French Chocolate Macaron Recipe

french chocolate macarons

One of the most vexing tasks some bakers come across is making the perfect Parisian macaron, those ethereal little domes of almond meringue seen all over Paris, often filled with buttercream, ganache, or a fruity filling of jam. Although the original macaron didn’t have filling, but were simply fused together while warm.

So I decided to create two recipes for chocolate macarons: one with an Armagnac-scented prune filling, and another with the a pure, dark chocolate filling.

prunes on spoon

Tender, picture-perfect macarons are not easy to make. Les Macarons are all about technique, rather than about just following a recipe. Armed with a good recipe, almost anyone can make a decent brownie. You just mix, pour, and bake. I’m also a firm believer in cultural divides; there are some foods from other cultures are best left to their home turf. I’ve never had a great Madeleine in America and if you’ve ever had a ‘croissan-wich’ in the US, you know what I mean.

Using my anti-globalization stance as an excuse, I’ve never tackled macarons until I moved to France. But here I am and I have no excuse.

I phoned my friend Rob who worked at Fauchon, and he warned that the batter for perfect macarons needs to be folded just-so. One extra fold, and it’s all over. Not enough, and you won’t get that little foot. And he also advised that the chocolate macarons were the most difficult of all to get right But since those are my favorite, I was determined to get them right, no matter how many batches I had to make.

piped french chocolate macarons

Curiously, many recipes warn to let the piped cookies sit for two hours before baking to develop a shell. Testing that theory, I baked one tray right away which rose nicely but didn’t have the perfect ‘foot’. Two hours later, I baked the second baking sheet, the same mixture, the only difference was letting it sit. The second batch rose and had a nice little ‘foot’ around each.

I spoke with my friend from Fauchon again, who said, “Let them sit for a few hours? No way, we just popped those suckers in the oven right away.”

So I tried another batch, baking them off as soon as I piped them out. This time the first batch had the perfect ‘foot’ and the second batch didn’t. Then I made yet another batch, where I tried rapping the baking sheet hard on the counter top to flatten the batter before baking, and that first batch looked great with little ‘feet’ but the second batch I baked later formed little domes.

french chocolate macaron

Determined, another batch followed. I took the advisement of Pierre Hermé who says to begin baking macarons at a very high temperature, then turn it down quickly. That caused all the macarons to crack (ouch!) which I knew could be alleviated by using double-baking sheets but I didn’t feel like trying it again and washing all those dishes.

Anyhow, to make a long story short(er), here’s the successful recipe I came up with after seven tries, which are perfect. You can choose from either filling.

Chocolate Macarons

Makes about fifteen cookies

Adapted from The Sweet Life in Paris (Broadway) by David Lebovitz

Macaron Batter

  • 1 cup (100 gr) powdered sugar
  • ½ cup powdered almonds (about 2 ounces, 50 gr, sliced almonds, pulverized)
  • 3 tablespoons (25 gr) unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 2 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 5 tablespoons (65 gr) granulated sugar

Chocolate Filling
½ cup (125 ml) heavy cream
2 teaspoons light corn syrup
4 ounces (120 gr) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 tablespoon (15 gr) butter, cut into small pieces

Prune Filling
15 medium prunes (pitted), about 5 ounces (150 gr) prunes
2½ ounces (70 gr) best-quality milk chocolate, finely chopped
2 tablespoons Armagnac

Preheat oven to 350º F (180º C).

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and have a pastry bag with a plain tip (about 1/2-inch, 2 cm) ready.

Grind together the powdered sugar with the almond powder and cocoa so there are no lumps; use a blender or food processor since almond meal that you buy isn’t quite fine enough.

In the bowl of a standing electric mixer, beat the egg whites until they begin to rise and hold their shape. While whipping, beat in the granulated sugar until very stiff and firm, about 2 minutes.

Carefully fold the dry ingredients, in two batches, into the beaten egg whites with a flexible rubber spatula. When the mixture is just smooth and there are no streaks of egg white, stop folding and scrape the batter into the pastry bag (standing the bag in a tall glass helps if you’re alone).

Pipe the batter on the parchment-lined baking sheets in 1-inch (3 cm) circles (about 1 tablespoon each of batter), evenly spaced one-inch (3 cm) apart.

Rap the baking sheet a few times firmly on the counter top to flatten the macarons, then bake them for 15-18 minutes. Let cool completely then remove from baking sheet.

To make the prune filling:

Cut the prunes into quarters and pour boiling water over them. Cover and let stand until the prunes are soft. Drain.

Squeeze most of the excess water from prunes and pass through a food mill or food processor.

Melt the milk chocolate and the Armagnac in a double boiler or microwave, stirring until smooth. Stir into the prune puree. Cool completely to room temperature (it will thicken when cool.)

