a sunken shell

The Macaron is the new cupcake. It’s a bite-size airy sandwich cookie. So airy and delicate that it might just float away. Even on its lightest day, the cupcake iced or plain could never aspire to such to the macaron’s daintiness.
vanilla bean macaron side
Further differentiating itself from the cupcake, this cookie demands precise measurements and steps to create a textured shells. The egg whites must be aged, beaten, and then folded into the dry mixture just so. This is what gives them their arched curve and crisped edges (aka feet).
Sweet macarons are often filled with buttercream, chocolate, or jam. But the flavor possibilities are limited only by the density of additional liquids that can sink the cookie. Dry powders and fruit zests combine with the dry mixture to pack flavor and maintain height.
vanilla bean macaron top
I tried making my first batch of vanilla bean macarons filled with dark chocolate ganache. Unless you want macarons with crumbling bodies and no feet that look like my first attempt, follow these ten steps.
vanilla bean macarons

What not to do when making French Macarons

1. Be sleep deprived.
2. Multi-task.
3. Decide to bake a batch of test brownies and cupcakes.
4. Forget for one second that 1 large egg white = about 2 tablespoons.
5. Do math in your head.
5 (a). If #5 happens, do have caffeine instead of water, it might improve your math skills for the next batch.
6. Forget to write down your recipe adjustments for halving and quartering the original recipe.
7. Use parchment paper instead of Silpat (seriously a few drops of water does not steam the macarons off the paper). If you must use parchment paper, allow them to cool for hours maybe even a day.
7 (a). Throw the chocolate batch of macarons into the trash because they have glued themselves to the parchment paper.
8. Pipe your macarons larger than 1 inch.
9. Use egg whites that have not been aged for up to 3 days.
10. Expect perfection.

from Claudia Fleming’s The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern

Confectioners’ (Icing) sugar: 2 ¼ cups (225 g, 8 oz.)
Almond flour: 2 cups (190 g, 6.7 oz.)
Granulated sugar: 2 tablespoons (25 g , .88 oz.)
Egg whites: 5 (Have at room temperature)

1. Preheat the oven to 200°F (93°C). Combine the confectioners’ sugar and almond flour in a medium bowl. If grinding your own nuts, combine nuts and a cup of confectioners’ sugar in the bowl of a food processor and grind until nuts are very fine and powdery.

2. Beat the egg whites in the clean dry bowl of a stand mixer until they hold soft peaks. Slowly add the granulated sugar and beat until the mixture holds stiff peaks.

3. Sift a third of the almond flour mixture into the meringue and fold gently to combine. If you are planning on adding zest or other flavorings to the batter, now is the time. Sift in the remaining almond flour in two batches. Be gentle! Don’t overfold, but fully incorporate your ingredients.

4. Spoon the mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a plain half-inch tip (Ateco #806). You can also use a Ziploc bag with a corner cut off. It’s easiest to fill your bag if you stand it up in a tall glass and fold the top down before spooning in the batter.

5. Pipe one-inch-sized (2.5 cm) mounds of batter onto baking sheets lined with nonstick liners (or parchment paper).

6. Bake the macaroon for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and raise the temperature to 375°F (190°C). Once the oven is up to temperature, put the pans back in the oven and bake for an additional 7 to 8 minutes, or lightly colored.

7. Cool on a rack before filling.

The 2009 October Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to us by Ami S. She chose macarons from Claudia Fleming’s The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern as the challenge recipe.


  1. Cocina Savant says

    my first batch looked kinda like that too, and then I found the age the egg whites a few days tip and that seemed to help quite a bit. it was fun, but a lot of work and uncertainty as to whether it would work or not, but it was a fun and challenging challenge!

  2. Jill says

    I loved your list about making macarons! My first batch was a disaster, but it gets better with practice (and a different recipe).

  3. Jenni says

    Your list is fantastic! :) I should have had it, especially when I was attempting my third batch at midnight, and the only thing that was succeeding was my frustration. At least when they don't look right, they still taste yummy! :)

  4. Abby says

    I made macarons a while ago as well. The first batch I made looked a lot like yours. I think I just piped them too big or something. Keep at it, it'll eventually work! :)

  5. Sheltie Girl says

    You are too funny! Yeah, I had my own list of things not to do when baking macarons as well, but no where near as long and comprehensive as your own.

    Natalie @ Gluten A Go Go

  6. Lisa says

    Last year, that's how my macs turnd out, hence why I 'gave' up. However, they tasted good, albeit a little sweet, so at least I got one good thing out of them! Now that I've tried Helen's recipe, I'm hooked! Did you try it? Almost foolproof.

    In any event..your macs look absolutely delicious, and that's what matters most. Love your list on what NOT to do when making these feisty buggers of a cookie :)

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