Almond Macarons

When I came across the golden-edged Ladurée Sucré recipe book in Anthropologie, I was sold in all of 5 seconds. Anyone who knows me knows that I am a sucker for aesthetics & design, and this was the most beautiful recipe book I’ve come across – to top it all off, this book holds the recipes for Ladurée macarons! The crown jewel of macarons! I’m not at all exaggerating – swing by their store the next time you’re in New York City, and you’ll find the treats there live up to their reputation.

Unfortunately, the recipe steps were too vague for a first-timer like me. My macaron shells had no feet, they were too round, and they cracked at the top. So I tried other recipes and watched videos (this and this really helped). Turns out that the secret to macarons is not so much the ingredients, but the folding technique. Anyway, here is my final recipe & directions – it’s around 80% true to the Ladurée recipe. If this is your first time, I’d recommend trying this out with a small sample, i.e. dividing everything by 6 (using just 1 egg white).

Almond Macarons

Ingredients

Serves ~50 macarons, takes ~2 hrs

Macaron shells

275 g (2.75 c + 1 tbsp) almond flour/meal
250 g (2 c + 1 tbsp) powdered sugar
6 egg whites
210 g (1 c + 1 tbsp) granulated sugar
100 g (1 c) chopped almonds – optional, for garnish

Almond filling

150 g (10.5 tbsp) butter
320 g (1.5 c) almond paste
120 g (4 oz) heavy cream
1/3 c whipping cream

Directions

Macaron shells

Step 0: Separate the egg whites into a bowl, and leave out until it warms to room temperature. This step is important to make sure the base meringue stiffens correctly.

Step 1: Combine the almond flour and powdered sugar in a medium bowl, and sift through a sieve 2 or 3 times. Discard any leftover grains of almond that don’t go through – don’t worry about the flour to sugar ratio that much, it’s more important not to have any lumps in this flour combination.

Step 2: In a large, clean, dry mixing bowl, whisk the 6 egg whites until they form a thick white foam. Add in 1/3 of the granulated sugar, and whip for at least a minute. Add another 1/3 of the granulated sugar, whip for at least another minute. Add the last 1/3 of the granulated sugar, and whip until the egg white mixture forms stiff peaks when you raise the whisk. A good test is holding the bowl upside down – nothing should move. This should take 5-10 minutes with an electronic mixer.
If you have a stand mixer, you could probably do this first, and then leave it running while you sift the flour/sugar. I have a hand mixer, so I opt to sift first.

Step 3: Fold the flour/sugar into the whipped egg whites. This is the most important step of the whole process! It’s a perfect Goldilocks situation – you don’t want to overmix, or else your macaron shells will simply fall flat and spread, but you also don’t want to undermix, leaving your shells lumpy and prone to cracking. The videos I linked above have some good visualizations for what the end result should look like. You want the mixture to be thickly runny, so that if you lift the spatula from the bowl, ribbons of the mix will slowly fall from the spatula, and the lump below is slowly oozing flat. There should be no almond flour lumps. I find that it usually takes me around 50-55 folds.

Step 4: Transfer the mixture to a piping bag fitted with a plain tip (if you don’t have a piping bag, just use a ziplock bag and cut a corner). Cover a baking tray with parchment paper, and pipe macaron rounds about 1.5 inches in diameter.

Step 5: Rap/bang the baking tray against a hard surface 3-4 times. Don’t be afraid to rap the tray  sharply, you want to force any and all air bubbles to pop. Ideally, you should see some of these popped air bubbles at the top of the macaron rounds. This step helps minimize the possibility of your macaron shells cracking in the oven.
Optional – sprinkle the macaron rounds with chopped almonds / any type of nut

Step 6: Let the macaron rounds sit uncovered at room temperature for 20-30 minutes, until a thin skin forms around it. This helps the macaron retain its shape.

Step 7: Preheat the oven to 300F. Bake the macaron shells for 15 minutes, or until they easily come off of the parchment paper.

Step 8: Remove from the oven, and set aside on a wire rack to cool.

Almond filling

Note: I like to start making my filling while waiting for my macarons to finish sitting (step 6 above)

Step 1: Soften the butter by microwaving it for 15-30 seconds at a time. You want the butter to be creamy, not melted. I tend to microwave it for 15 seconds, stir a little, put it back in the microwave, stir it again, etc.

Step 2: Mix the almond paste and heavy cream together until it’s fully combined. The almond paste I bought was quite hard, so I microwaved the paste and cream together for around 30 seconds, and massaged it together with my hands.

Step 3: Add in the whipping cream and creamed butter, and beat using an electric mixer until the mixture is homogenous.

Step 4: Spoon the almond cream into another piping bag / ziplock bag. Once the macaron shells are completely cooled, pipe a layer of almond cream onto the macaron shells, then top each one with another macaron shell.

Almond Macarons

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Macarons take a little while to master, but once you do, you’ll be so happy to have done so! Just keep at it, and enjoy the process!

Almond Macarons

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