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  Understanding the Ingredients

The builders of the Eiffel Tower didn't use just any old nuts and bolts.

They used the best available and knew exactly how each one worked before they got started - and so should you. These next few sections contain everything you need to know and then some about the hardware & ingredients you'll need to make the perfect macarons.

ALMOND FLOUR: Trying to make macarons without almond flour is like trying to make guacamole without avocados.

Buy a good quality almond flour such as King Arthur Flour or Bob's Red Mill. It may seem a little pricey, but a bag will probably last you longer than you think.

Be sure to buy blanched almond flour and not "unblanched almond meal".

Keep in freezer for storage. Nut flours are naturally oily which means they will spoil quicker than other flours.

Do not try to make your own. You'll end up wasting more money than you think you're saving. See our section on this topic in the FAQ's for more info.

POWDERED SUGAR: Some die-hard macaron enthusiast swear using powdered sugar with as little to no corn-starch in it as possible. The reality? I, including plenty of my pastry chef friends, have used all different kinds, some with cornstarch - some without, and have found no difference what so ever.

The bottom line? If you want to use minimum-cornstarch powdered sugar, perfectly fine. If you don't want to bother finding out how much cornstarch is in your powdered sugar - perfectly fine too. Trust us - there are plenty of things that influence the downfall of macarons, and this is not on our top 10.

Final note: be sure to buy regular "powdered sugar". Don't bother with the "10X powdered sugar"

GRANULATED SUGAR: Regular granulated sugar will do here. Just make sure to break up any clumps before using in the recipe.

EGG WHITES: Handling your egg whites (specifically drying them out) is perhaps top of our list when it comes to most popular macaron making myths. If fact, we dedicated a whole section in our FAQ section about this. Be sure to check it out.

Main things here:

  1. Be careful when separating egg whites. Even the tinsy-winzyest amount of egg yolk will ruin your egg white's ability to whip up into a meringue. That's because egg yolks contain a lot of fat, and fat molecules are pretty heavy. With that said, they coat and cling onto the egg white molecules and prevent them from achieving maximum results. Fun fact: this is also a good reason to make sure your mixing bowl is well cleaned before whipping up egg whites. Any left over butter, shortening or regular greasy residue will have the same effect.
  2. Cold or room temperature egg whites? It's a fact that room temperature egg whites whip up faster. But if you're eager and don't want to wait for them to warm up, simply place the shelled eggs in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes. They'll warm up pretty quickly.

Do not buy "liquid egg whites" these will not whip up into a meringue.

CREAM OF TARTAR: Cream of tartar is one of those magical ingredients we've seen our mother or grandmothers use when making meringues. You simply put a pinch in the egg whites and don't ask questions right? Well there's actually a fun scientific reason why...

Cream of tartar is a byproduct of the wine making industry. (It's the left over residue that lines that inside of wine barrels.) The acidity of it helps neutralized the ph of the egg whites, which in turn does two things. First it helps the egg whites whip up a little bit faster. And second, it helps them (but does not prevent) over whipping.

We liked to compare cream of tartar to the muscle milk that guys (and women) take before going to the gym. It helps everything do what it needs to a do a little bit better.

FOOD GEL COLORING: We like to call macarons, "Diva Cookies", or compare them to the story of the Princess and the Pea. Macarons want it how they want it, and will go diva on you fairly quickly if you don't respect their wishes. One of the wishes being, not too little moisture, not too much.

To properly add color, you'll want to set aside the squeezy bottle of food coloring and upgrade to food gel coloring. The colors are super concentrated and add very little additional moisture to your recipe. Our favorite brands are Wilton, Alteco and AmeriColor. (Wilton being the easiest to find at stores such as Micheal's, Sur La Table and even WalMart.)