April 15, 2012

Macaron mayhem

I know it's been a really long time since I posted... I can come up with plenty of excuses like work... work... wedding planning... travelling to Ottawa for Easter... running training... and work but none of them make up for ignoring you guys for so long.  So here's a double post!  Kind of.  They are the same kind of dessert, but two different flavours!

Many of you have probably heard that macarons (or French macaroons) are notoriously difficult to make.  But the truth is, they're not.  They're just extraordinarily hard to make perfectly.  A macaron will still taste delicious even without the perfect little foot or perfectly smooth shell.  And once you realize that, it's a lot less stressful.

I got the urge to make macarons this weekend after going to our wedding cake tasting at Cake Opera Co. and seeing/eating some of their macarons.  There's nothing so pretty as row after row of brightly coloured, cute, little, round treats.  But what I love most about macarons, is thinking up unique flavour combinations for them, really the possibilities are endless!

This time I opted for one to mimic a dessert flavour, and one to mimic a cocktail.  Hence the birth of the lemon meringue pie macaron and the margarita macaron.

The lemon meringue pie macaron is really easy, because the shell is just the plainest macaron you can make (meringue flavour) and the filling is just lemon buttercream made as lemony as possible with real lemon juice, zest, and lemon extract.  

And finally... voila!

The margarita macaron is a lime flavoured shell and tequila buttercream.  One tip I have for thinking up new macaron flavours is NOT to add extra liquids to the shell recipe.  You can add powdered flavours by replacing some of the powdered sugar with something like powdered freeze-dried strawberries, or cacao.  But adding liquid just leads to liquidy macarons... and those do not turn out well... I say this because I added lime juice to the maragarita macaron shell and it was a mistake in the end... lime zest would have been fine.  The tequila buttercream is just regular swiss meringue buttercream with 3 tbsp of tequila added and a couple pinches of salt to make it taste extra authentic.  Just add the tequila till you think it tastes tequila-ey enough. 

Super fun!  I have so many other ideas for flavours.  I definitely want to try chocolate-chili, cassis, other cocktails like pina colada or mojito... and it goes on and on... What flavours would you try?

So here is the macaron recipe that I use that is foolproof I think (as long as you don't add liquid!).  It comes from the LCBO Food and Drink magazine which I LOVE.  I'm not writing down the buttercream recipes as you can use any old swiss meringue buttercream recipe that you like and just add the flavours to it.  Once the buttercream is made it can take up quite a lot of other things that you throw into it.   But if you really want them, just comment and I may update later ;)

Macaron (French macaroon)
Adapted from LCBO Food and Drink magazine

1 1/4 c powdered sugar
2/3 c almond flour/ground almonds
90 mL egg whites (2-3 large eggs), room temperature
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla

Pulse the powdered sugar and ground almonds in a food processor for 30-60 seconds until combined and fine.  Sift into a bowl and set aside.  If flavouring your macarons, replace some of the powdered sugar with solid flavour (cacao powder, etc.)

In a large bowl, beat egg whites and vanilla until  foamy.  Add granulated sugar little by little while beating until you get glossy, stiff peaks.  If colouring your macarons, add gel paste food colour to whipped egg whites near the end of whipping until combined. 

In two additions, fold powdered sugar/almond mixture into whipped egg whites until just combined.  Put into a piping bag fitted with a large plain tip.  Pipe 1 inch diameter circles onto parchment paper or a silpat mat on a baking sheet (I prefer a silpat mat, because any wrinkles or imperfections in the parchment paper may cause uneven rising).  To pipe macarons, place tip near paper or mat and squeeze bag.  Without lifting tip, keep squeezing until circle is the desired size.  Gently lift tip dragging to the side a bit to avoid getting a 'peak'.  If you do get peaks, you can gently push them down with a finger wetted with some water.  

Tap baking sheet hard against the table a couple of times to try and get rid of any bubbles in the macarons.  Now AND THIS IS IMPORTANT, let the macarons stand for 30-45 minutes until they get a little dry on top.  This is to get the little 'foot' at the bottom upon baking.  If you bake right away, there will either be no 'feet' or very uneven ones.  DO NOT let stand for more than 60 minutes, or they will completely dry out and also not rise...

Bake in an oven preheated to 300F for 15-16 minutes.  Remove macarons from baking sheet immediately by sliding a thin metal spatula underneath.  Let cool completely on a rack before filling.  

Choose your filling flavour and HAVE FUN!


  1. Wow, they both look delicious. I see nothing wrong with the lime macarons - did you redo the shell? I would try: chocolate orange, raspberry white chocolate, vanilla passion fruit... Yum!

    1. The lime shells are deceptive and I took some very sneaky photos ;) Mmmm chocolate orange is a good one, or chocolate mint!