Cornmeal Macarons · GF (about 30 macarons)
I’d be lying if I said these were easy. If you’ve mastered macarons and are ready for a challenge, welcome to the next level. If not, don’t sweat perfection; these macarons are just as delicious with a rustic crack here or there. They have an additively nibby texture and distinctly corn bread-like flavor, heightened by an earthy hit of sorghum.
4 ounces (115g) medium grind cornmeal
8 ounces (230g) powdered sugar
1/4 ounce (7g) neutral flavored oil
5 ounces egg whites (144g)
2 1/2 ounce (72g) sugar
the scrapings of 1 vanilla bean or 2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp (2g) kosher salt
approximately 8 ounces (290g) Swiss buttercream, whipped together with 3 ounces sorghum, or more to taste
Preheat the oven to 300° and have ready a large pastry bag, fitted with a plain tip, and two sheet pans lined with parchment paper.
If you haven’t wrangled a pastry bag into submission before (or if you have and found it frustrating), these 12 tips for using a pastry bag will make the process mess and stress free. Be sure to read through before you get started so you’ll be ready to pipe as soon as you’ve mixed the macarons.
To get started, combine the cornmeal, powdered sugar, and oil in a food processor and pulse until homogenous. Sift and set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the egg whites, sugar, vanilla bean (not the extract), and salt and turn the mixer to medium (4 on a Kitchen Aid). Whip for 3 minutes, then increase the speed to medium-high (7 on a Kitchen Aid) and whip another 3 minutes. Crank the speed to 8 for go another 3 minutes. Finally, turn the mixer to high (level 10) and whip one more minute.
At the end, you should have a very stiff, dry meringue that will clump inside the whisk without budging. Detach the whisk and knock out the meringue clumped inside.
Now add in the dry ingredients all at once and incorporate with a rubber spatula. Use both a folding motion (to incorporate the dry ingredients) and a rubbing motion (to deflate the meringue) to combine the dry mix with the meringue.
At first, the dry ingredients/meringue will look hopelessly incompatible. After about 25 turns (or folds or however you want to call “a single stroke of mixing”) the mixture will still have a quite lumpy and stiff texture. Another 15 strokes will see you to “just about right.” The cornmeal makes the batter act a bit funny, it will probably take a few more strokes than you’re used to before it will be ready. It takes a little longer to get a feel for this batter than typical macaron mix; it may take a few tries to find the Goldilocks Zone.
Transfer half the batter to the piping bag and pipe the batter into rounds on the baking sheets.
After piping, take hold of the sheet pan and rap it hard against the counter. Rotate the pan one hundred and eighty degrees and rap again. This will dislodge any large air bubbles that might cause your macarons to crack
Bake for about 18 minutes, or until you can cleanly peel the macarons away from the parchment paper. Cool thoroughly.
Fill a pastry bag with sorghum buttercream and pipe a quarter sized mound of buttercream into half the shells, then sandwich them with their naked halves.
Macarons, against all pastry traditions, actually get better with age. The shells soften and become more chewy, mingling with the flavor of the buttercream too. So, while of course you can eat them right away, don’t hesitate to store them refrigerated for up to a week. If at all possible, set them out at room temperature for a few hours before consuming; cold buttercream is kinda gross.
Feb 20, 2012 · 10:03 AM
@Nestlé quik, wait the Nestlé Quik?! Wow!!! Thanks so much; I really love these macarons. They take a little getting used to, but they’re delicious enough you won’t mind a few cracks…
Feb 22, 2012 · 7:46 AM
You’ve hit the ball out of the park with these. FAB!!
· Deeba · http://passionateaboutbakng.com
Feb 22, 2012 · 7:35 PM
@Deeba, thanks so much!
Feb 22, 2012 · 9:00 PM
Ooh…maybe I should give macarons another try this year
· Melissa · http://nytefalle.com/blog
Feb 25, 2012 · 5:21 PM
This makes me so happy. I’ve been experimenting with nut-free macarons for a couple of years now – sadly, with no success. I’m excited to try this – thanks so much for sharing!
· Niki · http://lifeinrecipes.com
Feb 25, 2012 · 9:41 PM
@Niki, I’m so glad! Good luck; they’re a little tricky to master, so don’t sweat a few cracks.
Feb 25, 2012 · 9:47 PM
OMG..thank you, thank you and thank you again for this recipe. I love the thought of macarons but I’ve never made them because my eldest baby girl is anaphylactic to peanuts and treenuts. While most recipe always call for almond meal this is the first recipe that does not! You can be sure I will make this recipe. Jackie
· Jackie · http://www.galexicupcakes.blogspot.com
Feb 26, 2012 · 5:45 AM
woah, speechless…cornmeal! i had a success following your method in beating up the meringue like crazy, it make so much difference like i have fuller macaron shells rather than hollow freak shells. ok questions, i’m from Malaysia so the only thing i can find is polenta meal, can i use it? i thought cornmeal absorbs liquid n moisture like crazy. what is the purpose of using neutral oil in the dry mix? cheers!
