The most dainty, delicate and delicious of French pastries that are notoriously difficult to get right. Crisp shells with a chewy centre, our White Chocolate and Cranberry Macarons will melt in your mouth as soon as you bite into one! With the white chocolate buttercream and cranberry filling, these are an amazing post-Christmas treat! We have pulled together all the tips and tricks to help you get your macarons picture-perfect!
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A Learning Curve
On a whim, we first attempted Macarons in 2014. And it’s safe to say that we failed miserably. The thing with macarons is, once you fail, you just can’t let go. We simply couldn’t be defeated by four simple ingredients. Four attempts and two different recipes later, we were ready to throw in the towel! We had it all: they looked like cookies, no feet, cracked, uneven… you name it.
Luckily that Christmas we had a masterclass from my French auntie in Alsace. And wow, the skill involved was mind-blowing! OK, so macarons are not exactly very hard to make, as long as you have the knowledge of all the little tiny steps to take to arrive at a perfect batter!
We decided to try and make Cranberry Macarons for Christmas this year! Remembering what we had been taught and watching a lot of videos online, we braved them again. This time without any guidance from French master chefs!
We could not believe our eyes! They came out perfect! So we decided to document and share the recipe and most importantly the essential dos and don’ts.
Note on Ingredients
- 115g egg whites: aged, that is, separated, weighed out and placed in a bowl loosely covered with clingfilm or a plate. Stored this way overnight, egg whites make much better meringue.
- 100g caster sugar: caster sugar is much finer than granulated sugar. It dissolves quicker when making a meringue.
- 155g ground almond: look for finely ground, or better yet grind them yourself into a fine powder.
- 150g icing sugar: don’t worry if it’s in clumps, it will be sieved anyway.
- gel food colouring (optional): not liquid food colouring! We tried, but it instantly ruins the meringue!
How to Make Macaron Mix?
First of all, if you want your macarons uniform, you may need a template with circles. We printed out a couple of sheets with 3.5cm circles spaced out by approx. 2 cm.
Line your baking trays with greaseproof paper. Ideally, you’ll have large no/low-rim baking sheets. Using baking parchment that’s see-through means that you can place your template underneath and use it as a guide for piping later.
Weigh out your ground almonds and icing sugar into a bowl. Sieve both the ground almonds and icing sugar through a fine sieve. Don’t force the large bits of almond through. Instead, tip the leftover bits into a food processor and whizz before sieving again. Check the final weight is as close to the original as possible (a few grams won’t matter though). We have sieved our almonds and icing sugar twice, just to make sure.
To make the meringue, start whisking the aged egg whites in a clean dry bowl on a high setting. You can either use a stand mixer or a handheld one. When the eggs turn into foam, gradually add the caster sugar. Once the meringue has soft peaks, add the gel food colouring to obtain your desired colour intensity. We use Cake Decor gel food colouring and it works great with colouring meringues.
Continue to whisk until the meringue reaches stiff peaks. It’s one of the most important stages in the macaron making process. Your meringue HAS to be stiff, so if in doubt, whisk some more!
Now it’s time to combine half the sieved ground almonds/ icing sugar with the meringue, folding them in gently with a spatula until combined.
The remaining ground almonds/icing sugar can then be added. This time around, you don’t have to be as careful folding them in. Once fully combined it’s time to start macaronage stage, a critical step for achieving the correct constancy. Use the spatula to press the batter against the side of the bowl rotating it as you go. Continue this until the batter flows like thick honey. It should continuously flow from the spatula allowing you to draw a figure of eight without breaking. Stop mixing as soon as this stage is reached or it will become too liquid.
Now it’s ready to pipe. Use a circular piping nozzle around 0.8-1 cm in size.
With the nozzle kept at 90° degrees to the tray, use the circle template as a guide to pipe your macarons. Remove the nozzle quickly once the circle is just filled. Take into account that the batter will spread slightly.
Once piped, pick up the trays and drop them back onto the surface from approx. 20cm height. Do it a couple of times to remove the air bubbles from the macarons. You can get rid of stubborn air bubbles with a toothpick.
Drying Macaron Shells Before Baking
Next, leave your macarons to dry out. Time will depend on the temperature and humidity of the environment, but when they’re ready they will not leave any residue on your finger when gently touched. This can take 20-50minutes, but if you live in a humid environment, it will take up to 3 hours.
Baking Macaron Shells
Now place in the oven, preheated to 150°C for 10-15min. The time will highly depend on the oven/trays used and the size of your macarons. If it’s the first time you’re making macarons, we suggest trying one tray first and adjusting the time based on the result. The foot of each should be solid and not move when pushed but they shouldn’t start to colour/ go brown. Leave them to cool before gently peeling them off from the greaseproof paper.
Select pairs of shells of the same size (unless you made them all exactly the same size, well done if you did!).
White Chocolate and Cranberry Macaron Filling
In a large bowl, beat room-temperature butter and icing sugar until light and fluffy. Add the melted and slightly cooled white chocolate and beat again until well incorporated.
Transfer the buttercream to a piping bag. Pipe a circle around the outer edge (but not right at the edge) of half of the macarons.
