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How to Make Italian Meringue Macarons

Lemon Italian Meringue Macarons with a Lemon Curd Filling

Have you ever wanted to make perfect Italian Meringue Macarons, but ended up with lumpy shells, a macaron without a foot (i.e., the ruffled bottom), or cookies with holes and cracks?  Then look no further because this post has everything you need to make a fool-proof macaron.

Macarons are frequently labeled as a difficult cookie, but by using these instructions, you can master the techniques required to make this delicate sandwich cookie.

First and foremost, it is important to know there are three different ways to make macarons: Italian meringue, French meringue, and Swiss Meringue.

Lemon Italian Meringue Macarons with a Lemon Curd Filling

Today’s post is dedicated to the Italian Meringue Macarons version. To make an Italian meringue, the sugar is heated to a syrup and then added to the eggs while whipping. This method is my favorite of the three and produces a stable meringue that “heals” after it’s piped to produce flawlessly smooth shells.

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Ingredients for Italian Meringue Macaron Shells
Lemon Italian Meringue Macarons - Ingredients
Equipment

Preheat the oven to 350°F/177°C.  

Making Macaron Template
Macaron Template

Every time I make macarons, I make a template for piping.  It’s important that all of the cookies are the same size because they have to be sandwiched together.  To make the template, use a Sharpie/permanent marker to outline 12 evenly spaced 2.5-inch circles1.  I use a circle cookie cutter to make each outline.  

Place the template on a baking sheet and cover with a second sheet of parchment paper.  The circles should be visible through the parchment paper.  Set the cookie sheet aside. 

Making the Macaron Batter 
Lemon Italian Meringue Macarons - Ingredients

Place the almond flour and powdered sugar in a food processor.  Pulse until the mixture is finely ground.  

Lemon Italian Meringue Macarons - Ingredients

Sift the almond flour and powdered sugar into a large bowl and add the smaller amount of egg whites. 

Lemon Italian Meringue Macarons - Ingredients

This is also the time to add food coloring. 

Lemon Italian Meringue Macarons - Making the batter

It’s ok if the color is dark at this point, because the colors will lessen a little when the meringue is added later.  Use a spatula to mix the ingredients together.  The mixture will be stiff so be ready for an arm workout.  Don’t worry about overmixing the batter at this point.  Mix until the food coloring is evenly incorporated without any streaks.  This will help to avoid overmixing during later steps. 

Making the Meringue 
Italian Meringue Macarons - Making the meringue

Place the larger amount of egg whites into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.  

Combine the larger amount of granulated sugar with the water in a small saucepan over medium-high heat.  Use a silicone spatula to gently stir the mixture until the sugar has dissolved.  Then, remove the spatula and add the candy thermometer.  

Italian Meringue Macarons - Making the meringue

When the syrup reaches 203°F/110°C, turn the stand mixer to medium (i.e., #4 on a Kitchen Aid) and slowly pour the smaller amount of granulated sugar into the egg whites.  The granulated sugar helps to “warm up” the egg whites and keeps them from breaking down before the sugar syrup can be added.  

Italian Meringue Macarons - Making the meringue

Beat the eggs until they begin to form soft peaks.  If they have reached soft peaks before the sugar syrup has reached 248°F/120°C, reduce the speed to lowest setting to keep the egg whites moving.  

Italian Meringue Macarons - Making the meringue

When the syrup reaches 248°F/120°C, remove the candy thermometer from the pan, turn the stand mixer to medium-low speed (#2 on a KitchenAid), and slowly pour the syrup between the side of the bowl and the whisk.  The mixture will deflate as the hot syrup is added.  

Italian Meringue Macarons - Making the meringue

Increase the speed to medium (#6 on KitchenAid) and whip for 5 minutes, or until the meringue forms stiff peaks.  The meringue inside the bowl should be cool.  If it is still warm, continue whipping.  

Macaronage 
Lemon Italian Meringue Macarons - Macaronage Stage

The next step is macaronage.  This process consists of a specific technique for mixing the meringue into the almond mixture.  Every recipe seems to have a different suggestion for how to achieve the perfect macaron batter consistency.  The batter should be thin enough to “flow” or “ribbon” but thick enough to mostly hold its shape when piped.  Too thin, and the cookie will flatten in the oven rather than rising.  Too thick, and the shells will not be smooth.  

I learned this macaronage method while taking a macaron class on my honeymoon in France.  The woman who taught the class said this is her foolproof technique for achieving the correct consistency.  Every time I’ve made macarons since taking that class, my macarons have turned out perfectly (a definite difference from my pre-class cookies).  

Adding the Meringue
Lemon Italian Meringue Macarons - Macaronage Stage

Begin by adding a third of the meringue mixture into the batter.  She called this first third the “sacrifice.”  Stir it completely into the almond mixture to loosen the batter.  Don’t worry about overmixing at this point.  Just stir until there are no more steaks.  

