Strawberry macarons, made at home! Yes. you. can. With a bit of practice — and
my kitchen-tested tips and tricks — this recipe proves you can make French
macarons successfully at home in your own kitchen! This post includes step-by-
step instructions for making the delicate vanilla bean French macarons shells,
and strawberry buttercream filling too!
Table of contents
Vanilla French Macarons with Strawberry Buttercream
Hi! Happy first day of spring! - Bake from Scratch magazine has teamed up with Bob’s Red Mill to create the 2020 Better Baking Academy and I am so excited to team up with them for this month’s module all about how to make French Macarons. Each month they release a new recipe - so far there has been a super versatile bread dough and some amazing looking brownies, and this month’s focus is on macarons, which is something I spend a lot of time making!
Macarons and I go way back to before I even started this blog and was just baking at home for fun. I had gotten a stand mixer for Christmas and was slowly working my way through a whole bunch of recipes I had gathered, but hadn’t gotten around to making macarons. I think I tried once, they didn’t go well for me (because I had no idea what I was doing), and I put them into the ‘too hard’ basket and moved on with my life.
A few years later after I had been baking for a while I decided that the time had come to master them, and set out to perfect my technique for making French macarons. They can be a little fiddly, but once you identify the potential sticking points and things to watch out for, I am confident that everyone can master these delicious chewy wee cookies, and the flavour combinations are endless! Bake from Scratch covers everything super thoroughly in their baking modules, and I have added a couple of my own little tips and tricks down below to help you out too. Enjoy these Vanilla Bean French Macarons. I filled mine with a super easy strawberry macaron filling made with American buttercream and strawberry jam, which gives a super delicious strawberry flavor, however you can add any filling you like.
Strawberry Macaron Recipe
I started with Bake From Scratch’s base vanilla bean macaron recipe and added pink food colouring and some pink sprinkles to put a pink spring flair on it. I paired it with their strawberry buttercream, which is super easy and made with strawberry preserves. The buttercream comes together quickly and compliments the delicate shells perfectly. Feel free to customise these any way you like - you can make them any colour that you please, add sprinkles, and play around with the filling to give you some different colour combinations. These Vanilla Bean french macarons are super versatile, and so fun to make.
The Best Almond Flour for Macarons
There are a whole bunch of different French macaron recipes out there (different ratios of almond flour to sugar to egg whites etc). However, the most important thing is that you have the right technique. There are a few different skills needed, which I have outlined below. While French macarons require a lot of technique, they do have a relatively small ingredient list. This means it is really important that you use high quality ingredients, particularly when it comes to the almond flour in the macaron. Almond flour provides structure, texture, and flavour to these Vanilla Bean French Macarons.
I have used Bob’s Red Mill Super-Fine Almond Flour in my macarons for a few years now, and I love how even it is, and how easy to sift it is. It gives a super smooth batter with no lumps due to the smaller particle size, and provides a beautiful fluffy texture on the inside of the macaron. Starting with great quality ingredients sets you up for success when baking macarons.
Things to watch out for when making Macarons
- The consistency of your almond flour and powdered sugar mixture. You want it to be well sifted and combined before you add it to the mixture. You can either do this in a food processor, or I like to sift the mixture at least twice. This ensures that it is evenly mixed and is lump free. Bob’s Red Mill Superfine Almond Flour is great for this because the particles are very small, which makes it super easy to get a lump-free dry mixture.
- The consistency of your meringue. You want your meringue stiff enough that it will provide you stability, but you don’t want to beat it so far that it dries out, which can make it lumpy and lead to hollow shells. Get it to very near stiff peaks, then watch it carefully as you whip, checking the consistency often.
- Mixing, or Macaronnage. This is the action of incorporating the dry ingredients into the meringue. You want to be deflating some of the air out of the batter while you are mixing in the dry ingredients. To mix you do a series of ‘turns’ - spreading the batter against the side of the bowl using your spatula. You want to reach a point where the mixture flows, but not so much that the macarons will not hold their shape as they are held out. I like to check it every few turns. A good measure is that you can draw a figure of 8 in the batter without the flow of batter breaking off your spatula. Remember that your batter will continue to mix as you pipe out the macaron shells. You are better to under mix it at this stage than to over mix it.
- Piping. You want to hold the piping bag straight up and down, and apply even pressure until your batter fills the inside of the drawn template.
- Pan Banging. The purpose of banging the pans is to evenly flatten out your shells. This also releases any bubbles that may have formed in the shells while you are piping them out. Banging the pan on the counter pops the bubbles, which helps your macarons have nice smooth tops.
- Drying. The drying stage of the macaron forms a ‘skin’ on the shell. This means that when you put them into the oven to bake, the skin stays intact and the macaron shell does not crack. Instead it develops the little ruffle at the bottom of the shell which is called the foot.
