Preheat oven to 150°C/ 300°F.
Line two baking trays with silicone baking mats or baking paper (not greaseproof paper). If you’re using baking paper, you can dab the baking trays with a little of the macaron batter once you’ve made it. This will help the baking paper stick so that it doesn’t fly around in the oven and ruin your macarons. You’ll also need to clean the bowl you’ll be using to make the meringue. I find the best way to do that is to add 2 tsp of white vinegar. Use a paper towel to wipe the bowl with the vinegar until the bowl is dry. This will help ensure your egg whites whip up properly.
Sift powdered sugar and almond meal into a large bowl. Set aside.
Add the vinegar to the bowl you’ll be mixing the eggs in and wipe
down using a paper towel until dry.
Add egg whites to your clean bowl and use a whisk attachment if using a stand mixer or the beaters if using an electric hand mixer and whip to soft peaks. Add the salt and cream of tartar.
Begin adding the sugar one tablespoon at a time, while the mixer is on medium high speed. Once all the sugar has been added, add the vanilla extract and continue whisking until the meringue becomes thick and glossy. All up, you’ll whisk for about 5 minutes. If you want to make different colours or add any liquid flavouring, extracts or essences you can add them in with the vanilla.
Grab a spatula full of the meringue and fold it into the almond-sugar mixture until well combined. This allows the mixture to thin out a little before you add the rest of the meringue. Different people mix macaron batter in different ways; some count the amount of times they mix, but I think it’s better to know what consistency to look out for. I like to go around the bowl with my spatula and then through the middle. You want to continue mixing that way until you reach the ‘ribbon stage’. The ribbon stage is when the batter falls off the spatula in a ribbon and disappears into the rest of the batter after about 10 seconds. That’s when you know the batter is ready to pipe. If you over mix the batter, it will thin out too much and you’ll have to start again. As you get closer and closer to a batter thing enough to fall off in that ribbon stage, you want to keep testing the batter. If you find it’s not quite thin enough, then mix only 2 or 3 times and test again. It’s really really important not to overmix your batter!
Line 2 baking trays with baking paper or silicone baking mats. Pipe macarons on each sheet, each one about 3cm in diameter.
Gently tap the tray on your work bench. Allow the macarons to dry for 40 minutes before baking for 10 minutes. Allow to cool completely before taking off the sheets.
To finish your macarons, you can fill them with any number of fillings: lemon curd, chocolate ganache, buttercream or different frostings; the filling options are endless. For a vanilla macaron, I’d recommend Chocolate ganache frosting.