Pretty in pink, and yellow, and caramel...

At our first Saturday morning class in May, Chef Wendy Boys took the mystery out of making macarons. We watched closely, listened carefully and diligently took notes so that we too could create these delicious (and oh so popular) confections at home.

First, Wendy set the record straight on macaroon vs macaron. Macaroons are dense cookies, or small sweet cakes made with a coarse almond paste or coconut. A macaron is a meringue-based confectionary whose name is derived from ‘ammaccare’, meaning crush or beat, to reference the principal ingredient – almond paste. It is made from a mixture of egg whites, almond flour and granulated and confectionary sugar. They are often filled and come in a rainbow of colours.

Making macarons are definitely a ‘roll-up your sleeves, clear the counter kind’ of an endeavour. Sure they’re fussy, and no two batches are ever the same, but that’s part of their homespun charm. There are no mistakes, just new creations.

I’ve pulled from Lawren and my notes to give you some of Wendy’s tips for making macarons:

  1. In addition to the ingredients specified in your master recipe you will need lots of parchment paper, as many staging trays and the flattest baking sheets you can get your hands on. Clear your morning, this is batch baking at its finest.
  2. Buzz your ground almonds and icing sugar together in your food processor first, then sift them together to incorporate them. They’ll be finer that way.
  3. Either purchase egg whites, or leave them on the counter for a day or 2 so the water can evaporate and they can warm up. Or, give them 10 seconds in the microwave.
  4. Use only gel food colouring and powdered flavourings (i.e. Espresso powder for coffee) so that you don’t add any extra unwanted moisture.
  5. For the sugar syrup start with everything cold. When you warm up your sugar and water to @116 c it should be clear, don’t let it crystallize. If it does wash your pan making sure it is super clean and try again – it happens to the best of us, even Wendy.
  6. You want your meringue to be voluminous and fluid and the best way to get that consistency is to gently beat the egg whites on low for 10 or more minutes (don’t be tempted to rush them or they will be less stable).
  7. To get your parchment paper nice and flat (on your flat tray), dab a drop of your meringue onto each corner to ‘glue’ it in place.
  8. There are no size rules with macarons, but Wendy likes to use an Atico #802 pastry tip to get the optimum ‘quarter’ size that she likes to pipe.
  9. After piping your macarons let them dry on trays for at least ½ hour (or even overnight depending on the humidity that day). You want them to form a light crust before baking.
  10. Play with your oven temperature. If you have a convection oven (lucky you) bake at 140 c for 4-5minutes. For a conventional/still oven try 300-325 for up to 12 minutes. If your oven is too hot your macarons will crack and won’t cook evenly. Ideally, you want them smooth and round on the top, with little crackling ‘ballerina’ feet along the edge. Remember nothing wrong with a little, rough around the edges hand-made look. And remember, macarons will actually soften and improve their texture if left sitting a few days.

Wendy made Italian style macarons - a crunchier, more stable and even macaron that you get by adding warm sugar to cold egg whites. (French style is cold sugar to cold egg whites). Wendy made 3 flavours for us: Red Raspberry with Chocolate Raspberry filling, Coffee with Burnt Caramel filling and Plain with Lemon Curd. For the fillings she used her own sauces from her Cocolico line (available for a limited time at our shop). Or visit Wendy’s website at

Guests to Wendy’s class took home a copy of I Love Macarons by Hasiko Ogita, along with a beautifully packaged box of their very own macarons – tres agreable!

I Love Macarons by Hasiko Ogita

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