Sunday, May 2, 2010

Macaron Passion

It's been quite a while since I posted an entry that one might find in a "Food Blog" around here. It's not that I haven't been baking. I have. Though not as much as I used to. Nor am I cooking all that much - but I guess such is life. It'll all get figured out in time...

This cookie jar didn't stay full for very long

I've been making a lot of macarons lately. Something I hadn't really done much of since the craziness that was 2 years ago... But as your average foodie knows, they've become something of a mainstream delicacy. I predicted this would happen, 2 years ago when I swear Helen single-handedly seduced the entire food-blogging world into making French macarons out of their home kitchens. And look what's happened - they have totally become the "new cupcake". The only problem is that they are nowhere near as simple to make as cupcakes!

After making probably 50-100 batches of macarons over the last couple years I think I've ACTUALLY and FINALLY gotten to the point where I can produce a pretty consistent product. It used to be so hit or miss. One batch would be gorgeous while the next would be a disaster. And I had no idea what I'd done. Or if perhaps I'd done nothing wrong and it was...the oven... or, the weather... or, the egg whites... It was infuriating!

I've said it before and I'll say it again - macarons are just about the most difficult item I've ever turned out of my kitchen. It's one of those things that's all about feel and experience, so teaching oneself to make them can be a very frustrating process. It'd be a whole lot better if one could be shown. But I didn't have a teacher. So I taught myself from books and websites. That's probably why it took me a gazillion tries to really GET IT.

My very favorite flavor of macarons is pistachio. I grind up pistachios and use half pistachio powder with the ground almonds in the cookie and then I make a simple pistachio buttercream for filling. HOWEVER. I think I have a new favorite after this weekend. Passionfruit. Oh lordy!! Passionfruit macarons. I think I've died and gone to the tropics (or wherever passionfruits come from...)

I have to just mention here that I would not have been making passionfruit French macarons this weekend had I not tasted Anita's friend, Ray's passionfruit macarons at our bake sale a couple weeks ago. Ray brought some passionfruit macarons that day and as soon as I tasted that buttercream (the flavor is all in the filling - the cookie is just 'yer average unflavored mac) I HAD to make my own! Fortunately for me/us, Ray is a sharing type of guy and told Anita the ratio of buttercream to passionfruit puree he used in his filling: roughly 1.25 to 1! Hot diggity dog! I got my grubby paws on some (excruciatingly expensive) passionfruit puree, whipped up some swiss buttercream and... was in heaven.

I don't think I've ever actually put my macaron recipe on the blog before and that's mostly because I didn't feel "solid" enough about it to share it. But I'll share this one since it's the one I use most of the time and it's quite SOLID by this point.

Now keep in mind that I really wouldn't suggest that anyone who has never made macarons attempt to do so from this recipe alone. I'd try asking someone you know to show you. Or watching some videos online or something. Or be prepared for a lot of trial and error. It's just sadly not so simple that you can follow a recipe and get it...

Makes about 35 macs:
100-110 grams egg whites (left uncovered at room temperature for at least a day)
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
200 grams powdered sugar
110 grams ground almonds
25 grams granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon powdered food coloring (for a pastel color, more for a stronger color)

Sieve the ground almonds once or twice to make sure there are no big pieces (always measure after sieving, obviously!) Add the powdered sugar.

Whip the egg whites with the cream of tartar until foamy. Add the sugar as you continue beating to soft peaks. Add the food coloring and beat the whites to STIFF peaks (but not dry!!)

I was recently asked why I use aged egg whites and if fresh would be okay: allowing the egg whites to age is actually allowing moisture to evaporate from them (this is why you leave them uncovered). The less moisture in the egg whites - the more stable they will whip up. If you are uncomfortable letting them sit at room temp (or want immediate gratification) I've done Helen's suggestion of zapping fresh/cold egg whites in the microwave for about 5-10 seconds - just until you start to see strings of white - and this seems okay as well.

