I have been wanting to make some French macarons for so long! After much research and Pinterest-searching I finally bit the bullet and had a go. This is my second batch - the first batch were a bit flat and some were hollow.
Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart
1 cup icing sugar
3/4 cup ground almonds
2 large egg whites
Pinch of cream of tartar
1/4 cup caster sugar
1 tsp red or pink food colouring
Raspberry buttercream filling:
100g butter, softened
1 cup icing sugar
1/3 cup raspberry jam
1. Preheat oven to 160 degrees Celsius (roughly 325 degrees Fahrenheit). Line oven trays with good quality baking paper, or if the baking paper is thin use two layers.
2. Process the ground almonds and icing sugar in a food processor until fine. Sift three times, each time leaving out the lumps of almond that is left in the sieve.
3. Beat the eggs with an electric mixer on medium speed until frothy. Add the cream of tartar. Mix on high speed until soft peaks form. Add the food colouring and caster sugar. Continue mixing until stiff peaks form.
4. Sift the almond mixture into the egg mixture. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the two mixtures together. This step is very important. If you fold too little, the macarons will crack. If you fold too much, the macarons will flatten and merge together into a sticky mess. In order to have a nice smooth macaron with a slight cap, and the all-important feet, you need to fold the mixture just right. Depending on your folding, this may take 50-80 folds. When you lift the spatula from the batter, the batter should flow off the spatula in a continuous line of the batter.
5. Once this step is done, the batter should be spooned into a piping bag with a 1/2 inch round tip. Pipe 3/4 inch rounds onto the baking paper, one inch apart. It may be helpful to draw circles onto the baking paper before you start this step. Once the macarons are piped out, give each tray a good firm tap on the bench to release any trapped air, which would cause the macarons to turn out hollow.
6. The next step is important. The macarons should be left at air temperature for 30-45 minutes to form a skin. The macarons should lose their shine and appear dull. When touched, they should not be sticky because a skin has formed.
7. Meanwhile, make the buttercream filling by mixing the softened butter and icing sugar in a bowl, and stirring in the jam.
8. Bake the macarons a tray at a time in the oven for 15 minutes, being careful not to burn them. See oven temperature tips below.
9. Once out of the oven, leave for 2-3 minutes before removing each shell from the tray. Cool, and then play a matchmaking game! Find each macaron shell a matching shell of the same size and shape, then spread one side with the buttercream filling and sandwich together.
10. Your macarons are ready! Take your first bite before everyone else swoops in.
TIPS AND TRICKS:
Piping: The first time I used a proper piping bag but I found that it was too stiff and the available piping tips were too small. For this batch, I used a food-grade plastic bag and cut a whole in the bottom. I felt this was much easier and allowed the batter to flow out slowly rather than needing to be squeezed out. Also, I think my batter was slightly under-mixed the first time, so that also made it harder to pipe.
Eggs: It is best to use old egg whites rather than fresh ones. The egg whites should be left out overnight in a bowl covered with cling wrap.
Oven temperature: You may need to play around with your oven temperature a bit. If the macarons look like they are cooking too quickly, turn the oven temperature down slightly and open the oven door. The macarons should not brown (like my first batch did a bit!). An oven thermometer may help.
Humidity: Making macarons in a hot and humid kitchen can make it harder for the eggs to stiffen. It is winter here so I didn't have this problem, but I made sure I didn't light the fire until the macarons were done! Try to avoid making them in a hot kitchen if possible.
Speed: Try to get everything ready before you start beating the eggs. Have the baking paper set out on the trays, the almond mixture ready, and all your equipment out.
Getting macarons off the baking paper: If the macarons are undercooked, they may stick to the baking paper. I found that with mine I could slide a clean knife underneath and they came off just fine, but I have read elsewhere that you may need to spray the underneath of the baking paper with a little water in order to prise the macarons off.
Try again: If the macarons don't turn out quite right the first time, don't be put off! I think many people make several batches before they get them just right. If the macarons are not burnt, but just a little flat or maybe cracked, they still taste super good! So enjoy eating them, do some more research to find out what went wrong, fix your mistakes and just have another go! You will feel like a super cook when you do make a perfect batch of French macarons!
Feel free to ask questions if anything is not clear, and I'll try my best to help.