To make the chocolate filling:

Heat the cream in a small saucepan with the corn syrup. When the cream just begins to boil at the edges, remove from heat and add the chopped chocolate. Let sit one minute, then stir until smooth. Stir in the pieces of butter. Let cool completely before using.

spreadfillmacaronsparis.jpg

Assembly

Spread a bit of batter on the inside of the macarons then sandwich them together. (You can pipe the filling it, but I prefer to spread it by hand; it’s more fun, I think.)

I also tend to overfill them so you may or may not use all the filling.

Let them stand at least one day before serving, to meld the flavors.

Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days, or freeze. If you freeze them, defrost them in the unopened container, to avoid condensation which will make the macarons soggy.

Recipe From:

For further information, troubeshooting, and tips about making macarons, visit my post Making French Macarons.

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45 comments

  • need a taste tester?

  • The problem with mine are that they seem to like to stick to the parchment paper! I wonder if greasing would help…or am I doing something else wrong?

    Thanks for the recipe!

  • Christine:
    I find things stick to the parchment paper here in France, for some reason. Try lifting the parchment paper and spraying the baking sheet with water then re-resting the parchment on the baking sheet, or tilting the baking sheet and drizzling a small amount of water between the paper and the baking sheet, while sliding it off (be careful…don’t get them wet.) ‘Steam’ will help release the macarons right off!

    Spencer:
    Yes, ground almonds are often called almond meal.

    Michele:
    Yes, I need tasters. Let me know when you’ve made them and the tasters are ready to be tasted.

  • Wow, I didn’t know you did it that way too! What I used to do was dampen a kitchen towel and then slide the parchment onto the towel. In a few minutes, it would soak through and the macarons would come off without getting wet.

    I was just hoping there was another way to magically get those tasty little treats off.

  • Hi David,

    When you said powdered almonds in your recipe for recipe for macaron is that the same as almond meal?

  • Whoops…read your formula. So, almond meal isn’t the same as powdered almonds. I don’t hear the term powdered almonds alot. Hope it’s easy to find over here.

  • Found myself laughing out loud at the antics “even the pros” will go to for perfection. I love the prune/chocolate idea (hmmm, maybe the Christmas cookie swap?) Alanna

  • Wow!!! Your macarons are light-years ahead of mine – I tried in vain to get those shiny, slightly domed tops to no avail. And I should have guessed – a prune filling! Gorgeous. You’ve outdone us all.

  • I am so beyond impressed. I’m sitting here agog at my computer screen. I don’t think I’ll ever summon up the wherewithal to make these, but if the urge ever hits me, I swear I’m using your recipe. The macarons look AMAZING.

  • 7….SEVEN batches? Oh my god. Amazing!!!
    Must admit when you started the prune blogging thing, never in my wildest dreams did I think they would show up this way. You may get me interested in prunes after all.

    If you have canal+, (which I don’t) you can now get Desperate Housewives.

    Have you purchased double baking sheets in Paris? I continue to forget to buy them when I go to the US.

  • Oooooohhhh…. those look so good!

    It looks like you’d need a lot of counter space, though.

  • D R O O L…

  • I’ll have to remember that tip you gave Christine. Man you’ve got tons of patience to have gone through that SEVEN times. They look really delicious btw. … back to practicing for me..

  • i am making macarons once a week for the last few months and i am begining to have a semi-reliable results. i find that the whisking of the egg white to be cruicial…
    and if they stick to the tray, just let the macaron rest on the trays till they are cooler, or pop them back in to a low heat oven for a while…
    i find that the filling will soften the macaron over time, so it is ok to have a slightly more crunchy (overcooked but not burnt) macaron.
    personally i find the using of steam to be quite troublesome…

    i love macaron…. i just made a raspberry curd to go with it…

    tiong.

  • wow! i’m in awe! pierre herme couldn’t have made them better himself! felicitations! and i’m with ya’ on the croissan-wich….will you save me a few?! macarons, not croissan-wichs.

  • Seven tries, eh? Dare I ask what happened to all the not-so-perfect batches? ;)

    Well, your persistence paid off as those macarons (and their…feet) look beautiful. The first time I had a macaron just a few years ago, my first reaction was “I’VE BEEN MISSING OUT ON THIS FOR HOW MANY YEARS?!” Blasphemous!

  • Wow! I didn’t know you were clairvoyant! You were able to answer Spencer over an hour before he even asked the question! And you figured out how to make perfect macarons! You have many superhero powers.

    P.S.I thought we were supposed to blog about prunes on Thursday, not Wednesday, so I’ll have to make something really simple. I have to admit I was tempted to make an intriguing recipe from Fergus Henderson’s book: Eel, Bacon and Prune Stew. I someone else makes it, just so I can read how it tasted!

