Thursday, May 17, 2012

Dark Chocolate Macarons – Better Three Years Late Than Never

I did it. I made macarons. Finally, I can apply for my food blogger merit badge! Hold on, I’m being told I still need to make mini-cupcakes and a quinoa salad to qualify. Oh well, I’ve waited this long.

Anyway, this was my first attempt at macarons, and for not having any clue what I was doing, I was quite happy with the results. They looked fine, and the texture was almost identical to the ones sold at Chantal Guillon, a famous macaron bar here in San Francisco.

So, was it beginners luck? Yes. You would think since I waited three years to make these, I would have done more research, but I did almost none. In fact, I literally used the first chocolate macaron recipe I found, which happened to be from David Lebovitz. He’s an American, but he lives in Paris, so I figured I was okay.

I watched a few videos, read a few articles, had a couple drinks, looked at a few step-by-steps, and off I went.  One thing I did notice was every single resource used a different recipe, as well as different times, temperatures, and techniques. So, I figured I would just use my instincts and try the most straightforward method possible.

I didn’t do any high-heat/low-heat tricks; no waiting for the tops to dry; no sugar syrups, etc. I just made the batter, piped it out, baked them off, and as you can see, they were not bad at all. One thing I did figure out all by myself was to use the ugly ones as the bottoms. By the way, there’s a very inappropriate metaphor there, if you’re looking.

So, here’s the deal; if you’ve never made these before, I hope this inspires you to give them a go. Believe me, if I can do these anyone can. However, if you’re an experienced macaron maker, we’d love to have you chime in. I can’t wait for this comment section to fill up with invaluable tips and tricks for what I should have done, and how I should have done it.

I know I piped them wrong. You’re not supposed to make a swirl, but keep the tip pressed in the center as you squeeze. I also heard that I should have cooked one pan at a time, because the bottom pan is more likely to crack. What else? Don’t worry about my feelings…after four years of posting videos on YouTube, I don’t have any left…so let me have it. And, as always, enjoy!


Basic Chocolate Macaron Batter (I found this recipe on davidlebovitz.com):
Makes about 18 finished cookies
*Weighing the ingredients is critical. Do not make these unless you have a digital kitchen scale!
100 gram powdered sugar
50 grams almond meal aka almond flour (the finer the better)
25 grams unsweetened cocoa powder
2 large room temperature egg whites
65 grams granulated sugar

For chocolate ganache:
1/3 cup hot heavy cream
4 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
pinch of salt
*pour hot cream over chocolate, and stir until smooth. Allow to cool slightly before filling cooled cookies.

Bonus Coverage: For more chocolate macaron information, my friend Denise from ChezUs makes some amazing ones, and knows WAY more about these than I do, so you can bug her with your questions too! ;-)

70 comments:

Berit said...

Any kitchen scale recommendations? What do you own/use?

Berit said...

Any recommendations on kitchen scales? Which do you use?

Chibby said...

We used to make chocolate-cocoanut macaroons quite often at the restaurant I worked at:)Yours look just fine John,don't worry about the cracks,perfectly natural for that to happen.

Anonymous said...

Hey,
When your folding in the chocolate powder could you just sprinkle it into the egg whites while your mixer is on?

Anonymous said...

drool.

Sandra said...

wow so easy, I'm feeling just a little too happy after watching this video, I need to do somthing to steady my nerves and sober my mood...I think I'll go watch the news ....even better I'll go visit Dr Mercolas website

Anonymous said...

I absolutely LOVE this recipe and I'm going to give it a try. Just a quick question! What keeps them from cracking?

Anonymous said...

At first I thought "Oh! Cool! Chocolate covered marshmallow cookies!" But this is way better!!!

Milael said...

Congrats for your first Macarons! They really look good and thanks for making Macarons more popular :)

Anonymous said...

I make my own powdered sugar since it takes 10 seconds in the spice grinder. Will this work with fresh powered sugar or do I need to buy some?

Anonymous said...

Adorable (cute) in French is "Mignon."

Anonymous said...

