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April Kitchen Challenge: Macarons

April Kitchen Challenge - Macarons You had to know it was coming. With a series called “Kitchen Challenge,” macarons were bound to be the subject sooner or later. So let’s just get it over with, shall we?

Technically I’ve attempted macarons before. I actually almost put a recipe for cookie dough-filled ones in the first book (but the fact that I could not get consistent results from my own recipe convinced me to take it out.) When in the company of my macaron making friend Tabitha, they look great, but I’ve yet to produce a truly successful batch on my own.

So this month, let’s roll up our sleeves and master Macarons, once and for all.

The Challenges:
  • Macarons vs. macaroons. We’re not talking about the rustic coconut kind, here.
  • The time. You’ll probably want to set aside a good 4 hours from start to finish. Seems like a breeze compared to the total time involved in croissants, eh?
  • The weather. Seriously. Don’t attempt these if it’s precipitating of any kind. Wait for a cool, dry day if you can. If you can’t, get out a fan and crank up the AC.
  • The ingredients. I found some reasonably priced and beautifully fine almond flour from Nuts.com. Very finely ground almonds work too, but either way, be sure you sift it first. As for the egg whites, I’ve heard older egg whites work best, although BraveTart debunks this as a myth. I’ve got a boat load in my freezer, left from all those batches of ice cream and hollandaise, so I’m all set there.
  • The method. French vs Italian. I’ll probably try the French this time, although I can say the Italian method, while more complicated, seems to produce more consistent results.
  • Double up. Be sure you have a set of two identical baking sheets, and stack them one on top of the other. The double layer will help your macarons bake more evenly.
  • Weigh it out. Most macaron recipes (you’ll notice), call for very specific quantities of things, measured in grams. My advice? Get an inexpensive kitchen scale and follow your recipe. There’s a reason they are so precise.

The great part of this challenge is the basic recipe is only the foundation, but the flavor combinations are endless. Experiment with different nut flours. Try adding powdered food coloring or freeze dried fruit or espresso powder to the shells. And the fillings? Well, the possibilities there are endless.

Needless to say, I cannot wait to see what you guys come up with!

Bouchon and Miette Macarons

From our recent trip to San Francisco: macarons from Bouchon (left) and Miette (right).

Resources

I have not yet decided which recipe/method I’m going to follow. Anyone have a favorite? A recipe or technique or tutorial they swear by? Do share it in the comments! But here are some good starting points for those looking to tackle this challenge:

Want to join me?

If you’re up for the challenge, attempt a batch of macarons by Sunday, April 21st. Send me a photo of yours results (good or bad). I’ll document my experience and also share the images/links to those who’ve taken the challenge as well. This challenge is simply about getting in the kitchen and challenging yourself to make something new; you aren’t required to have a blog to participate, nor are you required to post about it if you do. However, if you do have a blog and post about the challenge, you are more than welcome to use the above graphic if you’d like to spread the word! (Please upload it to your own server.)

Spatulas ready? Let’s go!

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51 CommentsLeave a Comment →

  1. 1
    Posted On April 1, 2013 at 9:10 am

    Oh gosh I can’t. I just can’t wrap my mind around these scary little guys yet. Good luck :)

    Reply

  2. 2
    Kristen Paige Gathany
    Posted On April 1, 2013 at 9:16 am

    I’M IN!! This has been on my hit list for some time and spring seems like the perfect time to do it. I’ll definitely share my photos/results!! Thanks for the great challenge :)

    Reply

  3. 3
    Posted On April 1, 2013 at 9:16 am

    I have been wanting to make macarons for a really long time but have always been too terrified to try! I think this is my excuse to tackle my first attempt :)

    Reply

  4. 4
    Anusha
    Posted On April 1, 2013 at 9:23 am

    Haa.. that s enough inspiration for me to make some macaroooooooonssssss

    Reply

  5. 5
    Posted On April 1, 2013 at 9:26 am

    Being a newbie, I am completely out of my depth with this one but I am in. Macaroons have always fascinated me and giving it a shot won’t hurt anything (other than my pride).

