Buttercream & Plum Jam French Macarons

August 26, 2021

If you like attention to detail that results in an impressive and adorable treat, then French Macarons are for you. These pretty little cookie sandwiches are made with meringue and almond flour for a melt-in-your-mouth shell packed with sugary buttercream and a tart fresh-plum jam.

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I always found macarons to be intimidating, because I am a bit of a lazy baker. I don’t always carefully spoon my flour or let my eggs come to room temperature, so these precise little cookies seemed like more of a struggle than they are worth. Seeing plenty of macaron fails on the internet didn’t help.

But it turns out there is a simple trick to making these successfully: find a really good and thorough recipe, and follow it to a T. I knew that I could trust this one from Food52 and Dorie Greenspan, and I was right. Even on my first try, this recipe produced delicious, crispy-outside, soft-inside, smooth macarons with lovely little feet.

What You Need to Get Started

You can easily find all of the ingredients for these buttercream and plum jam French macarons at your grocery store:

Let’s Make French Macarons

Weighing your almond flour and confectioners sugar is super important in macarons. These cookies are delicate, and small changes can greatly alter the texture and structure. When you measure flour by volume, the actual amount ranges quite a bit. So I definitely recommend that you start by pulling out your kitchen scale.

It’s also helpful to prepare your pans ahead of time. Line two flat cookie sheets with silicone mats or parchment paper. If you’d like, use a pencil to draw circles on the parchment, and then flip it over on the sheet to use as a template.

To begin, place a mesh strainer over your large mixing bowl. Add the almond flour to it, and gently push it through into the bowl to remove any lumps. Repeat this with the confectioners sugar and then whisk together until combined. In the original recipe, Dorie Greenspan calls this step “imperative,” so definitely don’t skip it!

Meanwhile, add half of the egg whites into the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment. Mix these on medium speed, as they froth up and lose their translucence, until they are holding medium-firm peaks. Then, lower the mixer speed to low, but allow it to continue running in the background.

Add the remaining egg whites and a drop of food coloring if desired to the almond flour mixture. Use a sturdy, flexible spatula to incorporate everything together until you have a uniform paste. This can take some effort, so don’t be afraid to mix and fold and use the bowl for leverage. You want to get it really mixed together well.

In a small saucepan, you will be making a sugar syrup to add to the egg whites. This helps with both the structure of the meringue and to pasteurize the eggs. Heat the sugar and water over medium-high, stirring to dissolve the sugar, until it’s boiling. Then, continue cooking until an instant-read thermometer measures 243°F. Immediately turn off the heat.

With your stand mixer still running on low, carefully and slowly pour the hot sugar into the egg whites. There will be some splatters, but don’t try to scrape the bowl to incorporate them into the meringue. Once all the sugar has been added, increase the speed to high, and let it mix together until the meringue has cooled down, about ten minutes. Feel the bottom of the bowl to check the temperature.

Transfer the finished and cooled meringue into the bowl with the almond flour. Use your spatula to combine the two, mixing, mashing, and folding vigorously until it all combines. This can get a bit sticky and messy. Eventually, the mixture will begin to loosen and start to flow off the spatula like a stream of lava when it’s lifted from the bowl. That’s when it’s ready. If you’d like, this is when you can add more food coloring.

Transfer half the batter into the prepared piping bag. Hold the bag straight up and down about an inch above one of the lined baking sheets. Slowly pipe circles onto the pan. These might have a point in the center, but that’s fine for now, since it will dissolve into the macaron.

Once everything is piped, hold the baking sheet about eight inches above the counter with both hands, and then let it drop straight down. This helps to remove any air bubbles. Plus, it’s kind of fun. Repeat the piping and dropping with the rest of the batter and the other cookie sheet.

Now it’s a good time to preheat your oven with a rack in the center. Let both sheets sit out on the counter uncovered to rest. These are ready to bake when the batter forms a crust on top of each cookie. If you gently touch one and no batter ends up on your finger, they are good to go.

Bake one sheet at a time for six minutes, then rotate it in the oven and bake for an additional six to nine minutes until the macarons can be carefully peeled off the parchment. Slide the paper or mat off the pan and onto the counter to cool. Then bake the second sheet in the same way.

How to Make Buttercream & Plum Jam

While the macarons are resting, baking, and cooling, you can prepare the jam and buttercream fillings. To make the jam, add the plums and sugar to a medium saucepan and cook over medium heat.

Stir to dissolve the sugar as the fruit releases its juices, and then bring it to a boil. Allow the jam to cook down and reduce for about ten minutes, stirring it frequently until it is thick and jammy. A streak made with a flexible spatula should stay on the bottom of the pan for about a second before fully filling in.

Once it’s done, transfer the jam to a jar and chill it loosely covered in the fridge for at least half an hour. This will help it set up a bit more so it’s ready to use to fill your macarons. If needed, you can store the jam in a sealed jar in the fridge for up to a week once it has chilled.

To make the buttercream, use a stand mixer with the paddle attachment or a hand mixer with beaters and a clean bowl. Add in the room-temperature butter, which should have a bit of give but not be melted. Mix this on medium-low until lightened in color and fluffy, about two or three minutes.

Add in the confectioners sugar in batches and continue mixing to fully incorporate it each time. You may need to add splashes of milk to help it combine into a smooth frosting texture.

Once all the sugar has been added, stir in food coloring as desired. I used a mix of red and blue, stronger on the red, to achieve the plum-purple color I used for these, but you can do anything you want. When it’s the perfect color, transfer the frosting to a piping bag fitted with a small star tip and set it aside. You can store buttercream in the fridge for a few days if needed. Simply let it thaw to room temperature before piping.

