French Macarons

It wasn’t until I was in pastry school that I first learned what a French macaron was. They are delightful, chewy almond cookies that also happen to be extremely addictive. The flavor combinations span from classic vanilla buttercream to foie gras or curry fillings. Sometimes I’ll make carrot powder from dehydrated carrots and add it to the recipe to make ‘carrot cake’ macarons with a cream cheese filling. They are very versatile and a great palette for creativity.

In the last two years it’s been fun watching them grow in popularity. I am always in support of products that utilize traditional French pastry techniques because many American pastries and desserts these days are the bi-product of so many artificial ingredients and shortcuts.

They are also a bit more involved to make than the always-popular cupcake, but that makes the whole process even more rewarding.

At altitude, I have found that my French macaron recipes passed along to me by my chef mentors are still successful. I have used variations of these recipes at the restaurant, and my red velvet macaron was even featured in Saveur magazine’s January 2011 issue.

So I’m going to do something that I don’t do very often, and that’s share one of my more prized recipes. I hate being discouraged when trying recipes, and no one else should have to be either. Especially for something as tasty as a French macaron.

The recipe below is for chocolate macarons. These ones were filled with a white chocolate key lime ganache, but virtually any filling you desire can be used. If you wish to make an almond macaron, for instance, use confectioner’s sugar in place of the cocoa powder.

Chocolate Macarons (courtesy of The French Pastry School)

5 egg whites
1/4 cup sugar
2 cups finely ground almond flour
3 1/4 cups confectioner’s sugar
3 tablespoons cocoa powder

Preheat your oven to 300 F. In the bowl of an electric mixer, use the whisk attachment to whip the egg whites and sugar to create firm peaks.

Meanwhile, sift the almond flour, confectioner’s sugar, and cocoa powder to remove any lumps. You want the macaron to have a smooth, shiny shell.

When the egg whites and sugar are whipped, fold the dry mixture into the whites. Continue folding in the same direction, until the mixture looks like ‘lava’. It will be shiny, slightly runny, and fall on top of itself when you lift a spatula from the batter. You want it to be thin enough that you can pipe it without straining your wrist muscles, but not so thin it runs out of the pastry bag.

Scoop the batter into a pastry bag fitted with a round tip and pipe quarter-sized bulbs on parchment-lined baking sheets. Place another baking sheet underneath and whack it on the counter to remove any air bubbles. Place both sheets in the oven (the double baking sheet technique gives your macarons an even, beautiful ‘foot’). Bake for 10-11 minutes. The macarons will need to cool before you can remove them easily from the parchment. If you try to take the off when they are still warm, you will rip the tops off and leave the ‘bellies’ behind.

Sandwich with your desired filling and refrigerate the macarons for at least 12 hours. The almonds in the macaron will absorb moisture from the filling and create that signature chewiness we all love about French macarons. The longer they mature in the refrigerator the chewier and softer they will get. Patience! But it is well worth it.

About the author

Chef Megan Joy

joyce - April 21, 2012

Living in Albuquerque creates altitude angst with any new recipe! I have been making macarons with success and would love to try your recipe, since it is so straight forward and does not require a scale. But there are a few questions. What size eggs do you use and do you age the whites? Do you add brown and red color to the chocolate and how much? Liquid or powder? Do you let them sit out to dry before baking?
I have looked for the issue of Saveur, but have not found it. In October I had my birthday at Grand Vefour in Paris and the mignardise did include tiny macrons. Dare I say that mine taste as good or better???!!!! The same for Laudree. However they have cassis flavor that is spectacular. The filling is a cassis gelee. It would be fun to figure out that recipe!
Un grand merci.

Christine - June 22, 2012

Would you happen to have this recipe using weight measurements? I’ve become accustomed to using a kitchen scale for baking. 🙂 Thank you!!!

Monique - February 9, 2013

I also live in ABQ NM and been experimenting with flavors and colors…no such luck.
I did however do some troubleshooting and found that the eggs don’t have to be aged. I use large eggs however I do highly recommend using a scale. I got one at Target for like 5 dollars. A cheap investment for baking. It is more precise and different flours have different weights so its good to know EXACTLY how much you are putting in.
Here is what I use…..
4 ounces (115g) blanched almonds or almond flour, or whatever nut you like
8 ounces (230g) powdered sugar
5 ounces egg whites (144g), temperature and age not important!
2 1/2 ounce (72g) sugar
the scrapings of 1 vanilla bean or 2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp (2g) kosher salt

Gluten-Free Chocolate Almond Olive Oil Cake — High Altitude Bakes - February 28, 2013

[…] For other gluten-free recipes on High Altitude Bakes, check out: Stacked Chocolate Truffle Cheesecake French Macarons […]

Madeline - March 18, 2013

Joyce and Monique! I also live in beautiful Albuquerque. If either one of you has any additional tips, please do share!

Emmie - June 9, 2013

I also live in Albuquerque. However I go to school in Omaha and first attempted to make macaroons there and had some success. I am back in Abq and am experimenting but keep having hallow shells. Any advice would be fantastic!

    Chef Megan Joy - June 10, 2013

    Hi Emmie- I would suggest whipping the egg whites less. You could also experiment with letting the macaron shells rest for 30 minutes before baking.

margaret - June 25, 2013

Too wide of a foot spreading and hollow shell -help.
I need to make these for an snniversay and having tried this recipe now 3 times I Ned some help.

In Breckenridge at 9700 feet

Thank you

    Chef Megan Joy - June 25, 2013

    Hi Margaret. I suggest whipping the egg whites less, especially since you are at a higher altitude and the egg whites will expand more as they bake. Check that your oven isn’t too hot, your almond flour is finely ground, and make sure you have the macarons baking on two stacked baking sheets. For more hollow shells troubleshooting here is a great resource:
    Good luck!

Amina Naar - October 12, 2013

how many macarons do the the ingredients make exactly?

    Chef Megan Joy - October 13, 2013

    I haven’t made this recipe in awhile but I think I used to get around 30 macarons (60 shells).

Patience - April 19, 2014

I also live in ABQ and am trying to make macarons for my graduation party. I was wondering if you would be willing to share the recipe for the red velvet macarons in the picture?
I am looking forward to trying this recipe!
Thank you! 🙂

    Chef Megan Joy - April 20, 2014

    Hi Patience, just add red food coloring and a little cocoa powder to this recipe. Happy baking!

Quinn - January 7, 2015

Live just outside of Denver (about 6200 ft) and I keep having the same problem — the macarons rise out instead of up. I’ve made them multiple times with the same result, even after piping them and then leaving them out to set about 30 minutes before baking. Help!

Jen - January 23, 2015

I was on a macaroon quest last year – but every batch ended in failure. I too live in Albuquerque and it finally dawned on me perhaps it was an altitude issue. So I’m really looking forward to trying this recipe & tips.

Tram - March 13, 2015

How can I adjust the recipe to make it less sweet?

    Chef Megan Joy - March 18, 2015

    Hi Tram, the only way to make this recipe less sweet is to alter the filling you use. Try salted caramel, a bittersweet chocolate ganache, or a bitter orange marmalade.

Lisa - February 6, 2016

I made these today in Las Vegas/Henderson, NV and they turned out great! I have to say I am pretty proud of them considering they were my first attempt ever.

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