FROM THE KITCHEN – Macaron Dreams

by Joan Saunders | Photos by Amanda Cribdon Photography –

For years, I dreamed of trying to bake macarons but didn’t even make the attempt. I foolishly believed that you had to speak French, work in a pristine patisserie and have special training to create these lovely treats. I was wrong!

While it does take a bit of organization and preparation, making macarons is not difficult. The first time I tried the recipe I remember saying: “Look at the foot; they have the macaron foot!” I was astonished and so pleased that, in the end, they turned out beautifully.


From: Bobbette & Belle: Classic Recipes from the Celebrated Pastry Shop. Find their lovely cookbook at a local bookstore or online: Makes approx. 24 macarons.

1 cup plus 2 tbsp icing sugar
1⅓ cups almond flour
½ cup granulated sugar
⅛ tsp salt
½ cup egg whites (4 large eggs), room temperature

Step 1: The first step? Get ready. Preheat oven to 300°. Use silicone macaron mats or parchment: trace 48 two-inch circles an inch apart on parchment. Make sure parchment lies flat on cookie sheet; cut to size if needed. Turn over parchment onto cookie sheet so pencil doesn’t seep into macarons (you’ll still be able to see the outline through the paper).

Step 2: Into a bowl sift icing sugar; add almond flour and whisk together. Mix together sugar and salt in another bowl.

Step 3: In bowl of stand mixer, using whisk attachment, whisk whites on medium until frothy. Now slowly add sugar mixture, a spoonful at a time, still whisking. Once sugar is incorporated, add food colouring in your choice of colour. Increasing speed to medium-high, whip until meringue looks shiny and holds medium peaks.

Step 4: Take bowl off mixer stand. Add a third of the almond mix; using spatula, fold in carefully. In two more additions, fold in remaining almond mix. Continue to fold in until fully combined, but still soft. It should appear like ooze – soft but still thick. Do not overmix or you’ll lose the lacy foot you’re going for.

Step 5: Using a large piping bag, you need a large round, plain tip (#5 or bigger). Don’t fill the piping bag too full so it’s easier to handle (about half full works well). Hold the bag upright in the middle of a circle. Squeeze out the batter. Stop just before it reaches the edge. Fill all the circles. When you refill the bag, work smoothly and quickly so you don’t handle the batter too much. Once all the batter is used up, tap the bottom of the baking sheets on the counter to knock out air bubbles and smooth tops.

Step 6: Keep the shells uncovered and just let them sit for about 30 minutes. You’re waiting for a thin skin to form. You can test this: shells should feel dry to a careful touch on top. Length of time to get to this point might vary.

Step 7: Bake four minutes. Rotate sheet; bake four more minutes. Rotate sheet again; bake six more minutes or until shells have lacy foot and smooth, crisp, slightly shiny top. If you gently touch the top, it shouldn’t move, slide or lose shape. If top seems to shift slightly, bake two more minutes and test again. Cool the shells on the sheets.


2 large egg whites (¼ cup)
½ cup granulated sugar
½ pound / 1 cup unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes,
room temperature
1 tsp pure vanilla

Step 1: With an inch or so of water in medium saucepan, bring water
to simmer.

Step 2: Put your egg whites and sugar into a heatproof bowl that will fit with pot. Place bowl over simmering water; gently whisk until very hot to touch or candy thermometer reads 140° F. Pour egg white mix into bowl of stand mixer with whisk.

Step 3: Whisk on medium-high until whites have cooled to room temperature, have medium peaks and doubled in volume,
8-10 minutes.

Step 4: Decrease mixer speed to medium-low; add butter a few cubes at a time. Increase speed to medium-high after each time more butter is added; beat until butter is fully integrated before adding more. Once all butter has been added, add food colouring and keep beating on medium-high until buttercream is fluffy and airy, one to two minutes. Stop mixer, scrape down sides and bottom of bowl.

Add vanilla; beat on medium speed for two more minutes.

To finish macarons: Pair up macarons in size, tops and bottoms. Fill piping bag with buttercream; use same tip as before. Pipe about a teaspoon-sized dollop onto bottoms, but don’t fill all the way to the edge. Create sandwich gently. Carefully apply pressure to spread filling to edge. I find that holding and twisting a bit also helps. If you press macarons while on a surface they will crack.

Store in an airtight container in fridge up to three days.

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