Homemade Vanilla Macarons

I was introduced to macarons a few years back when a friend had taken a trip into the city and brought back some macarons for me and my friends try from San Francisco’s legendary Paulette. Ever since, I have been obsessed to say the least. Years ago, I would search high and low, near and far for these delicious French pastries, but could never find them except at a few select bakeries.

Now that their popularity has risen, I am seeing macarons in many bakeries, coffee shops, and even grocery stores (Hello, Trader Joe’s!). Additionally, I’m now seeing plenty of macaron recipes! I had always wanted to try making these at home, especially since buying them can be pricy, so I recently took the plunge.

First of all, I would like to say, that making macarons is DIFFICULT. One must be very careful during the entire preparation and baking process in order to achieve macaron perfection. Any small missteps can cause major problems with the final product. Not too many people can achieve macaron perfection on their first attempt, which is why every recipe I’ve come across advises practice.

Preparing to make these delicious treats can prove tedious. Gathering ingredients and tools for this can take a long time, and can even lead to some price comparison shopping (I’m looking at you, almond meal/flour). Even with the best planning, be prepared to be thrown any curve balls!  The almond meal/powdered sugar mix must be as fine as possible. Above shows the preparation in running the mix through a food processor in order to grind up the small bits (and even sort of centrifuge out the big bits). After that was completed, I sifted the mix in order to nix the large chunks of almond. This was one of the most tedious parts. I didn’t expect so many chunks to remain. This process easily took me a half hour. If someone knows of a faster way to do this, let me know!! Once the sifting was completed, it was time to start on the meringue. Using a hand mixer, I whipped egg whites and granulated sugar together to create meringue. Getting the consistency just right was tough and also nerve-wracking. Undermixing and overmixing can cause extreme results in the end, which is why it was important to be very careful. It was then time to mix the almond flour/powdered sugar with the meringue. This had to be done with a spatula, in a folding motion. The photo shows the incorporated almond/sugar into the meringue. Time to prep that pastry bag!

I faced a number of frustrating issues with the piping bag. By this time, I was hungry, tired, and ready to sleep, but I had already come so far. I piped the batter into (almost) circles as shown above. Having the right pastry bag and piping tip is crucial in getting the perfect circle shape, along with arm technique. Needless to say, my piping talents fell short here.

In my frustration, I refrained to take photos of the vanilla buttercream that I had messed up pretty badly. I ended up using a vanilla buttercream recipe that was on the back of the powdered sugar :)

However, not all was lost! Here’s the final product:

Sure, some of them were warped and cracked, but these turned out better than I expected for my first attempt! Now that I understand how delicate these babies really are, I might be ready to undertake different flavors (nutella, anyone?).

For those of you who are interested, here’s the recipe that I used. It was the simplest recipe I could find.

Also, here is a link to Food Nouveau, where there is a very detailed troubleshooting guide on making macarons! I’d highly recommend checking out this resource before making your own macarons. Wish I had done so! There are also videos on making macarons for a better visual guide.

So, with all this being said, can I interest you in some homemade vanilla macarons? :)


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