I have always been especially drawn to all things French. The Language, the country and most of all, the cuisine. I remember tasting my first croissant like it was yesterday. Tasting a French pastry made me feel like I was in France, at a pâtisserie. One of those cute ones on a Paris corner with tiny apartments above it with those faux balconies. All of those buttery, flakey layers. Sometimes with chocolate inside. It’s one of those pastries you want to eat extremely slow to savor every second of every bite. One of those specialty treats that you have just often enough to highly anticipate the next encounter.
One of the most highly anticipated delicacies that was on my list to try was a French Macaron. Oh my how I wanted one of those colorful, delicate cookies. I had never tried one, but I knew it would be delicious. I never seen them around though. Only on TV (I use to spend many mornings watching TV5MONDE). I said to myself, I will just figure out how to make them if I can’t find them.
By this time I was in my 20’s living an amazingly healthy, nut-free life. One day, I finally encountered them at Whole Foods. It was sitting right in the little showcase next to all of the other fancy looking cakes with those tiny as can be ingredients lists below them. I got as close to the showcase window as I could without putting my nose on it and noticed “almond flour” in the list. Huh? Almond flour? Really?
I was quite disappointed and had pretty much given up my dream of one day trying a French Macaron. It wasn’t until I saw an episode of Martha Stewart where she made French Macarons with her own homemade almond flour. It hit me. I could just use sunflower seeds!!! Right?? Maybe?
I took this renewed spark to taste a French Macaron to the web and researched all of the ways to make French macarons at home. Pretty sure I must have watched at least 50 different tutorials on YouTube before I was confident enough to try it. I just knew that I could make it work.
The key is to use raw sunflower seeds. If you have trouble finding them locally, you can get yours here.
Click here to get the best baking mat to make perfectly round macarons!
Macaron Recipe: How to make it
Because this is how the French do it, I am working with a scale here. Trying to be very precise. If Martha can do it, so can I.
I couldn’t believe I was finally about to try a French macaron. And one that I made myself! I was beyond excited.
(Once you pulse the mixture leftover, you will end up with a tablespoon or two that will not go through the sieve. That’s perfectly normal and you can discard)
I, of course wanted to make them as fancy as I could and didn’t have any natural food coloring on hand so I added some cocoa power. You can’t go wrong with chocolate.
So I am supposed to start with room temperature egg whites, but forgot to take the eggs out of the fridge before starting. I am quite impatient when it comes to cooking at times and I also have a schedule to keep up with so I had to roll with it. While they did whip into stiff peaks, it almost took twice as long. Note to self: use room temperature egg whites.
This next part was where I worried a bit. Spoiler alert: They came out great!
You have to fold the dry ingredients into the meringue until the mixture flows from the spatula like lava. If you don’t, your cookies will crack.
I have seen many people use a template to trace circles onto a piece of parchment, but my wonderful husband who somehow always hears me even when I don’t think he is listening bought me a macaron kit for a ‘just because’ gift previously so I used that. You can get this kit here Mastrad A45360 Macaron Kit
Even though I had a guide, the circles were still not even. Oh well. 🙂 Because they still looked liked they were supposed to, I wasn’t worried. I am sure it will take a few more tries before I can get the circle consistantly even. If you prefer something without the raised lines, I recommend this mat Silicone Macaron Baking Mat – Set of 2 Half Sheet (Thick & Large 11 5/8″ x 16 1/2″) – Non Stick Silicon Liner for Bake Pans & Rolling – Macaroon/Pastry/Cookie Making – Professional Grade Nonstick.
Finally, time to bake them!
Many recipes tell you to let them sit out for 30 minutes, however Martha said they could go right into the oven. Being the impatient baker that I sometimes am, I put them right in the oven after piping.
And they came out great!
I do think that I will try letting them sit out next time to see what happens.
By the way, I decided to just fill them with a simple chocolate ganache. Of course, you can certainly use any filling you like. Some people like jam and some prefer a buttercream type filling or a fruit based cream. I don’t think you can go wrong with either. This homemade macaron was so much easier than I thought and came out perfect (at least I thought so) on my very first try. Most of all I can’t wait to try other flavors and colors in the future.
Easy French Nut-Free Macarons
- 71 grams of raw sunflower seeds 2/3 cup
- 117 gramsconfectioners' sugar 1 cup
- 2 large egg whites room temperature
- 53 grams granulated sugar 1/4 cup
- Jam or other filling
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place sunflower seeds in a food processor along with confectioners sugar. Process until combined, about 1 minute.
Pass seed/sugar mixture through a sieve. Transfer bits that didn’t go through the sieve back to the food processor; sift again, pressing down on clumps. Repeat until less than 2 tablespoons of solids are left.
Whisk egg whites and granulated sugar by hand to combine first. Then whip on medium speed and increase the speed every 3 minutes until stiff peaks form. This should take between 6-10 minutes.
If you are adding color, add it now and then whip on high for 30 seconds.
Add dry ingredients and fold in with a spatula. Repeat just until batter flows like lava.
Pipe small circles onto parchment paper or on a macaron sheet. Tap sheets firmly against counter 2 or 3 times to release air bubbles.
Bake until risen and just set, 10-12 minutes. Let cool. Pipe or spread filling on flat sides of half of cookies; top with remaining half. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate.
It’s best to refrigerate overnight. I like to let them come back to room temp before eating. I have also eaten them after assembly and they are great then as well!