1) Egg yolks can not touch your egg whites. If you separate them and this happens, throw them out, or use them for something else. If you get even a SPOT of yolk in your whites you are basically screwed. Don’t try moving on, you will be wasting your time. Crack your egg in half, gently and aggressively all at the same time on the side of a bowl, form two halves and use the halves to guide the yolk away from the white, allowing the white to fall into your bowl.
2) No moisture. Not a smidge. Not a dash. No moisture near your egg whites. Wipe out your bowls, dry off your utensils. Get your ducks in a row, no moisture.
3) Mise en place. For real. Don’t be like, yo, I’m gonna whip my whites while grinding my almond meal. No. Have all your stuff ground up, together, ready. Have your sheet pans lined with parchmant, have your piping bag ready. Bam.
4) Use good ingredients. There are not a lot in these things so use quality almonds or almond meal, use good sugar, use real vanilla, spend some money, it will be worth it.
5) Tools: Double thick sheet pans (in other words, spend some more money on good ass pans), parchmant paper, almond meal, confectioner’s sugar, caster sugar (or granulated sugar pulsed in a food processor), egg whites that have been “aging” (sitting on the counter in a bowl after being separted for at least twenty four hours), piping bag, piping tip that is 3/8″, fine mesh sieve, a mixer (don’t try to do this stuff by hand) and a food processor.
6) No clumps in your macarons. Your almond meal should be food processed and double sifted. Don’t mess around with this, clumps will make them crack.
Now, for the recipe. Go get your big girl pants on.
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
3/4 cups almond meal
1/4 cup caster sugar (or granulated sugar run through the food processor until it is fine)
Pinch of cream of tarter
2 egg whites aged
Start with the basics:
Preheat your oven to 325 degress
Line two pans with parchmant
Get your tip in your piping bag and have it ready to fill
Have all your flavorings or colors ready
1. Start by placing your 1/4 cup sugar in the food processor, pulse unti it feels like a fine dust. Place in a separate bowl. Place your almond meal and confectioner’s sugar in a food processor, pulse until fine. Don’t pulse too long however or the almonds will turn to mush once the oils come out. About 30 seconds should do it. You can leave this in the food processor until ready to use.
2. Place your aged eggs in your mixing bowl which should be clean and DRY, turn it on med-high. Once bubbles start to form and it looks foamy, add the cream of tarter. Continue beating until it is no longer clear and begins to look white in color, this is entering the soft peaks stage. Toss in your caster sugar (or home made version) slowly without turning the mixer down. Now, turn it up a notch to high and let it do it’s thing. Don’t fiddle with it. Let it ride. Once you start to see the mixing tool leave traces of itself in the egg whites, the stiff peak stage is approaching. If you are going to add any flavoring or food coloring now is the time. Stop the mixer, check to see if your peaks are stiff, if they are add your color/flavor and mix just until incorporated on high, if they are not, add and mix until formed. Here is the thing, if you can’t take the bowl and place it upside down over your head without anything falling out, they are NOT done. This is a test I perform EVERY time.
3. Now, place your fine mesh sieve over your bowl of egg whites and dump CAREFULLY, the almond & confectioner’s sugar mixture. Sift until you are left with this:
Discard this stuff. You don’t want it. It will mess up your day.
4. Now, here comes the tricky part, the folding. Do you know how to fold? Ask yourself that question first. People have told me they do and then I watch them and I’m like, WHAT!!!
Folding is essentially gently working an ingredient into another ingredient without deflating all of that lovely air you worked so hard to achieve. That air is responsible for your complex macaron shape, so you better be aware that handling it properly is essential. Take your spatula and sweep underneath the mixture and then fold it over the top, sweeping down to incorporate. Do this until the mixture comes together.
It will begin looking like this:
Then it will start to look like this:
And you will know you have folded it enough when you lift the spatula and ribbons (thick ribbons flow down and lose their shape) It will look like this:
Now here is the thing about knowing when enough is enough. How you fold your mixture determines what the macaron does once piped. If you under fold, you will get a peak once you pipe each circle and you will know right away you did not fold enough, sometimes these peaks settle a little but it may result in a not quite right looking macaron. If you have folded properly, your circle should start with a little tiny peak once lifting your piping bag and should then settle into a nice beautiful flat surface. Think of this when folding, what you want on the baking sheet should look that way in the bowl. If you lift the spatula and the mixture settles and evens out, great, if not, keep going, go too far, you have ruined it.
5. Piping. Take your mixture and add it into your piping bag. Now, there is no real way to explain this, it is something you have to practice and learn. And it will take practice. Take your tip and let it kind of levitate slightly above the surface of the parchmant paper and allow the mixture to ooze out slowly underneath it. The tip should be embedded in the mixture once you have reached the desired size until you lift it out and move on to the next circle. I usually count so that my circles are the same size. One…two….three….as I am squeezing. There should be no leaning to the side or moving the pastry bag to the side unless you want a retarded looking macaron. Keep it straight up. This requires minimal work really. It’s like surfing, let the wave take you where it wants to go, the same goes for macarons. Squeeze the pastry bag gently and allow it to flow, once finished, take the bag up quickly and move on.
6. Tap your baking sheet on the counter one or two times to get all the air bubbles out and allow to sit for ten to twenty minutes. This allows the tops to smooth out and harden. Once this time has gone by, place in the oven for 10-14 minutes. Small disks 10-12, larger, 12-14. Once your timer has gone off, open the oven and give it a nudge, it should not feel squishy. However, do not open the oven before then or you will mess up your feet. Allow to cool and then carefully remove from parchmant paper.
As for the fillings, you are on your own because basically you can stick anything in these guys, buttercream, ganache, go nuts. Use a pastry bag so it looks proper and use minimal amount of filling.
The finished product may not look like these right away but give it time. It takes work to get these right and you will fuck a lot up along the way.
If you have any questions, leave them here and I will answer them the best I can.