    Reply

  6. 6
    Posted On April 1, 2013 at 9:50 am

    Unfortunately, I am doing a workshop in Massachusetts and will not be in my kitchen on the 21st! I would have loved to show you my macarons…maybe, I’ll have to post them early on my blog, XOXO

    Reply

    • Posted On April 1, 2013 at 9:58 am

      Oh, but you just need to make them anytime BEFORE the 21st! . :)

    • Carolyn
      Posted On April 1, 2013 at 4:19 pm

      I think the fois gras replaced the fat that would typically be used in a ganache filling. It was just had the nicest mouthfeel.

  7. 7
    Julita
    Posted On April 1, 2013 at 9:51 am

    I’ve been making macarons now and then for a while now. In the begining I’ve tried several recipes but when I found a book “Mad about Macarons” by Jill Colonna I tried no other recipe/technique. A few tips from me would be to age your egg whites for at least 4 days (in the fridge) and to bring them to room temperature before using (leave them on the counter for several hours).
    I think you’ll do great! Good luck everybody!

    Reply

  8. 8
    Posted On April 1, 2013 at 10:06 am

    I have been wanting to make these FORever because I love them so. Totally joining you in this!!! Thanks for the tips!

    Reply

  9. 9
    Posted On April 1, 2013 at 10:32 am

    I missed your croissant challenge so I’m up for this. I’ve had more failures than successes but haven’t made them in a while. I’m feeling the love so lets do this! I usually follow the French method and between using my I Heart Macaron book and Jill Colonna’s instructions, hopefully it’ll be okay :)

    Reply

  10. 10
    Carolyn
    Posted On April 1, 2013 at 10:44 am

    I’ve found Pierre Herme’s book, “Macarons” to be very helpful in perfecting technique. I’ve been wanting to get back to making macarons, so thanks for this push. I’ll get my egg whites aging tonight.
    Last December in Paris I tasted a fois gras chocolate macaron that was to die for… it was the most perfect sweet I’ve ever tasted.

    Reply

    • Posted On April 1, 2013 at 11:53 am

      Fois gras chocolate? That’s, um… interesting? Not sure I’d be that brave!

      And thanks for the book recommendation. Going to see if it’s available at the library. :)

  11. 11
    Posted On April 1, 2013 at 10:47 am

    I’m in! It’s actually on my “before I’m 50″ bucket list so this month is as good as any. :)

    Reply

  12. 12
    Posted On April 1, 2013 at 10:52 am

    You can freeze egg whites??

    Reply

    • Posted On April 1, 2013 at 11:51 am

      Totally! I put ‘em in ziplock bags, mark with the date and quantity, and set them flat in the freezer. Then they can stack once frozen. I think they keep for 3-6 months like that.

  13. 13
    Posted On April 1, 2013 at 11:09 am

    I have made Macarons using the Les Petits Macaron book (the French method… not even the “easy” method) and they turned out fabulous… the instructions were easy and overall it was a really fun baking day :)

    … and I am NOT an experienced baker! So even a newb like me could make them using the Les Petits Macaron book XD

    The only problem I *did* have was I forgot to double pan the first batch (two cookie sheets stacked on one another) and they burnt (but were still friggin tasty, how weird is that?… we just ate them as single cookies, no filling)… but once I realized I was a dolt, and double panned, everything was smooth sailing.

    I made their German Chocolate Macarons.

    Reply

  14. 14
    Posted On April 1, 2013 at 11:14 am

    It has been on my cooking bucket list for a while – I think I need to step up to this challenge.

    Reply

  15. 15
    Posted On April 1, 2013 at 11:49 am

    This is such a great reason for me to finally attempt making macarons, I’m in!

    Reply

  16. 16
    Posted On April 1, 2013 at 12:41 pm

    I echo what Danielle and Karis said above. This IS on my culinary bucket list so this challenge is a great kick in the bootie for me! I’m in too! woot woot!

    Reply

  17. 17
    Posted On April 1, 2013 at 2:30 pm

    Let’s just say my first experience with macarons was my last. I’ve GOT to get back on that horse!

    Reply

  18. 18
    Posted On April 1, 2013 at 4:22 pm

    Oh boy. I’ve looked at recipes for these little boogers so many times but never found a good reason to make them. I’ve never even seen (in person) or eaten one before but they do make me curious.