I have a few tips there for you:
-let them sit a little before baking until. this prevents cracking after baking
-after baking, immediately pull the baking paper on a wet surface. this helps you with removing them when cooled
-instead of only sifting the ingredients try to put them in a blender first
-use a recipe where eggwhites are measured in grams. thats more exact
-prepare eggwhites the night before, and let them sit in the fridge. it don't know what this little trick does-but it seems to help
-just prepare as many macarons as you can bake together in one oven. the batter cannot be kept too long.

My family prefers white macarons with dark chocolate ganache. Sometimes I sprinkle some cinnamon on the shells before baking. It looks really fancy!

Chef John said...

Thanks to those leaving tips and ideas, and sorry to those asking questions since I'm really not sure! :)

Liz said...

What's the best way to store these and how long will they last? You know... assuming you don't stuff them all in your mouth within ten minutes...

Madonna said...

You have given me courage. I am going to try these. Thank you so much.

Anonymous said...

You said "don't worry about my feelings", so here goes.
Although your macarons look like delicious cookies, they are a failure. A successful macaron must have "feet" or "skirt" around the edge. To achieve that, it's all in the temperature control during baking. 350F all through baking won't work.
Suggestion:
1.Preheat oven to 200C, insert macarons.Immediately turn off oven, leave oven door ajar with 2 thick oven mittens for 6 minutes.(This burst of high temperature forms the shell of the macarons).
2.When 6 minutes pass, remove mittens, close oven door, turn oven back to 140C. (This forces the uncooked batter inside the hardened shell to spill out of the cookie forming the "skirt").
3.Watch the macarons through oven door, when you see the feet/skirt starts to form, turn temperature to 120C immediately and bake for 3 minutes. (This cooks the macarons).
4.When the 3 minutes is up,turn temperature to 100C and bake for 5 minutes (to dry out the inside of the macarons).
5.When the 5 minutes is up,turn off oven and leave the door closed and the macarons inside for 8 minutes.(This final step prefects the cookies)
6.Remove from oven and let macarons cool in the tray.
More suggestions:
1.Your egg white could go for another minute of beating, it didn't look stiff enough.
2.Let piped macarons rest at room temperature for 20 minutes before baking.
3.Use a toothpick to burst any bubbles on the macarons. Don't tap the tray.
4.My suggested baking method works for batter piped to 3cm diameter rounds on a non-stick oven paper.Put a template of traced 3cm circles under the oven paper for accuracy.
5.One minute difference in any step of the baking process could make or break the final appearance of the macarons. (Oven A might take more or less time than oven B).
Truly,
Susanna
(I'm ready for hate mail from Chef John's fans now)

Chef John said...

Thanks for the info, but I'm confused about the "feet." Mine had that little ring around the bottom. Weren't those feet?

Unknown said...

Does anyone have a recipe or substitution suggestion for what to use in place of almond flour for those of us who are allergic to nuts? These look amazing and I'd love to give them a try...

Anonymous said...

A true/perfect macaron should have bigger feet or like the uniformed flare of a chiffon skirt when the wearer twirls. Your cookies' "feet" are not up to the acceptable size. They would score poorly in the evening gown event in a Miss Macaron pageant.
Truly,
Susanna

Anonymous said...

Chef John, you should check out Albarock's youtube channel for some inspiring deserts. He's talented but also a Frenchman.

Jacob Scott said...

yes, do we NEED almond flour, Im not supposed to eat those so the flour probably isnt good for me either xD

Macaron Lover said...

Hello Chef John! WOW, congratulations! If that was your first-ever attempt at macarons then it was a great effort. First, macarons are very temperamental = they're not easy to make. It's easy to botch up a batch...or two...or three. :) Second, chocolate shells are probably one of the hardest shells to make. No kidding! That's because cocoa dries the mixture and throws the macaron batter out of whack. But you managed quite fine. Sure they're not perfect and the little feet are a teeny bit too little but hello people - first attempt, okay?? Piping perfect circles is not easy - this Macaron Template should help. Also The Macaron Master shows how to start a macaron business from home - for those who are interested! Thank you for a great post, Chef John!