  • brett – it’s thursday in paris.

    david – here’s my post, forgot to include it in my last comment. thanks for the great idea! http://cucinatestarossa.blogs.com/weblog/2005/10/the_first_last_.html

  • OK.. I will have to try to make Macarons with my Italian Almond flour!
    I know my ricarelli are also hard to repeat outside of Italy!

    Almond Monday calling?

  • David, tu me donnes ton adresse que je vienne les goûter chez toi?
    For that partchment paper problem, our french “papier sulfurisé” is hopeless, I use a silicon “paper”.
    Good on you for trying again and again on those macarons, I have given up a long time ago, and just go to the Boulangerie-Patisserie at the end of the street.

  • *drool*… one of these days, my keyboard is going to short circuit while i read your blog, you know that! ;)

  • And I forgot to mention, we DO have “desperate housewifes” now in France, on Canal + channel ;-)

  • My, my! That is dedication. And they look scrumptious.

    As for the deplorable housefraus…if you have one of those festive new ipods and a download from ABC…voila, they could be on hand at all times. On a 2 inch screen, but still…

  • Rats!!! The ONLY prune blogging Thursday and here am I just finding out about it! I would have posted about our chicken/apricot/prune couscous, or perhaps about the Icelandic cake, vinarterta, that I make every year for Christmas.

    I just don’t get why prunes are so maligned when they are so great.

    -Elizabeth

  • I am French…and I am going to tell you the secret of the macarons!
    Keep the egg whites for 3 days in the fridge, or even outside of the fridge (Pierre Hermé style; he uses one third of fresh eggs, though; he also uses icing sugar, not caster sugar)!
    And:
    - mix sugar and almond powder as thinely as robotically possible
    - whisk the whites (without sugar) at max velocity, then let them fall a little
    Wait 20 minutes before putting them in the oven, for a thin crust to form.
    No, seriously, there is no secret! You must adapt your ingredients to your oven. Some almonds are too humid and need to be dried for example. “Pulsated air ovens” need a lower temperature, and more time. If you read french, go read the lengthy scientific discussion (with Hervé This, the famous chemist cook) in pdfs 20 and 21 there: http://www.sfc.fr/seminaire/cr2.html

  • Hmm, I have made probably thousands of macaroons, and only one or two had smooth tops and feet. Mine come out puffed and crinkled on top. I made another batch today (I rapped the sheet on the counter like you said), and only half of one macaroon had a smooth top. I think it’s because the batter dried out a lot. I have also leave my whites in the fridge for days (because of leftovers from previous batches), so that trick doesn’t work.

    Then again, I use a very different method, from Alice Medrich’s Cookies and Brownies. Basically I grind 7 oz. of almonds with 1 1/2 cups sugar in a food processor for a couple minutes. Then I pour in enough whites to get a sticky paste. Then I pipe them out and let them sit for 30 minutes. So…no powdered sugar (it’s more expensive and I don’t care for cornstarch) or whipping the whites for me. But in Alice’s book, her macaroons are crackled like mine. I must be working with some kind of hybrid recipe. Not 100% French, but not all-American either.

  • I’m french too.I use iced sugar to make macarons and the result’s great (ok, not as fabulous as your macarons looks !). I don’t have any problem with the parchement paper, perhaps coz I’m used to “work” with it since I’m little ?
    Anyway, I’m gonna keep your recipe in ming, your macarons looking so great, it’s worth trying (even though I know, the recipe doesn’t do everything).

  • I found Jean-Paul Hévin’s receipe for chocolate macarons here:
    http://recettes.isaveurs.com/dessert_macaron_chocolat_et_ganache.php
    He puts some icing sugar on the his macarons before putting them in the oven! Nice secret, I guess!

  • Thanks for the links with the ‘secrets of the French’…they were really interesting, although everyone seems to have conflicting views and since you see macarons in so many bakeries, I’m certain no one’s following the same rules and using the same techniques. Some say let ‘em dry out before baking, the fellow from Fauchon uses fresh egg whites, some sprinkle them with icing sugar (Hevin), and I found success when I using some granulated (crystal) sugar while others insist on powdered (icing) sugar…whew!

    (Note: If your macarons are cracking, try to bake them on a double baking sheet.) I found through experience NOT to start them at a high temperature like Pierre Hermé does since mine cracked (and you’ll notice Dorie Greenspan says not to bother to try making them at home due to their difficulty…and if someone with her knowledge and experience can’t do it…)

    Boy…am I glad I live walking distance to Ladurée!

  • thank you for your tireless pursuit of the perfect chocolate macaron recipe; i tried it today and it’s the best i’ve found. the foot formed without fail!

  • I made these tonight, with near perfect results. I will pass on the tips I have gathered over the past few weeks, before attempting these, so you can make them in just one batch. :)

    1) Leave the egg whites uncovered for 24 hrs. (eggs have a natural anti-bacterial property which will prevent them from becoming tainted. Also, covering them will cause mold to grow and defeat the purpose, which is to reduce the moisture content.)
    2) Use a Silpat instead of parchment paper. It will make them easier to remove and there will be no sticking involved. If you do run into trouble, put them in the frezer for a few minutes and they will release without a problem.
    3) Once you pipe the Macarons onto the baking sheet, leave them exposed to the air 15-30 min before baking to form the shiny “skin”.
    4) In order to prevent cracking, release some of the steam that gathers in the oven approx. 8min into the cooking process. (Don’t worry, they won’t fall!)

    That’s it… Maybe I’ll post more when I start experimenting with different flavours… good luck!

  • Thanks for your tip on the macaroons… I sell macaroons in my website and I struggled in the beginning on how to take it off the parchment paper…

  • Thanks for this epic experience! I had a good laugh while reading the article mostly because I went through the same torture before I managed to get decent results. Your macarons look great, you must have felt like the King of the World when you eventually ended with these!

    You’re right, making macarons is all about technique. Great pastry chefs started publishing recipes but no tip, this is perfectly useless.

  • Thanks for this epic experience! I had a good laugh while reading the article mostly because I went through the same torture before I managed to get decent results. Your macarons look great, you must have felt like the King of the World when you eventually ended up with these!

    You’re right, making macarons is all about technique. Great pastry chefs started publishing recipes but no tip, this is perfectly useless.

  • Hi David -

    Your Macaron recipe is the only recipe that works for me. When I tried to decrease the granulated sugar from 65g to 20g, the shells turned out to be “feet-less.” Have you tried to decrease the sugar in the recipe? Thank you!

  • WOW, I have just made my first batch- Raspberry with Mascarpone- goodness these look delish. I have not tried the chocolate just yet but Matcha came out okay too = ) I’d like to try the chocolate = ) I am so glad I found your blog.

  • is there something you can substitute for the powdered almonds to get the same result as the Laduree macarons? We are nut allergic but would love to recreate the macarons if possible. Thanks

  • ..Just back from France with a recipe book on Macarons in French and in grams…Followed the recipe using grams but no too sure if there is that much almond meal needed in the recipe..I tried with less but the results were the same..I didn’t get the height I would have liked but the taste was great..I will be trying your recipe..I can’t believe the number of blogs on making macarons! Three ingredients can give so much grief!!!

  • wonderful recipe. I can’t wait to try this. a little humid here, lately so maybe I’ll wait until things are less so. But, thanks for sharing!

  • I love this recipe, but I have a query. Do you put the prune filling on some and the chocolate filling on others or do you use both fillings together?

    I have been making the almond macaroons from Alice Medrich’s book for years now and it is time I tried this recipe, but I want to do it right. I wasn’t sure about the filling part.

    Yes, you can use either one of them. -dl

  • I finally gathered up enough courage to try the French Chocolate Macaroon Recipe. I let is rest for 40 minutes for the tops to dry up then put it in the oven, 3rd rack from the bottom, 375 F.

    The problem was that the tops separated from the “foots”, not completely separated though, mostly the tips. (tops was lifted, mostly around the edges)

    Where do think I went wrong? I would appreciate your guidance? Thanks.

  • Hi!
    I tried this recipe for macarons and it wasn’t a ‘great’ success. I probably messed up.
    My first macaron batch looked like meteors from the moon, and were burnt after cooking them for about 15 min. Then my second batch looked alright but they were cracked all oddly. And came the third batch which looked exactly alike to the second one. Where did I go wrong? Oh, and should I leave the uncooked macarons rest for 30 minutes or one hour to let the ‘skin’ form then put it in the oven; or just put em’ right in?

  • Hi,

    Great work on macaroons. Have yet to go to France to get PH’s book on it. Btw, could you pls advise if a plastic disposable pastry is better than those cotton ones available to professionals? have checked out a livre de macaron 6 they all seem to hint towards the plastic ones. Thanks for your help!

  • Hi,

    I’m still a bit confused. So do I need to let the batter to sit for few hours or just bake directly after piping them on the baking sheet? Thanks.

  • You can go ahead and bake them right away, although some folks let them rest.

    There’s so many different techniques and tricks, but that’s what I found works for me.

    You can also check out pictures-chocolate macaron #1 and chocolate macaron #2-from reader’s who’ve made this recipe.

    For more information and baking tips on macarons, check out my post: Making French Macarons: Instructions & Recipes