Nifty Tips for Succes
Do you find French macarons a little intimidating? They do have a reputation for being a little finicky. Never fear though, my recipe is here to help you master these little bites of heaven, and if you need more info check out my blog post on how to make perfect macarons at home to walk you through equipment and handy hints to help you on your macaron journey.
Equipment You'll Need
Let’s start off with the list of equipment you’ll need to make these spiced cranberry French macarons (or any French macarons for that matter).
To make this recipe, you’ll need:
- Scales: The most accurate method of measuring your ingredients is to measure them by weight using kitchen scales.
- Electric mixer: Doesn’t need to be a stand mixer, a hand held mixer will do the job just fine.
- Food processer
- The right sized sieve
- Piping Bag & tips: To help create even sized and shaped macaron cookies.
The first step to beautiful macarons is to Master the Meringue
The first step to any macaron is to whip egg whites with sugar to form a meringue with stiff peaks. Stiff peeks means the meringue is fluffy, has texture of marshmallow and when you take a spoonful of and hold it so the tip of the meringue is upright, it will not flop over.
When creating your meringue with stiff peeks, do the following for best results:
- Age your egg whites: This is the process of separating your egg whites and placing them in a container overnight in the fridge to dehydrate slightly.
- Wipe down your equipment with vinegar or lemon juice: The tiniest bit of oil contaminating your egg whites will guarantee your meringue will fail. Wiping your mixer and bowl down with vinegar or lemon juice will prevent any residual oil contaminating you egg whites.
- Cream of Tartare: Without getting too technical, a touch of cream of tartare adds a little acidity to the egg whites helping them to whip up nice and fluffy.
- Caster Sugar: Also known as superfine granulated sugar. Sugar adds structure to the meringue. A fine sugar grain will dissolve more easily in the egg white. As the grains of caster sugar are smaller than regular white sugar, using caster sugar limits the risk of deflating the egg white as you add it to your mixture.
Want smooth tops? Use Superfine almond flour
The secret to a smooth finish to your macarons is making sure your almond flour is extra fine. To guarantee a smooth finish on your macarons, make sure you:
- Buy fine almond flour: try a few different brands until you find one that work for you. And do not use almond meal (Almond Meal is not the same as almond flour).
- Blitz the almond flour it in a food processer: To make the almond flour grains even smaller. Blitzing both the powdered sugar and almond meal together will absorb any oils that are released from the almond flour, so that you do not end up with almond butter.
- Use a sieve: This is your last line of defense against larger grains of almond flour. Sift the almond flour and powdered sugar before adding it to the meringue and disregard any large pieces that can’t easily be sifted. For best results use a sieve with a size 40 mesh.
Treat all macaron recipes as a ratio recipe
This recipe calls for 100g of egg whites. But, getting exactly 100g of egg whites from whole eggs is a tricky process.
Macarons by their nature are sensitive little biscuits so in the case that you have a little more or less than 100g of egg whites, its best to adjust the other ingredients accordingly.
(Note: you only need to do this for macaron cookie ingredients. It’s really not a deal breaker if you have a little more or less filling).
How do you do this?
Let’s say for example after separating 3 eggs you have 90g of egg whites.
To do this divide the amount of egg whites you have by the amount the recipe calls for.
So say the recipe calls for 100 grams of egg whites, but you have 90 grams. In this example you would divide 90 by 100 (90/100 = 0.9)
Step 3: Multiply remaining ingredients by multiplication factor
So in this example, say the next ingredient the recipe calls for is 140 grams of powdered sugar. Instead of using 140 grams of powdered sugar, you would use 126 grams (because 0.9 x 140 = 126).
You will need to do step 3 for all ingredients that are required to make the macaron cookies.
You’ll know the shells have been properly rested if they look mat (not glossy) and feel dry to touch.
Macarons that have not been adequately rested will expand at the top of the cookie when baked, causing the shell to crack.
French macarons can take a few tries to get a hang of. Everyone’s oven is slightly different, and things totally out of your control like weather can effect the resting time.
Check out my blog on how to make perfect macarons at home for more tips and tricks. Otherwise, enjoy experimenting with my recipe below for delicious spiced cranberry macarons.
Holiday Spice Cranberry Macarons
- electric mixer
- Food processer
- A fine mesh sieve
- piping bags and tips
- dash of Vinegar or Lemon Juice
- 100 grams Egg Whites (approximately 3 eggs)
- 140 grams Powdered Sugar
- 150 grams Almond Flour
- 90 grams Caster Sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon Cream of Tartar
- 5 grams Vanilla Extract
- 160 grams White Chocolate
- 40 grams Cream
- 1/8 teaspoon Cinnamon
- 1/16 teaspoon Nutmeg
- 3 tablespoons Cranberry Sauce (homemade or store bought)
The Day Before Baking: Age Egg Whites
- First step is to age your egg whites. Separate egg whites from egg yolk. Place egg whites in a clean airtight container (that has been wiped down with a little vinegar or lemon juice) and store in the fridge overnight.
- Place cream, white chocolate, cinnamon and nutmeg in a plastic microwave safe bowl and heat on high for 20 seconds.
- Stir to combine. The chocolate should melt and combine with cream to form a ganache.
- If needed microwave for a further 10 seconds and stir again. Repeat this process until the mixture combines to form a ganache.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and transfer to the fridge to cool.
When You're Ready to Start Baking: Prepare Equipment
- When your ready to make the macaron batter, remove egg whites from the fridge and allow to come to room temperature while you prepare the equipment & dry ingredients.
- Next prepare your baking tray & piping bag. Line baking tray with baking paper or a silicone mat, then put the baking tray to the side. Next place piping tip into your piping bag, and snip off the tip and also place this to the side.
- Wipe down a fresh bowl and your electric mixer with vinegar to remove any possible traces of oil.
Make Macaron Cookies
- Place the icing sugar and almond flour in a food processer and blitz for 2-3 minutes. Transfer to a fine mesh sieve and gently sift the mixture into a bowl. Discard any pieces of almond flour that do not pass through the sieve. If you are discarding a lot of almond flour weigh the amount that is being discarded and replace with the same amount of finely sifted almond flour.
- Place egg whites the bowl that was cleaned with vinegar/lemon juice and begin to whip on low speed using your electric mixer.
- Once the eggs start to look frothy, add cream of tartar.
- Continue mixing until eggs look foamy, then gradually add caster sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, mixing well after each addition until all the sugar has been incorporated.
- Turn the mixer up to medium-high and continue to whip the meringue until it reaches soft peaks.
- Add vanilla extract and continue whipping the meringue until it reaches stiff peaks.
- Once you have reached stiff peak stage it is time to combine the almond flour/icing sugar with your meringue. You want to do this while keeping as much air in the meringue as possible. Best method to achieve this is to add half the almond flour to your meringue and gently fold in - aka use your spatula to scrape around the outside of the bowl until this first batch of almond flour has been mixed in). Then, fold in remaining almond flour using the same technique.
- Now it's time to add the food colouring and perform the macaronage. In this stage we are trying to remove some of the air from the meringue. To do this use your spatula to gently press the batter into the sides of the bowl. Continue doing this until your batter reaches the consistency of hot lava. Check out my blog post on how to make the perfect macarons at home for more information about how to perfect the macaronage.
- Once your batter is at hot lava stage, transfer it to your prepared piping bag.
- Place a dap of macaron batter in between the baking paper and tray in each corner to hold the baking paper in place, then pipe batter onto your prepared baking tray.
- Bang the whole tray on the counter a couple of times. This will help the macarons to flatten out and encourage any air bubbles to rise to the surface.
- Using a toothpick, locate any air bubbles and pierce. Then use the toothpick to flatten out the surface of the macaron once again
- Rest the macaron cookies by leaving the trays on the bench until the tops of the macarons feel dry to touch. The amount of time this takes will depend on the weather in your area. Where I am in Melbourne, it takes about 20mins. You'll know the macarons are ready to bake if they feel smooth and dry to touch.
- Preheat oven to 110 degrees. Transfer the tray of macarons to the oven. Bake at 110 degrees Celsius for 18 minutes (or a little longer if you are using a silicone mat instead of baking paper). You will know when the macarons are cooked because they will peel easily off the baking paper.
- Place on a wire rack to cool.
- Once cool, sort through macaron cookies to match them up into similar size/shaped pairs.
- Check ganache is still soft, if it is too firm to pipe place the bowl in the microwave for 10 seconds to soften it slightly then transfer to a piping bag.
- Pipe a circle of white chocolate ganache on the underside of one cookie.
- Spoon a dab of cranberry sauce into the center of the circle, then place the second macaron cookie on top (like a sandwich).
- Place in the fridge overnight to ripen.
Have you have tried this recipe? Leave a rating and review and let me know in the comments below.
Better yet, take a photo and post it to instagram. Don’t forget to tag me and use the hashtag #theniftybaker