1tspwhite vinegar, or lemon juice, optional, see Recipe Notes
4large egg whites, at room temperature, see Recipe Notes
¼tspcream of tartar
2tsppure vanilla extract, see Recipe Notes
food coloring, optional, see Recipe Notes
fillings, see Recipe Notes
Line a half sheet baking pan with a Silpat silicone mat or parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, sift together the powdered sugar and the almond flour. Discard the larger lumps of almond pieces left behind, or have them as a snack.
Add 2 egg whites to the sugar mixture and stir to form a paste. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside.
Wet a paper towel with white vinegar or lemon juice and wipe the bowl of a stand mixer. Place the remaining egg whites in the bowl and fit the mixer with the whisk attachment.
Heat the granulated sugar with ¼ cup water in a small saucepan. Place the pan over medium high heat and bring to a boil.
When the sugar starts boiling, begin beating the egg whites on a medium speed until frothy. Sprinkle in the cream of tartar, then increase speed to medium high and beat until stiff peaks form. Don’t over-whip or the meringue can start to separate. If it’s ready before the sugar is to temperature, turn the mixer to the lowest speed and let it continue to run.
Continue boiling the sugar syrup until it reaches 245°F. Once it's to temperature, turn the mixer to medium-low and slowly start to stream the sugar syrup down the side of the bowl. Once all the syrup is added, turn the speed back to high and continue beating until stiff peaks form. Stir in vanilla and food coloring, if using.
Gently fold the meringue into the almond paste mixture, being careful not to over-mix the batter. Transfer the batter to a pastry bag fitted with a ½-inch round pastry tip.
If you’re using parchment paper, place a little of the macaron batter on the underside of each corner to hold it flat to the baking pan. Pipe out 1½-inch rounds onto the baking pan, spacing them about 1-inch apart.
Tap the pan hard at least 2 to 3 times to release the air bubbles. This will prevent the tops of the macarons from cracking.
Let the meringue shells sit out for 30 to 60 minutes, allowing them time to dry out and form a skin before hitting the hot oven. They should be tacky, but not stick to your fingertips.
While the macarons are drying, preheat the oven to 325°F.
Bake the meringue shells for 12 to 14 minutes. Turn off the oven once the shells are done without opening the oven door to let them cool completely in the oven (about 1 to 2 hours) before removing the pan. This will keep them from cracking due to thermal shock.
Carefully pipe or spoon your desired filling onto one side of a meringue shell, then sandwich with a second shell.
Macarons are best enjoyed the next day as the meringue shells have a chance to soften to a crispy chewiness.
There are two types of almond flour available, blanched and unblanched, the difference being whether or not the almonds are ground up with their skins. If the color of the macaron is going to be light, use the lighter-shaded blanched almond flour. Note, almond flour is not almond meal. You want the finer grind of the flour for this recipe.Egg whites need to be absolutely free of fat to whip into a meringue. To make sure there is no yolk, separate the eggs over a bowl and dump the whites into another bowl (an egg separator can help). Also, wiping the mixing bowl with white vinegar or lemon juice prior to adding the whites help to ensure there is no fat in the bowl that can inhibit the meringue formation. This step is optional but highly recommended.For room temperature eggs, leave them out on the counter for 1 hour or submerge them in warm water for 5 minutes.You can flavor your macarons with extracts other than vanilla. Use ¼ teaspoon for stronger flavors like almond, mint, or Fiori di Sicilia (orange vanilla).If you want to color your macarons, gel food coloring works best. The color does fade as it bakes, so do a shade or two darker than you want them to be.You have many options for filling the macarons. Use a classic buttercream frosting, an Italian meringue frosting, chocolate ganache, caramel sauce, jam, peanut butter...the list goes on.Allowing the macaron batter to dry before going into the oven is a very important step. When they dry out they can't spread out in the oven, and are forced to rise up (that's what creates the feet).To store Italian macarons, place them in an air-tight container at room temperature for up to a week, unless you have a filling that must be refrigerated.