These mocha macarons are perfect for coffee and chocolate lovers. Made with the French method, these espresso-flavored macaron shells are filled with a coffee chocolate hazelnut cream swirl.
Today we’re tackling the infamously tricky (but famously beautiful!) little cookies called macarons. And we’re taking them up a notch by adding some delicious mocha flavor with espresso powder and chocolate cream!
I’ve attempted macarons a number of times, and it has been a true rollercoaster. My first batch came out perfect, but it was only beginner’s luck. I had a string of failures before I was consistently making beautiful macarons.
If you’re a confident macaron maker, then carry on to the recipe! If not, stick around as we go through some tips and tricks for consistently beautiful macarons.
5 steps for perfect macarons using the French method
First, what is the French method? There are two macaron methods – the “French method” and the “Italian Method.”
In the French method, you beat egg white and sugar together to make a meringue. In the Italian method, you heat sugar and water on the stove to create a sugar syrup that you then beat into the meringue.
Today we’re using the French method because I personally find it to be less of a hassle – you don’t need a stove or candy thermometer to take the temperature of the syrup. If you’re curious about other differences between the French and Italian method, this article is really helpful.
There are 5 overall steps in the French method:
Mixing the almond flour and powdered sugar
The only dry ingredients in macarons are almond flour and powdered sugar. It’s important to use powdered sugar and fine blanched almond flour for the right texture.In this step make sure to:
- Clean and dry your mixing bowl thoroughly. Macarons hate water and oils.
- Use a food scale for measuring – precision is key, which is why I only have this recipe in grams. Yes, your macarons *may* turn out if you use cups instead of grams, but it is less dependable.
- Sift your almond flour and powdered sugar 2 – 3 times. Throw out and replace any large fragments of almond flour. If you have a food blender, it helps to pulse your almond flour first.
Beating the egg whites to make a meringue
The meringue is the base for a macaron. We’ll whip up egg whites and sugar until fluffy, stiff peaks form. A bit of cream of tartar helps create a more stable meringue.In this step make sure to:
- Clean and dry your mixing bowl and beaters thoroughly. I like to wipe everything down with vinegar or lemon juice to remove any traces of oil. Oils can prevent your meringue from forming.
- Make sure your egg whites are at room temperature. Cold egg whites are harder to whip up.
- Weigh your egg whites. Every egg is a slightly different size, and for this recipe, we need exactly 50g of egg whites. This is a little under 2 eggs.
- Start beating your egg whites on low speed, and increase as the meringue thickens. Never go above medium-high speed. Beating a meringue too quickly can make it unstable, which can lead to the macarons cracking in the oven.
- Add the sugar in small batches to avoid deflating the air bubbles.
- Stop when you reach stiff peaks. When you remove the beaters from the meringue, the peaks of the meringue should stand up straight without the slightest wilt. Additionally, the meringue should clump thickly around your beaters. If you undermix, your shells could spread in the oven. If you overmix, your shells could crack.
Folding together the almond flour, powdered sugar, and meringue (“macaronage”)
Personally, I find this step the hardest! You fold together the almond flour and powdered sugar mixture with the meringue to create a “lava-like” batter. Practice can help you know when the batter is at the right consistency.In this step make sure to:
- Fold firmly and forcefully. You need to squeeze the air out of the meringue, so smear your spatula against the sides of the bowl. No need to be gentle – you’re not making a souffle!
- Test frequently for the right consistency. You can always mix more, but once the batter is overmixed, you can’t go back. One test is to lift the spatula and see if you can create a “figure 8” with the batter falling off the spatula. It should be flowing off in a smooth ribbon.
Piping and prepping the shells for baking
Once the batter is at the right consistency, put it into a piping bag and pipe circles onto parchment paper or high quality silicone mats. Then, let the shells rest until a “skin” forms, about 30 minutes to 1 hour.In this step make sure to:
- Use a round piping tip to pipe neat circles. It helps to use a pre-printed macaron template, or trace a round object onto parchment paper.
- Bang the baking sheets on the table to remove any air bubbles. This prevents the air bubbles from cracking the shells during baking.
- Rest the shells for a long enough time. You should be able to touch the shells gently with your finger without the batter sticking to it. The surface should look matte instead of shiny. Again, resting the shells prevents cracking in the oven.
Baking the shells
Bake the shells one tray at a time. This is where the magic happens! If you made the shells correctly, you’ll see the feet start to form as the macarons bake.In this step make sure to:
- Use an oven thermometer to make sure your oven is at the right temperature. Ovens are often not calibrated correctly, and macarons are very temperature sensitive.
If your macarons don’t turn out the first few times, don’t be discouraged. It takes practice to make a meringue correctly and to macaronage correctly. Even ugly shells still taste pretty good!
Do I have to use cream of tartar?
No, you don’t need cream of tartar. I’ve made macarons both with and without. However, cream of tartar does help you make a more stable meringue, so I recommend it for beginners.
Do I have to age my egg whites?
Aging your egg whites helps remove unnecessary moisture, which can cause issues in your meringue. However, I find this step to be optional. I’ve made macarons successfully without aging egg whites.
Why are my macarons cracked?