Lemon Italian Meringue Macarons - Macaronage Stage
Lemon Italian Meringue Macarons - Macaronage Stage

Scoop the second third of the meringue on top of the almond mixture.  At this point, you will only fold the batter 5 times.  The meringue will NOT be fully incorporated after 5 folds (i.e., you will still be able to see streaks), but stop folding.  

Add the last third of the meringue and make 5 folds then STOP!  Again, there will still be streaks of meringue but that’s ok.  

Lemon Italian Meringue Macarons - Macaronage Stage

To incorporate the remaining meringue streaks, while avoiding overmixing, she told us to use a “petting” technique.  In other words, use the spatula to gently stroke the batter without stirring or folding.  In other words, imagine petting or stroking the top of a dog’s head but replace your hand with a spatula.  That is the general motion.  Gently “pet” the batter just until all streaks are gone.  

Preparing the Piping Bag 

Prepare the piping bag by placing the cone-shaped part of the coupler into the tip of the bag, snip the bag at the first ridge on the coupler, and remove the bag tip.  Place the piping tip on the coupler (outside of the bag) and use the threaded ring of the coupler to secure the piping tip to the bag (i.e., screw the two parts of the coupler together with the piping tip between them).  

Hold the bag in your non-dominant hand and fold the top edges down halfway.  Next, scoop the filling into the piping bag.  Since macaron batter is a little stiff, only fill the bag about ½ to ¾ full.  This will make it easier to squeeze the batter out of the bag.  

Twist the top of the bag and gently squeeze until you can see the batter about to come out of the tip.  

Piping the Italian Meringue Macaron Shells
Lemon Italian Meringue Macarons - Shells

Hold the bag perpendicular to the prepared cookie sheet with the tip slightly above the middle of one of the circle outlines.  Squeeze the piping bag to fill the outline.  Stop squeezing the bag and make a very small “C” with the tip of your piping bag.  Then pull the piping bag upward.  This will help keep the shells from having a peak.  

Firmly tap the bottom of the baking sheet against the counter multiple times to cause any air bubbles to rise to the top of the cookie and pop.  This will also smooth any peaks on the cookie.  

Some recipes call for letting the piped cookies rest until the shell is dry to the touch.  That’s not necessary for this recipe.  You can immediately put the cookie sheet into the oven and drop the oven temperature to 325°F/163°C. 

Bake the cookies for 9-12 minutes, until the tops are shiny and crisp.  To check if they’re cooked, remove the pan from the oven and then gently (AND carefully) wiggle the top of the shell.   If the shell moves easily, put the cookies back in the oven to cook for a few more minutes.  After wiggling, if the shell only moves a little, the cookies are probably done and can be removed from the oven.  If the top of the shell does not move at all, it’s possible the cookies are over baked.  The perfect macaron shell will slightly move when wiggled.  

Lemon Italian Meringue Macarons

When the cookies finish baking, remove them from the oven, and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.  

If there’s still batter, preheat the oven again to 350°F/177°C and pipe the remaining macaron shells.  

Filling the Italian Meringue Macarons
Lemon Italian Meringue Macarons

After the cookies cool completely, remove the macarons from the parchment paper and flip over half of the cookies.  Put the filling into a piping bag and pipe a circle of filling on the cookie that is turned upside down.  I like to use my Italian Meringue Buttercream for filling because it is rich and only slightly sweet.

Lemon Italian Meringue Macarons with a Lemon Curd Filling

You can also make a ring of buttercream to fill with a softer or looser filling like these Lemon Italian Meringue Macarons with Lemon Curd Filling.

Top the upside-down cookie with a matching macaron half and gently press the cookies to push the filling to the edge. 

Lemon Italian Meringue Macarons with a Lemon Curd Filling

Typically, I can’t stop myself from eating a couple of macarons immediately, but they are best when allowed to rest in the freezer for at least 24 hours.  Wrap the cookies in plastic wrap and put in the freezer.  The texture of the cookie changes slightly while in the freezer (i.e., it becomes chewier) and the filling flavor merges with the shell. 

Italian Meringue Macarons can be stored in the freezer for up to 2 weeks.  Although all of my cookies are usually LONG gone by that time.

Allow the cookie to come to room temperature before eating.  Keep the plastic wrap on the cookie while it thaws.  Any condensation will stay on the plastic wrap rather than softening the cookie.  

Lemon Italian Meringue Macarons with a Lemon Curd Filling

Macarons are my absolute favorite cookie!  I’ve tried so many flavors (including some savory ones) and I buy them every chance I get.  What is your favorite macaron flavor?  Are there any flavors that you think I should make next?  Let me know in the comments section below and I will do my best to post a recipe. 

