Boozy Coffee Macarons
Macarons are one of those delicacies that the average home baker is a bit scared of trying. There seem to be so many rules: they have to have those perfect feet, the top has to be perfectly smooth, there cannot be any air bubbles on the top, the inside has to be perfectly chewy... What a lot of people fail to mention though, is that even if your first tries do not completely look the part, most often they are still absolutely delicious! I would not say my macarons are perfect (they are far from), but each batch is getting better and better.
The first macarons I ever had were from Ladurée in Paris. This was back in 2018 when we were travelling around Europe care free! Of course, Ladurée is one of the most famous macaron producers. Their shop windows are filled with colourful macarons and gift boxes, and the macarons are delicious. The only downside? They cost a fortune! And even macarons from less exclusive shops are not cheap at all. If you can learn to make macarons yourself at home, this will make a big difference to your wallet.
Macarons still require a bit of an investment even at home. You need very fine ground almonds instead of flour, and this can come at a price. For the most professional result, you need a food processor as well, which comes with a price tag. But I find that buying ground almonds and sieving them a couple of times also works to get a very fine mixture. Granted, the sieving does take a long time, but it is worth it!
What I love about macarons, is that you can experiment endlessly with different flavours. I've made plain vanilla ones and rose-flavoured ones, just to name a couple. But a batch I made that was a real hit, were these boozy coffee macarons! They are a real grown-up treat, with a kick of coffee-infused gin, and a strong coffee flavour. They are perfect served after dinner with an espresso or maybe even with my espresso martini recipe! You can replace the coffee-infused gin with any other liquor you want as well, such as Baileys or whiskey just to name a few. So many liquors pair wonderfully well with coffee.
Before you get started
Macarons are not easy to make. But that does not mean it is impossible. However, they do require practice, and your first batch will likely not turn out perfect. But they will still be delicious! Before getting to the recipe, let me walk you through some tips and tricks, and the general stages of making macarons from scratch. It will help to understand a bit more about the process to get you started. I use the French technique to make macarons. I find it less fuss than the Italian way!
According to me, there are five steps to making macarons:
1) Preparing the dry ingredients;
2) Preparing the meringue base;
3) Folding the dry ingredients into the meringue, or "Macaronage";
4) Piping the shells and drying them out;
5) Preparing the filling and sandwiching the macaron shells together.
The first step is to prepare the dry ingredients. Because macarons are such delicate little things, it is very important that all your dry ingredients are VERY fine and sieved a few times. If you can buy extra fine almond flour in the store, that is helpful. But it is not necessary. I simply buy ground almonds from the supermarket, and sieve them a few times, until only the finest parts remain. Then I weight out the right amount. If you have a food processor, it is also a good idea to pulse the ground almonds a few times to get them extra fine. But I would still sieve them after, as well as the powdered sugar and other dry ingredients you want to add.
The second step is to make a meringue. A meringue is made using egg whites and white sugar. I would not recommend making a meringue by hand. Preferably, use a standing mixer. You could also use a hand mixer but you might need to take a break every now and then! It is very important to use clean utensils when making meringue, because if any fat particles are present, this will prevent the egg whites from forming stiff peaks. Egg yolks also count as fats, so if any egg yolk goes into your egg whites, save them for something else and start over. Any yolk in your whites and the meringue will not reach stiff peaks. I recommend cleaning your bowl and whisk with soapy water, and then drying them. Then, put some white wine vinegar on a paper towel, and wipe the bowl and whisk with the towel. This will remove any leftover grease. The whole process of making a meringue should take around 10 minutes, but on very humid days, it can take up to 15 minutes. It's as easy as whipping the egg whites, then slowly adding the sugar, and just keep whipping it up until stiff peaks form.
The third step is to fold the dry ingredients into the meringue. You should use a method called "Macaronage". This is a special way of folding the ingredients together so the meringue deflates as little as possible. It also prevents getting big holes in your meringue shells. You can watch a video such as this one to see how it's done. You want to drag your spatula all the way around the perimeter of the bowl, and then drag it back through the middle. Repeat this until all the dry ingredients have been incorporated. Then, keep going until you can draw a "Figure 8" with the batter by letting it run off your spatula. You can see my figure 8 in the picture below!
The fourth step is to pipe the shells onto a lined baking tray and let the top dry out completely before baking. This will likely take an hour, but depends on the humidity in the room. You can speed up the process by using a fan. The top of the macaron shell should feel really dry to the touch. If you bake them before this stage, they will spread and crack, rather than develop feet and a shiny smooth top. When the macaron shells are baked, they should come off of the silicone baking matt easily. If they seem to stick, you could bake them a bit longer.
The fifth step is to prepare your filling and sandwich your baked macaron shells together. You can choose any sort of filling you like. American buttercream is a popular choice, but you can also use any type of curd, or ganache! When you sandwich the shells together, make sure to select two that are very similar in size and shape, so your macaron does not look all wonky. Also, do not pipe so much filling on that when you press the shells together, it all splurges out from the sides!
I hope reading the breakdown above will be helpful for those who feel a bit intimidated by macarons. I definitely was my first time around, but now I am hooked. I think you are ready to get to the recipe now!
Boozy Coffee Macarons
Prep time: 45 mins - Resting time: 1 hour - Baking time: 15 mins - Yield: 20 pcs
Download the recipe card above, or read the recipe below.