Adding the food coloring to the whites


Add the whites to the almond/powdered sugar mixture and FOLD gently but sufficiently until the batter flows SLOWLY. You don't want it to be runny, nor do you want it to hold its shape. It's incredibly particular. If you don't fold the batter enough you will get meringue cookies. If you fold it too much your macarons will not develop the "foot" they require to truly be called a macaron; or worse they will crack and break and essentially FLOP. Sometimes this can be a matter of 1-2 strokes difference!

Start yer folding!

Results of the "macaronage"

Many people trace 1" circles on the back of parchment paper to get consistent sized cookies. I don't do this anymore and have found myself counting to 4 as I pipe to get consistent cookies. Ha! Mostly I'm too lazy to draw the circles. It's enough hassle to cut pieces of parchment to the right size! You can also use a Silpat, but be sure the cookies are totally cooled before attempting to peel them off a Silpat. I've had the tops come off in my hand and the bottoms stay glued to the Silpat... :-|

Never bake without *bling* ~~ Piped macaron rounds drying

Pipe rounds of cookie batter onto your parchment/Silpat at least 2-3" apart. If your batter is a tad bit under-worked, you might get a little tip that doesn't spread into each cookie. Just press it down with a slightly damp finger. Now let the cookies hang out in a dry environment (humidity? rainy day? I'm not sure what to tell you...) for at least 45-60 minutes. I've always erred on the side of 60 minutes, but I know others who pop them in the oven after 30. To each their own. However long it takes for your macs to develop a reasonably thick "skin" on top.

A macaron is not a macaron without the "foot" at the bottom

I'm still toying with my temperature... I used to bake them for about 11 minutes at 315°, but I recently tried 305° for 12 minutes and liked it better (yes - they ARE that temperamental). But of course it really depends on your oven. I've never done the "wedge a wooden spoon in the door" move that Mr. Hermé recommends...

I match up cookies so that the tops and bottoms are the same size

After you take them out, let them cool COMPLETELY. Don't attempt to peel them off the parchment paper/Silpat before they cool or they will become 2 pieces of cookie, instead of 1. Pipe your buttercream of choice onto 1 cookie and smoosh with the other. I like to let them rest in the fridge overnight, before reintroducing them to room temperature for about 10-15 minutes and gobbling them down.

It's important to "smoosh" the 2 sides together before any
filling hardens (like a chocolate ganache)

These particular macs I filled with the passionfruit swiss meringue buttercream which was devastatingly delectable. I made a ginormous amount of the buttercream so I have no idea how much one would need for this recipe. But what I can tell you is that if you mix 1 part passionfruit puree with 1.25 parts buttercream - you too can die and go to heaven!!

I have never found myself sneaking into my fridge for macarons like I've been doing with these passionfruit ones. It's something about the tanginess that gives it such a mouthful of flavor. Unbelievable...


  1. They are so perfect and pretty!



  2. puuuuuurdy!!! and i bet they taste just as good as they look!

  3. I have been wanting to try makin macs but with an extremely temperamental oven I have yet dared to try.

    I will try your recipe though...hopefully it will work. It will be my first attempt and I will let you know how that goes.

  4. Your macarons look absolutely perfect! They've been on my "to-do" list for a long time. Since you generously posted your recipe, I just might try it. I'll make sure to link you if I do. :-)

  5. I'm totally with you - I think this is definitely all Helen's doing!

    I have never had passionfruit, but so many people seem to love it... I really need to get my hands on some!

    Your macarons look lovely :)

  6. so beautifully looking....I am a macaron addict. :)

  7. They look perfect! I 've made macarons a few times but most of the time I get hollow shells... Did you use double baking sheets?

  8. Perfection....I'm super jealous!!! I have tried to make them 5 times now and failed every time....I get them to foot but they are just not quite right. Trying again tomorrow I'm determined to get these right EVENTUALLY!! Thanks for sharing!!

