Macarons, the very embodiment of a delicate French patisserie. These light desserts are fabulous gluten-free because they’re traditionally made with almond flour, making them naturally free from wheat.
Using wheat flour is essentially cheaper as it requires less almonds, which means by not making this substitute, your macarons will actually taste BETTER! I know practically unheard of for those of us with an intolerance.
If you can find almond flour I would absolutely encourage you to save yourself a bit of time and use it rather than ground almonds. Almond flour has the same composition as ground almonds, i.e. almonds, however ground almonds are not as finely powdered as the flour.
Where in most recipes you can substitute them like-for-like, with macarons this will affect how smooth your tops are. I struggled to get my hands on almond flour in my local supermarkets and even in quite a few health food shops, but not to worry if you can’t find it, as you can mill ground almonds for yourself.
For my first batch I chose pastel colours and they came out great, keeping their shape. Later on I tried this recipe again with brighter colours, which required I used more food colouring, I found that it made the mixture a little too runny despite using gel not liquid food colour. So basically my bright macarons weren’t as pretty.
If you want more vibrant colours make sure to really beat the egg whites and then go easy on the mixing after you’ve added the almonds, so that you don’t lose the air you’ve beaten in. Here is how my brighter ones looked before baking..
Alright…but not perfectly round.
Without further ado, here is how you can make them for yourself.
You will need:
- Baking trays (at least 2)
- A piping bag
- Standing or hand held mixer
- 2 Large mixing bowls
- A sieve
- 115g (1 ¼ cups) Almond flour or ground almonds
- 200g (2 cups) Icing/confectioners’ sugar
- 115g (½ cup) Egg whites (room temperature)
- 100g (½ cup) Caster sugar
- 1 tsp Cream of tartar
- Gel food colour
Print a macaron template and place this under a sheet of baking paper on a tray. Line all the trays you are using with baking paper, you can use the same template for each as this will not go in the oven.
Pre-heat the oven to 160°C (325°F)
Ground Almond Method – Blend together the ground almonds and icing sugar in a blender or food processor until finely powdered. Next is where you need 2 big bowls, sift the flour and sugar into one bowl removing any larger lumps, then sift into the other bowl. Repeat this, throwing away any lumps left in the sieve. You want to sift through at least 4 times to ensure a smooth top.
Almond Flour Method – Skip the blending and go straight to sifting together the almond flour and icing sugar a few times.
Use the whisk attachment on a standing mixer or a hand held to whip the egg whites. Keep whisking until the eggs are foamy and start to form soft peaks.
Keep whisking the eggs on a medium speed and slowly add a tablespoon of caster sugar at a time. Let the sugar be incorporated before you add the next spoon full, then turn up to full speed.
Once the eggs look shiny and white add in the cream of tartar to stabilise just like you would a normal meringue. Beat until thick, testing that it doesn’t drip when the whisk is lifted out and the peaks hold themselves. When you look at the air bubbles they should be so small it almost sparkles.
Sift a third of the almond flour and icing sugar into the egg mixture and gently fold in. Careful not to overmix!
Repeat this step
To help make sure you don’t overmix and create a sloppy monster, add the food colouring and the final third of the almond mixture at the same time, before mixing and transferring to a piping bag. You will know it’s ready when it slowly drips off the spoon, if the drip is sloppy rather than slow and heavy add a tiny bit more almond flour. If you want to make more than one colour of macarons, divide the mixture before adding the colours.
Snip about 5 mm off the tip of the bag and start to pipe in the center of a template circle on the baking paper. Keep central and perpendicular as you pipe, making small circular movements to help spread the macaron mixture in a perfect circle. When the macaron is the right size for you (I aim for just under a centimetre high) then lift the piping bag with a slight twist of the wrist to stop a peak forming. Fill the tray and gently slide the template out from underneath. The macarons might spread slightly but should hold their shape if you haven’t mixed too much.
Lift the tray a centimetre off the work surface and tap to remove any bubbles. If you still have a few big bubbles, take a cocktail stick and lightly poke each bubble to pop them. Now you wait. Leave the macarons for 30-40 minutes so that the outside layer can dry, once dried out it shouldn’t stick to your finger if you lightly touch it. If it does wait a little longer, the wait depends on the moisture in the room. This shell may seem unimportant but I can’t stress how much it will do for you. This magical protective shell helps the macarons keep they’re shape and not crack, erupting into misshapen blobs reaching for the top of your oven.
You can finally bake them!
Pop in the oven for 6 minutes then turn and bake for another 6-8 minutes. The macarons shouldn’t wobble and should be firm to the touch. Place the tray on a cooling rack for 10 minutes. Do NOT try to take off the tray straight away or they will break. Once cooled peel from the baking paper and place on a cooling rack to cool completely.
Match up pairs of macarons that have similar size and shape. Pipe or spread a filling on one half of the pair and press together in a sandwich. The filling is the easiest place to add flavours, the simplest filling being buttercream, but lemon curd and ganache work well too.
Here is a link to the mocha buttercream recipe I like to use in macarons, half quantities should be plenty.
Thanks for reading 😊
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