Today is Bastille Day, La Fete Nationale of France. What could be a more appropriate moment to learn how to make a proper macaron?  I’m delighted to offer a recipe from no less an authority than Chef Christophe Tanneau, executive chef of the French Embassy here in Washington. Chef Tanneau turns out exquisite French cuisine every day for those who enjoy the generous hospitality of His Excellency, Ambassador Francois Delattre, and Madame Sophie L’Helias.  Sophie and Francois are quintessentially accomplished diplomats with impeccable taste, easy Gallic charm, and an open door policy to a wide-ranging cross-section of both American and international guests.hd2014-410

Dinner at the French Ambassador’s residence is a much sought-after invitation in Washington; the mansion is palatial and traditionally French, the conversation as bubbly as the champagne, and the multi-course dinners with beautifully-scripted menucards en Francais, are a feast for the senses.  The Residence is often the location of the storied Vanity Fair After Party, after the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, though this bastion of sophisticated entertaining is currently undergoing renovation and the French have temporarily decamped to a large and lovely house a few miles away.

Macarons are delectable, dainty, bursts of happiness that dissolve on the tongue so quickly that you have to remind yourself of how delicious they taste by immediately eating another one.  They can be made in infinite flavors and colors, from black licorice to honey chestnut to passion fruit; Chef Tanneau’s example batch is a rich vanilla. I made rose macarons also, because I happened to have rose syrup and rose petal jam for the filling, and while they were good, nothing beats Chef Tanneau’s  vanilla bean filling.

The macaron has become a cultural phenomenon, pushing aside the cupcake as an object of dessert desire.  They make an excellent hostess gift – more on that to come.  You should know how a really good macaron should taste.  They should not be too big, and if they come in a fruit flavor the center should be made with jam, not a crème filling.  If a particular flavor combination seems… unlikely (like green tea and smoke), it’s best to choose something else.  They should be fragile, with the tiniest bit of chewiness to them.

With many thanks for his beautiful recipe, as well as the photographs that give indication of how many macarons Chef Tanneau must turn out in the course of a year:

IMG_0962 IMG_0944

Adapted from Chef Christophe Tanneau-Kervran

Makes 4 dozen cookies

Prep Time:  Two hours (one hour and twenty minutes for baking one sheet of macarons at a time)


  • 4 cups almond flour, or 450 grams
  • 4 cups confectioners’ sugar, or 450 grams
  • 1.1 cups egg whites, or 250 grams
  • ½ cup granulated sugar, or 80 grams
  • 1/5 teaspoon crème of tartar, or 1 gram


  1. Pulse the almond flour and confectioners’ sugar until very fine.  Add cream of tartar.
  2. Note: almond flour and almond powder are not exactly the same thing.  Almond flour, which is easily found in the US, is a bit too coarse to make a macaron, and so it’s best to pulse almond flour in a food processor until it is very fine, before continuing with the recipe.
  3. Whisk the egg whites until firm peaks are formed.  Add granulated sugar and whisk another few minutes.
  4. Fold the egg whites into sugar and almond powder until well incorporated.
  5. Using a pastry bag with a plain round tip, pipe one-inch rounds on to a silicon baking mat.
  6. Preheat oven to 250 degrees.  Bake for 30 minutes.



  • 2 cups milk, or 500 ml
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1//2 cup granulated sugar, or 125 ml
  • 1/3 cup flour, or 70 grams
  • 2 vanilla beans
  • 5 ounces butter, or 140 grams


  1. Bring the milk and vanilla seeds to boil.
  2. In a bowl, mix the egg yolks and sugar until pale and fluffy.
  3. Add flour and mix again. Pour the warm milk over mixture and mix well.
  4. Cook at moderate heat, and stir, for about 10 minutes.  Chill.
  5. Place mixture in a mixing bowl, add the butter and whisk until creamy texture.
  6. Spread the bottom of a macaron with the filling, then attach to the bottom of another.  Et voila!
  7. We added a few drops of food coloring to the rose macarons, along with a half teaspoon of rose syrup, to achieve the color and flavor of roses.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

One Comment

    Leave a Comment

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *