Saturday 10 September 2016


I think these are one of those things that you're expected to have tried... I spent a week last year repeatedly making them (badly) until I finally cracked it. One of the biggest challenges I have with them is that they are very temperature sensitive, and it turns out that our oven is a bit random. I had it set to 130'C, but the oven thermometer was reading between 138'C and 153'C...not ideal.

The real secret to them is learning to fold, so you end up with a very gooey, sticky mixture that still has some air in. I was a bit lazy with these, and didn't go through a sieving procedure with the ground almonds, so the shells were a little lumpy (sieving ground almonds is a pain, and you end up with about a third of it that is un-usable). This is one of the few recipes where I sieve by default...normally I just use stuff out of the packet, and apply a bit of elbow grease to smooth things out...

This batch stuck to the paper, which is an indication they were under-cooked. I used both shelves of the oven (swapping them halfway, and also turning them), and it was notable that the tray on the lower shelf for the second half stuck more, as did the ones in the middle...again suggesting under-cooking. This really does show how very sensitive they are to slight temperature changes... This is definitely a recipe you'll need to practice, and have a couple of attempts at. I found this website absolutely invaluable for troubleshooting my early attempts, and I strongly recommend working through it when you give this a go! Take note of your successes (and failures), and you will end up with a recipe that works for you. The first time you see the trade-mark foot appearing on your shells in the oven, you'll probably feel like dancing round the kitchen!

I would normally use a ganache filling, but I didn't have any chocolate to hand, so I made a batch of chocolate buttercream instead. The spare egg yolks went towards a batch of crème patisserie, which will be used tomorrow!

Macarons - Recipe

  • Line 2 baking trays with baking parchment


  • 3 egg whites (105g)
  • 30g caster sugar
  • ½tsp cream of tartar
  • 125g ground almonds (ideally sieved, for a smoother shell)
  • 210g icing sugar (sieved) 
  • Food colouring (optional...must be a gel type)

1) Put the egg whites in a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, and begin whisking

2) Once the eggs have started to foam, slowly add the caster sugar and cream of tartar

3) Continue whisking until it forms stiff peaks

4) Mix the icing sugar and ground almonds together, ensuring there are no lumps. As noted above, you may want to sieve the almonds to get a finer powder

5) Very carefully fold the icing sugar and ground almonds into the whipped egg. I do this using ¼ of the dry mix at a time, and using a very thin spatula. There is a real knack to this that is hard to describe, but you're looking to keep as much air in the mixture as possible. As soon as the dry mix is incorporated, add another quarter of it, and once the final quarter is in, and is incorporated do 3-4 more folds, and then you should be done. The consistency should be that of a thick paste, and it's _really_ sticky.

5a) If you want to colour your macarons, add the food colouring as you begin the folding. Be sparing, as you want as little liquid as possible in the mixture.

6) Transfer the mixture to a piping bag with a plain round attachment

7) Pipe 12 circles onto each baking tray. They should be about 1½ inches in diameter, and all even in size (if you want to be neat, draw circles on the reverse of the paper, and you can use this as a guide when piping)

8) Once all the circles are piped, firmly bang each tray on a work-surface a few times. This removes any over-sized bubbles, which should result in a smoother finish,

9) Leave the trays for half an hour. This lets the skin dry slightly, which should result in a crack-free shell.

10) Put the oven on at 140-145'C. From experience, I strongly recommend an oven thermometer to check on the accuracy of your I said above, mine runs hot, and also has a pretty big swing at any setting. You can control this by cracking the door, though this will affect the temperature at different levels in the oven.

11) Place the baking trays in the oven for 16-20 minutes. halfway through the time swap trays over, and also rotate them, to account for any variances in the oven.

12) You should know when they are done by gently pushing them with one finger...if they move on their foot, then they are not done. Keep an eye on their colour to make sure they do not begin to burn.

13) once they are done, remove them from the oven, and allow them to cool on the baking trays.

14) Once cool, remove from the paper (be very careful, they can stick...try peeling the paper gently before resorting to a palette knife)

15) Once completely cool, you can fill them. In this case I used a simple chocolate buttercream.

Chocolate Buttercream Ingredients

  • 170g icing sugar
  • 30g cocoa powder
  • 100g butter
  • Splash of milk
1) Put the butter, sugar and cocoa in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment

2) Beat until a paste is formed

3) Add milk very sparingly to soften the icing slightly

4) Transfer to a small piping bag

5) Pipe a spiral of icing onto the base on one shell, then gently press another to sandwich it