Apple Pie French Macarons feature lacy, delicate vanilla bean French macaron shells sandwiched with vanilla buttercream and apple pie filling. A white chocolate drizzle and sprinkle of crushed cinnamon graham crackers adds the perfect finishing touch.
If you’ve tried making French macarons, you probably know how finicky they can be.
They’re sensitive to temperature, humidity, ingredients (should the egg whites be aged? Should the almond flour be blanched?), mixing technique, to name just a few of their pet peeves. It seems like there are about a hundred different ways macarons can potentially go wrong!
But when they’re right, they’re so, so right. Pure decadence seems like a pretty accurate way to describe the perfect macaron.
What Are French Macarons?
Macarons are delicate meringue-based French confections that look like filled cookie sandwiches.
The cookie portion, which are called the macaron shells, are made of meringue (egg whites + granulated sugar), almond flour, powdered sugar, and sometimes flavorings (such as vanilla) and food coloring (if you want colored macarons).
The macaron shells are sandwiched together with some type of filling, such as buttercream, jam, chocolate ganache, etc.
What Are the Methods for Making Macarons?
There are three different methods for making macarons: the French method, the Italian method, and the Swiss method. The difference between the methods lies in how the meringue for each is made.
French Macaron Method
The French method for making meringue is the easiest method in the sense that it involves the fewest steps. However, it yields a less stable meringue than the other two methods.
Because of this, the downside is that it’s harder to master macarons using this method. The upside is that when you do master macarons using this method, the end result is light-as-air, beautifully delicate confections.
Using the French technique for making meringue, you whip uncooked egg whites while gradually adding sugar. You can easily do this with a handheld electric mixer.
Once it forms a light and fluffy meringue, you gradually fold in the almond flour and powdered sugar 1/3 at a time to make the batter.
Italian Macaron Method
In the Italian method, you make meringue by making a hot syrup of sugar and water. The hot syrup is added slowly into egg whites while beating until it forms glossy stiff peaks. The best way to do this is with an electric stand mixer.
The resulting Italian meringue is denser and more stable than French meringue. Once you have the Italian meringue, you gradually fold in the almond flour and powdered sugar 1/3 at a time to make the batter.
Swiss Macaron Method
Personally, my favorite method for making macarons is the Swiss method, which is kind of a hybrid of the French and Italian methods for making meringue.
To make meringue using the Swiss technique, you will need a double boiler. You heat sugar and uncooked egg whites in a double boiler until the sugar is dissolved. You can test this with your fingers. Dip a finger into the egg white mixture and rub it on another finger; if you don’t feel sugar crystals, it’s good to go. Alternatively, you can test this with a thermometer; the temperature should be around 150F.
Then you pour the egg white mixture into a bowl and beat it with a handheld electric mixer until it forms stiff peaks. The resulting Swiss meringue is not quite as stiff as Italian meringue, but is much more stable than French meringue. At this point, you gradually fold in the almond flour and powdered sugar 1/3 at a time to make the batter.
How to Make Macarons Using the Technique for French Meringue
Because I wanted to show you the basic method, this recipe for Apple Pie Macarons uses the French method to make meringue.
Ingredients to Make French Macarons
- Fine almond flour
- Powdered sugar
- Egg whites
- Granulated sugar
- Vanilla extract
- Vanilla bean paste
Steps to Make French Macarons
How to Macaronage
- After you pulse the almond flour and powdered sugar together in a food processor a few times, sift it through a fine mesh sieve.
- You will be left with a powdery smooth mixture.
- Add the room temperature egg whites to a large bowl and use a handheld electric mixer to beat them.
- Once they look frothy, start adding the granulated sugar a little at a time while continuing to beat.
- Beat until the egg whites form stiff peaks, and then beat in the flavorings (such as vanilla) and food coloring (if using; here we aren't using food coloring).
- This is called a French meringue.
- Add 1/3 of the almond flour mixture to the meringue.
- Use a rubber spatula to fold it in.
- Fold the remaining almond flour mixture into the meringue 1/3 at a time with a rubber spatula.
- Continue stirring until the batter reaches the right consistency. It should be smooth and shiny and flow in ribbons. To test if macaron batter is ready, let the batter flow off the spatula. If you can make a "figure 8" with the batter without it breaking, your batter is ready.
How to Pipe Macarons
- Pour the batter into a piping bag fitted with a round tip.
- Pipe the batter out onto a macaron silicone baking mat.
- Make sure not to squeeze the piping bag too hard; the batter should flow out when you tip the bag.
- Don't worry about the peaks at the top, tapping the trays down onto the counter top will flatten them perfectly.
- Tap the trays firmly against the counter top a few times to release any air bubbles. And now you're ready to let the macarons dry out! Once they form a "skin" on top and are no longer sticky, they're ready to bake.
How to Make American Buttercream
Start by getting out all the ingredients to make the buttercream.
- Add the butter, powdered sugar, salt, and vanilla to a large bowl.
- Use a handheld electric mixer to beat the ingredients until they start to come together.
- Add the milk a little at a time.
- Continue beating and adding more milk as necessary.
- This quick and easy buttercream will be thick, rich, and creamy.
How to Fill and Decorate Macarons
- Pair up 2 of the same size and shape macarons as best you can. They don't have to be a perfect match, just as similar as you can find them.
- Pipe a ring of buttercream on the bottom cookie of each cookie pair.
- Place 1/2 teaspoon of apple filling in the center of each buttercream ring.
- Continue this way with all the cookies.
- Place the matched cookie on top to form sandwiches.
- Don't press down too hard or the filling will squish down over the sides.