Lemon Italian Meringue Macarons with a Lemon Curd Filling
Can’t get enough macarons?
Lemon Italian Meringue Macarons with a Lemon Curd Filling
Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

Italian Meringue Macarons

Equipment

  • Stand Mixer
  • Candy Thermometer
  • Piping bag
  • Coupler
  • Round piping tip (e.g., #12 Wilton tip)

Ingredients

  • cups + 2½ Tbsp (212g) almond flour
  • cups + 1 Tbsp (212g) powdered sugar 
  • ¼ cup + 1½ Tbsp (82g) egg whites, room temperature (smaller amount) 
  • ¼ cup + 2 Tbsp (90g) egg whites, room temperature (larger amount) 
  • 1 cup + 3 Tbsp (236g) granulated sugar (larger amount)
  • 2 Tbsp + 2¼ tsp (33g) granulated sugar (smaller amount) 
  • 2/3 cup (158g) water 
  • Gel food coloring

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F/177°C.  

Making Macaron Template

  • Using a template for macarons is important so all cookies are the same size. To make the template, use a Sharpie/permanent marker to outline 12 evenly spaced 2.5-inch circles.  Use a circle cookie cutter to make each outline.  
  • Place the template on a baking sheet and cover with a second sheet of parchment paper.  The circles should be visible through the parchment paper.  Set the cookie sheet aside. 

Making the Macaron Batter

  • Place the almond flour and powdered sugar in a food processor.  Pulse until the mixture is finely ground.  
  • Sift the almond flour and powdered sugar into a large bowl. Add the smaller amount of egg whites and the food coloring. 
  • Use a spatula to mix the ingredients together.  The mixture will be stiff so be ready for an arm workout.  Don’t worry about overmixing the batter at this point.  Mix until the food coloring is evenly incorporated without any streaks.  This will help to avoid overmixing during later steps. 

Making the Meringue

  • Place the larger amount of egg whites into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.  
  • Combine the larger amount of granulated sugar with the water in a small saucepan over medium-high heat.  Use a silicone spatula to gently stir the mixture until the sugar has dissolved.  Then, remove the spatula and add the candy thermometer.  
  • When the syrup reaches 203°F/110°C, turn the stand mixer to medium (i.e., #4 on a Kitchen Aid) and slowly pour the smaller amount of granulated sugar into the egg whites.  The granulated sugar helps to “warm up” the egg whites and keeps them from breaking down before the sugar syrup can be added.  
  • Beat the eggs until they begin to form soft peaks.  If they have reached soft peaks before the sugar syrup has reached 248°F/120°C, reduce the speed to lowest setting to keep the egg whites moving.  
  • When the syrup reaches 248°F/120°C, remove the candy thermometer from the pan, turn the stand mixer to medium-low speed (#2 on a KitchenAid), and slowly pour the syrup between the side of the bowl and the whisk.  The mixture will deflate as the hot syrup is added.  
  • Increase the speed to medium (#6 on KitchenAid) and whip for 5 minutes, or until the meringue forms stiff peaks.  The meringue inside the bowl should be cool.  If it is still warm, continue whipping.  

Macaronage

  • The next step is macaronage.  This process consists of a specific technique for mixing the meringue into the almond mixture. 
  • Begin by adding a third of the meringue mixture into the batter.  She called this first third the “sacrifice.”  Stir it completely into the almond mixture to loosen the batter.  Don’t worry about overmixing at this point.  Just stir until there are no more steaks.  
  • Scoop the second third of the meringue on top of the almond mixture.  At this point, you will only fold the batter 5 times.  The meringue will NOT be fully incorporated after 5 folds (i.e., you will still be able to see streaks), but stop folding.  
  • Add the last third of the meringue and make 5 folds then STOP!  Again, there will still be streaks of meringue but that’s ok.  
  • To incorporate the remaining meringue streaks, while avoiding overmixing, use a “petting” technique.  In other words, use the spatula to gently stroke the batter without stirring or folding.  Imagine petting or stroking the top of a dog’s head but replace your hand with a spatula.  That is the general motion.  Gently “pet” the batter just until all streaks are gone.  

Preparing the Piping Bag

  • Prepare the piping bag by placing the cone-shaped part of the coupler into the tip of the bag, snip the bag at the first ridge on the coupler, and remove the bag tip.  Place the piping tip on the coupler (outside of the bag) and use the threaded ring of the coupler to secure the piping tip to the bag (i.e., screw the two parts of the coupler together with the piping tip between them).  
  • Hold the bag in your non-dominant hand and fold the top edges down halfway.  Next, scoop the filling into the piping bag.  Since macaron batter is a little stiff, only fill the bag about ½ to ¾ full.  This will make it easier to squeeze the batter out of the bag.  
  • Twist the top of the bag and gently squeeze until you can see the batter about to come out of the tip.  