- Baking. You want to bake the shell without browning, so it is important to bake it at a relatively low temperature.
If you find your shells are sticking to the parchment paper when you remove the macarons from the oven even though they are baked, transfer the pan to the freezer for 10-15 minutes. This should help the shells release cleanly.
Tips and Tricks for French Macarons
- Please make these Vanilla Bean French Macarons by weight. There are so many little steps already with them that you want to be as accurate as possible. I always measure salt, extracts etc with a teaspoon, but for the sugars, almond flour etc, weigh it. You don’t have to if you don’t want to, but this is your warning. Scales are great, and very helpful, but PARTICULARLY when it comes to things that rely on accuracy such as macarons.
- I always use gel food coloring when making macarons and add it in at the meringue stage. Remember that the mixture will lighten when you add the dry ingredients. Take this into consideration when you are choosing how much to add.
- Both parchment paper and silicone baking mats work for macarons - you do you. I like parchment paper, but I know others like silicone baking mats. Do whatever feels best for you!
- If your macaron shells stick after they have cooled, pop the whole baking sheet in the freezer for 10-15 minutes. It should help them lift off cleanly.
- I often get asked - can macarons be made ahead? They sure can. Store the unfilled shells in an airtight container in the freezer until you are ready to fill them.
- I like to double up on my pans when I bake to help insulate the shells. Preheating the bottom pan in the oven helps to give the shells a little lift. This helps them to bake evenly.
- I made two batches of macarons here for the photos! One has a lighter pink batter, and one with a darker pink. I just used the same gel food colour and varied the amount I used to give different shades. Add it one drop at a time until you are happy with the shade.
To freeze macarons, place in an airtight container with a layer of parchment paper between the layers. You can either freeze them filled, or freeze the shells and then defrost and fill.
FAQ for French Macarons
Yes, you can freeze them either filled or unfilled, depending on the filling. For these French macarons with strawberry filling, you can either freeze the unfilled shells or the filled macarons. Freeze in an airtight container and defrost at room temperature or in the fridge.
Gel food coloring is best for French macarons as it does not add in any additional moisture to the shells, which can cause issues.
You can add all sorts of fun things to the tops of macaron shells. Add them just after you have banged them out. If you’re adding sprinkles, the nonpareils ones work best. Sugar balls will heat up and melt through. The little confetti circles or shapes work well too.
Made this recipe and love it?
If you made this recipe then I would LOVE for you to leave me a review below to let me know how you liked it! Also, please make sure to tag me on Instagram if you make it!
A note on salt and oven temperature
It is important to note the type of salt that is called for in a recipe. I use Diamond Crystal salt throughout my recipes - if you use a different sort of kosher salt or regular table salt you will need to adjust accordingly as some salt is 'saltier' than others. Morton's salt is twice as salty, so you will need half the quantity. Same goes for a regular table salt. I am working to get gram measurements throughout my recipes for salt but still getting there.
All oven temperatures are conventional unless otherwise stated. If you are baking on fan / convection, you will need to adjust the temperature. An oven thermometer is a great investment to ensure that your oven is the correct temperature.
Using the double / triple function in the recipe card
You will notice that there is a '1X' '2X' '3X' button in my recipe card. This can be used for doubling or tripling a recipe. However, please note that this only doubles the ingredient quantities in the ingredients list and NOT in the method. If there are quantities or pan sizes in the method of the recipe (for example weigh out 150g brown butter), you will need to scale this number manually. It will also not change the baking time in the recipe so you will need to adjust this yourself too. It is always a good idea to read through a recipe fully before doubling it just to check this. If you would like to scale this recipe or convert for another pan size, use my calculator!
Tools and equipment
For a list of my go-to tools and equipment, I have a post you can refer to here.
Why is this recipe in grams?
I post my recipes in grams as it is the most accurate way to bake. Cups are not only inaccurate but they vary in volume worldwide. There is no way for me to provide one cup measure that works for everyone. However, posting in weight fixes this issue. If you would like the recipe in cups you are welcome to convert it yourself via google, but please do not ask me to do it for you as I am not comfortable providing a recipe using a method that I have not tested. Baking with a scale is easy, accurate, and also makes cleanup super simple. Here is the scale that I use if you would like a recommendation! Here's to accurate baking!
Recipe for Vanilla Bean French MacaronsPrint
Strawberry macarons, made at home! Yes. you. can. With a bit of practice — and my kitchen-tested tips and tricks — this recipe proves you can make French macarons successfully at home in your own kitchen! This post includes step-by-step instructions for making the delicate vanilla bean French macarons shell, and strawberry buttercream filling too.
