Spring is “officially” here! That means that the winter weather will most likely disappear soon, but not soon enough! I decided this would be a perfect opportunity to bring some spring to your screens. This past weekend, I teased my Instagram followers with a picture of the ingredients for a fresh raspberry buttercream that was used in these gorgeous Matcha macarons. Matcha is a finely milled green tea powder that is gaining popularity, you can read more about it here. The Matcha macaron shells taste like a sweet cup of green tea, and combined with a reduced raspberry sauce buttercream, the taste is phenomenal.
My Macaron History
My first ever attempt at making macarons was in 2012 after I had visited a local bakery that sold an assortment of macarons. I scoured the internet to find a perfect recipe, and created a nearly perfect macaron on my first try. Since then, I’ve made many batches; here is a collage of some of my macarons:
The top picture with the pink raspberry macarons are the very first macarons I made! The ones below are various ones I snapped with my iPhone over the years. I have had some failures like hollow shells, lopsided shells, or shells that burst during baking. My number one problem with macarons, though, was the hollow shells. The macarons looked perfect on the outside, but after taking a bite of the cookie, the shell collapsed and there was a hollow “cave” inside. Those problems mainly came about because of oven temperature, humidity in the air, the type of baking sheet, the amount of times I “tapped” the baking sheets, or if I over/under handled the batter during macaronage (the making of the macaron batter). Whew, that’s a lot of different variables! I experimented and made many batches using various recipes, and changing the variables but about 70% of the time my macarons would be hollow inside. The macarons still tasted good but the shell itself was not up to standards.
Then I stumbled on a blog post (scroll to the bottom for English) that described the different types of macaron methods: the French meringue method and the Italian meringue method. The French meringue method involves beating the egg whites with granulated sugar until stiff, glossy peaks form, then carefully folding it into the dry ingredients. While the Italian meringue method uses a different technique; creating a sugar syrup and gradually pouring it into the egg whites while mixing on low speed, and then increasing the speed to beat until stiff peaks form. Then the partially cooked meringue is carefully folded into an almond flour/sugar/egg-white paste. The Italian method might seem intimidating because of the hot syrup and a few extra steps, but it also increases the chance of having a perfect macaron (with no hollow shell!).
Raspberry Matcha Macarons
Before you begin making the macarons, make sure you have all of your ingredients ready to use, the process of making the batter goes quickly and you don’t want to ruin your chance of a perfect macaron. Read the directions first so you gain an understanding of the method. Invest in a good food scale and food thermometer, like the ones here. It is crucial to measure out your ingredients with a scale; a measuring cup is not always accurate. Line your baking sheets (you will need 4 sheets) with parchment paper or a good quality silicone mat. I prefer parchment paper and reuse it a few times.
The Italian method does not require “aging” your egg whites, but it is best to separate them a few hours early so they can come to room temperature. You will need two bowls with about two egg whites in each bowl. One bowl of egg whites will be used in the meringue and one will be used in making the paste.
Most recipes recommend sifting the almond flour and the powdered sugar, as well as processing them both in a food processor. I have tried making macrons with and without the sifting/processing and both methods create a very similar macaron. It saves me time and creates less of a mess to clean up, so I skip the sifting and processing. Plus the almond flour I buy is already very fine, better than any homemade almond flour. You can buy the almond flour in almost any grocery store.
Prepare your piping bag, with a Wilton #1A piping tip, and a coupler (optional) and pick out the color you want for your macarons. I added a teaspoon of Matcha powder, you can omit it if you don’t have it. The Matcha powder can be bought at a local Asian market, or online. If you want chocolate shells, add about two tablespoons of cocoa powder and remove two tablespoons of powdered sugar. Since I was using only a teaspoon of Matcha powder, I didn’t omit any of the powdered sugar.
Mix together the almond flour, powdered sugar, and the Matcha powder until no lumps remain.
Then add in one of the egg white bowls and mix until a paste is formed. Cover with plastic wrap so it doesn’t dry out and set aside. Now it is time to create the sugar syrup for the meringue. Place the sugar in a small saucepan, slowly add the water and do not mix them together. The water will absorb the sugar; if you mix them together, the sugar will stick to the sides of the pan and crystallize during the process.
Place a thermometer in the saucepan and heat on medium low, without mixing. Once the syrup reaches 220 degrees F, start whipping the second bowl of egg whites until soft peaks form.
