I’ve always been curious about macarons, and recently I got the opportunity to try them for the first time thanks to a local shop near Poly-Wood that was selling them for Valentine’s Day. It was love at first bite. Lucky for me, there are others in our office who have just a slight obsession with the cookie as well. So, instead of spending money to have some shipped to us, we decided to roll up our sleeves and try making them ourselves.
Not to be confused by Macaroons, Macarons are a French, meringue-based cookie…pretty much the best cookie known to man.
I’ve noticed that some people spell and pronounce both types of cookies the same. I’m not sure if there is a wrong or right way, but it does get a little confusing when you’re talking about one cookie and someone thinks you’re talking about the other. Just to clarify, we’ll be talking about macarons, the colorful cookies on the right:
Macarons are pretty difficult to find and there may be a reason: they aren’t the easiest to make. They take precision and time.
Through our research of recipes (and watching many YouTube videos), we’ve discovered that each person makes them slightly differently than the next. For our own trial version, we decided to combine two recipes with pretty straightforward instructions and easily accessible ingredients.
For the cookies themselves, we went with this Macaron recipe from the Cooking Channel. This macaron shell is a basic recipe, which is typically the same for every macaron. Most people don’t realize that the flavor of a macaron is dictated solely by its filling; only the coloring changes to give the cookie the color of its flavor.
For filling, you could use jam, cream, Nutella, etc. We went with a Ladurée pistachio cream from Sweet and Savory by Shinee.
Finding ingredients for both recipes wasn’t difficult – your local grocery store chain should have almost everything. We went to our local Meijer, but the only thing we couldn’t find there were raw, unsalted, shelled pistachios. So, we found/ordered from Nuts.com (their packaging is really cute BTW).
THE MOST IMPORTANT STEP Do not fold the mixture too many times, or it will become too tough. BUT! If you don’t fold enough, it will be too runny. See what I mean about precision and time? Drawing from our research, the magic number for most seemed to be 35, so that’s what we went with. Essentially, you want your macaron cookie mixture to look like thick lava.
If you’re planning to add food coloring, you want to add it in here – before you fold 35 times. Adding color is how you’ll get all those beautiful, bright colors for which macarons are famous. Gel food coloring is recommended, so it doesn’t mess with the consistency of your mixture.
Our Tip: make sure to get food coloring gel, not cake decorating gel. We didn’t look very closely at the label when we were shopping and ended up with cake decorating gel. We actually didn’t notice this until we tried putting it in our mixture and it wasn’t turning it green. Definitely doesn’t work the same.
So make note, these macarons were supposed to be green.
Place your mixture into a piping bag, pipe 1″ circles onto a parchment lined cookie tray – tapping the cookie sheet on your table or counter a couple times to get all of the air bubbles out.
We let our cookie trays sit for ~30 minutes. Apparently, this is how they do it in France, so we figured it was worth the extra wait.
To make the pistachio paste, simply grind raw shelled pistachios until fine. Then, add water, a little at a time, until you get a “paste” consistency.
We did of course run into a few bumps along the way, as goes with any new recipe you try. : )
Along with picking up gel coloring (instead of food coloring) and ending up with tan macarons, our food processor decided to stop working on us when we needed to grind up the pistachios. So, we improvised and used a coffee grinder. It got the job done.
We also noticed that our cookies were hollow. True macarons will be fluffy like those shown below:
But, considering this was our first time (with one of the most difficult cookies to make), I’d say we did a pretty sweet job. And we enjoyed eating them just as well. : )
Have you ever attempted to make your own macarons? Share your tips with us!