Feb 27, 2012 · 10:05 PM
@Lisa, I’m so happy to hear of your success! I add a splash of oil to compensade for cornmeal’s dry, low-fat nature. Since almonds have such a fatty nature, replacing them with a low fat/fat-free product is a little difficult. The splash of oil reall yhelps bring them balance. I think you’d be safe to give polenta try. If you do, please let me know!
Mar 06, 2012 · 5:23 PM
@Kessy, all purpose flour will not work at all, I’m sorry to say. It’s my understanding cornmeal is called “cornflour” in the UK, I don’t know if that’s true or not where you are. You can use any sort of ground nut or nut flour, but not anything with gluten. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news!!
Mar 24, 2012 · 12:56 PM
@Kessy, the way my recipe is formulated, the macarons will not form a skin. Sitting out won’t hurt them, but it won’t particularly help them either. If you’d like to read more about my macaron approach, I’ve written about some “myths” and “commandments” that I use in the kitchen. They only apply to my recipe so take them with a grain of…sugar.
Mar 29, 2012 · 10:58 AM
@mark, I love everything from Just Tomatoes, a dose of those powders makes a great addition to any macaron! These are pretty corny as is (haha) but I’m never afraid to take them to the next level. We have a bulk bag of the dried corn at work, I may have to make corn squared macarons!
Apr 03, 2012 · 12:02 AM
Hi there, Stella! Congratulations on such an honor, you deserve it! This probably isn’t the appropriate place, but I couldn’t comment on your older posts… anyway, I just wanted to say thank you for your various macaron tutorials. I had made it my goal this spring break to make successful macarons and was having such trouble with pock-marked, footless uglies… until I came upon your blog. I use a different recipe than you and while I think that the pock-marks were due to either making my own powdered sugar in the blender or from too much liquid in the batter from the egg whites (I live in Japan and was stupidly using Japanese volume measurements rather than western ones… I don’t have a scale, you see!), your descriptions for the meringue and technique were incredibly helpful to me! I was totally under-beating my meringue and babying my batter… I still have a ways to go, as my feet look lovely when they form but tend to shrink in the last few minutes in the oven and continue to deflate when cooling, but they are miles from where they were before, thanks to you! (Also, I think that using my microwave on oven setting for baking may have something to do with my feet troubles : P) I look forward to mastering the macaron and trying out the many, many variations on your site. Thanks and congratulations again!
Apr 03, 2012 · 5:25 PM
@Mallory, oh you poor dear. As someone who has spend more than a little time trying desperately to figure out how to bake in a Japanese kitchen, you have buckets of empathy from me! It took me forever to figure out microwaved “baked” chocolate chip cookies. I imagine that it’s a severe handicap for fussy macarons, but huge congratulations to you. The success you’ve experienced is hard won, no doubt!
Oct 28, 2012 · 10:10 PM
Last year, your original nut free macarons (pumpkin seed is what I’m referring to) got me though French class (make something French, get extra credit, but in a place where everyone’s ready to sue, no nuts)
These little guys are also gonna get me though French. So thank you, for helping me pass my French classes and not give anyone an allergic reaction in the process.
And they’re delicious. Like, actually, amazing.
Oct 30, 2012 · 10:24 AM
Hi Camila! Geeze, talk about extra credit! So in addition to passing your class, you’re also the most popular, right? I’m so proud you made these for your class, they can definitely be a bit fussy. Brava!!
Dec 09, 2012 · 6:22 PM
Hi Caro! I’ve never tried an egg substitute; do you mean powdered egg whites, or like a vegan alternative? I can try asking around to see if any of my chef pals have tried it…
Sep 12, 2013 · 12:59 PM
thank you so much for your kind help to get all of us to the right macaron result.. although I read all of it the biggest part of my first try.. ahem.. failed. I guess one of the best ways is a try and error procedure. But I will not give up
· Zuckerglueck · http://www.zuckerglueck.tumblr.com
Sep 15, 2013 · 4:57 PM
Hi Jacintha! I know the feeling- macarons definitely take some practice to get the hang of (especially if you made the cornmeal variety!). But I hope your little “failures” were delicious. Even if they weren’t picture perfect, I am sure they taught you something about the process, which is the most important part! Happy baking!
Feb 10, 2017 · 7:52 PM
i am very excited to try this recipe.I am a huuuge macaron baker and just had a few questions. Why are you adding the oil to the cornmeal mixture?Is it because theres less moisture in cornmeal than almond flour?Just interested in the science behind it. Also have you ever tried to make macarons with chickpea flour? I discovered it at my indian grocery store recently and thought it might be interesting to try.Any thoughts? I am so inspired by your creativity!
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