I love watching people stare at macarons in shops like Pierre Hermé and Ladurée in Paris and Chantal Guillon and Miette in San Francisco. The little sandwich cookies in myriad pastel colors turn perfectly sophisticated adults into eager children.
Macarons are not difficult to make, but they can be so finicky that they have a reputation for turning bakers’ hair gray. They often spread into odd shapes or form dark stains on top. But don’t be scared to try these, because even if they don’t turn out as beautiful as the ones in the shop windows, they’ll still taste delicious. Some tips: Let the raw macaron rounds sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes, don’t overmix the meringue or batter, and, when possible, use older egg whites.
Special equipment: You will need a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch tip. If you don’t have one, you can either spoon round dollops of batter onto the baking sheet or make a pastry bag by snipping off one corner of a large resealable plastic freezer bag.
What to buy: You will need almond meal or almond flour, which are the same ingredient—raw blanched whole almonds that have been ground into a fine powder. If you cannot find almond flour/meal, you can grind blanched almonds until very fine.
For the ganache filling: