It’s been a year since the pandemic sparked a baking frenzy (remember how stores ran out of flour?). Some of us tackled sourdough bread, others made bagels or cinnamon rolls. Now we’re primed for a new baking challenge. Mastering the macaron — the holy grail of meringue-based cookies — fits the bill.

Beautiful and delicate, this indulgent almond-meringue sandwich cookie remains wildly popular in Dallas. Priced like artisan truffles, it’s an affordable luxury. The macaron is the signature confection at Bisous Bisous Patisserie in Uptown, which sells a dozen flavors, including a seasonal macaron. Owner and pastry chef Andrea Meyer had been teaching macaron-making classes at the bakery prior to the pandemic. With the hands-on lessons on pause for now, she agreed to share her classroom techniques and recipes with us.

“Macarons are among the most technically difficult pastries,” Meyer says. Between the meringue cookies and the fillings (buttercream is the most common), multiple kitchen skills are involved in making macarons. Still, Meyer says “anyone who loves to bake” can have success with macarons using the recipe she’s perfected. “Baking is a science,” she says, so strict adherence to instructions is crucial.

Meyer’s recipe differs from many you might see online or in magazines. It includes some extra steps and instructions that increase your chances for success. Among them is using a kitchen scale to weigh your ingredients in grams (which are more precise than ounces) vs. measuring them by volume — cups and tablespoons.

Many macaron recipes call for making a meringue by incorporating granulated sugar into whipped egg whites, but Meyer says you get better results using a cooked sugar syrup instead of dry sugar, to make an Italian-style meringue for the batter: “The cooked sugar [syrup] helps keep the batter stabilized.”

The lava flow of batter after the mixing of Italian meringue and almond flour
The lava flow of batter after the mixing of Italian meringue and almond flour(Ben Torres / Special Contributor)

Another departure from many macaron recipes is Meyer’s macaronnage — the process of folding the meringue into the dry ingredients (almond flour and powdered sugar). Most recipes call for whipping all of the egg whites into the meringue first. Meyer’s recipe mixes some un-whipped egg whites into the dry ingredients to make a paste. The remaining egg whites are whipped into a meringue, which combines more easily with the paste than with bone-dry ingredients.

“The egg whites in the paste will bond more readily with the meringue. They are friends — they recognize each other, and want to bond. You get better incorporation this way, and less chance of over-mixing,” Meyer says.

Andrea Meyer is the owner of Bisous Bisous Patisserie in Dallas.
Andrea Meyer is the owner of Bisous Bisous Patisserie in Dallas.(Ben Torres / Special Contributor)

With one basic shell recipe, you can make different flavored macarons. Meyer’s latest seasonal macaron evokes the flavors of a Mexican churro. For her Churro Macaron, Meyer adds a small amount of cinnamon to the macaron batter, and sandwiches the shells with concentric fillings — a cinnamon-kissed buttercream and a cinnamon-caramel. But she says you could also use just one of the fillings, or use a store-bought caramel sauce in place of the homemade cinnamon-caramel. Want to taste the Churro Macaron before making it? On March 20, Bisous Bisous will give a free one to each customer in celebration of National Macaron Day.

Read on for Meyer’s recipes and important tips. We’ve also included some easy flavor variations using bottled jams or lemon curd, to use as a single filling, or in tandem with plain buttercream frosting.

Tina Danze is a Dallas freelance writer.

Andrea Meyer, of Bisous Bisous Patisserie, pipes macaron batter into small rounds on a baking sheet.
Andrea Meyer, of Bisous Bisous Patisserie, pipes macaron batter into small rounds on a baking sheet. (Ben Torres / Special Contributor)

Andrea Meyer’s macaron tips

Weigh your ingredients. If you don’t already have a kitchen scale, buy one. (Bisous Bisous uses an OXO scale, which is widely available.) You will have vastly more success if you weigh the ingredients. When you measure by volume rather than weight, you open yourself up to avoidable errors. Weigh out all the ingredients before you begin mixing.

Get to know your oven. Use an oven thermometer to make sure your oven heats to the proper temperature; adjust the controls up or down until your thermometer hits 325 F. If your oven has hot spots, rotate your pan halfway through baking.

Bake one sheet at a time. If your oven heats from the bottom, bake the macarons on the top rack; if it heats from the top, bake them on the bottom rack. Meyer bakes only one tray at a time, so that she can keep the macarons further away from the heat source; this prevents the macarons from heating too fast.

Sift dry ingredients at least once. The consistency of the almond flour not only affects the shell’s aesthetics, but also its texture. Sift until the almond flour has a fine texture and no lumps. Use your fingers to press out any residual lumps that don’t pass through the sieve.

Be careful when separating egg whites from yolks. Do not allow the yolk to break — if even a small amount of yolk gets into the white, that trace amount of fat will prevent the meringue from whipping up.

Use an impeccably clean bowl and whisk to make meringue. If they aren’t squeaky-clean, it may prevent the meringue from whipping.

