You can totally do this! Follow my simple instructions and video tutorial, and you’ll be enjoying freshly made French macarons from your own home kitchen! This basic recipe for classic almond shells couldn’t be more simple. (Naturally gluten-free.)
I feature recipes for French macarons pretty regularly here, because they are a little bit special, gift-able, and infinitely adaptable. There are so many different flavor possibilities, and it’s a lot of fun to come up with different kinds of shell + filling pairings. You can just let your imagination run wild; there are tons of different ways you can make them uniquely your own.
But for all the different ways you can make macarons, one thing always remains the same, and that’s the feedback I get from you guys. Over and over again I hear things like, “I just love macarons, but I’m too scared to make them,” or “they look delicious but I don’t think I am experienced enough to tackle that challenge.” Well, I have been listening, and I am here to tell you that yes, they can be a little bit finicky at times, but you can totally do this!
The macarons you see here are not perfect. If you look closely you will notice that some of them are lopsided. The edges aren’t as neat as they could be. There are some air bubbles. But if I can make them in an oven that looks like this, then you should have no trouble! And even if you do, I’m going to let you in on a little secret: lopsided macarons with air bubbles still taste every bit as good as the pretty ones!
So, are you in? Let’s do it!
Just like with a lot of other pastries, you’ll have the best results if you weigh your ingredients, because that’s a lot more accurate than spooning/packing things into a measuring cup. But that’s easy enough to work around, and the main idea is nothing you aren’t already familiar with. Basically, you have dry ingredients and wet ingredients, and you mix them together. The dry ingredients consist of ground almonds, powdered sugar, and a pinch of salt. The wet ingredients are egg whites and granulated sugar, with a pinch of cream of tartar to help keep the meringue from falling flat. It’s really that simple.
But I do have some helpful tips for you:
1) Use room temperature egg whites from whole eggs. (I have tried using pasteurized, liquid egg whites and have not been happy with the result.)
2) Make sure your mixing bowl and whip are really clean and you haven’t pierced any yolks when separating the eggs. (Any small trace of fat will prevent the whites from whipping up well.)
4) Don’t over- or under-mix the dry with the wet. (Stop folding when the batter drops from the spatula in one long ribbon- or maybe even a few strokes before. Remember that the process of filling your piping bag will work the batter even a little bit more, so I like to err slightly on the side of less folding.)
5) Pipe the rounds a little smaller than you want your finished shells to be. (The batter will spread as it sets.)
6) Handle them gently. (Some recipes recommend rapping them forcefully on the counter to force out air bubbles, but when I have done this in the past, it’s caused the shells to crack in the oven. Personally, I prefer bubbles over cracks.)
7) Dry times may vary based on the humidity level in the air. For me, here in the northeastern U.S., 45 minutes is usually good. (You’ll know they’re ready when you can feel a thin, dry membrane on their surface.)
8) Bake them at a low temperature so they don’t brown. (Bake times can also vary, but you can reach your hand in the oven at around the ten minute mark and give them a feel. Pull them when they’re set and let them cool on the baking sheet.)
9) When they’re fully cool, fill them with something delicious. (I prefer fillings that are a little less sweet. The shells themselves are quite sugar-y, so fillings like dark chocolate, salted caramel, and tangy curd are particularly good, in my opinion ;))
10) Eat them the following day. (One of the best things about macarons is the way the filling and the shell kind of meld together into a soft, almost chewy blend of flavors. They need several hours to overnight for this to occur.)
Basic Macaron Shells
You can totally do this! Follow my simple instructions and video tutorial, and you'll be enjoying freshly made French macarons from your own home kitchen! This basic recipe for classic almond shells couldn't be more simple. (Naturally gluten-free.)
Yield: about 5 dozen 1 1/2-inch diameter shells (to make 2 1/2 dozen sandwiches)
- Set the egg whites aside to come to room temperature.
- Measure the almond meal, powdered sugar, and salt into the bowl of a food processor. Process the mixture finely, then sift, discarding any large bits. Set aside.
- Measure the granulated sugar in a small bowl. Add the cream of tartar to the whites, and mix on medium-high speed, using the whip attachment. When the whites hold soft peaks, start adding the granulated sugar, very slowly, while continuing to whip. When all the granulated sugar has been incorporated, continue to whip until stiff. Add color, if using.
- Add the almond meal mixture to the meringue, and fold together, until the batter drops from the spatula in a long ribbon. Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a large round tip, and pipe 1 1/2-inch diameter rounds onto parchment-lined baking sheets. Allow to dry for 45-60 minutes, or until thin, dry membrane forms on the surface.
- Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F, and bake the macarons (one sheet at a time) until set (approximately 10-15 minutes). Do not brown. Allow to cool on the baking sheet, then carefully peel from the parchment and sandwich with filling.
If you still aren’t feeling brave enough to take on macarons, hopefully this video will help. As you can see, it’s just a handful of simple ingredients and all the hard work is done in a matter of a few short minutes.
Let me know if you still have questions, and I’ll do my best to answer them.
Here are some of my most used (and loved!) macaron-making tools:
And here are some fun ideas for different flavors of macarons that I have shared over the last few years:
Chocolate Walnut Macarons with Salted Caramel Filling
Hazelnut Macarons with Pumpkin Maple Cream Cheese Filling
Coffee Macarons with Nutella Filling
Blueberry Mascarpone Macarons
Strawberry Rose Macarons
Orange Walnut Macarons with Spiced Cream Cheese and Cranberry Filling
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