Chocolate French Macarons

Chocolate French Macarons are naturally gluten free, delightful to look at, and delicious to eat. The easy and rich dark chocolate ganache filling makes them holiday cookie tray worthy!

Chocolate French Macarons
Side view of three chocolate macarons with dark chocolate ganache
Simply Recipes / Cambrea Gordon

Chocolate French Macarons are a delicate meringue-based sandwich cookie with a smooth shell and a light and chewy texture. The cookies have a decadent chocolate flavor and are filled with a rich and creamy dark chocolate ganache.

Macarons are very special treats to gift to your friends and family—they look so beautiful and impressive on cookie trays or packaged as a thoughtful pick-me-up.

What is a French Macaron?

Macarons were not invented in France as the name suggests, but in Italy. French macaron refers to the method that is used to make the meringue, where you sprinkle sugar into whipped egg whites.

A macaron consists of two shells made with almond meal—they rise in the oven with the help of an egg white meringue. There’s an interesting science that happens with the right ratio of almond meal and meringue that creates what are called feet, little ruffles around the edge of the cookie. It’s the tell-tale sign of a well baked macaron.

The texture of a macaron is soft and perfectly chewy, without being mushy.

Double chocolate macarons stacked on a white background.
Simply Recipes / Cambrea Gordon

The Ingredients You’ll Need

Although you can play with the colors and flavors of macarons, certain key ingredients are specific and cannot be substituted.

  • Blanched almond meal: This is different than almond flour. Blanched almond meal is finely ground almonds with their skin removed, which gives it its characteristic pale yellow color and super fine texture. You can use super-fine almond flour made with blanched almonds.
  • Egg whites: This key ingredient is whipped to make the meringue, which is what gives macarons their unique look and texture. Only fresh egg whites will work for macarons because they whip up easier and better. If you can find unpasteurized liquid egg whites at your local grocery store, they will work wonderfully. Unfortunately, it may be hard to source in the U.S.
  • Powdered sugar gives our cookie just a bit of sweetness!
  • Granulated sugar is slowly added to the egg whites as they are whipped to help stabilize them into a stiff meringue.
  • Cream of tartar also helps stabilize the egg white meringue.

Macaron Success: Tips and Tricks

Making macarons can be tricky. Follow these simple tips and tricks for a successful bake:

  • Never make macarons on a rainy day! A meringue's worst enemy is moisture. This also applies to running your dishwasher or washing dishes in hot water. The steam could break your macaron batter.
  • Flip your baking sheet upside down and bake the shells on the bottom (which is now the top!) of the baking sheet. Macarons are sensitive to heat, so flipping your baking sheet upside down will help distribute some of the heat coming from the bottom of the oven and prevent them from baking too quickly.
  • Wipe down your mixing bowl with distilled white vinegar. The second thing a meringue does not like is fat. Any traces of fat on the bowl, such as soap that wasn't completely washed off, can mean your meringue doesn't whip up. To prevent this from happening, wipe the bowl with a paper towel soaked with some vinegar.
  • Measure the ingredients using a kitchen scale. Although you can have success without it, I recommended weighing the ingredients. This will ensure you have the most accurate measurements possible.
  • Make sure the egg whites are at room temperature so the meringue gets the most volume. It's best to separate the eggs while they're cold, then let the egg whites sit out on the counter until they're at room temperature. If you're pressed for time, place the egg whites in a sealable container and place it in a bowl full of hot tap water. Your egg whites will be warm in 5 to 10 minutes!
Dark chocolate ganache-filled macarons set on a white background on their side.
Simply Recipes / Cambrea Gordon

Ways to Fill and Flavor Macarons

Macarons are extremely versatile, and since the flavor almost always comes in the form of the filling, the variations are endless.

  • When making ganache infuse the cream with mint, orange zest, chilies, or rosemary.
  • Swap the dark chocolate for milk, white chocolate, bitter-sweet, or semi-sweet chocolate.
  • Go beyond chocolate and fill these chocolate macarons with Strawberry Buttercream, French Buttercream, or jam.

