Early this week, I shared the backstory and history of my love affair with macarons and today for #BakingWithBeth recipe number six, I’m going to share my go-to Italian macaron recipe. As well as my favorite macarons I’ve ever created. There will also be a bonus recipe with my go-to French macaron recipe in the coming days.
Macaron comes from the Italian word maccherone or macaroni, which means fine dough. Almond paste was the main ingredient in the macaron. Macarons were introduced by the pastry chef of Catherine de Medicis in 1533 during her marriage to Duc d’Orleans, who went on to become Henry II as King of France in 1547. At the beginning of the 20th century, the macaron became the two-cookie sandwich classic that we love today. Pierre Desfontaines, the grandson of Louis Laduree (one of the most famous macaron makers in France) came up with the idea to fill two macaron cookies with chocolate. And thus the start of the macaron craze was born. Well done, Pierre!!
Italian macarons are favorited within patisseries and restaurants because the meringue, which involves adding a boiled sugar syrup to your whipped egg whites, is more stable and provides for more consistency. Italian macarons are more technical, but once you get the hang of it, it’s nice to be able to go back and forth between each method.
Italian macarons, and macarons in general can be a finicky bunch. Real talk – I’ve made thousands of macarons, and lately, I’m struggling. Unless I’ve just lost it as a pastry chef (likely not the case), I believe I’ve narrowed my problems down to the terrible weather we’ve had lately. I know California needs the rain, but it’s been a really wet winter, and the past few days, my house has been in a constant mist/marina layer with humidity at 98%. I think my oven may also contribute as well, but I’m working against two variables that I can’t easily control at present. (My landlord has unfortunately just sold our place, so a move is in the near future, which may end up being a good thing for my macaron self-esteem!)
Aside from the frustration of wasted time and ingredients, the plus is that I’ve been spending an insane amount of time studying the science behind macarons and ingredients involved (Helloooo, incredible, edible egg!!), so ideally, I’ll be even better down the road with my new knowledge. Running into problems in baking can be a great thing, as it gives you a chance to break down the process and understand the why from every perspective. If we never ran into problems, we might not be as knowledgeable about why things work.
My point is, if you try Italian macarons and they don’t work, don’t give up! Like the childhood proverb, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again!” Same with French macarons. It’s a process. A learning curve. As my friend (a more talented pastry chef than myself) put it to me (mid-mac crisis), even the best, professional chefs have issues with macarons. It’s a science and an art! And sometimes science experiments fail. 🙂
Today, I’ll be sharing an Italian macaron recipe with a basic chocolate ganache. In the near future, I’m working to create an entire section on Recipe for Adventures dedicated to macarons and variety of ganaches and fillings. I’m also working on a video documenting the process and happy to Skype or FaceTime anyone in need to walk you through the steps!
Before we get to the Italian macaron recipe, here’s a look at my favorite macarons I’ve ever made. In no particular order.
1. Macaron Assortment for my Grandpa’s 90th Birthday
Last January, I planned and catered the dessert bar for my Grandpa’s 90th birthday. I didn’t get as many ‘beauty’ shots as I wanted because catering a dessert bar for 60 out of my mom’s kitchen was, well, there was no time for all the baking production and photos. The macaron selection included cassis (black currant) with white chocolate, which was one of my favorite flavors. Vanilla and raspberry dark chocolate rounded out the assortment. Just seeing my Grandpa eat a plateful (and leftovers) made these more special, regardless of the flavors.
2. Gingerbread Macaron
The gingerbread macaron was one of my holiday pop-up flavors and probably my favorite one of the bunch. Mainly because I created the gingerbread ganache recipe myself and it was the first time I added some spices to the shells. Plus, if you like gingerbread cookies, they tasted exactly the same, but in a lighter macaron kind of way.
3. Hot Chocolate Macarons
Also from the holiday pop-up flavors was the hot chocolate macaron. My brother Paul helped inspired this flavor which was a Italian macaron shell dusted with cocoa powder and filled with a chocolate ganache and homemade marshmallow fluff. One of the more popular flavors sold!
4. Bourbon Peach Pie Macaron
The bourbon peach pie macaron was another flavor I developed from scratch based of a combination of a tart, cobbler and pie recipes I love. Plus, what kind of Georgian would I be if I didn’t have a macaron to dedicate to the Peach State?! Looking forward to peach season to create other varieties of Peach macs!
5. Oscar Macaron
Creating an Oscar shaped macaron is something I’ve been trying to work out for months. Last month, I ordered myself an Oscar statue cookie cutter and got to work tracing an outline. They were slightly trickier to pipe than I had anticipated, but overall, I like the Oscar macs. The fillings were a celebratory mixture of a champagne lemon curd and champagne dark chocolate ganache. Contact me for custom orders if you’re planning on hosting an Oscar party this year! 🙂
6. Falcaron – Atlanta Falcon’s Macaron
After the Oscar macarons, my sorority sister from Georgia Tech, Lindsay asked if I was going to make ‘Falcaron’ macarons for the Super Bowl. I mean, the names were just asking to be married. I was planning on Falcon macs, but not in the shape of the Falcon. One suggestion later, the wheels started turning and the Falcaron was born! The Falcaron might be the macaron I’m the most proud of ever making. I love them, despite the outcome of the Super Bowl (tears!). They will be perfect sweet treats to help the Falcons Rise Up and kick off next season!
