Making French macarons is not hard, but it can be an unforgiving process. One misstep can lead to results that are less than stellar. This recipe, however, is fairly easy and should have you on your way to making consistently perfect macarons. The buttercream filling is made with speculoos cookie butter, a creamy spread made from the famous Belgian spice cookies, and it is so delicious that this might just become your new favorite holiday cookie. Give the filled macarons at least 12 hours in the refrigerator to soften up and mature before serving them.
Makes about 26 macaron sandwich cookies
- 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon (106 grams) almond flour
- 1 ½ cups (175 grams) confectioners’ sugar
- 3 large (90 grams) egg whites, at room temperature
- 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon (80 grams) granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla paste or extract
- ½ cup (100 g/3.5 oz) granulated sugar
- 2 1/2 large (75 grams) egg whites*
- 16 tablespoons (227 g/8 oz) unsalted butter, softened but cool
- 1/2 teaspoon (2 g/0.07 oz) vanilla extract
- ¼ cup Trader Joe’s Speculoos or Biscoff Cookie Butter Spread (creamy, not crunchy)**
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, plus more for sprinkling
* Note: to measure ½ egg white, break a whole egg white into a small bowl and whisk just to break it up. Measure out 1 tablespoon for ½ egg white.
**Speculoos Cookie Butter is available here
Make the macarons:
- Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
- In a food processor, process the almond flour with the confectioners’ sugar until well blended. Sift the mixture through a medium-mesh sieve into a bowl.
- Put the egg whites and granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and, using a hand-held whisk, whisk them together just until blended (not the typical way to make a French meringue, but trust us, it works!). Put the bowl in the mixer stand and, using the whisk attachment, whip them at medium speed (#4 on a KitchenAid mixer) for 2 minutes, until they are very foamy. Increase the speed to medium-high (#6 on a KitchenAid) and whip for another 2 minutes, until they are opaque and form soft peaks. Increase the speed to high (#8 on a KitchenAid) and whip for another 2 minutes, until the meringue is stiff and glossy. Add the vanilla and beat until blended.
- Add half of the sifted almond mixture and fold it in with a spatula. Add the remaining almond mixture and fold it in. Fold the batter as you normally would, but after each stroke, press and spread it against the side of the bowl. Repeat this motion 30 to 40 times, until the batter just flows like lava when it falls from the spatula.
- Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Fit a pastry bag with a .4-inch plain tip (Ateco #4). Scrape the batter into the bag. Pipe out 1-inch rounds of batter onto the prepared baking sheet, spacing them ½ inch apart. Rap the baking sheet firmly against the counter a few times to remove any air bubbles. Dry the macarons at room temperature, uncovered, for 30 to 45 minutes. The batter circles should not stick to your finger when you touch them. If they do, let them dry a little longer.
- Stack the baking sheet with the macarons on it on another baking sheet. Place both sheets, stacked, in the oven and bake the macarons, for 12 to 14 minutes, until they are firm to the touch. Cool completely on a wire rack before removing the macarons. Repeat with the remaining sheet of macarons.
Make the buttercream:
- Pour enough water into a skillet so that it comes 1/2-inch up its sides. Bring the water to a simmer; reduce the heat to medium-low to maintain a simmer.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the sugar and egg whites. Place the bowl in the skillet of water and whisk gently until the mixture registers 160°F on an instant-read thermometer.
- Transfer the bowl to the mixer stand and, using the whisk attachment, beat at medium-high speed until the meringue is cool and forms stiff, shiny peaks, about 5 minutes.
- Switch to the paddle attachment, then reduce the speed to medium and beat in the butter, one tablespoon at a time. Beat in the vanilla, cookie butter spread and cinnamon. Beat at high speed until the buttercream is very smooth, about 1 minute.
Assemble the macarons:
- Scrape the buttercream into a pastry bag fitted with a .4 inch plain tip (Ateco #4). Pipe a ½-inch dollop of buttercream onto the underside of a macaron, leaving a ¼-inch border. Gently press the underside of another macaron against the buttercream and gently twist it until the filling spreads to the edge. Sprinkle each macaron with a touch of ground cinnamon. Repeat with the remaining macarons and buttercream. Store the macarons in an airtight container in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours before serving. Serve at room temperature. The macarons can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
Silpat Non Stick Silicone Baking Mat