    Reply

  19. 19
    Posted On April 1, 2013 at 4:23 pm

    I’ve just come back from NYC where I took a class with Kathryn Gordon (of Les Petits Macarons) at ICE – it was FABULOUS! Even though I have been baking from Stella’s recipe for over 2 years (tweaked to make it my own along the way), I believe a good teacher (because I also teach others how to make macarons here in Toronto!) never stops learning and I learned a LOT from her. I’m totally IN for this challenge – I’ve just made a couple of batches of the Petits Macarons method and I will post them soon :)

    Reply

  20. 20
    Posted On April 1, 2013 at 5:38 pm

    What a great idea! I have been putting off trying to make macarons for the longest time but this is a great incentive to try it soon! Wish me luck they don’t turn out as disasters.

    Reply

  21. 21
    Posted On April 1, 2013 at 6:40 pm

    I found some powdered peanut butter and folded it into the almond flour, I thought I was super awesome for that!

    Reply

  22. 22
    Posted On April 1, 2013 at 8:38 pm

    I’m an expert at eating them but definitely need more practice making them. :-) thanks for the resources! I hope my attempt is successful enough to join the Macaron Challenge.

    Reply

  23. 23
    Posted On April 1, 2013 at 9:20 pm

    Oh, I’m in! Believe it or not, I’ve never actually eaten a macaron…but their beauty and reputation make me want to bake them! To try or not to try one before attempting the challenge? Hmmm :)

    Thanks for the challenge, Lindsey!

    Reply

  24. 24
    Posted On April 1, 2013 at 10:29 pm

    Oh Lindsey this is too perfect! I just took a macaron workshop when we were in Paris and have been planning on making them this week using the recipe/method my teacher taught. I am happy to share the recipe with you (which is foolproof if you follow it to a T) but it is the Italian meringue method. An extra step or two I know- but I’ve had too many failed french meringue macs to risk that again.

    I’m so glad I get to be a part of this challenge again! :)

    Reply

  25. 25
    Posted On April 1, 2013 at 10:31 pm

    I have never had a macaron! This challenge is going to change that!

    Reply

  26. 26
    A
    Posted On April 2, 2013 at 2:52 am

    I AM IN! the last time i tried making them it was a disaster but it tasted good. Maybe this time i can have them looking better

    Reply

  27. 27
    Posted On April 2, 2013 at 5:17 am

    Yay! Can’t wait to try this! I was too late for last month’s challenge but this is just the kick I need to finally try the temperamental cookie. Good luck everyone!

    Reply

  28. 28
    Posted On April 2, 2013 at 12:32 pm

    Macarons have become one of my specialties, but a bit of advice: you definitely have to develop your own protocol for them. In my old kitchen, I had baking time/temperature down to a perfect science. In my new kitchen, I’m still figuring all that out. It varies day to day and oven to oven, and it’ll take more than one batch to get it all correct, but it’s a pretty fun (and tasty) trial time!

    Reply

  29. 29
    Marie
    Posted On April 2, 2013 at 2:03 pm

    Yay for macarons. I have been on my own macaron challenge since spending a month in France two years ago. Here are two tips: 1) This handy, and free, app adjusts your recipe to your exact amount of eggwhite because chicken somehow never lay eggs with exactly 30 grams of eggwhite…. http://www.sandozsoftware.com/Cook/Macaron.html and 2) When piping no need to draw on the parchment, just slip a template page with circles under the parchment and remove it before baking.

    Reply

  30. 30
    Posted On April 2, 2013 at 6:42 pm

    Great challenge! I made these a few weeks ago. They were much easier than I thought, but there are some changes I want to try. I used newish eggs and it worked out well. Good to know about the rain. Thanks!

    Reply

  31. 31
    Posted On April 2, 2013 at 8:51 pm

    Oh, this is a challenge…
    By the way, which was the winner, Miette or Bouchon?

    Reply

    • Posted On April 3, 2013 at 10:05 pm

      Bouchon, decision based purely on size. :)

  32. 32
    Posted On April 2, 2013 at 9:33 pm

    Oh gosh, I adore macarons! They’re just so adorable and tasty :)

    Reply

  33. 33
    Posted On April 3, 2013 at 6:31 pm

    My favorite is Brave Tart. Her site is FANTASTIC for macaron-making help, explanations, and procedures. I used her instructions when attempting to make macaron cookies. She has another post, titled “Macarons are for Eating.” It’s a list of people (including yours truly,) discussing what method each of us used, what went wrong (oh yes, things DID go wrong,) and victories! I love, love, love her site!

