I know, I know – another ‘buckeye’ recipe. Don’t worry, not every recipe will be chocolate & peanut butter, but I just had to share these.
Over the last month when I was switching over from the old blog, I became slightly obsessed with mastering the French Macaron. Something about this challenging cookie lit a fire under my baking butt. I thought, no problem, I got this. Well, as a lot of people say, it wasn’t quite as easy as I thought. Don’t get me wrong, even the batches that I fumbled still tasted insanely good, but they didn’t have the little macaron specifics that they were supposed to. My first batch literally didn’t have ‘feet’ at all, they were like hard-shelled whoopie pies. Then my second & third batches were hollow on the inside. But by my fourth batch, I figured out what worked. I think I made all of the mistakes that people commonly make with those four batches. But also, I think those mistakes helped me learn what works for me & my kitchen (& what doesn’t work).
There are a TON of varied recipes out there & I think they can all work for different people. Some results depend on the weather & temperature, & some depend on your oven. Then again, some just depend on how much coffee you had or if you’re having a crappy/ good day. Those fickle, fickle macarons…
Below is the recipe that worked for me. The great thing about these little macs is that once you get your base recipe down, you can use it to make endless variations. Start out with the basics & then work into the creative jazzy stuff. After trying several different methods, these are some key steps that made mine a success:
- Buy a kitchen scale – the first recipe I tried was in measurements instead of weight & it just did not work… then I bought a scale from Target for 25 bucks & the next time they were a lot better. There are a lot of recipes in measurements, but it seems to work better by weight
- A lot of tutorials say ‘make sure you beat the egg whites enough’… I beat mine too much, which made some batches hollow. You want stiff peaks, not to the point where it starts to separate… once you can hold the bowl upside-down & they don’t move, they’re done
- Another thing a lot of recipes say is gradually add the granulated sugar to the egg whites – just add it all in from the start
- Tap the cookie tray on the counter after you pipe them, several times, hard – it releases all the bubbles so they don’t crack
- Some say let them sit out before baking & some say it’s a waste of time. I found better success when they sat for at least 45 minutes before getting in the oven. Maybe I’ll change this to save time one day, but for now it just works better
- I never used aged egg whites with my best batches, just as long as they are room temperature (out for 1-2 hours) it worked great
- Use a template for perfect, round circles. Free handing it just doesn’t get the same results. Trace 1″ circles on a piece of wax/ parchment paper spaced 1-2″ apart. Layer it underneath your parchment paper or silicone baking mat, then you can re-use it every time
- If you don’t have commercial-grade baking sheets, double them up so you’re using 2 at a time for a thicker base
- Turn the cookies once in the oven, half-way through for even baking
- I got better results when I ground up my own almond meal – but if you use store-bought, once you open it, it’s stored in the fridge/ freezer. If you use it again there will be extra condensation that will ruin your macs; just measure out what you need, spread it out on a baking sheet & just toast them for about 30 minutes at 200 degrees to dry them out
- Watch macaronage videos; meaning the mixing the dry ingredients into the wet. It’s very helpful to see how to do it, how long you do it & what the batter should look like once it’s ready. This can make or break your macs, so it’s worth the few minutes
- Do research & practice! Like I said, every kitchen is different, so someone’s so-called-full-proof method may not work for you. So the next time try another recipe. Lots of things vary from recipe to recipe, & they’ve probably all worked for someone – there are all different measurements, oven temperatures & baking times. I was really surprised how many different ways that you can make a macaron, but once you figure out the base recipe that works, you can make endless combinations with it – which is the most exciting part!
- Always use powder or gel food coloring, no added liquid – you just add it towards the end of beating the egg whites
- FOR THE SHELLS:
- 110 grams Blanched Slivered Almonds (or almond meal)
- 200 grams Powdered Sugar, minus 2 Tablespoons
- 2 Tablespoons Cocoa Powder
- 90 grams Egg Whites (at room temperature)
- 30 grams Granulated Sugar
- PB BUTTERCREAM:
- ½ cup Butter, softened
- ¾ cup Peanut Butter
- 2 cups Powdered Sugar
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
- 1 Tablespoon milk (+ more if needed)
- FOR THE SHELLS:
- Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats (double up sheets if needed).
- Process almonds, powdered sugar and cocoa powder in a food processor until blended into a fine powder. Sift mixture into a large mixing bowl & set aside.
- Combine egg whites & granulated sugar into the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment. Whip egg whites & sugar until stiff peaks (My perfect time is 2 minutes on speed 4, then 2 minutes on speed 6, & then another 2 minutes on speed 8 - they should stay put if you hold the bowl upside-down).
- Add the dry mixture into the egg whites
- Using a spatula, smash dry ingredient into the egg white, flattening mixture (use about 5-10 quick strokes to release the air). Then fold mixture onto itself until it becomes shiny again (another 30-40 strokes). When you lift up the spatula, there should be solid, thick ribbons that run off (this whole macaronage process should take no more than about 50 strokes).
- Transfer the batter to a large piping bag (I like to use a #12 round icing tip, but it's optional).
- Using circle guides or freehand, pipe 1¼" circles onto the prepared baking sheets (they will spread to about 1½"), keeping them about an inch apart to allow for the spreading. Do this same method for the second baking sheet.
- Holding each end of the baking sheet, give it a good slam on the counter. Rotate the pan & give it another few slams to release any air bubbles that remain. Let the macs sit out for 30 minutes before baking to form a dry shell on the tops to prevent cracking.
- Preheat the oven to 315 degrees F.
- Bake each sheet, one at a time, for about 15 minutes (depending on size), rotating the pan once halfway through.. Once they're ready, carefully test one by attempting to lift it off the baking sheet. If the top half starts to come off from the feet, it could use a few more minutes.
- Remove the sheet from the oven & place it on a cooling rack, allowing the cookies to cool before removing them. Once they are cooled, match up macarons in pairs that are about the same size, one face down & one up.
- PB BUTTERCREAM:
- Beat the butter & peanut butter on medium speed for 2 minutes with an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the powdered sugar, ½ cup at a time (carefully incorporate).
- Add vanilla & 1 Tbsp milk, continue to beat on medium for another 1-2 minutes (Add a little more sugar if too thin, or more milk if too thick).
- Spread or pipe a layer of buttercream on the cookie side that's facing up. Sandwich the halves together, pushing the buttercream to the edges.
* Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days (or freeze them for up to one month), allow them to come to room temperature before eating
* Macarons are best eaten 24-48 hours after assembly