With an almond slice baked into every shell, these almond buttercream-filled macarons truly are a celebration of the humble almond. This recipe uses a Swiss meringue as the base for the macarons, which I have found to be more consistent than the French meringue method.
Ingredients for Almond Macarons
As far as desserts go, basic macarons are one of the few with only a handful of ingredients. This recipe includes a few add-ons, like almond slices and gel food coloring, to make these macarons something special.
- Egg whites—be sure to use fresh egg whites, as carton egg whites typically won’t whip into a meringue!
- Granulated sugar
- Almond flour
- Powdered sugar
- Chocolate brown or sienna brown gel food coloring (optional)
- Almond slices—not whole or slivered but sliced
- Unsalted butter
- Almond extract
- Vanilla extract
Are Macarons Hard to Make?
Yes and no. Macarons are notoriously finicky creatures, as there are a lot of variables that can change the outcome of your meringue cookie. It can take quite a few tries before you get a perfect batch of macarons.
The good news? Once you figure out the correct set of variables for your kitchen, macarons are one of the easiest recipes to make!
If you’re new to making macarons and are nervous to start, I would recommend making my ladyfingers recipe first. The steps are similar to macarons but the batter is far more forgiving. It’s a great stepping stone that gets you familiar with the process of making macarons but without as much frustration.
Quick Tips for Prepping Almond Macarons
The most important thing to remember is that macarons are finicky. Even if they don’t look perfect, they’ll still taste great!
Do I Need to Weigh the Ingredients for Almond Macarons?
This is the first macaron recipe I’ve posted with volumetric measurements (cups), though I always make it according to the mass (weight) measurements. Please make sure to spoon and level your almond flour and powdered sugar into the measuring cups instead of packing them in straight from the bag. That makes a huge difference in the overall quantity of ingredients!
But if you’ve been wanting a kitchen scale and need an excuse to buy one, I have this kitchen scale from OXO and love it.
Placing the Almond Slices
When placing the almond slices on top of each macaron shell, take care that you don’t crowd the almond slices. Adding a large object (as opposed to a dusting of cocoa powder or something similar) severely limits the ability for macaron shells to fully dry before you bake them.
For best results, I recommend making sure none of the almond slices touch each other and that you place no more than three slices on each macaron. The only macarons that cracked or had lopsided feet in my test batches were those that had multiple almond slices on them.
Can I Make These Almond Macarons with Whole Almonds instead of Almond Slices?
No, the macarons will not turn out if you use a whole almond instead of an almond slice. The slices don’t weigh enough to prohibit the rise, but whole almonds would.
What’s the Difference between French and Swiss Meringue?
These almond macarons are made with a Swiss meringue, which is more stable than a French meringue.
French meringue is made from raw egg whites and granulated sugar whisked together at room temperature. The sugar to egg white ratio is usually around 1:2 or even up to 2:1. It’s known as the least stable meringue, but it’s also the least fussy to make. (There’s probably a correlation there.) My French macaron recipe contains half the weight of sugar as egg whites.
Swiss meringue is made from raw egg whites and granulated sugar but is first heated to dissolve the sugar and then whisked together at room temperature. The sugar to egg white ratio is usually about 1:1. Both Swiss and Italian meringues are more stable than French meringues.
Why Does Dissolving the Sugar Result in a More Stable Meringue?
Imagine playing kids “crack the egg” on a trampoline. A child rolls up into a ball and holds her body tight to prevent from “breaking open” while other kids jump on the trampoline around her. Eventually, the bouncing and jostling eventually is too much for the child, and the child opens her arms or her legs slip out of the ball, like an egg that’s been cracked open.
That’s essentially what happens with the protein inside an egg white. Once the amino acid chains have been jostled or heated enough, they unfurl and bond with other amino acids (or even the air itself). Those bonds trap the air and water particles in place, creating volume in the egg whites.
When whisking egg whites, you’re beating tiny particles of air into the egg white. With heating, the amino acid chains unfurl and begin to bond with other amino acids. But by beating air into the egg white, you’re also trapping little particles of air inside those bonds, which adds volume to the egg whites.
Over time, these bonds begin to break. By adding a stabilizer (in this case, sugar), you prolong the time it will take for the bonds to break. The higher the sugar ratio, generally, the more stable your meringue. And the more stable your meringue, the longer it will take to break down.
