If you love macarons but are intimidated by the thought of making them at home, this recipe for foolproof salted caramel macarons from Melissa Olivieri should be next on your baking to-do list. This is not the easiest recipe, but if you follow Olivieri’s directions closely, you will have some delicious, patisserie-worthy delicacies.
"A foolproof macaron is created by making sure your prep work is all done ahead of time," Olivieri says. Your egg whites, an essential ingredient, need to be at room temperature, so she recommends leaving the eggs out overnight or placing them in an airtight container in a warm water bath. Olivieri also recommends measuring your ingredients in advance, and you’ll need to make sure that your mixing tools and attachments are exceptionally clean. "To do so, first clean your bowl and attachments with white vinegar," Olivieri advises. "Then rinse [them] with cold water and dry well with paper towels."
Once you’ve cleaned your mixing bowl and its attachments — and you also have some room temperature eggs — let’s get started!
Gather your foolproof macaron ingredients
For this recipe, you’ll need three large room-temperature egg whites, powdered sugar, granulated sugar, and almond flour. You’ll also need unsalted butter, kosher salt, and cream of tartar – a white powder made from tartaric acid that, when used in baking, helps stabilize egg whites. If you want your macarons to be colored, you’ll also need a gel food dye in the hue of your choice.
Last but not least, you’ll need caramel sauce to add a little extra pop of flavor to the buttercream filling. "The caramel sauce added to the buttercream is what really stands out here," Olivieri says. ‘The fun thing with a macaron recipe is that once you get your shells perfected, you can let your mind be creative with the filling."
Finish your prep work
Remember how we said it’s important to be fully prepped before diving in? We weren’t kidding. Fit a piping bag with a large round tip. Line three baking sheets with parchment paper, then set them aside. Next, combine the almond flour and powdered sugar in a sifter, then sift the mixture not once but twice. This, according to Olivieri, is "not only [to] mix them together, but to also get out any lumps and ensure you have a super smooth flour-sugar mixture."
Beat the egg whites
Add the egg whites to your clean mixing bowl fitted with a whisk attachment and begin to whisk them on medium speed. Add the cream of tartar after roughly 30 seconds, and then start whisking on high speed until the whisk leaves tracks in the egg whites and bubbles start to appear. Add a third of the granulated sugar into the bowl at a time, aiming it toward the middle of the whisk, and continue whisking on high speed until stiff peaks form. According to Olivieri, rushing this step is the main cause of macaron mishaps. "The number one reason macarons fail for people is their lack of patience when whipping the egg whites with the sugar," Olivieri says. "You need to have stiff peaks and cannot have any flop at the tip of the whisk."
Make the macaron batter
Once the egg whites have formed stiff peaks, it’s time to gently fold in the almond flour mixture. Use a silicone spatula and add the almond flour mixture a third at a time, only adding more once the previous batch has been fully mixed in. Once all the dry ingredients have been folded into the egg whites, add the food coloring if you’re using it. Olivieri recommends turning the mixing bowl on its side for this step. "Using the silicone spatula, you want to fold and smash the mixture against the side of the bowl," Olivieri says. "Continue to do this until the batter has reached a honey-like consistency."
Pipe, rest, and bake the macarons
Pour the macaron batter into the piping bag. To get a nice, round macaron shape, hold the piping bag up straight and apply even pressure. Olivieri recommends trying to make a circle roughly the size of a quarter. After you’ve piped an entire tray, remove air bubbles by lifting the tray up and firmly hitting it on the counter. After hitting the tray on the counter, inspect each macaron shell and look for additional air bubbles; you can remove them by poking with a toothpick.
Set the trays aside for 1 hour. The macaron shells are ready to bake when they’ve formed a skin, or when the tops of the shells no longer feel sticky to the touch. Preheat your oven to 315 F and place your oven rack at its lowest position. Bake one tray at a time, each for about 11 minutes. If you’re not sure if the macaron shells are done in the oven, try wiggling the top of a macaron shell back and forth. If it moves, the tray needs to go back in the oven. After all the macaron shells are out of the oven, let them cool.