Anonymous said...

While they may not be "proper," they sure look good! And if you're making these for family, it won't matter! haha.

Actually, I was surprised at the outcome of yours. I was reading all these horror stories of people who attempted making them and for a first try, I thought you did a great job.

I've yet to attempt them, but I definitely want to!

conri said...

Totally made these with out a scale.

It did not work... I should have listened.

Shirley@bells-bakery said...

Im a baking nut and im still so scared to attempt these,maybe I should just suck it up and go for it.I would be DEEEELIGHTED if mine turned out looking like that,feet right size or not :)

Shirley

Anonymous said...

check this out Checf John: a great series from the uk, incidentally she also chose to make macaroons this week:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/wordofmouth/2012/may/17/how-to-cook-perfect-chocolate-macarons

great video by the way, as usual :)

Melissa said...

Your feet look great to me. At least they aren't hairy.

Anonymous said...

Sussana please let me know where exactly I can send you hate mail
:-)
Regards.

Oh & Chef John,just made these. I loved them. You made something really hard sound so simple....
unlike some people

haha okay no offense to anyone ! Its easy to get sentimental when you're watching videos of the world's greatest chef!
thanks for the recipe!

Aiko said...

Hi Chef John!

The recipe was really great and I'm glad you introduced us to how to make macarons.

I made them today and I may have a few problems with the end product. First, my macarons came out with lots, and lots of cracks. And second, they didn't have tiny feet on them too. They looked cooked when I took them out of the over and I have no idea what happened.

Do you have any idea what happened? If yes, can you share them with me? I'm not an accomplished baker and I would really love the tips.

Thanks!

Aiko

Basia said...

Okay - so!

You actually can't make your own powdered sugar. What you're making is superfine or "instant" sugar. It's great for cold drinks because it dissolves immediately. Commercially produced powdered sugar contains cornstarch, and so it acts differently in baking and cooking.

It's probably not a good idea to toss the dry ingredients in while the mixer is running because it'd be too easy to overmix the egg whites. The feel you get by doing it by hand gives important feedback.

The only substitution you could make for almond flour would be other nut flours - and that wouldn't help you if it's a question of allergy. The problem is that ground nuts are not ground grains, and act differently in baking. Besides, that's like asking how to make chocolate cake but substitute something else for chocolate.

And finally, mon cher Chef John, je suis si fier que vous avez choisi de prononcer macaron correctement ! Vous méritez le Chevalier dans l'Ordre national de la Légion !

Boni said...

The David Lebovitz recipe actually calls for unsweetened Dutch process cocoa. I have made it several times with regular unsweetened cocoa with good results. I finally splurged and bought some outrageously expensive Dutch process cocoa thinking they would be even better and had my first failed batch - cracked tops and no feet. I think the acidity of the regular cocoa helps stabilize the meringue or something.

Emerald_Mara85 said...

Err...

I don't have an electric mixer...
Can I do this with a whisk?

Hmm last time I tried a peak thing, it collapse due to hot temperatures in my country...(but it was with whip cream) should I put ice under the bowl when I whisk? (haha so totally newbie here)

Anonymous said...

I would never have thought to make any meringue thing until you showed us Pavlova. I have made that 4 times now and it's always a hit.

I'm definitely going to make these. They look so-o-o-o-o delicious. And I think I'm going to stick to your method. It looks so much simpler than those suggested by Susanna.

Jackie

Brooke said...

Chef John I love your blog. You making cooking so enjoyable and funny. This recipe looks fantastic. I'm going to try it very soon!

Pantalone said...

Macaron controversy! Jeesh ... I'm waiting for the quinoa salad video!

Anonymous said...

So chef john i love your video first of all but i have a question i know youre from san francisco i live here too but i dont know were i can get almond flour can you recomend a place thank youuu
Isabel.

Chef John said...

whole foods!

Anonymous said...

Hi chef John,

I don't make macaroon good but I made it a lot, here is some suggestion:

1. Put all the dry ingredient into food processor before you sift it, it can help you get a finer texture

2. Put half of the sugar to the egg white at the very beginning before you whisk it, and add the second half when the egg white is foamy, this can help you get less volume from the meringue

3. I fold the batter a little bit more runny than in your video, probably fold it around 5 more times

4. When you pipe it, using a pastry tips can help getting a better shape

5. Use a silk pat instead parchment paper, feel it can help to had a better shape

Sincerely,
E

Ilan @ IronWhisk.com said...

Hi Chef John!

I recently wrote an in-depth tutorial on this French treat. It might help your readers/viewers!

http://www.ironwhisk.com/2012/05/french-macarons/

Pretty feet :)

Jeremy said...

Chef John, I've been looking to make these types of cookies recently and I've found in the Cooks Illustrated recipe they let the piped cookies sit at room temp for one hour before baking. Apparently they form a skin of sorts and that helps prevent cracking!

Pauline said...

Hey there chef John!

Amazingly done for first try, I must say. First time I made them, it turned into a flat feet-less...thing. Anyway, here are some tips that I find useful (that I think others haven't mentioned:

-you should fold the macaron batter until it is a bit at the ribbon stage. To test for that, take a bit of the batter and drop it on your hand. If the batter spreads a bit and the 'peak' disappears and create a smooth surface, it's done. Remember, macarons shouldn't have a dome on top, like the ones sold in shops. Then are flat and stackable :)

-use your silicone baking mat!!! it works amazingly, and the macaron won't stick to the pan, plus it prevents over cooking :)

-After you pipe the macarons and you have some 'peaks' dip your hand in water and just tap it down with your finger.

-Like other people said, leave the piped macaron to dry for 10-15 minutes. Then, and only then, can you do the tappa tappa. That way, it would make the feet more...feety.

-After the macaron is cooked, don't take it out of the oven just yet. Turn of the oven, and let the macaron sit for 2-3 minutes, with the oven door cracked open.

Hope these help!

lots of respects,

Pauline :)

Anonymous said...

Susanna,

I read a lot of french books written by french pastry chefs and not one single one of them indicate your direction for the temperature of the oven... I think it's a bit crazy because not two ovens will cool down at the same rate making your direction useless.

Second I think you have no idea what a Traditional Macaron looks like, you have certainly the image of all those macarons found in trendy shops, and that's just one aspect, they are many different appearances, equally acceptable (for ex Macarons Lorains, Macarons Hollandais have cracked surface, etc...). I suggest the book "Un amour de macaron" by Stephane Glacier if you can read french.

Calling Chef John's Macaron a failure is a bit excessive.

What is failure though is his Ganache, I personally think it is at least a misdemeanor to make a Ganache this way...

also, were is the Cayenne Peper !?

Mich said...

Thank you dear chef. Love the macaroooons. Love the absolutely foolproof recipe. And the feet look fine to me. And my feet came out just fine and tasted lovely :p Best baking greetings from Denmark, Europe.

ritianne said...

what can i use instead of granulated sugar

Anonymous said...

Hello.. the video looked really easy and interesting.

May I have the recipe measures in cups rather than grams? or Ml? pleaaase

Thanks!! <3

Anonymous said...

When I first saw this video, it whetted my appetite for macarons, but I thought to myself: Chef John is no pastry chef; I better find myself a legit recipe. So I traipsed around the internet, used a recipe from some retired pastry chef with a pretty blog who will not be named, and FAILED. Epically. They were like flat sugar crackers. So I came back here, even more determined to have macarons, and I used this recipe. They came out beautifully. Not flawless, there was the odd cracked top, but the feet were there, the chewy inside was there, and I couldn't have been happier. I'm sorry I ever doubted you Chef John; I will never stray again.

Thanks a bunch!
Betty

n. yvette, 'e-vet' said...

Hi Chef John! So I have an embarrassingly short culinary skillset but I thought this looked manageable, so I gave it a try. They worked out, kind of! Some of mine cracked too, but I was expecting worse.

http://a5.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc6/278403_361963077213532_1129149409_o.jpg

All the best sir!

Francesca said...

Hi Chef John,

I was wondering if the recipe worked with whipping cream instead of heavy cream.

Thanks...

Chef John said...

Same thing I believe.

Anonymous said...

Hi, Chef John! I hope you're doing well!

I have made these babies before and I loved them! I was wondering if I wanted to make pistachio macarons (just taking them up a notch), could I just replace the cocoa powder with the same weighted amount of pistacho powder? ...Ideally this could work...any thoughts? Thank you!

Chef John said...

sorry, not sure!

Simonne said...

HI, Can I know what is your nice blue spatula made of?
Thanks

Chef John said...

just a standard silicon spatula

Nummy iemboon said...

I was wondering about the temperature when you leave the macaroons to dry .How much is the room temperature ? Cause my country is very hot

Chef John said...

It was about 65F when I did mine. Not sure if makes a big difference or not.

The Bitchy Barista said...

Your Macaroons turned out amazing. I am a pastry chef and have seen my fair share, yours turned out beautifully.

The Bitchy Barista said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
NIKITA KADAM said...

thank you so much for sharing such a wonderful recipe with us,here's how my macrons look....
https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151208413241859&set=a.10150150445401859.285544.579521858&type=1&theater

Michael McKenney said...

Hi,
My name is Michael and I am 8 years old. I want to be a pastry chef when I grow up. Thank you for this great video about making chocolate macarons. My mom finally agreed to make them with me. It was our first try and they came out great! The feet were perfect and the cookies were gooey on the inside. I shared them with my family and friends. I will definitely make these again. Happy baking!
Michael

Chef John said...

That's awesome! Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Dear chef :)
Adorable in French is "adorable"
Pronounced "ah-doh-raah-blu"
or: adɔʀabl

Anonymous said...

hi chef :)
adorable in french is "adorable"
pronounced "ah-doh-rah-ble"
or adɔʀabl
And yes, your macarons are!

Febi Oroh said...

hi Chef John...

I've been watching your macaron video like hundred times and I'm making my second attemp using your recipe, I hope this time I will succeed. Wish me luck! The first one came out feetless and crunchy, but still tasted good so I snacked on them anyway. Honestly, I've been really obssessed with this delicate cookie lately so I really wanted to make it my own...

Bittergreen said...

I'll answer some of your questions:

1) NO, you cannot blend the flour in with your egg whites. It must be folded in with a spatula to keep the egg whites fluffy and with volume.

2) You must rap the cookie sheets at least 5-7 times each after piping the cookies onto the cookie sheets. This removes the air bubbles from the cookies, which prevents the cookies from cracking during baking.

3) Make sure the eggs are at ROOM TEMPERATURE.

4) Be sure to allow your piped cookies to sit for about 30 minutes so that they become smooth and dry on the crust (you should be able to touch the cookie without the batter sticking to you).


Hope this helped!

mihaela d said...

Thank you so much for the grams measurements!

Beatrix Hitijahubessy said...

hi chef John! :) thanks for share this recipe.I want try this but, I confused about the egg white. wheter the egg white should to sit or not ? and if it should, so how long ? because there are some said to sit it about 24 hours or 5 hours ._. thanks chef :)

Chef John said...

don't think it matters as long as they are room temp.

Beatrix Hitijahubessy said...

thanks chef John :)

Herb L said...

I don't have large eggs! I only have medium

claudyaaa said...

Hey Chef John!
I'm a college student and it wasn't until I got to college that I got into cooking and baking. Something about basically being served jail food really motivated me to learn how to make more than just easy mac. I love desserts and I always wanted to tackle the french macaron. I've tried other times but it wasn't until I gave this a shot that they came out almost perfect (well almost perfect for me). Thank you.

Just look at these cute thangs
http://24.media.tumblr.com/ad7da08eb371afd943bd5be9ec5c0ec7/tumblr_mz2et6ax5N1qentn7o1_1280.jpg