    Reply

    • Posted On April 3, 2013 at 10:06 pm

      She’s got a way of inspiring confidence, doesn’t she? :) I’ve been reading up for sure and I think I’m going to use her recipe.

  34. 34
    Posted On April 4, 2013 at 4:21 pm

    Hi Lindsay,
    Im totally up for your challenge and I have to tell you that I tried to make macaroons about 3 times and the 1st time, they were ok, not perfect, but ok.
    2nd time, they went straight from the oven into the bin as I end up with a big tray of mushy stuff and 3rd time they were gorgeous so, in my opinion, just God knows how they’ll will end up but, because there’s a recipe that I’m dying to try, I’ll try it for your challenge.
    I heard professionals saying that the success of macaroons depends on how coarse or fine the ground almonds are but I don’t know really…
    Cheers and good luck,
    Lia.

    Reply

  35. 35
    Posted On April 4, 2013 at 10:27 pm

    I seriously love this idea. :-)

    Reply

    • Lucy
      Posted On April 5, 2013 at 5:37 am

      I’m in, gonna attempt tomorrow! My brother even bought me special macaron making tools for Christmas which apparently came from Paris. I don’t think he really knew that macarons are a mission and a half cause I am no way a talented baker but hopefully the tools will aid. It’s a sheet with moulds on it to get perfect shaped macarons and a squeezy thing which I guess is to squeeze out the mixture? There were no instructions…wish me luck for tomorrow!

  36. 36
    Posted On April 5, 2013 at 7:28 am

    I’ve had success with the Italian method! I also found all of BraveTart’s posts extremely helpful. No aging egg whites for me!
    http://www.solanoskitchen.com/lemon-macarons/

    Reply

  37. 37
    Posted On April 5, 2013 at 1:22 pm

    LOVE IT! This time I really want to join ;) I have baked macarons once before, but the size was a bit varying between the batches :P And I was following strictly the recipe I had found online… Now I want to get a bit more into experimenting and create my own flavor combination ;) Hope it will work, nevertheless I will join :D Have fun everyone :)

    Reply

  38. 38
    Posted On April 5, 2013 at 1:51 pm

    I was planning to make these this week! Will definitely participate in this challenge again. Nothing like a good deadline to make it happen, right?

    Reply

  39. 39
    Posted On April 7, 2013 at 8:11 pm

    I totally want to attempt these! Although I’ve been so flaky lately…But I’m going to do my best :)

    Thanks for the push out of the comfort zone!

    Reply

  40. 40
    Posted On April 8, 2013 at 2:43 am

    I’m the same my macarons are so hit and miss. I’ve made some amazing ones and had some spectacular flops. I tried the chocolate recipe from I heart macarons this weekend and the measurements on her flavor page don’t seem to be enough dry mixture to egg meringue compared to the others. All I have to show for it is a burned finger!

    Reply

  41. 41
    Posted On April 9, 2013 at 6:48 am

    I am in! Not too sure what is wrong with me. My blog is / was all about sewing, but lately I’ve caught myself doing no sewing but rather quite a lot of baking. A few nights ago I spent a couple of hours watching youtube clips on making macarons and in fact had a dream that I was making them. So there is no excuse, I must make some. The aging of the egg whites puts me off a little bit as i am more of a spontaneous baker but I’ll give it a go and share my results.

    Reply

  42. 42
    Posted On April 20, 2013 at 3:58 pm

    I baked BraveTart’s macarons today, and did a chocolate variation. I was very pleased with how they turned out. Thank you for encouraging me to try this out!

    Reply

  43. 43
    Posted On April 22, 2013 at 5:26 pm

    I made vanilla macarons yesterday from the Bouchon baking book! I found it odd that they said to make their macarons 2 1/4 inches in diameter! Huge! But now I see that the ones they make at the bakery are big. The macarons I made were my very first batch and, lucky me, they turned out great. Beginners luck!

    I wasn’t aware of your challenge when I started making my macarons. I’m just a day late for the deadline! Your hibiscus macarons are beautiful, by the way!

    Reply

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