- Drizzle a thin layer of chocolate on top.
- Before the chocolate sets, sprinkle on a little bit of crushed nuts, crushed graham crackers, finely chopped chocolate, coconut, or whatever else strikes your fancy.
How to Store Macarons
You can store macaron shells in an airtight container layered between pieces of parchment paper at room temperature for up to 3 days before filling them.
Store filled macarons in an airtight container layered between pieces of parchment paper in the fridge for up to 1 week.
Equipment for This Recipe
- Mixing Bowls
- Handheld Electric Mixer
- Rubber Spatula
- Piping Bag
- Baking Trays
- Silpat Baking Mats – I find that the silicone mats that are specifically for macarons make it easiest to pipe macarons evenly.
Tips for Making French Macarons
- Use fine blanched almond flour to make macarons. The brand I’ve found that I have the most success with is King Arthur Flour.
- Make sure to let your egg whites sit at room temperature for 1 hour before making macarons.
- Before sifting the almond flour and powdered sugar together, pulse them together in a food processor a few times. And don’t skip the sifting step! This makes sure your macarons are as smooth as possible.
- If you want to add color to your macarons, use gel food coloring and add it to the meringue. Remember that the color will dull a little bit as the cookies bake, so go a little more vibrant than you want your final product to look.
French Macarons FAQs
How Do I Age Egg Whites?
- Crack open your eggs.
- Separate the whites from the yolks, saving the yolks for something else.
- Place the whites in a glass container. Cover the container with plastic wrap and store in the fridge for at least 1 day but up to 3 days. Alternatively, if you’re pressed for time, let it sit at room temperature for 1 hour.
Is it Necessary to Age Egg Whites to Make Macarons?
Honestly, I didn’t find it completely necessary to age egg whites for multiple days. The thought behind aging egg whites is that it reduces the egg white’s moisture content and allows the proteins to relax. Ultimately, this results in a more stable meringue.
However, I’ve made macarons with aged egg whites and without aged egg whites and haven’t noticed much (if any) of a difference.
What I did notice makes a big difference is to let the egg whites sit at room temperature for about 1 hour before making macarons. Additionally, what I have found helps a lot to make a stable meringue is to use the Swiss method for making macarons instead of the French method.
What is Macaronage?
Le Cordon Bleu defines macaronage as:
The stage in preparing French macaron shells where the batter is worked until smooth, shiny and flowing.Le Cordon Bleu
Should Macarons be Chewy?
The outside crust of macarons should be crisp, and the interior should be slightly chewy but not mushy.
How Do You Know When Macarons Are Done?
Macarons are done baking when they form ruffled, lacy-looking “feet” on the bottom. When they’re cooked enough and you touch the top of the macaron, they shouldn’t wiggle at the feet.
Should Macarons be Refrigerated?
Once macaron shells are filled, they should be refrigerated. Store filled macarons in an airtight container layered between pieces of parchment paper for up to 1 week.
More Macaron Recipes to Try
Apple Pie French Macarons
For the Vanilla Macarons:
- Sift together the almond flour, powdered sugar, and salt through a fine mesh sieve, discarding the pieces left in the sieve.
- Add the egg whites to a large bowl. Use a handheld electric mixer to beat until frothy. While still beating, add the granulated sugar a little at a time. Continue beating until the egg whites reach stiff peaks.
- Beat the vanilla extract and vanilla bean paste into the egg whites.
- Use a rubber spatula to gently fold 1/3 of the almond flour mixture at a time into the egg whites. Be careful not to over-mix.
- Line 2 large baking trays with parchment paper or silpat liners. Fit a piping bag with a round tip, and transfer the batter to the piping bag. Pipe the batter into 3/4-inch circles about 1 inch apart.
- Tap the trays firmly against the countertop a few times to release any air bubbles.
- Let the piped cookies sit at room temperature until they form a skin and feel dry on top, about 30 to 60 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 300F.
- Bake the trays one at a time until the macarons develop a puffed “foot” on the bottom and are light golden around the outside, about 10 to 15 minutes.
- Let the cookies cool completely before removing from the baking tray.
For the Vanilla Buttercream:
- Beat together all ingredients in a large bowl until light and fluffy, adding enough milk to achieve the right consistency.
To Assemble the Macarons:
- Match up similar sized and shaped macarons into pairs.
- Fit a piping bag with a star tip, and transfer the buttercream to the piping bag. Pipe a ring of buttercream on the bottom cookie of each cookie pair. Place 1/2 teaspoon of apple filling in the center of each buttercream ring. Place the matched cookie on top to form sandwiches.
To Decorate the Macarons:
- Place the macarons on a wire rack on top of a parchment-lined baking tray.
- Melt the white candy melting wafers in a microwave or double boiler. Stir until smooth. Transfer the melted candy to a zip-top plastic bag and snip off one corner. Drizzle the melted candy decoratively on top of each macaron. Before the candy drizzle sets, sprinkle a tiny bit of crushed cinnamon graham crackers on each.
- Let the candy set before serving.
- Pulse the Almond Flour and Powdered Sugar Together in a Food Processor Before Sifting: It’s helpful to add the almond flour and powdered sugar to a food processor and pulse several times before sifting.
- How to Tell When the Batter is Mixed Enough: Knowing when the batter is finished being mixed is a real art, and can be tricky! A lot of people say it should flow like lava. A good test is to see if you the batter falls off the spatula in ribbons to make a figure 8 shape.
- Macaron Silicone Baking Mat: A macaron silicone baking mat is helpful to get the same size cookies.
- Storage: Store the macarons layered between wax paper in the fridge for up to 1 week.