Make the buttercream frosting
While the macarons are cooling, make the salted caramel buttercream filling. Add softened butter to a mixing bowl with a paddle attached and mix on medium speed for 30 seconds. Add the powdered sugar in 1-cup increments. Add some of the caramel sauce and the kosher salt, then mix the buttercream on low speed until it is smooth and creamy. Add the buttercream filling to a piping bag. Pipe a circle around the inside of each macaron, leaving a small hole in the middle. If you want a little extra caramel, you can put additional caramel sauce in that hole.
You can make this buttercream filling a few days in advance, so long as you keep it in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Olivieri recommends gently stirring the buttercream to liven it up once reaches room temperature.
In order to go from a tray of disassembled macaron pieces to proper macaron sandwiches, place a shell on top of a newly filled shell. Use a gentle twisting motion to get the macaron halves to stick together.
Serve and store your macarons
Once you’ve assembled all your macarons, they’re ready to eat! Whether you decide to make these for a special event or because it happens to be a Tuesday, pat yourself on the back. You made macarons! These macarons are a great party dessert and make an excellent gift. "The look on people’s faces when you gift them homemade macarons! They are so incredibly elegant, and many people associate them with very fancy French cuisine," Olivieri says. "I mean, who doesn’t like to show off their baking skills sometimes, right?"
These macarons last in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days and up to 24 hours at room temperature.
- 1 ⅓ cups almond flour
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 3 large egg whites (room temperature)
- ⅛ teaspoon cream of tartar
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- ⅓ cup caramel sauce, plus more for decorating
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- gel food coloring
- Prepare a piping bag and fit it with a large round tip. Line three baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.
- Combine the almond flour with powdered sugar in a sifter. Sift the almond flour mixture twice to ensure the blend is extra fine. Set aside.
- Add the egg whites to a clean mixing bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Begin whipping the egg whites at medium speed. After about 30 seconds, add the cream of tartar to the mixing bowl.
- Increase speed to high and continue to whisk until the whisk starts to leave tracks in the egg whites and small bubbles appear. With the mixer still running, add a third of the sugar at a time, aiming it towards the middle of the whisk.
- Once all the sugar is added, continue to mix on high speed until the egg whites are billowed and glossy and stiff peaks have formed.
- Pour a third of the almond flour mixture into the egg whites. Gently fold the two together using a silicone spatula. Continue to add a third at a time, making sure not to add the mixture again until the previous amount has been fully incorporated. Stop folding as soon as all the dry ingredients have been fully incorporated with the egg whites.
- Add the food coloring to the mixture, if using. Turn your bowl on its side for this step. Using the silicone spatula, fold and smash the mixture against the side of the bowl. Continue to do this until the batter has reached a honey-like consistency.
- Pour the batter into your prepared piping bag.
- Pipe macaron shells, about the size of a quarter, onto the baking sheets. Hold the bag up straight and apply even pressure.
- Once you have piped an entire tray, lift the tray and firmly hit it on the counter three to four times to work out the air bubbles. You may still have some small bubbles and the pipe mark on top. Pop any remaining air bubbles with a toothpick.
- Set aside your piped trays for 1 hour for the shells to get a "skin" on top; when you gently run your finger over the top, it should not feel sticky to the touch.
- Preheat your oven to 315 F and make sure your oven rack is at its lowest position.
- Bake one tray at a time for about 11 minutes. You will want to gently try to move the top of a macaron before pulling from the oven. If it moves from side to side it is not ready; check again after 1 more minute.
- Remove the tray from the oven and allow the macaron shells to cool.
- As all the macaron shells cool, place softened butter in a stand mixer bowl fitted with paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed for 30 seconds.
- Add the powdered sugar in 1-cup increments. Once all the powdered sugar has been added to the bowl, you will have a mixture that is slightly crumbly.
- Add the caramel sauce and kosher salt and mix on low speed until it is smooth and creamy. The filling should have a thick consistency. Transfer to a piping bag.
- Begin filling your macarons by piping a circle around the inside of the macaron and leaving a small hole in the center. Fill the small hole with additional caramel.
- Assemble the macarons by taking another macaron shell and gently placing it on top of a filled shell. Using a side to side motion, gently twist the shells together.
- Set the finished macarons on their sides on your parchment lined baking sheets.