  9. Your macarons are lovely. You must be very proud!

  10. They're gorgeous! Such pretty colours. I've tried a few times but never got macarons quite right. I'll have to keep trying I suppose!

  11. wow they look just like those in the stores!! perfect!! I still haven't get mine right yet cause it comes up a bit domed shape..

  12. they are amazing!AWESOME~

    i will have a try your recipe, hopefully it will work!oh yaa.
    just wondering to ask you that 1 part of passion puree,how much in ml?!

  13. Thank you so much to everyone! I'm very proud of these little buggars and DAMN I can't resist them either! I've now made 3 batches and think there'll be more tonight!!

    Maria: I don't use double baking sheets. I always line my baking sheet with parchment though. And I turn the trays after about 3/4 of the time.

    Ann Ann: The 1.25 to 1 is a ratio, not a measurement. So for every 1.25 parts buttercream, mix in 1 part puree... It could be any weight depending on how much you need. Just calculate the ratio. :)

  14. These look great! I'm on a macaron kick right now and have been wondering what flavour to try next. It might just be passionfruit...

  15. Your macarons are gorgeous. I'm totally going to try the passionfruit buttercream idea for my next batch.

  16. I followed your recipe and the macarons came out BEA-U-ti-ful! Exactly how your macs look. Thanks for the recipe and your detailed instructions. I was curious and tried a diff mac recipe, and it sucked! The macs were so delicate and fragile, it would easily dent or have scratches. Ughh. I love how your recipe produces a sturdy macaron that's still light and chewy. My only qualm is that I like feet that stick out. I'm gonna do some research on that.

    I also went to Whole Foods to purchase the passion fruit puree. Yummy filling! What did you do with all that extra puree? I made the creme brulee from the recipe on the pkg and that didn't turn out so good. The passion fruit puree was quite strong in it. I also found a recipe for passion fruit souffle. Haven't made it yet.

    Thanks again!

  17. These are precious! I love anything passion fruit - they are really common here in Brazil - and have been experimenting with macarons lately.
    Yours are perfect, a true inspiration!

  18. Lisa - Got to your site via "use real butter" and I must say YOU SCARED THE SHEEEEEEESH OUT OF ME with after baking about 50 - 100 batches of macaron, you've finally found the holy grail of making macaron!!! This week, I have attempted to make macaroon but I was already scared and now, reading your post....I'm not sure if I have any more courage to try!!! Kidding! I must though, I must face my fear of making macaroon!

    AND yes, I can see why the cookie jar filled up with passionfruit macaron did not last too long!

    Thanks for the post.

  19. I admire your persistency in persuing this challenge. I'm far far I've done maybe 10 times. I got good looking ones maybe only 2 times. Yesterday I made a batch. The batter looked glossy and i thought they should turn out the best....boom, they crack on top and only a little feet. What do you think I did wrong ? I'm thinking maybe I did not let them dry enough so when the heat came, it burst through and crack the top ?

  20. they look ah-mazing!
    i had SUCH difficulty mastering the elusive mac!
    but after throwing out batch after batch, I've finally got a nice, consistant result... my trick? 3g of egg white powder as a stabalizer... it really is all in the folding though.
    I will definately try this flavour, if i can get my paws on the passionfruit concentrate! Always looking for yummy new flavours

  21. cynlo: Fantastic!! I'm so happy to hear I could help you get your success!! And to answer your question - I have the remainder of the puree frozen for future passionfruit macs. What else??!

    Mei: Hmm it's always tough to know exactly what's going on. I'd say it could be any number of a few things: 1) you overbeat the egg whites. I tend to beat my egg whites until they are JUST firm and not much more than that. 2) you over folded your batter. This can literally be a difference of 1-5 strokes between perfect batter and "messed up" batter. I try to err on the side of under-folding, cuz then at least they don't crack. 3) you didn't let them sit and dry for long enough. This will really depend on the humidity at your house. It's relatively dry where I live (CA Bay Area) so I let them sit for an hour. I'm not sure what someone in the South would do - but Helene (Tartelette) lives in South Carolina and I think also lets them sit for about an hour…? But not sure how "dry" it is in her house. Maybe they run the AC all day? haha! Good luck!!