Coordinate the sugar syrup-cooking and egg white-whipping. You want the sugar syrup to reach firm ball stage (243 F on a candy or digital thermometer) just as the egg whites reach soft peak stage (the syrup needs to be very hot when it’s added to the whipped whites; and the whites cannot be whipped ahead of time, lest their soft peaks deflate, or weep moisture as they sit). If the syrup gets to 243 F and the whites need more time to whip, remove the syrup from the heat (the temperature may continue to rise anyway). Once the whites are at soft peak stage, check the temperature of the syrup; if it’s below 243 F, set it back on the heat. If the whites are whipping up faster than the syrup is cooking, lower the speed on the mixer, to give the syrup some time to catch up.

Mind your macaronnage – the process of incorporating the meringue into the almond mixture. Be careful not to over-mix; you need to incorporate the meringue without deflating it. Stop mixing when the batter has the consistency of a milkshake; ribbons of batter should have a lava-like flow. You don’t want it too stiff or too loose; however, it is better to err on the side of stiffness.

Let the macarons rest before baking. This takes around 20 minutes, and helps create a crisp exterior.

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Andrea Meyer, of Bisous Bisous Patisserie, pipes churro-flavored filling on macarons.
Andrea Meyer, of Bisous Bisous Patisserie, pipes churro-flavored filling on macarons. (Ben Torres / Special Contributor)

Churro Macarons (and variations)

Basic Macaron Shell:

212 grams (about 1 3/4 cup + 2 1/2 tablespoons) almond flour, sifted until fine textured, with no clumps

212 grams (about 1 3/4 cups + 2 1/2 tablespoons) powdered sugar

2 grams ( 1 1/2 teaspoons) ground cinnamon (omit for plain macaron shells to use in variations)

82 grams (about 1/4 cup + 1 1/2 tablespoons) egg whites

Italian Meringue:

90 grams (about 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons) egg whites, in a clean, grease-free bowl

236 grams (about 1 cup + 3 tablespoons) granulated sugar

158 grams (2/3 cup) water

Macaron Fillings (see Italian Buttercream and Cinnamon Caramel Filling recipes that follow; or use bottled products for macaron variations that follow filling recipes): You will use about 1 to 2 cups of buttercream and 1 cup of caramel filling for one batch of macarons.

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Andrea Meyer, of Bisous Bisous Patisserie, shows off the consistency of her Italian meringue.
Andrea Meyer, of Bisous Bisous Patisserie, shows off the consistency of her Italian meringue.(Ben Torres / Special Contributor)

Preliminary Steps for Macaron Shell:

Heat oven to 325 F. Sift the almond flour, powdered sugar and cinnamon into a bowl. Set mixture aside (you will eventually combine it with the 82 grams of egg whites after you make the Italian Meringue; waiting to do this keeps you from having to wash the meringue mixing bowl twice).

Make the Italian Meringue:

Put the 90 grams of fresh egg whites into the bowl of a stand mixer (it should be clean and grease-free). Using the whisk attachment, whip at medium-high speed until soft peaks form (the creamy, whipped whites will barely hold their shape, flopping over when the whisk is lifted).

While the egg whites are whipping, heat the granulated sugar and water together in a saucepan set over medium-high heat. Cook the sugar mixture to 243 F (firm ball stage) and remove from heat.

As soon as the egg whites reach soft peak stage, lower the speed on the stand mixer and gradually stream in the hot sugar syrup (if it has cooled below 243 F, quickly reheat it — it won’t take long). Be sure to pour the syrup down the side of the mixing bowl, not on the whisk or beaters if you can avoid it — that will send the syrup flying and spinning sugar threads instead of incorporating it). Once all the syrup is incorporated, turn the mixer back up to medium-high speed and whip until stiff peaks form (when the whisk attachment is lifted, the peaks will stand straight up). Transfer mixture to a clean bowl and set aside.

Make Basic Macaron Shell Batter:

Add the 82 grams of egg whites and the almond flour mixture to the bowl of the stand mixer (no need to wash it). Using the paddle attachment, beat until a paste forms. Scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl.

Add the Italian Meringue to the paste in three additions: Add a third of the meringue and mix until incorporated, then scrape bottom and sides of bowl; add half of the remaining meringue and mix until just incorporated. It’s OK if you have meringue streaks in the batter; scrape bottom and sides of bowl and add remaining meringue, being careful not to over-mix, as it will deflate the batter. At this point, the mixture should be thick and smooth, with a lava-like flow of ribbons.

Forming and Baking the Macaron Shells:

Spoon the batter into a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch round pastry tip. On a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (or Silpat), pipe the macarons in uniformly sized discs, approximately 1.5 to 2 inches in diameter. It’s best to place a template under the parchment paper to guide your piping; this will ensure that the macarons are uniformly sized and bake evenly. (You can print out a template from Wilton). Slide the template out from the baking sheet when finished piping each sheet of macarons. You will have about 48 macaron shells.

