French macarons are thin, chewy, meringue cookies that are sandwiched together with some kind of filling. The cookies should be light and chewy, with a very thin, crisp “crust” that gives way as soon as you bite down into it. The meringue has a lot of ground nuts – usually almonds – incorporated into it, which contributes a nice nutty taste and adds to the chewy finished texture by giving the cookies some substance. They’re very elegant to look at and are available at many, many bakeries in France. Here in the US, they’re a lot less common, but they’re relatively easy to make at home, although they are slightly more involved than baking up a regular batch of chocolate chip cookies.
These are Nutella Macarons, made with ground hazelnuts and cocoa powder in the meringue cookie and smeared with a little bit of Nutella to sandwich them together. The cookies themselves have good chocolate flavor and a nice nuttiness to them. The recipe seems to call for a lot of sugar, but the cookies aren’t actually all that sweet on their own. Nutella is a great filling for these because it highlights the chocolate and hazelnut, and requires no prep work (it goes straight from the jar into the cookie). The cookies only need a thin layer of Nutella to hold them together; you could pile it on like an Oreo filling if you really want too, but the cookies taste and store better if you keep it pretty thin.
The cookies are made by folding a meringue into a dough of ground nuts, cocoa powder and egg whites, creating a lightweight batter with a lot of flavor. The cookie batter must be piped onto baking sheets to ensure that you get cookies of uniform size and shape. Piping is also much faster and much cleaner than trying to hand-drop this batter. Once the cookies are piped out, they must sit at room temperature for a few minutes to form a slight “skin” that gives them their classically smooth look. The cookies are then baked, cooled and filled. The cookies are best within 2-3 days of baking and keep well when stored in an airtight container.
You can either buy whole hazelnuts and grind them yourself in the food processor, or look for hazelnut meal in a specialty store (Whole Foods, for instance, sometimes carries it). It is not necessary to skin the nuts before processing them if you start with whole hazelnuts, as you will not be able to see the brown flecks from the hazelnut skin in the chocolate cookies. If you can’t find hazelnuts, you can easily use ground almonds in this recipe, but the finished cookie will have a slight almond flavor to it in addition to the flavors of chocolate and Nutella.
2 1/4 cups hazelnut meal (180 g)
2 cups confectioners’ sugar (200g)
1/2 cup cocoa powder (30g)
4 large egg whites, room temperature
1 cup sugar (180g, granulated)
1/4 cup water
approx 1 cup Nutella
Line 2-3 baking sheets with parchment paper.
Sift together hazelnut meal (finely ground hazelnuts), confectioners’ sugar and cocoa powder into a large bowl. Add in two egg whites and stir mixture until it comes together into a very thick dough. This may take a few minutes, but the mixture will eventually all come together.
In a small saucepan, bring granulated sugar and water to a rolling boil.
Meanwhile, in another large mixing bowl, beat remaining two egg whites until frothy. When sugar mixture comes to a boil, beat egg whites to soft peaks. With the mixer on medium speed, drizzle the hot sugar mixture into the egg whites very slowly until all of the syrup has been incorporated and you have a thick, fluffy meringue.
Take 1/3 of the meringue mixture and mix it into the chocolate paste with the electric mixer. Fold in remaining meringue in two or three additions.
Transfer batter to a piping bag (or plastic bag) with an approx 1 cm opening. Pipe dough onto prepared baking sheets to form 1-inch discs (approx 1 1/2 tbsp per disc); batter will spread slightly after piping. Leave about 1-inch between discs on the baking sheet. Once all of the batter has been piped out, let the macarons sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes to form a “skin” that will give them a smooth, shiny top during baking.
While the macarons sit, preheat the oven to 350F.
Bake macarons for about 11-12 minutes, until the tops are set.
Cool on the baking sheet for 2 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.
Once macarons are cool, sandwich them together with about 1 teaspoon of Nutella. There is no need to be exact with this measurement, just so long as there is a thin layer between each pair of cookies.
Cookies are probably best served on the day they are made, but can be stored at room temperature for a day or two (resulting in a slightly chewier cookie, but still with good flavor).
Makes about 36 sandwich cookies.
PeggyMay 29, 2009
Oh I’ll have to try those! They look and sound fantastic! Thanks for the recipe 🙂
CiaochowlindaMay 29, 2009
I have always wanted to try my hand at making these and yours seem extraordinarily wonderful. I’m bookmarking for future use.
LaurenMay 29, 2009
These sound amazing! I’d love to try them. When you pipe out the macaroons, do you need to do anything else to get the disk shape or do they flatten out on their own?
NicoleMay 29, 2009
Lauren – They flatten out on their own, so you really just need to pipe a round blob of batter onto the parchment and you’ll be all set!
LindaMay 29, 2009
I love Nutella and these sound so sinfully delicious!! Nice recipe.
jasMay 29, 2009
You had me at the word “Nutella”! My son spent some time in France and has been looking for this type of macaroon. Thank you!