  22. Oh my... I MUST move somewhere arid and spend my days perfecting the precious 'ron!
    Thank you for your inspiration...

  23. Your macarons look so... perfect. I am very impressed!

  24. Do you have a recipe for the swiss buttercream?

  25. the painstaking effort you have taken to develop your technique is so obvious. these macaroons look absolutely perfect. i am truly amazed and impressed.

  26. Thanks so much for posting this recipe. Today was my first ever attempt at making macarons and they turned out perfectly. Great instructions.

  27. What is the importance of letting the egg white aged? Can I used it fresh? Thanks.

  28. In reference to the aged egg whites: allowing the egg whites to age is actually allowing moisture to evaporate from them (this is why you leave them uncovered). The less moisture in the egg whites - the more stable they will whip up. If you are uncomfortable letting them sit at room temp (or want immediate gratification) I've done Helen's suggestion of zapping fresh/cold egg whites in the microwave for about 5-10 seconds - just until you start to see strings of white - and this seems okay as well.

  29. Hi, thanks for your advice concerning the aged egg white. I have tried with your recipie and the macarons turned out quite successful, they looked great. However, I have problem with piping, the mixture was so watery that I can hardly make circles and I even added more almond powder into the piping bag hoping I can salvage the remaining mixture. It took quite some time for the surface to dry before baking. Surprisingly, they all have the "footing" and smooth surface. I wonder what went wrong with the batter's consistency? Also, I felt the elasticity of the batter with the final few folds, then I transfer it to piping bag. Just want to share are my experience and hope this can benefit others too. I hope this is not long :-)

  30. Hi Lisa,

    Yay passion fruit!! Will have to try these. Thanks for sharing the recipe.

    Two things. I checked the company you ordered from and it seems they only have passion fruit concentrate right now. It was the puree that you got, not the concentrate right? Do you know if it is possible to substitute for the concentrate somehow?

    Also, could you please point me to a good Swiss buttercream recipe? I've seen versions with egg white and egg yolk. I tried to make it with a strawberry puree not too long ago and it seemed to separate and run at room temp so had to keep macarons chilled, so if you have a link to a stable buttercream that is not likely to separate when you add a fruit puree that would be great, thanks!


  31. Yes - the passionfruit concentrate is what I use. I can find it in stores locally (in the SF Bay Area I've seen it at Draegers locations).

    I believe the swiss buttercream recipe I use is Martha's:

    It's a beautiful buttercream and freezes just fine too if you want to make a ton at once!

  32. Thanks so much! That is helpful. :) All the best, Maria

  33. I followed your recipe 4 times but my shells always are flat and last one was flat with hollow shell what am I doing wrong???

  34. These look amazing. Where can I get/how do I make passionfruit puree? Also I prefer to make macaron shells with the italian meringue method - apparently it makes them more stable. I can well believe it because even my first attempt came out successfully, and that was just from a book!

  35. I tried to make the passion fruit buttercream (using MS´s recipe), but it separates and I can´t make a cream out of it... Any tips?

  36. any way to translate the grams to US measurements? How many egg whites is this? and grams sugar/powdered? Thanks! Soon enough I'll get myself a scale . . .

  37. Thanks heaps for the recipe Lisa! I'm a first time macaron maker and I've given your recipe a go. They haven't turned out anywhere near as perfect as yours - but an ok first go (well they would have been if I hadn't of over beaten the eggs and underfolded the mixture). You've given me the confidence to have another go and keep perservering until I get it right!

  38. I find that it is more or a 'stir' than a 'fold'. I made macarons using a 'stir' and they turned out a perfect foot first time.

  39. I live south of San Jose. Any idea on where to find the passionfruit concentrate? And, confirm you use concentrate and not puree? Thanks