Parisian Macarons (First Try)

It took me a while, but this weekend I finally made the Parisian style macarons I’d vowed to try after tasting some at Bouchon Bakery. The fact Todd had fallen in love with them was a key motivator, and I figured Father’s Day would be a good excuse to try making one of his new favorite cookies.

Not to be confused with the usual chewy coconut macaroons, the type to which I’m referring are classified as “Gerbet Macarons” (also spelled “macaroons”) or “Parisian Macarons” and made with egg whites, sugar and a mixture of almond flour and powdered sugar that’s been pressed through a sieve. The ingredients are very simple, but it’s the prep work and technique that kept me from trying my hand at this sooner.

Vanilla Macarons

First, you have to decide whether to spend $12 on almond flour or grind your own in the coffee grinder. I opted for the latter, which worked perfectly even though I’d worried the grind wouldn’t be fine enough. Next, you need to have a half inch piping tip. The last time I was at the craft store, they were out and I now have every size tip but 1/2 inch. I decided to just skip the tip. And finally, you have to commit to making a true, buttercream — another recipe that’s always been intimidating for me. Sure, you can use ganache or lemon curd, but in the few years that I’ve been eating macarons, the buttercream is the best part and I wasn’t sure I’d be able to duplicate the ultra-smooth, not-too-sweet type found in macarons made at bakeries like Bouchon, whose macarons might be the best outside of Paris.

Strawberry Macarons

So back to the ones from our kitchen. Using Joanne Chang’s recipe and macaron-making tutorial on Fine Cooking, I made a batch that was similar in texture (though I haven’t quite nailed down the flavors….that’s step 2) to Bouchon’s. Though they weren’t perfect. I made the first batch too fat. The second batch, to which I’d added a little raspberry extract and red gel paste, ran a little and baked as ovals (not pictured), and I felt like the macaron base could have used a tiny pinch of salt and some flavoring.  I did add a little  vanilla. Still, for a simple Macaron Making 101 tutorial, this recipe was perfect. Even the buttercream came together with ease, and I’ve thrown out my share of bad batches of buttercream.  I think the credit goes to Joanne Chang and Fine Cooking for explaining how to make it in a simple and straightforward fashion.

If you’ve been thinking about making your own macarons but just haven’t felt ready to roll up your sleeves and do it, I recommend this recipe as a primer.

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Comments

  1. says

    Good job! These have been on my list to try, although I have to say the stumbling block for me is having never tasted one and therefore not really knowing how the final product is supposed to turn out.

  2. says

    Great job finally jumping in and trying these! You’re off to a good start. Since it looks like there were textural issues with your first try, I might recommend trying the basic recipe on Tartelette blog for learning. I find them a little sweet but the sugar really stabilizes the batter. Also, a coffee grinder sounds tiny for grinding the almonds. I (and Tartelette’s recipe) simply use the food processor to grind slivered almonds together with the powdered sugar. While I understand the desire to flavor the shells, please be VERY careful adding anything with liquid to the batter. The balance is very delicate, so even a little more moisture can skew the results. I would not add vanilla unless you have vanilla sugar. If you’re interested, I posted some more tips and helpful videos on my first macarons post http://www.6bittersweets.com/2011/04/lotta-chocolate-part-2-snickers.html (I’ve since made several more flavors that you’re welcome to check out).

  3. Jennifer says

    You are so brave! I’ve never had a “real” macaron. They don’t seem to be available in my area. However, I have attempted to make them. Mine came out not very good. I didn’t even bother filling them.

    I wonder if there’s a bakery in Chicago or St. Louis that sells them? I’m going to St. Louis this weekend and Chicago in mid-July…

  4. says

    I’ve been wanting to make these as well since I am smitten with the cuteness and I love how they can be adapted to virtually any flavor combo.

  5. says

    Sue and Kim–they are kind of like a meringue cookie–with filling–and they are almost indescribable, but so good and perfect and all the different flavors are so fun to try. Look up in the areas you live Parisian bakeries. You might be surprised to find them.
    That said–I need to get on the ball making them. I ordered some almond flour and it came over a week ago. I watched the video from Joanne Chang a few weeks ago–it seems—do-able. I’m going to try.
    Yours look great, Anna!

  6. Sarah says

    I had my first Bouchon macaron this past weekend and it was delightful! I was a little intimidated to make these after seeing a recipe, but yours look so good, I just have to give it a try now. Thanks for the post and link, Anna!

  7. says

    There is a French bakery here that has the most amazing cookies like this. We had them at a birthday party. It is somewhere in SoHo. I will find out for you!!

  8. says

    I need to find a macaron to try in Minneapolis so I can decide if I want to make one. If anyone knows the wherabouts of these here, please let me know!

  9. says

    What perfect timing for this post… I’ve been wanting to make some for a few weeks but am too scared!!! Thanks for the push :)

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