Specialty Tools Needed:
- Silpat Mat – silicon baking mat (parchment paper work as well, but sometimes I find it warps the shape when you’re banging out the air bubbles; I traced circles onto parchment and outlined them with a sharpie to have as a template. I put the template under the Silpat mat for a size guideline. You can also purchase mats with outlines, though I think it’s unnecessary. I have six currently and I use them all the time for everything!)
- KitchenAid Stand Mixer – I suppose you could make an Italian meringue with a hand mixer if you have huge arm muscles, excellent one armed mixing, other arm temperature checking/pouring control or a bit of a masochist. Although I have in the past made Italian meringue with a hand mixer, I wouldn’t recommend it.
- Bowl scraper – I sometimes mix the macaron mixture with this, but I also use it to help move the mixture down in the piping bag
- Disposable Piping Bags – I use 18″ bags so they hold more mixture, less refilling
- Piping Tip – I typically use the Ateco 806 (but you could use the 804 or 807) or 10-12mm. Depending on how large you want the shells
- Digital Thermometer
- Oven Thermometer (unless you know the temperature of your oven!)
- Metal mixing bowl
Thanks again for coming back for another #BakingWithBeth recipe. If you’re just catching up, January was focused on cakes: week one/caramel cake, week two/Hummingbird Cake, week three/sour cream pound cake and week four / pineapple upside down cake. February kicked off week five with the best chocolate chip cookies.
Be sure to follow along Instagram and Facebook and tag #BakingWithBeth so I can see all the fun treats y’all make! I love, love, love seeing pictures and hearing the feedback so far. Keep it coming! 🙂
What do you think… have y’all had previous success with Italian macarons? French macarons? Any particular filling a favorite of yours?
My go-to Italian Macaron Recipe I learned during my macaron course at La Cuisine Paris. Reliable & time tested!
Italian Macaron Shells
- 73 grams aged egg whites 1-5 days in advance, separate whites and put in a covered plastic bowl
- 200 grams ground almonds / almond flour
- 200 grams powdered sugar
- 200 grams sugar
- 50 grams water
- 73 grams aged egg whites 1-5 days in advance, separate whites and put in a covered plastic bowl
- 150 grams whipping cream
- 150 grams dark chocolate, 64%
- 53 grams butter room temp
Weigh sifted ground almonds (or almond flour) and powdered sugar in a medium mixing bowl. Add egg whites and food coloring. Mix into a paste.
Prepare the meringue: bring sugar & water to a boil in a small saucepan and cook to 118 degrees Celsius. When mixture reaches 114 degrees Celsius, begin beating the egg whites in your standing mixer with a whisk attachment on high.
When sugar reaches 118 degrees Celsius, reduce speed to medium-high and pour sugar over beaten whites (careful not to pour directly onto the whisk) and whisk on high until the meringue has cooled (50 degrees Celsius) and has stiff peaks.
Carefully fold the meringue into the dry ingredients, a little at the time. Gently mixing until the macaronage stage. The batter should fall back into itself in approximately eight seconds.
Fold down the edges of the piping bag over a large cup, similar item. Put mixture into disposable pastry bag with a 804 or 805 (10-12mm) piping tip. Prior to adding mixture, twist bag into piping tip, so mixture won't leak out while filling.
Pipe mixture onto a silicon baking mat or parchment paper into small circles (approximately 1.5" diameter)
Bang tray 4-5 times to get out air bubbles and let macarons sit 30-45 minutes to develop a skin.
Bake at 320 degrees Fahrenheit / 160 degrees Celsius for 12 minutes. Let cool and macaron shell should peel off easily once cooled.
Match macarons size wise into pairs. Shells will store up to 10 days unfilled in an air-tight container at room temperature.
Place pieces of small chocolate, or chips into a medium-size bowl. Weigh whipping cream into small saucepan. Weigh out butter and cut into small pieces.
Bring cream to boil. Pour over chocolate and stir from center to the edge constantly until chocolate is smooth and well mixed. Add butter in stages and incorporate butter until smooth and fully mixed in with chocolate.
Put chocolate in piping bag (no tip). Refrigerate for 30-45 minutes, or until mixture is workable for piping.
Pipe ganache in a circle, starting on the outside working to the center of the shell. Holding both shells, carefully twist the shells together.
Filled assembled macaron can last in an air-tight container for up to two months, or in the fridge for 4-5 days. Before serving, let come to room temperature.
- I use Blue Diamond almond flour from Costco
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