Piping the Macaron Shells

  • Hold the bag perpendicular to the prepared cookie sheet with the tip slightly above the middle of one of the circle outlines.  Squeeze the piping bag to fill the outline.  Stop squeezing the bag and make a very small “C” with the tip of your piping bag.  Then pull the piping bag upward.  This will help keep the shells from having a peak.  
  • Firmly tap the bottom of the baking sheet against the counter multiple times to cause any air bubbles to rise to the top of the cookie and pop.  This will also smooth any peaks on the cookie.  
  • Some recipes call for letting the piped cookies rest until the shell is dry to the touch.  That’s not necessary for this recipe.  You can immediately put the cookie sheet into the oven and drop the oven temperature to 325°F/163°C. 
  • Bake the cookies for 9-12 minutes, until the tops are shiny and crisp.  To check if they’re cooked, remove the pan from the oven and then gently (AND carefully) wiggle the top of the shell.   If the shell moves easily, put the cookies back in the oven to cook for a few more minutes.  After wiggling, if the shell only moves a little, the cookies are probably done and can be removed from the oven.  If the top of the shell does not move at all, it’s possible the cookies are over baked.  The perfect macaron shell will slightly move when wiggled.  
  • When the cookies finish baking, remove them from the oven, and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.  
    If there’s still batter, preheat the oven again to 350°F/177°C and pipe the remaining macaron shells.  

Filling the Macarons

  • After the cookies cool completely, remove the macarons from the parchment paper and flip over half of the cookies.  Put the filling into a piping bag and pipe a circle of filling on the cookie that is turned upside down. 
  • Top the upside-down cookie with a matching macaron half and gently press the cookies to push the filling to the edge. 
  • Macarons are best when allowed to rest in the freezer for at least 24 hours.  Wrap the cookies in plastic wrap and put in the freezer.  The texture of the cookie changes slightly while in the freezer (i.e., it becomes chewier) and the filling flavor merges with the shell. 
  • Macarons can be stored in the freezer for up to 2 weeks.  
  • Allow the cookie to come to room temperature before eating.  Keep the plastic wrap on the cookie while it thaws.  Any condensation will stay on the plastic wrap rather than softening the cookie.  

Notes

Additional Tips for Perfect Macarons: 
  1. Do not try to make macarons on humid days.  The moisture in the air will interfere with the meringue and the consistency of the shell will suffer. 
  2. Use pre-cut sheets of parchment paper.  These will lay flat on the cookie sheet unlike the parchment paper that comes in rolls.  
  3. Do not overmix the batter.  It’s better for the batter to be thicker so the cookie will hold its shape.  If it’s too thick, you can always scrape the cookies off the parchment paper and re-pipe.  
  4. A few minutes before putting the cookies in the oven, open the oven door for a few seconds to allow any steam to escape.  This will help the cookies rise evenly.  
  5. Because macaron shells are sensitive to moisture, avoid using liquid food coloring.  Gel food coloring is good to use, but powdered food coloring is best because it doesn’t add any additional moisture to the batter. 
  6. Don’t skip sifting!  Almond flour and powdered sugar tend to have lumps so sifting keeps the shells lump-free.  
  7. Reuse the macaron template by carefully pulling it out from under the piped macaron shells.  I like to hold one short side of the top sheet of parchment paper (i.e., the sheet with the cookies piped onto it) and then pull the opposite short side of the template sheet.  Try not to disturb any of your piped cookies.  If you can’t remove it easily, just wait to remove the template until the batch is finished baking. 
  8. Firmly tap the cookie sheet on the counter to remove any bubbles.  Air bubbles will expand in the oven while baking and will cause the shell to bake with holes.  
  9. Remove the macaron shells from the oven before they take on any color.  If the shell begins to brown, they have cooked too much. 
  10. Remove the macaron shells from the baking sheet immediately after removing from the oven to stop them from over-baking.  To do this, slide the parchment paper (with the cookies still attached) from the cookie sheet to a cooling rack.  
  11. Wait for the cookies to cool completely before removing them from the parchment paper.  If you try to take them off before they have cooled completely, the bottom of the cookie will stick to the paper and you will pull the top of the shell off.  
Lemon Italian Meringue Macarons with a Lemon Curd Filling
Notes
  1. This makes large macarons. If you prefer bite-size cookies, use 1.5-inch circles instead. (Back to “Making a template” section)
  2. This recipe was adapted from the “Lemon Macarons” recipe in the Bouchon Bakery cookbook.

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4 Comments

  1. I would love to know how baking at a high elevation impacts macaron making. I live at about 5800 above sea level.

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