Fill the centre of the buttercream circle with cranberry sauce. Then place another macaron shell on top and press gently.
The Dos and the Don’ts For Perfect Cranberry Macarons
- Weigh everything accurately. Don’t be tempted to wing it!
- Make sure there is no egg yolk in the egg whites, or you’ll never arrive at a stiff meringue.
- Don’t use fresh eggs. Weigh out the egg whites the day before and keep them in the fridge loosely covered.
- Make sure the bowl for whipping the meringue is clean and dry.
- Ensure the meringue is definitely whipped to stiff peaks, if in doubt just whip some more.
- Add food gel colouring at the soft peak stage of the meringue. Add a little at a time to get the colour that you want. We love our macarons pastel rather than bright and vibrant.
- Sieve the almond and icing sugar multiple times through a fine sieve. You can put the large bits through a food processor and sieve them through again to reduce any losses.
- Pay special attention during the macaronage stage to get the right consistency. Don’t overdo or it will become too liquid, spread out too much whilst drying and won’t rise in the oven.
- Use a template with circles under the greaseproof paper for consistency in size when piping.
- Pipe with the nozzle at 90 degrees removing the nozzle quickly once a sufficient amount of batter is piped.
- Leave the batter to settle slightly before banging the trays on the surface to remove any air bubbles
- Remove the stubborn air bubbles by poking them with a toothpick. We’d recommend doing this earlier rather than later before a skin starts to form
- The most critical aspect is to let them dry. It depends on the humidity and temperature of the room. It takes us 30-45 minutes depending on the time of the year. You should be able to touch them without any residue being left on your finger. It should feel like a thin crust has formed on the surface on your macarons.
- Ideally, your trays should be the same thickness/ material and without rims (however, we managed with a range of random baking trays!)
Other Sweet Treats To Try
If you loved our White Chocolate and Cranberry Macarons and are now looking for a new challenge, try our other exciting sweet bakes and desserts:
- Lime and Passionfruit Charlotte Royale
- Canelés de Bordeaux
- Pecan Praline & Banana Parfait
- Orange & White Chocolate Bread and Butter Pudding
White Chocolate and Cranberry Macarons
- Piping Bag with a Round 0.8-1cm Nozzle
- Digital Kitchen Scales
- Fine Sifter
- Stand Mixer with Whisk Attachment or Hand Held Mixer
- 3.5cm Circle Template, see notes above
For Macaron Shells:
- 155 g ground almonds/ almond flour fine
- 150 g icing sugar
- 115 g egg whites aged, see text above
- 100 g caster sugar
- gel food colouring optional
For the Filling:
- 80 unsalted butter room temperature
- 30 g icing sugar
- 60 g white chocolate melted
- 120 g whole cranberry sauce
To Make Macaron Shells:
- Line your baking trays with greaseproof paper. Place your templates underneath the paper.
- Weigh out your ground almonds and icing sugar into a bowl. Sieve both the ground almonds and icing sugar through a fine sieve twice. If you have lots of big almond bits leftover, wizz them in a blender and sieve again.
- To make the meringue, start whisking the aged egg whites in a clean dry bowl on a high setting. When the eggs turn into foam, gradually add the caster sugar. Once the meringue reaches soft peaks, add the gel food colouring to obtain your desired colour intensity. Continue until the meringue reaches stiff peaks.
- Combine half of the sieved ground almonds/ icing sugar with the meringue, folding them in gently with a spatula until just combined.
- Add and fold in the remaining ground almonds/ icing sugar. Once fully combined, use the spatula to press the batter against the side of the bowl rotating it as you go.
- Continue this until the batter flows like thick honey. It should continually flow from the spatula allowing you to draw a figure of eight without breaking. Stop mixing as soon as this stage is reached or it will become too liquid.
- Transfer the batter into a piping bag. With the nozzle kept at 90° degrees to the tray, pipe your macarons. Remove the nozzle quickly once the template circle is just filled.
- Pick up the trays and drop them back onto the surface from approx. 20 cm height to remove the air bubbles from the macarons.
- Leave the macarons to dry out at room temperature. It should take 20-50 minutes depending on the temperature and humidity of the environment. When they’re ready, they will not leave any residue on your finger when gently touched.
- Preheat the oven to 150°C. Place the macarons in the oven and bake for 10-15 minutes, depending on the size of the macarons. You can try one tray first to establish the time needed.
- The foot of each should be solid and not move when pushed but they shouldn’t start to colour/ go brown. Leave them to cool before gently peeling them off from the greaseproof paper.
To Make the Filling:
- In a large bowl, beat room temperature butter and icing sugar until light and fluffy. Add the melted and slightly cooled white chocolate and beat again until well incorporated.
- Transfer the buttercream into a piping bag. Pipe a circle around the outer edge (but not right at the edge) of half of the macarons.
- Fill the centre of the buttercream circle with cranberry sauce. Then place another macaron shell on top and press gently.
- Store in the fridge for up to 4 days, or freeze filled macarons for up to 3 months and defrost for 1-2 hours at room temeprature before eating.