If you’re still intrigued, here’s a short article talking all about the science of eggs.
Do Macarons Made from Swiss Meringue Have Hollows?
In my experience, macarons made with Swiss meringue are typically fuller than macarons made with French meringue.
If your macarons are perfect except for a slightly hollow center, try changing up the recipe for your meringue. Adding more sugar to a French meringue can help stabilize it just long enough for the macarons to dry and bake without the meringue breaking down too much.
The Perfect Macaron Batter Consistency
Macaron batter needs to be a certain consistency in order to develop feet. The consistency and process is so important that it has its own name: “macaronage.”
Many beginner macaron makers think of macaronage as an end result, when it’s really a process.
Macaronage as a Process
The egg whites start out as liquid with no air in them. Then you whisk a lot of tiny air bubbles into the egg whites to form a meringue. You have added so much air into the egg whites that now they essentially function as a solid instead of a liquid.
Then, you fold in almond flour and powdered sugar. As you fold the batter with a spatula, you are knocking the air out of the meringue. That helps to transform our previously solid meringue back into a liquid batter. The more folds you give the batter, the more liquid the batter becomes. (My husband says this is called viscosity, but that’s a bit technical.)
The perfect consistency of macaron batter will look grainy as it flows off the spatula in one long, stacking ribbon. Then, it will begin to absorb back into the rest of the batter (within 10-15 seconds) and will leave a smooth and shiny surface.
If your batter takes more than 15 seconds to absorb, you need to knock a little more air out of the meringue. If your batter takes closer to 5 seconds to absorb, it’s likely overmixed; however, it will probably still turn out decent macarons. Unfortunately, if your batter absorbs immediately, there is not enough air left in the meringue to form proper macarons. I recommend starting over.
Recommended Supplies for Making Almond Macarons
Each oven and home varies, so while these supplies are the cream of the crop when it comes to making macarons, you may find something that works better for you in your home.
In my old house and old oven, I could use a dark nonstick pan and parchment paper on top of silicone macaron mats with no issues. In my new house and new oven, I have to use aluminum pans with silicone macaron mats (affiliate links).
I still use parchment paper from time to time, but my macarons tend to bleed a little on parchment paper. I’m particular about how circular my macarons are, so I stick to silicone mats.
If you are following all the steps and your macarons still aren’t consistent after three batches, I would look into your supplies. Try changing one variable at a time to determine what the problem is.
Dish Cleanup: A Lil Messy
I rate my recipe cleanups on a scale of 1 to 5. 1 is only a handful of dishes, and 5 is everything including the kitchen sink.
My almond macarons recipe is a 3. The recipe will dirty two large bowls and a handful of other bowls. Realistically, you’ll probably be like me and only use half as many prep bowls when making this recipe. I weigh everything in the bowl it will eventually end up in rather than weighing ingredients in cute little prep bowls. That cuts down on quite a few dishes alone!
And: It’s also perfectly okay to fish around in the bag of almond slices with clean hands. You don’t need to wash an extra plate for that unless you want to.
Almond Macaron Recipe
- 100g egg whites (from three eggs)
- 100g granulated sugar (1 cup)
- 110g almond flour (1 cup)
- 100g powdered sugar (1 cup)
- ½ drop chocolate brown or sienna brown gel food coloring (optional)
- 15g almond slices (2 teaspoons)
- 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter (85g)
- 1 ½ cups powdered sugar (150g)
- ½ teaspoon almond extract
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Making the Swiss Meringue
- Heat about an inch of water in a pot over medium heat. Prepare two baking sheets with macaron silpats or parchment paper. Prepare a piping bag fitted with a round tip (I use Wilton #12 or Ateco 808) and set aside.
- Sift together the almond flour and powdered sugar. This is necessary for perfectly smooth shells. Set aside.
- Separate the eggs, placing the whites in the bowl of a stand mixer or other large bowl. Add the granulated sugar and whisk together. Set the bowl over the pot with steaming water and whisk until the mixture is no longer grainy, about 1 to 1 ½ minutes. Rub a small amount of the mixture between your thumb and forefinger to test if the sugar has fully dissolved.
- Remove the bowl from heat, wiping the bottom with a towel if necessary. Place the bowl in a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. (You may also use a hand mixer.)
- Begin whisking the mixture on low (speed 2 on a KitchenAid). Over the course of 10-15 minutes, gradually increase the speed to medium and then medium high until the meringue forms stiff peaks (see blog post for a photo). If desired, add food coloring when the meringue reaches soft peaks.
- Note: Do not whisk your meringue at anything higher than 8. Whisking too much air into the batter too quickly may result in hollow macaron shells from a weak meringue. (Trust me: I used to speed up this process and frequently ended up with hollow macarons!)
Making the Macarons
- Remove the bowl from the stand mixer and pour half of the almond flour mixture into the meringue. Fold together until fully incorporated, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl. Add in the remaining almond flour mixture and fold together. The mixture will be thick, but as you continue folding, it will lose some air and thin out. Continue folding and pressing the batter into the sides of the bowl until the batter is the correct consistency (covered in the next step).
- To test the consistency, scoop the batter up, and let it flow back into the bowl. Continue folding until the mixture flows in one solid ribbon off the spatula. It should look a bit grainy as it flows off the spatula, then dissolve back into the batter in about 15 seconds and look glossy instead of grainy.
- Pour the batter into the prepared piping bag. Holding the bag at a 90° angle to the pan, gently squeeze out the macaron batter into lumps about 1-1.5" in diameter. They will spread as they settle.
- To release any bubbles trapped inside the wet batter, bang the underside of the pan with the heel of your hand multiple times until you see tiny bubbles popping on the tops of the macaron shells. Use a toothpick or scribe to pop any remaining bubbles for a perfectly smooth top.
- Gently place one almond slice on top of each piped macaron shell. (You may place up to three almond slices on each macaron shell, but make sure there is plenty of room between each slice. The almond slices retain moisture in the macarons and make them particularly susceptible to cracking, even after drying.)
- Set the macarons aside in a well-ventilated area to dry for about 20-30 minutes. I like to point a low-speed fan at them to speed up the drying process. The faster the macarons dry, the lesser your chance of your meringue breaking down and ultimately causing hollows. On particularly humid days, this step may take about an hour.
- While the macarons are drying, preheat the oven to 320°F. The macarons are ready to go in the oven when you can lightly pet the top of a macaron without it leaving residue on your finger.
Baking the Macarons
- Once the macarons are dry, bake one tray at a time in the center rack for about 15 minutes or until the macaron is set. Test to see if the macarons are set: Try to gently wiggle a macaron back and forth from the center of the pan with your thumb and forefinger. If the center moves at all, put the tray back in the oven for another minute or two until the center of the macaron is set and does not move when prompted.
- Let each tray cool completely before removing the macarons from the mats, about 10 minutes.
Making the Buttercream
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a beater attachment, cream the butter for one minute. Add in the powdered sugar and mix together until combined. Add in the extracts, then beat on medium high for five minutes for a fluffy buttercream.
- Transfer the buttercream into a piping bag fitted with a large star tip. (I used Wilton 2D.)
Assembling the Macarons
- Pair similarly sized macarons together and line them up, one with the flat side up and one with the flat side down. The flat side is the bottom of a macaron shell.
- On the bottom of a macaron shell, pipe a star of buttercream in the center of the shell while slowly rotating the shell. Stop piping when the dollop is about ⅔ of the size of the shell. This will result in a beautiful swirl pattern that stops right at the edges of the macaron. Place the other macaron shell on top and press lightly to form a nice seal. Repeat with the rest of the macarons.
- The macaron shells will soften and the flavors will develop after maturing in the fridge for one day, though you may eat them any time you'd prefer after assembly.
Store in the fridge in an airtight container for up to a week for maximum freshness.
Serving Size:1 filled macaron
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 95Total Fat: 4gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 6mgSodium: 9mgCarbohydrates: 13gFiber: 1gSugar: 12gProtein: 1g
The nutrition facts are estimated and may vary based on specific ingredients used.
Thanks for trying out my almond macaron recipe! I’d love to see how it turns out: Take a photo and tag me on Instagram @floralapronblog to share with me, or use the hashtag #floralapronbakes.
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Other Recipes You May Enjoy
There are more macaron flavors available on the Macaron page here on my blog.
As I mentioned above, my ladyfingers recipe is a great place to start if you’ve never made macarons. The light, bite-sized sponge cakes are great to have on hand for trifles and no-bake desserts.