Let the macarons rest for 20 minutes, or until a skin forms on top; this will help prevent them from cratering in the center when they bake (when the batter rises during baking, steam will escape from the sides instead of blowing out the top and forming a crater). The macaron surface should be dry enough for you to touch it without the batter sticking to your finger.

Bake for 10 or 11 minutes, rotating baking sheet position, if necessary, to ensure even baking. Place baking sheet on wire racks and let macaron shells cool.

Sandwiching the Macaron Shells:

Once the macarons have cooled, lift them from the parchment (or Silpat) and arrange them in pairs, so that each one has a partner for sandwiching the filling. Turn one macaron from each pair face up and one face down.

On the half with the inside turned up, pipe a ring of Cinnamon Buttercream on the perimeter of the macaron’s surface, using a pastry bag fitted with a 1/4-inch-round tip (an Ateco 802 is good). Using another pastry bag, pipe a dab of Cinnamon Caramel (or bottled caramel sauce) in the center of the buttercream ring. Continue for all upturned halves, then top with remaining halves to sandwich the filling.

Place the macarons in an airtight container and let them set up in the refrigerator or freezer for an hour. Macarons will keep in the freezer for 4 weeks and in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Bring macarons to room temperature before serving! Bon Appétit!

Makes 2 dozen macarons.

Source: Andrea Meyer, chef-owner of Bisous Bisous Patisserie

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A row of macarons with churro flavored filling
A row of macarons with churro flavored filling(Ben Torres / Special Contributor)

Italian Buttercream

75 grams (about 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon) fresh egg whites

183 grams granulated sugar (divided use; weigh 33 grams and another 150 grams, into separate bowls)

42 grams (2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon) water

227 grams (8 ounces) unsalted butter, room temperature

Add the fresh egg whites to the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the whisk attachment, whip whites at medium-high speed. When eggs are frothy, add 33 grams of the sugar and whip to firm peaks (when you lift the whisk, peaks will form but curl down slightly at the tips).

Meanwhile, add the water and remaining 150 grams (about 3/4 cup) sugar into a saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook the sugar to 243 F. When egg white-sugar mixture reaches firm peak stage, lower the speed on the stand mixer and gradually stream in the sugar syrup, pouring it down the side of the mixing bowl (not on the whisk or beaters if you can avoid it — that will send the syrup flying and spinning sugar threads instead of incorporating it). Once you’ve added the sugar, turn the mixer back up to medium-high speed and whip until stiff peaks form (peaks stand straight up when you lift the whisk) and the meringue cools (about 5 minutes; the bowl will still be warm, but not scalding hot).

Reduce the speed and add butter, a few chunks at a time. Once all the butter is in, increase the mixer speed and blend until fully incorporated, and the mixture has a smooth, silky consistency. If desired, you can divide the buttercream between two bowls and flavor one of them (see Cinnamon variation, below). Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 weeks, and used to ice cupcakes. Makes about 5 cups.

For Cinnamon Italian Buttercream: Stir in 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon for every 2 cups of Italian Buttercream (enough for 1 batch of Churro Macarons).

Source: Andrea Meyer, chef-owner of Bisous Bisous Patisserie

Cinnamon Caramel Filling

116 grams (1/2 cup) heavy cream

1 cinnamon stick

200 grams (about 1 cup) granulated sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

58 grams (1/4 cup) water

28 grams (2 tablespoons) unsalted butter

2 grams (1/2 teaspoon) vanilla extract

Place heavy cream and cinnamon stick in a small heavy saucepan set over medium heat. Stirring frequently, scald the cream (when tiny bubbles form on the sides, and wisps of steam come off the surface, the cream is scalded.) Remove from heat and allow to steep for 10 minutes. Remove cinnamon stick.

In a separate, 2-quart pot, heat sugar, salt and water over medium heat. Cook until syrup is a medium to deep shade of amber.

Remove the sugar syrup from heat immediately and slowly whisk in the heavy cream. Be very careful, because the caramel will bubble up and steam as you add the cream. Whisk in butter and extract and allow to cool to room temperature before using. Caramel can be stored in your refrigerator for 2 to 3 weeks. Makes about 1 1/2 cups.

Source: Andrea Meyer, chef-owner of Bisous Bisous Patisserie

Macaron Filling Variations:

You don’t have to make your fillings from scratch — there are many good quality bottled products sold in supermarkets that can be used as macaron fillings. If you skip the buttercream and go with these fillings, the macarons will have a less crunchy texture, as they absorb some of the filling moisture. You can also pair jarred fillings with buttercream (dabbing them in the center of a piped ring of buttercream). Here are some store-bought fillings to use with the basic macaron shell from the Churro Macaron recipe (made without cinnamon in the batter):

* Good quality jam. Choose one that’s not super sweet, such as Bonne Maman brand (widely available)

* Lemon curd

* Nutella

* Bottled Caramel Sauce (Andrea Meyer likes versions from Dallas Caramel Company and Jammit Jam)