Cracked macarons are likely due to too much air in the shells. This leads to air bubbling up and cracking the shells. Make sure your meringue reaches stiff peaks but don’t beat too quickly. When mixing the batter, make sure it reaches the stage where you can make a “figure 8” with the batter. Remember to tap the baking tray against the counter to release air bubbles, and let the macarons rest to create a skin. The skin should help prevent air from breaking through the top.
Nearly all of my failed macaron attempts were cracked macarons! Using a hand mixer instead of a stand mixer when making a meringue helped a lot – something about my stand mixer just led to a less stable meringue.
Why do my macarons have no feet?
Feet-less macarons are likely a meringue or mixing issue. Make sure your meringue reaches stiff peaks, and that your utensils are all dry and oil-free. Mix until you reach the “figure 8” stage, but don’t over mix.
Why are my macarons all spread out and flat?
This is likely due to overmixing the batter. Test the batter frequently to avoid overmixing.
Now that you’ve absorbed all this detailed macaron information, let’s go and make some macarons!
Why is my batter getting thicker the more I mix? Am I going crazy??
This is likely because you made your meringue incorrectly. Or, you’ve simply been so slow at mixing that the batter has started to dry up. You can try adding a little bit of egg white to try and loosen things up.
Other pastry recipes to try:
If you make this recipe, please let me know! I would love to see your beautiful macarons. You can comment below or tag me on Instagram @halicopteraway.
Coffee add-ins inspired by Pies and Tacos Coffee Macaron Cake
- 2 medium mixing bowls
- Mesh sifter
- Hand mixer or stand mixer (with whisk attachment)
- Piping bag
- 1/4 inch round piping tip
- 1/4 inch open star piping tip
- Food scale
- Oven thermometer (optional but helpful)
- Parchment paper or silicone baking mat
- 65g almond flour
- 65g powdered sugar
- 45g granulated sugar
- 50g egg whites, room temperature
- 1/8 tsp cream of tartar
- 1 tsp espresso powder
Butter cream filling
- 2 tbsp cream cheese, softened
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp espresso powder
- 90g powdered sugar
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp Nutella or cocoa powder1
- 1 tbsp milk (optional as needed)
- 30 g semisweet chocolate, chopped fine
Make macaron shells
- In a clean and dry medium mixing bowl, sift almond flour. Replace any large grains that do not go through the sifter. Then, sift in the powdered sugar. Finally, sift the almond flour and powdered sugar together. Set aside.
- Measure out your granulated sugar into a cup or bowl. Make sure all bowls and utensils are dry, clean, and oil free. It helps to wipe everything down with vinegar or lemon juice.
- In a clean and dry mixing bowl, place your room temperature egg whites. Begin beating the egg whites on low speed until frothy bubbles form. Add cream of tartar. Continue beating until the bubbles become smaller and more crowded. While beating, slowly add the sugar in thirds, incorporating well before adding the next batch. Raise speed to medium-low and continue beating until soft peaks form. Raise speed to medium-high at most and continue beating until stiff peaks form. If you're not sure what stiff peaks look like, please read notes above. The process took me 15 – 20 minutes using a hand mixer.
- Add 1/3 of the almond flour and powdered sugar mixture into the meringue. Use a spatula to fold and incorporate the dry ingredients. Fold in a "J" motion, bringing the spatula down and then looping back up and over. Add the remaining almond flour and powdered sugar and continue to fold, smearing the spatula against the sides of the bowl to remove air from the batter. After a minute of folding, check the consistency of the batter. It should flow off the spatula in a continuous ribbon, and you should be able to create a "figure 8" shape when you move the spatula. If the batter is too thick, continue folding and checking.
- Once the batter is at the right consistency, add the espresso powder. Fold 2 – 3 times to gently incorporate the powder.
- Place the batter in a piping bag fitted with a 1/4 inch round piping tip. Pipe 1 inch circles onto parchment paper or a silicon mat on a baking tray. I like to flip my baking trays upside down to create perfectly smooth surfaces.
- Tap the tray against the counter ~5 times to release air from the shells. Then, take a toothpick and pop any air bubbles that you see.
- Let the macarons rest for 30 minutes to 1 hour until a "skin" forms. The macarons should be matte instead of shiny, and you should be able to gently touch the top without batter sticking to your finger.
- While the macarons rest, preheat the oven to 325°F. If you have an oven thermometer, use it to make sure the oven temperature is accurate.
- Once skins have formed, bake the macarons one tray at a time for 11 – 14 minutes until the shells are set. They should not jiggle in the center.
- Remove from the oven at let cool completely before filling. Cooled macarons should peel easily off the tray.
Make butter cream filling and decorate
- In a mixing bowl, add cream cheese and butter. Use a hand mixer of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment to cream together until fluffy. Add the powdered sugar, espresso powder, vanilla extract, salt, and Nutella or cocoa powder and beat until well incorporated and smooth. If the butter cream is too thick, add a little bit of milk. If it's too thin, add a little bit more powdered sugar.
- Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a star tip. Pipe swirls or stars to fill the shells.
- Melt the semisweet chocolate and transfer to a piping bag. Cut a tiny hole in the tip. Drizzle chocolate over the macarons to decorate.
- To let the flavors meld between the filling and the shells, I recommend letting the macarons sit overnight in the fridge. If you can't wait to eat, that's okay too!
- I like to use Nutella for the slight hazelnut flavor. However cocoa powder will work too.