Vanilla Bean French Macaron Shells
- 1 ¾ cups plus 3 tablespoons (231 grams) confectioners’ sugar
- 1 ½ cups (144 grams) Bob’s Red Mill Super-fine Almond Flour
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ cup (120 grams) egg whites, room temperature (about 4 whites)
- 3 ½ tablespoons (42 grams) granulated sugar
- 2-3 drops Gel food colouring of your choice
- 1 teaspoon (6 grams) vanilla bean paste
- ¼ teaspoon (1 gram) vanilla extract
- 1 cup (225 grams) unsalted butter, softened
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- 3 ⅔ cups (450 grams) confectioners’ sugar
- ⅓ cup (115 grams) strawberry preserves
- 2 tablespoons (30 grams) heavy whipping cream
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
VANILLA BEAN FRENCH MACARON SHELLS
- Line (2 - 3) rimmed baking sheets with non-stick baking mats or parchment paper. On a piece of parchment, using a permanent marker, create a template by drawing 1 ½-inch circles 1-inch apart on parchment paper.
- In the work bowl of a food processor, process Bob’s Red Mill Super-Fine Almond Flour, confectioners’ sugar and salt until well combined, then sift through a fine mesh sieve. Alternatively you can pass the dry ingredients through a fine mesh sieve twice, discarding any large pieces.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat egg whites at medium-high speed until they start to foam, 1 minute. Gradually add granulated sugar, then whisk on high until stiff peaks form, about 2 minutes (see notes on meringue consistency). While the meringue is mixing, add in any colourings, if using, along with the vanilla bean paste and vanilla extract.
- Remove the bowl from the mixer. Add half of the almond flour and confectioners’ sugar mixture, and fold into the meringue. You want to deflate the meringue just a little at this stage, to combine the meringue and ground almond mixture.
- Add the remaining dry mixture, and stir lightly to combine. Now comes the important part - mixing the batter to the correct consistency. Fold the mixture in a series of 'turns', deflating the batter by spreading it against the side of the bowl. Turn the bowl slightly and repeat the movement - scooping the batter from the bottom of the bowl, and spreading it against the side.
- Continuously check the consistency of the batter - you want it to flow like lava when you lift the spatula from the bowl, and you should be able to 'draw' a figure 8 with it, without the batter breaking.
- Fit a large pastry bag with a small to medium sized round tip, such as an ateco #802. Place the macaron template on a sheet pan, and place a second piece of parchment or silicone mat over it. Holding the piping bag at a 90˚ angle to the surface, pipe out the batter into blobs the size of the circles drawn on the template.
- Finish off each piped circle with a little flick of your wrist to minimise the batter forming a point (it may still form a small one but this will disappear with the banging). Remove the template from under the macarons.
- Hold the baking sheet in two hands, and carefully but firmly, evenly bang it against the bench. Repeat this a few more times - this will get rid of any air bubbles, remove points on the top, and help them to spread out slightly. Add sprinkles if using.
- Repeat the piping and banging process with the remaining macaron batter. Allow the macarons to dry at room temperature for approximately 30 to 45 minutes, or until they form a skin that you can touch without your finger sticking to them. This time will drastically vary depending on the humidity.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 275°f / 135°c. About fifteen minutes before you are going to bake the macarons, place a spare sheet pan in the oven to preheat - this is going to be used to place under the pan with the macarons on it, to double up, which should help with even baking. Bake the macarons one sheet at a time - place the sheet with the macarons onto the preheated sheet in the oven.
- Bake the macarons one pan at a time, for 20 to 25 minutes, rotating pan every 5 minutes, until the shells are firm to the touch. Your baking time will vary depending on the weather and the size of the shells - start checking them for doneness at 14 to 15 minutes.
- To see if they are done, press down lightly on a shell. If the foot gives way, it needs a little longer, if it is stable, then it is close to being done. Test a macaron shell - if you can peel it away cleanly from the paper, they are done. If they are stable but cannot yet peel away cleanly, give them another minute or so. Let cool completely on pans. If you are not filling straight away, store in an airtight container.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and salt at low speed until smooth. Slowly add confectioners’ sugar (about 1 cup at a time), alternating with jam and cream (about 2 tablespoons at a time), beating until smooth. Continue adding confectioners’ sugar and cream in this manner until smooth and combined.
- Once all sugar and cream are incorporated, increase mixer speed to medium, and beat for 1 to 2 minutes until smooth and fluffy. Add vanilla extract, and beat to combine. Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a french star tip (such as an ateco #865).
- Pair up each macaron shell with another of equal size. Pipe a circle of buttercream onto one shell and sandwich with a second shell, pressing down lightly to adhere. Ideally, leave the macarons to mature overnight in the fridge in an airtight container then bring to room temperature before serving. Store leftovers in an airtight container.
Recipe adapted with permission from Bake From Scratch
Keywords: Macarons, gluten free, french macarons, strawberry, american buttercream, macaron