Making vanilla macarons


I had a big French exam this summer, and with increasing revision fatigue, decided that making macarons in French must be a good exam prep strategy. I had never made them, but do enjoy eating them, so pourquoi pas? I was baking from a French recipe, which was great. Less easy: the impact of the heat and humidity (la chaleur et l’humidité) of a Roman summer kitchen on the final macarons. But I did have fun making these, improved my French baking vocabulary, and even managed to talk about macarons at the oral exam.


Recipe source: Macarons faciles (Ducasse, Serveau 2014). Lovely little ebook, free Kindle version, with 11 recipes and very detailed photographs and descriptions. If you dream about pastry school in Paris, you will enjoy it. Fouettez le beurre! Whisk the butter! When can I work THAT into a conversation?

Vanilla macarons

Coques vanille (the shells):
110 gr de poudre d’amandes (powdered almonds)
225 gr de sucre glace (icing sugar)
120 gr de blancs d’oefs (le blanc de 3-4 oeufs moyen) (eggwhites)
50 gr de sucre semoule (plain white granulated sugar)
1/2 gousse de vanille (half a vanilla pod)

Crème au beurre vanille (vanilla buttercream):
125 gr de crème au beurre nature (plain buttercream, see recipe below)
1/2 cuillerée à café de vanille (half tsp vanilla extract)


Pour préparer une crème au beurre (makes twice what you need: keep extra buttercream in fridge)
125 de beurre mou (soft butter)
1 oefs entier + 2 jaunes (1 whole egg and two yolks)
88 gr de sucre semoule (granulated sugar)
25 gr d’eau (water)

Neige ferme
Eggwhites beaten to neige ferme: firm snow. This is for the shells. Mix ground almonds and icing sugar, and mix them them for two minutes in a food processor, to achieve a more powdery consistency. Sieve this. Separate eggs, and whisk 120 grammes of eggwhites stiff, adding granulated sugar little by little. Then add sieved almond/ icing sugar mix, and fold this in with la maryse, a spatula. (I confess, I tipped in the coarse almond bits as well.) Scrape vanilla seeds from pod, and stir well until you have a shiny, supple and liquid mix. Spoon this into la pouche a douille (a pastry bag).

I piped these out by hand, and then left them to develop le croutage (slightly dry top, so they do not stick when you touch them) before baking. About an hour, room temperature. You can slam the trays on the table to get the air bubbles out.

In the interim, make buttercream. Whip the soft butter, yes: Fouettez le beurre!   Whisk the egg and two egg yolks. In a casserole, heat the sugar and water to 121C (I had a thermometer to check), then remove from heat. When it is at 110C, whisk the hot sugar and water into the egg yolks, and beat until mixture is tepid, five minutes or so. Now, add butter and fouettez this until smooth. Add vanilla extract. Cool in fridge, if your kitchen is hot.

Then bake the shells 12 minutes at 150C, turning the tray around halfway through the baking time.
CroutageAfter baking: leave to cool, then remove carefully (lift from below with spatula or such) and move to rack, upside down. Spoon buttercream into pastry bag when ready to garnish the shells. Pipe buttercream on the flat inside, and sandwich with another half shell. Cool carefully in fridge. Not perfect, but not as difficult as I thought. Voila! My first macarons! And I passed the French exam!

These are thus my contribution to Fiesta Friday 34: sweet little vanilla macarons to share. I am off to browse dishes and mingle. Many thanks to the hosts Angie, Selma and Elaine!

Fiesta Friday

Notes: this was meant to make 70 coques, so 35 macarons. Mine were piped out free-form so sizes varied, maybe 30 final macarons? Surprisingly easy though! They still had air bubbles in them, I should have slammed the trays more to banish those.  Excellent texture though.

I was rather traumatised by the very runny buttercream; even after two hours in the fridge, it was a little too runny. Next time, I will make it earlier. However, we popped the leftover macarons in the fridge and tasted them again for dessert, and they were GREAT by then. Crisp exterior, light interior, and cold buttercream for a sweet firm centre. Maybe they needed a little time to meld (de fusionner). Very sweet, of course, so I might try a tart jam filling next time. But for a first attempt, I was very happy.

Vanilla macarons

33 thoughts on “Making vanilla macarons

  1. Wow! Incroyable! Ça a l’air tellement délicieux! And, what a great way to practice French for an exam! I really admire your determination to make these Macarons! I know that they aren’t really that easy! 😀

  2. Very well done indeed – on making these in French and discussing them in French too!! They turned out really well despite any issues you may have had with the buttercream. Happy Fiesta Friday!!

    1. Thank you! I was just admiring your luscious plum and cinnamon cake, I think my Sunday coffee guests will be thrilled when I make that. Thanks for co-hosting! FFs are such fun to explore!

    1. Oh, but you might exercise? I am far too lazy for that, I confess. I optimistically count grocery shopping as weight lifting, or go for a stroll to get gelato, but fear from my waistband that there are flaws in my regime…. ;).

  3. My daughter has been wanting me to make macarons for a long time. I was a bit apprehensive. I think I will try this now.Looks amazing 🙂

    1. Please do! It was not as difficult as I imagined. Mine were certainly not perfect, but the flavour and mouth-feel of the macarons was surprisingly better than hoped. I will try again, it is a bit finicky but once we know the technique better and can trust we are doing the right thing, it is rather nice. I kept reading the recipe steps, wondering if the consistency was right, but it worked out. I bet you and your daughter would have fun making macarons (even if your buttercream goes runny, like mine did initially…..)

      1. I think I have to now. Thanks for the encouragement. Just couple of hours back she challenged me into doing it. She said she wouldn’t consider me a blogger till I made macarons 😦

      2. That is a little harsh! There is so much helpful advice online, I read my macaron book and several posts, like this one: which is very encouraging. Lots of great flavours there too. I think the first time can be daunting, as this is quite precise baking and macarons have this aloof image, but as long as the result tastes good and you enjoy the process, that is the main goal. I would certainly try again, to improve mine, once cooler weather comes (29C in shade here, and I have a buttercream-frosted cake for a friend to deliver soon. Arrrrghhh….). Good luck with your macarons!

      3. Haha 😀 She was just joking. she knows I love to take up challenges. But thanks a lot for the link. I will surely give it a try.Better rush with the cake. Sorry I kept you long. Lucky friend. Yummm…

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