ElyseMay 29, 2009
Mm, these nutella macarons sound absolutely fabulous. I love that you used hazelnuts in them. How delicious! Great job. You’ve definitely brought France back home with you 🙂
Avanika (Yumsilicious Bakes)May 30, 2009
Ooh Yum! France totally rubbed off on you. The use of hazelnut meal instead of almond must send these straight to heaven. I’ve been looking up recipes and methods for macarons, all I have to do is take the plunge, but its a daunting task. Your macarons are certainly one of the better ones I’ve seen, and may be what finally makes me make them 🙂
bakingepiphaniesMay 30, 2009
i am still too intimidated to try macarons, but these look so delicious and somehow doable….will have to get over my macaron-phobia and just plunge in! the hazelnut meal is especially interesting, and what could possibly ever go wrong with nutella?!
Baking MonsterMay 30, 2009
I have alwys wanted to make macaroons!yum!
AnonymousMay 30, 2009
wow yours look so good. when i made mines a month ago they were thin and bubbly and no skin. I guess I’m missing a technique somewhere.
Wheeler's CrewMay 30, 2009
This looks great! Do you know how I could make this vegan?
The Purple FoodieMay 31, 2009
The macarons look absolutely gorgeous. I have got to bookmark this recipe. I love hazelnuts, so I’m most happy using them instead of the traditional almonds for the macarons.
ElizabethMay 31, 2009
I’ve been trying to make macarons for several years without much luck. I haven’t made any with this method, though, of adding a sugar syrup to the egg whites so I was hoping maybe it would work this time. Unfortunately, this recipe didn’t work out any better for me. I got a few with the nice smooth tops, but most of them had cracked tops where the cookies expanded when baking. I tried a batch where I didn’t let them sit at all and they cracked the worse and I didn’t get the “foot”. If I let them set longer than 20 minutes, would I get a “tougher” skin that wouldn’t crack when baked?
NicoleMay 31, 2009
Elizabeth – I’m honestly not sure, as I haven’t had any problems with this method. I would try letting them sit out longer and see if that helps.
The only other thing I can think of is that the climate where you are might be causing some type of problem (as meringues are notoriously sensitive to humidity, for instance). Try to work in a cool, non-humid place – and if you already are, then just try letting them sit out to form a skin. I tested mine by poking them gently with a finger. When the skin was ready (it happens quickly for me), the meringue didn’t move at my touch.
AshleyJune 1, 2009
I’ve always wanted to make macarons but have been scared. Your post has made me feel less scared though so thanks. =)
AndrielleJune 1, 2009
This recipe looks fantastic! I’m headed to the kitchen right now!!!!! yummmmy 🙂
AnonymousJune 1, 2009
this is probably a noob baking question but does your confectioner’s sugar have cornstarch? would powdered sugar work for this recipe?
NicoleJune 1, 2009
Anonymous – Confectioners’ sugar and powdered sugar are the same thing. So, yes, it sounds like you’ll be fine.
ElizabethJune 1, 2009
I’m in DC which is definitely humid – I’ll try letting them sit longer next time.
Crazy Italian DudeJune 1, 2009
Those sound amazing, though I’ve never been successful in making meringue I’ll have to try it.
KariJune 10, 2009
Macarons are amazing. They took me maybe three tries to get right. I have to be very careful when I make these; they’re easy to screw up.
janetAugust 15, 2009
I tried making these last night and they are delicious! Thank you so much for this easy-to-follow recipe.
LuOctober 11, 2009
Can i halve this recipe??
JLscrabbleNovember 28, 2009
Hi Nicole, I made these last night and they turned out great! I loved french macaroons. Since my oven is pretty strong, I lowered the baking time…I baked the cookies at 8 mins.
I was wondering if you had french macaroon recipes for other flavors, such as lemon, vanilla, or strawberry? If you could advise/post, that would be much appreciated. Thanks!
k2 herbalApril 21, 2010
Hi! Iâ€™ve been trying to make macarons for several years without much luck. I havenâ€™t made any with this method, though, of adding a sugar syrup to the egg whites so I was hoping maybe it would work this time. Unfortunately, this recipe didnâ€™t work out any better for me. I got a few with the nice smooth tops, but most of them had cracked tops where the cookies expanded when baking.
wholesale laptop batteryMay 13, 2010
The cookie batter must be piped onto baking sheets to ensure that you get cookies of uniform size and shape.
Danielle WilsonJune 30, 2010
Can you use filberts instead of hazelnuts for the meal?
Jennifer SNovember 20, 2011
This recipe worked great for me. I had beautiful macarons, feet and all. I baked them for 12-13 minutes, but they really needed at least 2 minutes longer. The ones in the middle of the sheet were too gooey to comes off the parchment paper.
Also, I made a Nutella buttercream for the filling with Nutella, butter, and powdered sugar.
The overall flavor was very Hazelnutty. I think next time I will try half hazelnut meal and half almond meal.
Thanks for the Recipe!
deeJuly 15, 2012
Silly question, where can I get hazelut meal or almond meal?