I have made so many changes to the way I have been baking my macarons I wanted to share with you in hopes that you will find some of these new tips helpful! I will be posting the amazing recipe for Lime and Basil Macarons shortly, be sure to check these out...the fresh flavor of them is amazing!
The recipe for the macarons can be found on Martha Stewart. I have tried several different recipes and found that this is the best one to work from. I have adapted this slightly (mostly on the preparation and the baking) with a whole lot of trial and error batches (this is updated greatly from the Pina Colada Macarons I posted earlier). Since everyone's oven is different as well as many other factors including the humidty and possibly the mood of the ingredients, you may have to play with the oven temps and baking time a little until you find what is most successful for you.
Ingredients: (changes are in parenthesis)
1 cup confectioners' sugar
3/4 cup almond flour ( I buy blanched almonds and make my own flour, since the almonds are oily naturally, add a little powdered sugar when you are food processing them to help dry it out a little bit)
2 large egg whites, room temperature (some recipes say that older eggs are better, I have not really had any better luck when using older eggs...sometimes I have not thought well enough in advance and have taken my chance with just room temperature eggs and they work just fine!)
Pinch of cream of tartar
1/4 cup superfine sugar (not regular granulated sugar, this is baking sugar)
Directions: (changes are in parenthesis)
Pulse confectioners' sugar and almond flour in a food processor until combined. Sift mixture 2 times. (when making my own flour, I sift the almond flour once (this is kind of time consuming...I would recommend not using a traditional sifter for this, once again the almond oils come into play and it gets caked at the bottom of the sifter, I have the best luck with a very fine strainer and a pestle) and then pulse with confectioners' sugar and then sift both ingredients together)
Preheat oven to (310) degrees. Whisk whites with a mixer on medium speed until foamy. Add cream of tartar, and whisk until soft peaks form. Reduce speed to low, then add superfine sugar. Increase speed to high, and whisk until stiff peaks form, about 8 minutes. Sift flour mixture over whites, and fold until mixture is smooth and shiny. ( I don't usually sift again into the mixture, I have done this both ways and neither way seems to be better than the other) ( I know that there are recipes that tell you how many folds you should do, I have tried them all and the best advice that I can give you about this is to fold it until it is smooth and falls from your spatula like a ribbon, the number never seems to be the same for me. After it starts to get smooth and easier to fold I usually test it every couple of folds...you can't undo it if you fold it too much and just have to start over...no good!!!!)
Transfer batter to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain round tip, and pipe 3/4-inch rounds 1 inch apart on parchment-lined baking sheets, dragging pastry tip to the side of rounds rather than forming peaks. ( This is probably the best tip that I can give you, take a couple of extra minutes and trace circles onto the back of your parchment paper, I have a small round cookie cutter that I use but anything about a 1in size would work fine. This allows you to keep a much more consistent size and makes for easier matching of the macarons for filling) Tap bottom of each sheet on work surface to release trapped air. Let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes (I leave mine for about 30 minutes, I haven't really varied this time in my batches). Bake 1 sheet at a time.
From here on the directions are my own from my personal experiences. I bake at 310 degrees (our oven runs a little cool) I bake for 6 minutes with the oven door closed and then crack the oven door for another 6 minutes, rotating the pan after about 3 minutes. This is what I have found to give the macarons the best feet. Otherwise they seem to spread, they will still taste amazing though, so don't worry if this happens!
I leave my macarons on the parchment until they are pretty close to cool, they should come off without a whole lot of trouble. (I bought a silicon mat with the intention of using this for my macarons....NOT RECOMMENDED! The entire batch had no feet and every single one stuck to the pan...think I will save that for other cookies!)
I match up the macarons next since there will be a little variation of their size. I don't measure my filling, I fill my piping bag and pipe a small dollop onto the center of one side of the macaron. Be sure not to pipe too much as the filling should stay inside the edges of the macarons...this is much better if you are packing these, if not I wouldn't worry about it too much! I usually wrap mine in plastic wrap and put them in the fridge over night so that they can mature a little bit, though I almost always have a test one first :)! They are also great to freeze, I have only frozen them already filled (I think you are supposed to freeze them w/o filling, but they were still great and defrost pretty quickly).