Tips for Storing Macarons

Once the macarons have been assembled, keep them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to one week. When you know you're going to enjoy one, take them out of the fridge and let them come to room temperature before eating them as they will be hard straight from the fridge.

To freeze them, place them on a large tray and transfer them to the freezer for one hour. Once frozen layer them between pieces of parchment paper in an airtight container. The filled or unfilled macarons will stay fresh for up to one month.

Side view of three chocolate macarons with dark chocolate ganache
Simply Recipes / Cambrea Gordon

More Macaron Recipes to Impress Your Family

Heat the cream:

In a small pot, add the heavy cream. Heat it over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes. As soon as it comes up to a gentle boil, remove it from the heat.

Whisk in the chocolate:

In a medium heatproof bowl, add the chocolate chips. Carefully pour the hot cream over the chocolate and allow it to sit for 1 minute. Whisk it until fully combined and smooth. Set it aside while you make the shells. Do not put in the fridge!

Heavy cream and chocolate chips to make ganache for chocolate macarons.
Simply Recipes / Cambrea Gordon
Ganache in a bowl to fill chocolate macarons.
Simply Recipes / Cambrea Gordon

Sift the dry ingredients:

Place a sifter or fine mesh sieve over a large bowl. Add the almond meal, powdered sugar, and cocoa powder to the sifter or sieve and sift into the bowl. Discard any large pieces of almond meal. Set the dry ingredients aside.

Sifting dry ingredients to make chocolate macarons.
Simply Recipes / Cambrea Gordon

Wipe out your mixing bowl:

Dampen a paper towel with a bit of vinegar and wipe down the inside of a 4- or 5- quart mixing bowl. A glass or metal bowl would work!

Make the meringue:

Add the egg whites to the mixing bowl and using a stand mixer or handheld mixer, whisk on medium-low speed for 1 to 2 minutes until the egg whites are foamy, but not yet holding their shape.

I use a Kitchen Aid mixer on speed 3 for this step. You can do this with an electric handheld mixer set on medium, but it will take a little longer. Follow along with the visual cues for doneness.

Add the cream of tartar first and continue whisking for 3 minutes. At this point, the egg whites will have gained a little bit of volume, look dull, and will not hold its shape.

With the mixer still running, sprinkle in the sugar slowly, 1 tablespoon at a time. When all the sugar has been added, increase to medium speed and continue whisking for about 2 minutes. The egg whites will have increased in volume, become white, and look thick. I use a Kitchen Aid mixer on speed 4 for this step.

Continue whisking for 3 minutes until the mixture looks glossy and starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl. You will notice some ridges in the middle near the whisk indicating it is ready.

A metal bowl with egg whites inside to make chocolate macaron.
Simply Recipes / Cambrea Gordon
Adding sugar to a bowl to make the meringue for chocolate macarons.
Simply Recipes / Cambrea Gordon

Check for stiff peaks:

Stop the mixer, lift the whisk from the egg whites, and turn the whisk upside down. It should have a stiff peak of meringue that slightly bends at the very tip, but it should not slide off the whisk.

If the peak curls or falls over then continue whisking the meringue, about 1 to 2 minutes. If the meringue starts to look chunky or curdled, the egg whites have been overwhipped and you’ll have to start over.

Meringue on a whisk to make chocolate macarons.
Simply Recipes / Cambrea Gordon

Fold in the dry ingredients:

Add one third of the dry ingredients into the meringue. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold them together. Repeat with the remaining dry ingredients, one third of it at a time until fully combined.

Adding meringue to dry ingredients to make macarons.
Simply Recipes / Cambrea Gordon

Scrape the batter:

Use a rubber spatula to scrape the batter against and around the sides of the bowl to knock some of the air out of the batter. Do this 5 or 6 times. Knocking some of the air out of the batter is important because too much air will cause the shells to crack while they bake.

Stirring bowl to make chocolate macaron shells.
Simply Recipes / Cambrea Gordon

Test the batter:

Use a rubber spatula to pick up some of the batter and drizzle it over the batter in the bowl. It should stream down like honey.

Draw a figure 8 with it over the batter. The figure 8 should start to sink back into the batter after 10 to 20 seconds, but not disappear.

If the batter does not pass the figure 8 test, fold the batter with a rubber spatula twice and then check it again, and repeat until it passes!

Doing the figure 8 test on batter for chocolate macarons.
Simply Recipes / Cambrea Gordon

Pipe the shells:

Turn two large baking sheets upside down and line the bottom of the baking sheet (which is now the top!) with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper. Set them aside.

Fit a 12- to 18- inch pastry bag with a small round pastry tip—I use a small #12 Wilton round tip.

Use a rubber spatula to gently scrape the batter into the piping bag. Twist the top of the pastry bag so that the batter doesn’t fall out of the bag while you’re holding it.

If using parchment, pipe a small dot of batter in each corner of the baking sheet to help secure the paper.

Pipe 1- to 1 1/2-inch circles 2 inches apart from each other on the prepared baking sheets. The pastry tip should point directly down, not at an angle, for evenly sized and perfectly round shells. If the tops have a pointy tip from the piping, gently smooth them out with an offset spatula or the back of a small spoon. You will get 30 to 32 circles, which will yield 15 or 16 macarons.

Piping chocolate macarons.
Simply Recipes / Cambrea Gordon

Remove more air bubbles:

Firmly grasp the sides of the baking sheet and tap it hard against your counter. Tiny air bubbles may come up to the surface of the shells and pop. You can use the sharp pointy end of a toothpick to pop them, if desired. Rotate the baking sheet as needed to tap all sides evenly.

Rest the shells:

Allow the shells to rest for 30 to 40 minutes. It may take up to 1 hour if your home is humid. The shells are ready to bake when they look matte and you can touch the tops without them sticking to your finger or leaving a mark.

Touching unbaked chocolate macaron shell.
Simply Recipes / Cambrea Gordon

Bake the shells:

Place the oven rack to the center of the oven and preheat it to 300°F

Bake the shells, one baking sheet at a time, for 13 minutes. When the timer goes off, carefully open the oven door, and gently touch the top of a shell. The top of the shell should not move from the feet where it touches the pan. If it moves slightly, bake it for 1 minute more.

Cool the shells:

Place the baking sheet on a wire cooling rack. Allow the shells to cool completely before lifting them from the mat. Do not try and lift them up using a spatula or other tool, especially if they are sticking.

Once they are completely cool, use your hands to peel the baking mat or parchment paper back from the shells slowly and gently. If they are completely cool, the shells should come off easily.

Pair the shells:

Match up similar-sized shells in pairs and set them aside on your counter. Each pair will be filled with the chocolate ganache.

Pairing up macaron shells to make chocolate macarons with ganache filling.
Simply Recipes / Cambrea Gordon

Fill with the chocolate ganache:

Fit a small piping bag with a round #12 Wilton tip. Using a rubber spatula, scrape the chocolate ganache into the pastry bag. Twist the top of the pastry bag so that the ganache doesn’t fall out of the bag while you’re holding it.

Pipe a little less than a tablespoon-sized dollop of the ganache onto one of the paired shells. Top it with its paired shell. Repeat with all other macarons.

Piping ganache onto bottom of macaron shell.
Simply Recipes / Cambrea Gordon

Mature the macaron shells:

Transfer the macarons into an airtight container and place them in the fridge overnight, at least 12 hours, to soften for the best texture. This step is called maturing.

Overhead view of chocolate macarons scattered on a white background with the center one with a bite out of it.
Simply Recipes / Cambrea Gordon