French macarons with vanilla bean buttercream

The first time I tried making macarons I failed on so many levels, I lost count. My meringue stubbornly refused to form stiff peaks (even after I yelled profanities at my poor mixer) and it all kind of hurtled downhill from there. The result was a gloppy mess that eventually ended up in the trash. I was so disheartened, I vowed I would never make them again.

A few months later, my sister came across a recipe for salted caramel macarons on Everyday Gourmet and after some coaxing, I agreed to give it another go. I’m so glad I did, because they turned out heaps better the second time around. Maybe it was because we watched the demonstration a bazillion times. Justine Schofield and Kirsten Tibballs deserve medals for making it look so easy.

Anyhow, my cousin’s daughter G is celebrating her sixth birthday next week and I’ve been rostered on for macaron duty. I know how temperamental they can be, in and out of the oven, so I decided to give it a test run beforehand.

G’s pretty fussy when it comes to food; if it’s not vanilla-flavoured or pink, she’s not having it. Kids these days, right? Good thing she’s so cute. I used a recipe from the Style at Home website for French macarons, making a few modifications along the way. I thought I’d post it as a fail-safe guide to making these tricky little buggers. And by fail-safe, I mean if I can make them, anyone else can!

Ingredients

(Yields approximately two dozen macarons)

2/3 cup (85 g) almond meal

1 & ½ cups (150 g) pure icing sugar

3 large egg whites, at room temperature

5 tbsp (65 g) caster sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

Method

Line a tray with greaseproof paper and draw 2.5 cm circles spaced 1.5 cm apart from each other.

Grind almond meal and icing sugar in a food processor until you have a fine powder. Sieve twice and set aside.

Beat egg whites in a stainless steel bowl on high speed until foamy. Some recipes advise that you age your egg whites for a few days, but I didn’t and they turned out fine.

Gradually add caster sugar and continue beating on high until stiff peaks form. I used a half a teaspoon of cream of tartar to make the mixture glossy. Mix in vanilla extract.

Add half of the almond meal and icing sugar mixture to the meringue. Use a spatula to scoop it up from the bottom of the bowl and gently fold it over to avoid knocking the air out of the egg whites.

Add the rest of the almond meal and icing sugar mixture and continue folding the ingredients together until fully incorporated. If the batter drips slowly off the end of the spatula, it’s ready.

Attach a 1 cm piping tip to a piping bag and fill with macaron batter. Pipe batter into the designated circles (or freestyle, whichever you feel more comfortable with).

Rap the tray against a flat surface so the macarons round out in shape. Allow them to dry for 15-20 minutes, or until the batter does not stick to your finger when you touch them.

Preheat oven to 190 degrees Celsius. I used a fan-forced oven at 170 degrees, but looking back, I’d probably lower it to 160.

Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until the shells develop a crisp outer layer. Allow them to cool on a wire rack before adding the filling.

I made a vanilla bean buttercream to sandwich them together:

Ingredients

100g unsalted butter

1 cup (90g)  pure icing sugar

1 tsp vanilla bean paste

2 dollops of whipped cream

Method

Place butter in microwave for 15 seconds. Cream softened butter and icing sugar in a mixing bowl.

Add vanilla bean paste and whipped cream. Beat until smooth.

Pipe buttercream onto the flat side of a macaron shell and press firmly against another. And…

…voila! Now that I’ve managed to get the basics under control, I can’t wait to experiment with different colours and flavours. I sampled a peanut butter flavoured macaron not long ago and it was lip-smacking good, so it’s definitely on the list. Until then, happy baking!

– Erika x

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8 thoughts on “French macarons with vanilla bean buttercream

  1. You have no idea how frustrated I got the first time I made them! I’m more comfortable making cupcakes and things like that, so when recipes start to get all technical and fancy, I’m pretty much screwed. Haha. Nothing a little practice can’t fix, though. Thanks so much! 🙂 x

    • Aw, thanks! Don’t lose hope! Seriously, if I can make them, anybody can. I know most macaron recipes are fiddly, but as long as you take it one step at a time (and pray that your oven is nice to you), you’re good to go 🙂 x

  2. OMG these look so amazing and perfect! I’m so glad you posted about macarons 🙂 I just went to do a lesson last weekend and even though I was able to make pretty macarons there! When i went home the next day, I tried making them…and they look half decent…but first batch was a little too soft and second was a little crunchy and airy 😦 I’m gonna have to try your recipe 😀

    • Thanks, Daisy! Yeah, macarons can be tricky that way. I remember making a few batches a while back that came out of the oven different every time! Some were cracked, some were too soft and some came out perfect, so it’s all about timing. Whereabouts did you take the class?

      Just a heads up, I’d probably use less icing sugar and more almond meal. These came out sweeter than I expected, but I’m guessing that shouldn’t be an issue for you 😉 Let me know how you go with this recipe! 🙂 x

  3. Oh my gosh your macarons look amazing!! I’m still too scared to try them but you’ve managed to articulate the recipe and instructions in a way that actually entices me to face my fears and give them a go…. I’ll keep you posted… haha thanks for sharing 🙂 x

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