I have always wanted to learn how to make macarons. They are one of my favorite treats, but I know just enough to know that they are extremely tricky. Some things are just too difficult to learn on your own! So on a recent trip to Park City I took a class from Mindful Cuisine.
Owner Linda Elbert is an expert cook and teaches all sorts of classes at her local cooking school. I took a friend and experienced the French macaron class. There is no way we could have ever done these on our own. It was difficult enough even with instruction!
I am publishing the recipe, along with some of the tips and tricks we learned from Linda, but next time I am in the mood I may just head over to Atelier Ortega to buy some instead. Theirs are always perfect!
Piping was one of the trickiest parts!
- 198 grams powdered sugar
- 113 grams almond meal
- 113 grams egg whites
- 1 gram or a pinch of cream of tartar
- 100 grams granulated sugar
- Gel color such as Wilton or AmeriColor
- 2 or 3 drops vanilla extract
- Line 2 or 3 heavy baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpat mats.
- Layer the powdered sugar and almond meal in a food processor or mini processor.
- Pulse until the mixture looks like fine meal, about 15 seconds. Transfer to a small bowl. Set aside.
- Place the egg whites and pinch of cream of tartar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.
- Make sure that the bowl and the whisk are impeccably clean.
- Starting on medium speed (4), whip the whites with the cream of tartar until they look like light foam.
- The whites should not appear liquid.
- The foam will be light and should not have any structure.
- Slowly rain in the granulated sugar, trying to aim the stream between the whisk and the side of the bowl.
- Turn the speed up to medium-high.
- Continue to whip the meringue until it is soft and shiny.
- It should look like marshmallow creme.
- Add the gel color and the vanilla.
- Staying at medium-high speed, whip the egg whites until the mixture begins to dull and the lines of the whisk are visible on the surface of the meringue.
- Check the peak.
- Look at the angle supporting the peak.
- It should be at 11:30 (in Jackson more like 11:00).
- Transfer the whites to a medium bowl.
- Fold in the almond meal mixture in three increments.
- Paint the mixture halfway up the side of the bowl, using the at side of a spatula.
- Scrape the mixture down to the center of the bowl.
- Repeat two or three times, then check to see if the mixture slides slowly down the side of the bowl.
- Put the mixture in a piping bag fitted with one of the tips listed above.
- Pipe on the prepared baking sheets.
- Slam each sheet hard four to six times on the counter.
- Then fist bump each end of the sheet’s underside twice.
- Let the unbaked macarons dry until they look dull, but not overly dry.
- Drying time depends on humidity.
- In a dry climate, the macarons can dry in 15 to 20 minutes; in a humid climate, it can take 35 to 40 minutes.
- But I never let them dry for more than an hour.
- While the macarons are drying, preheat the oven to 330 F.
- Bake one sheet at a time on the middle rack.
- Check in at 11 minutes.
- If the tops slide, then bake for 2 to 3 more minutes.
- The macarons should release without sticking.
- Check one or two.
- If they stick, put them back in the oven for 1 to 2 more minutes.
- Let the macaroons cool for 10 minutes before removing from the pan.
Here are some of Linda’s special instructions on the directions:
Linda checking for the perfect peak
Almond flour and powdered sugar can clump together. Use your food processor to mix the almond flour and powdered sugar instead of sifting. Layer half the powdered sugar, all the almond flour, then remaining powdered sugar and pulse (7-15 times). This also makes the mixture a bit finer-a good thing!
At high altitude, do not whip your meringue to a full stiff peak – keep the angle of the peak at about 11:00 o’clock.
If the whisk attachment on your stand mixer doesn’t reach all the way to the bottom of the bowl, put it on part way without latching it. Just remember to hold on to it when you are removing it from the bowl or it will fall in.
Piping is tricky and takes practice. Hang in there! You want the top of your macaron to be smooth. Hold the piping bag so it is pointing straight up putting pressure only from the top. Completely stop pressure before you lift it away.
Have fun with flavors. Use dry ingredients such as finely ground spices and freeze dried fruit. For colors, use gel coloring, not liquid. This way you will maintain the ratio of liquid to dry ingredients.