By that time, the syrup should be at 240 degrees F; if it is, then it’s time to add it to the soft meringue. If it is not, then reduce the mixer speed to low. You do not want the eggs over-beaten, but you do not want the syrup to reach 240 degrees F before the eggs are ready. The eggs can wait, but the syrup cannot be overheated. Once the syrup reaches 240 degrees F, reduce the mixer speed to low, and slowly pour the hot syrup into the bowl. Try not to pour too much on the sides of the bowl so that the syrup gets incorporated into the soft meringue instead of hardening on the sides of the bowl. Once all of the syrup is in the bowl, quickly increase the speed of the mixer to high.
Continue beating until a stiff, glossy meringue has formed and the side of the bowl has cooled off.
Then, add in your desired food color and beat until blended; the color of the macarons will lighten once you bake them.
Then, add 1/3 of the meringue to the paste, and mix to combine.
Fold in the rest of the meringue until a smooth batter has formed. Do not over-fold. The batter should pass the 30 second test, it should take around 30 seconds for the batter to smooth out if you drop a bit with a spatula.
Place the piping bag in a tall cup or a vase and pour the batter into the bag. Pipe the batter onto the baking sheets, each about 1 to 1.5 inches in diameter. Tap the baking sheet on the counter (or floor) a few times to get rid of any air bubbles.
Then, set aside to rest until the macaron shells are not sticky when you touch the tops lightly. Mine were resting for about 40 minutes, but on humid days it make take up to an hour.
While the macarons rest, start preparing the raspberry buttercream found here.
After the macarons have rested (yes, they are so delicate that they need some beauty sleep too before their big event!), preheat your oven to 300 degrees F. Place one baking sheet in the oven and bake for 12-15 minutes, depending on your oven, until the tops no longer wiggle when you press down on them.
Remove from the oven and let them cool 5 minutes, then, carefully remove from the parchment paper. Use a thin spatula if needed.
Pipe the prepared raspberry buttercream onto one macaron shell and place another un-piped shell on top to create a finished macaron.
Keep refrigerated in an airtight container. Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before serving.
They can also be kept in an airtight freezer-approved container for up to 3 months. I always keep a stash in my freezer for a quick treat, or to serve to guests.
The stacking of the macarons reminded me of a “Minute to Win It” game our friends and I played in a cabin getaway last year. The goal was to stack 3 or more golf balls on top of one another. I could not get four macarons stacked, it seemed almost as hard as the golf balls!
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- For the paste:
- 180 grams almond meal
- 180 grams powdered sugar
- 60 grams egg whites (about 2 eggs)
- 1 teaspoon Matcha powder (optional)
- For the meringue:
- 180 grams white granulated sugar
- 45 grams water
- 60 grams egg whites (about 1 egg, room temperature)
- 2-4 drops desired food coloring (optional)
- Prepare the baking sheets by lining them with parchment paper.
- Combine the paste ingredients, cover with plastic wrap and set aside.
- Place granulated sugar and water into a small saucepan and heat on medium/low to 220 degrees F (do not stir).
- Meanwhile, place the other bowl of egg whites into a bowl of a stand mixer. When the syrup temperature reached 220 degrees F, start beating until soft peaks form. Turn speed down to low if the syrup has not reached 240 degrees F.
- When the syrup reaches 240 degrees F, remove from heat and slowly pour into the bowl of the stand mixer (keep the speed on low to avoid hot splashes). Once the syrup has been added, increase speed to high and continue beating until the side of the bowl has cooled off and the mixture has formed stiff, glossy peaks.
- Then add the optional food coloring and mix to combine.
- Once the meringue reaches desired color, add ⅓ of it to the paste and mix to combine.
- Then carefully add the rest of the meringue to the paste and fold until fully combined. Do not over-fold. The mixture should be smooth, but not runny.
- Place a piping bag in a tall glass or vase and pour the macaron batter into the bag.
- Pipe the macarons onto the prepared baking sheet about 1-1.5 inches in size and 1 inch apart. The macarons will expand while baking.
- Let the piped macarons rest until the tops are not sticky to the touch. Bake in a preheated oven at 300 degrees for 12-15 minutes, depending on your oven. The macarons are ready once they do not wiggle when you lightly touch the top.
- Let the macarons cool for 5 minutes, then remove with a thin spatula.
- Fill one half of each set of shells with the raspberry buttercream and glue together.
- Keep the macarons refrigerated for up to a week or frozen for up to 3 months. Remove from the fridge or freezer 30 minutes before serving.