leave the almond flour out to dry. Some people tell you not to use food coloring because it'll brown. Measure amounts with measuring cups vs with a food scale? Baking times are different, ingredients are different. So I compared some recipes, narrowed it down to two, and hacked them together.
Mostly I used this recipe from PattyCake Baker and this recipe from Brave Tart. Brave Tart also has some extremely helpful resources about tips for making the macarons. For the filling, I used this trusty Martha Stewart recipe for a very standard buttercream, to which I added teal food coloring. No need for boiled Swiss buttercreams here - by the time I was at the frosting step, I just wanted to be done.
Alright so here we go. Let me show you quickly with pictures.
First I made the batter. You whip egg whites into stiff peaks, then add in the almond flour and food coloring. Put it into a pastry bag (just discovered this method for filling the bags without making am mess like I always do) and squeeze out little circles onto baking sheets. The baking sheets are lined with parchment paper, on which I drew circles so I would make them all uniform. As you can see, I did not do a great job on all of them.
I baked it for five minutes, rotated the pan, baked for 5 more minutes, and then rested on the sheet before transferring them to a wire rack to finish cooling.
They are crisp but delicate - too much squeezing and the whole top will just collapse. Be very careful with them. Also note the little "foot" of the cookie - that's a sign you did something right!
After everything cooled, I piped on some buttercream frosting. Be very careful pushing the two sides of the cookie together because they crack easily!
Then I put them in the refrigerator, brought them to work, and ran out by 9:30 AM. I AM A CHAMPION.
So here is the actual recipe I mushed together from all the aforementioned sources. I tripled it and got about 35 macarons.
Basic Macarons with Easy Buttercream
1 cup confectioners' sugar
3/4 cup almond flour (as finely-ground as you can find it, no need to "dry it" like many recipes suggest)
2 large egg whites (temperature does not seem to make a difference)
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 vanilla bean, or 1/4 teaspoon clear vanilla extract (I used both)
Preheat oven to 375.
Prepare your baking sheets. Use something approx 1 1/2" in diameter to trace circles onto parchment paper. I used a shot glass. It seemed appropriate. Make sure they're about an inch apart. Flip the parchment over so you don't get ink on your cookies.
Sift together the almond flour and confectioners' sugar. Not all the almond flour will fit through the sifter. Dump it in anyway.
Whisk the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer on medium speed (4 on a Kitchenaid) until it is foamy, 3-4 minutes. Add the cream of tartar. Increase the speed on the mixer to 5 and continue to beat until soft peaks form, another 3-4 minutes. Add the sugar. Increase the speed again to high (8) and beat another few minutes until stiff peaks form. Soft peaks are when it's still kinda foamy, stiff peaks are when it fully retains its shape when you lift the whisk. Add in the vanilla and food coloring (I used Wilton Gel Coloring in Teal) and beat another minute.
Dump the almond flour and confectioners' sugar into the mixing bowl and fold in with a rubber spatula. I read on Brave Tart, and then confirmed with my own experience, that 40 turns is perfectly enough. It gets everything incorporated while still keeping the meringue fluffy.
Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a 1/2-inch round tip. Pipe the batter onto the prepared baking sheets, using the circles as guides. Hold the tip straight up and down when piping - the batter will spread out on its own to fill up the circle.
Turn the oven temperature down to 325.
Take the pan of macarons and hit it very hard against the counter. Tap it maybe a couple more times. Air bubbles will rise to the top. Let the macarons sit for a few minutes to "rest" after that. The batter will settle again, but without any air bubbles.
Put one pan in the oven. Bake for 10 minutes, rotating after 5 minutes. Cool on pan for 10 minutes and then transfer them to a wire rack. They will be fragile but you should be able to lift them off the parchment paper.
Turn the oven back up to 375 while the first batch is cooling. Turn it back down to 325 when you stick the next batch in to bake.
After the macarons have cooled, fill a pastry bag with the buttercream or filling of your choice and pipe onto half the shells. Gently sandwich them with matching shells. Layer them gently on their sides in an air-tight container and stick them into the refrigerator overnight. They get better overnight!