Ingredients - Macaron shells
• 2 large egg whites (86 grams), matured in the fridge overnight
• 40 grams granulated sugar
• 140 grams powdered sugar, sieved
• 65 grams ground almonds, sieved
• ½ tsp fine sea salt
• ½ tsp vanilla bean paste
• 1 tsp instant coffee powder
• Gel food colouring, if you wish
Ingredients - Macaron filling
• 95 grams unsalted butter, softened
• 150 grams powdered sugar, sieved
• 1 tbsp double cream
• 4 tsp coffee-infused gin
• 1/8 tsp fine sea salt
The night before
1. Wipe a bowl with a little bit of vinegar. Place 2 large egg whites (mine weighed 86 grams in total) in the bowl and place in the fridge overnight.
Preparing the dry ingredients
2. Sieve the ground almonds until very fine. The total weight after sieving should be 65 grams. You can also use a food processor to make the ground almonds extra fine, but only pulse carefully so you do not release the oils from the almonds.
3. Sieve the powdered sugar with a very fine sieve together with the ground almonds.
4. Sieve the salt and coffee powder into the powdered sugar and almonds.
Make the meringue base
5. Now make the meringue base. In a very clean bowl, either in a standing mixer or with a hand-held mixer, whip up the egg whites until very fluffy on medium speed.
6. Add a tablespoon of granulated sugar at a time to the whipped egg whites. Wait at least 15 seconds before adding the next spoon, so all the sugar dissolves properly.
7. When all the sugar has been added, turn up the mixer to high speed and keep beating until stiff peaks form. When you hold the bowl upside down, the meringue should not fall out. The whole process from starting to whip the egg whites, adding the sugar, etc., usually takes me 10 minutes. But it depends on the temperature and humidity in the room. It could take 15 minutes.
8. Add the vanilla bean paste to the meringue. Also add any food colouring now if you want. I did not use any: the coffee powder already made my meringue brown enough! Be mindful that the colour will intensify when adding the other ingredients.
Folding the ingredients: "Macaronage"
9. With a spatula, fold 1/3rd of the dry ingredients into the meringue. This stage is called “macaronage” – watch a video online to see how to do it. Basically, you want to wipe the spatula only on the sides of the bowl and make circles. Keep going until all the dry ingredients are incorporated.
10. Add the next 1/3rd, repeat step 9, then add the final 1/3rd of the dry ingredients. Keep on folding the mixture until everything is incorporated, and you can draw a “figure 8” in the batter by slowly letting batter run off your spatula. You can find a picture in this blog post.
Preparing the shells for baking
11. Transfer the batter to a piping bag fitted with a large open nozzle, or just cut the tip off of a plastic sandwich bag.
12. Line a flat oven-safe tray with a silicone baking sheet or with baking paper if you do not own one. A macaron stencil sheet is best.
13. Pipe even dollops of batter onto the tray.
14. Drop the tray from ~5cm above the counter to knock out any air bubbles. Repeat this until you see bubbles disappear (I do it like 5, max 10 times).
15. For stubborn air bubbles, use a tooth pick to remove them.
16. Let the macaron shells dry out VERY WELL before baking them. If you bake them straight away, they will spread and crack. Wait at least 40 – 60 minutes. The shells should be very dry to the touch. You can use a fan to speed up the process. Don’t leave them somewhere humid – that will slow it down a lot.
17. Preheat your oven to 160 degrees Celsius (conventional oven or fan oven).
18. Prepare the filling of the macarons whilst they dry out and the oven preheats. Sieve the powdered sugar into a large bowl.
19. Add the soft butter and beat until fluffy and pale, around 2 minutes. Add the double cream and salt and beat until incorporated.
20. Add the gin one teaspoon at a time. Taste the buttercream in between, so you can adjust the alcohol level to your taste. I used 4 teaspoons total. You can add more too, but make sure the buttercream does not go too liquid.
21. Place the buttercream in a piping bag with your nozzle of choice. I used a large, open nozzle.
Baking and finishing up
22. Put the macaron shells in the oven when they are dry. Bake for 15 minutes. Do not open the oven door.
23. The macarons should come off the silicone baking mat easily. You can use a palette knife to help you. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
24. Once cool, organise your shells in pairs that looks most similar in shape and size.
25. Pipe the buttercream onto one shell, then sandwich it together with the other shell.
26. For best flavour results, place the macarons in an air-tight container in the fridge overnight before eating.
FAQ and troubleshooting
What sort of coffee powder should I use exactly?
I used instant coffee granules that you use to make instant coffee. I grind them down to a fine powder using my pestle and mortar. But you should be able to buy instant coffee powder as well, or instant espresso powder. But in case you cannot find any (like me), just buy the granules, bash them up, and then sieve them.
What is coffee-infused gin and can I replace it?
I used coffee-infused gin, because my inspiration for these boozy coffee macarons was the espresso martini recipe I've been using recently. I've been swapping the vodka in the classic martini for coffee-infused gin. I bought a bottle of the stuff at a gin tasting because I loved it so much. However, you can just use normal gin, or normal vodka, or any type of liquor really that you like to drink with your coffee. I think Baileys would be delicious too, or a coffee liquor like Kahlua or Tia Maria!
My shells cracked in the oven.
This happens when the shells were not allowed to dry out enough before baking. If you are baking a next batch, make sure to dry them out for at least 30 minutes more, or use a fan!
My meringue does not reach stiff peaks.
This happens when the utensils are not clean and there is still some grease present. Or, it could be that some of the egg yolk slipped into the bowl with the egg whites. Unfortunately, when this happens, you have to start over with the meringue.
My macaron shells did not develop feet in the oven.
This can also happen when the macaron shells were not dried out enough before baking. Or maybe the shells needed a bit more time in the oven to rise to their full potential.
There are air bubbles in my macaron shells.
It could be that the folding method or macaronage was not yet perfect. Or you could try to drop the tray onto the counter a few more times next times, to really knock out all those air bubbles!
Let me know on Instagram if you have any questions or if you make these yourself!