Once the macarons have fully cooled, carefully peel them off the parchment or mats and pair up to make sandwiches. I like to group them by size, pulling out any irregular-shaped ones. Even if they aren’t all totally uniform, making a good pair can hide imperfections.

For each sandwich, flip one of the cookies upside-down to expose the bottom. Pipe a ring of buttercream around the outer edge, leaving space in the middle. Fill the space with about a teaspoon of the chilled plum jam. Top with the other cookie, and twist about a quarter turn to hold together.

Before serving, refrigerate to chill the filled macarons overnight. This will allow the cookies to soften slightly, giving them their signature chew. Store filled (or unfilled) macarons in the fridge for a few days, or freeze for two months. Thaw frozen macarons in the fridge overnight, and refrigerated macarons at room temperature for half an hour before serving.

Are you intimidated by macarons? It’s all about details! Start with these, featuring a sweet buttercream and a fresh plum jam filling.

How to Serve French Macarons

There is no cookie more elegant than a macaron, so make and share these adorable morsels when you can show them off. Use these treats to add a little class to your next dinner party, brunch, happy hour, or afternoon tea.

Speaking of tea, try pairing these with mango peach iced tea spritzers for a fun snack. Or for something a little bit cozier, you can’t go wrong with a chai white hot chocolate. The delicate flavor pairs wonderfully with these. If you are looking for more of a kick, try serving alongside a birthday cake martini.

Macarons are the perfect centerpiece for a dessert tray or display. Pair them with other bite-sized treats like lemon curd sandwich cookies, persimmon thumbprints, almond coconut cream puffs, or peach cupcakes.

Use Up Leftover Ingredients

Buttercream and Plum Jam French Macarons

Light almond flour meringue cookies filled with a sweet and tart plum jam surrounded with sugary buttercream.
Prep Time40 mins
Cook Time35 mins
Resting Time30 mins
Total Time1 hr 45 mins
Course: Dessert, Snack
Cuisine: American, French
Servings: 28 macarons
Calories: 175kcal

Ingredients

Macarons

  • 200 g Almond flour
  • 200 g Confectioners Sugar
  • 150 mL Egg Whites (about 5 eggs), left at room temperature overnight, divided
  • 1 Cup Sugar
  • ¼ Cup Water
  • 1-2 drops Food Coloring if desired

Plum Jam

  • 4 Black Plums medium sized, pitted and large diced
  • Cup Sugar

Buttercream Frosting

  • ½ Cup Unsalted Butter softened to room temperature
  • 2 Cups Confectioners Sugar
  • 1-2 Tbsp Milk

Instructions

Prepare Macarons

  • Line two flat cookie sheets with silicone mats or parchment paper. If you'd like, use a pencil to draw 1 ½-inch circles about 2 inches apart on the parchment, and then flip it over on the sheet to use as a template. Add a large round tip to a large pastry bag and set it aside.
  • Add the almond flour to a mesh strainer or sieve and gently push it through into a large bowl, to remove any lumps. Repeat with the confectioners sugar and then whisk these together until combined.
  • Add half the egg whites into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, and mix on medium, until they lose their translucence and hold medium-firm peaks. Lower the mixer to low, but allow it to continue running in the background.
  • Add the remaining egg whites and a drop of food coloring if desired to the almond flour mixture. Use a sturdy flexible spatula to incorporate everything together, until you have a uniform paste. This can take some effort, so don't be afraid to mix and fold and use the bowl for leverage.
  • In a small saucepan, heat the sugar and water over medium-high, stirring to dissolve the sugar, until boiling. Continue cooking until an instant-read thermometer measures 243°F. Then turn off the heat.
  • With your stand mixer still running on low, carefully and slowly pour the hot sugar into the egg whites. There will be some splatters, but don't try to scrape the bowl to incorporate them. Increase the speed to high, and let it mix together until the meringue has cooled down, about 10 minutes,
  • Add the finished and cooled meringue into the bowl with the almond flour. Use your spatula to combine the two, mixing, mashing, and folding vigorously until it all combined. Eventually, the mixture will begin to loosen and start to flow off the spatula like a stream of lava when it's lifted from the bowl. If you'd like, this is when you can add more food coloring.
  • Transfer half the batter into the prepared piping bag. Hold the bag straight up and down about an inch above one of the lined baking sheets. Slowly pipe 1 ½-inch circles about 2 inches apart. These might have a point in the center, but that's fine for now. Hold the baking sheet about 8 inches above the counter and let it drop straight down to remove any air bubbles.
    Repeat this entire step with the other half of the batter and the other baking sheet.
  • Preheat the oven to 350°F with a rack in the center. Let both sheets sit out on the counter for 20-40 minutes, uncovered, until the batter forms a crust on top of each cookie. If you gently touch one and no batter ends up on your finger, they are good to go.

Make the Fillings

  • While the macarons are resting, you can prepare the jam and buttercream fillings.
  • Add the plums and sugar to a medium saucepan and cook over medium heat. Stir to dissolve the sugar as the fruit releases its juices, and then bring to a boil. Allow the jam to cook about ten minutes, stirring frequently until it is thick and jammy, and a streak stays on the bottom of the pan for about a second before filling in.
  • Transfer the jam to a jar and chill it loosely covered in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
  • In a clean bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (you can also use a hand mixer with beaters), add the room temperature butter. Mix on medium low until lightened in color and fluffy.
  • Add in the confectioners sugar, ½ cup at a time, and continue mixing to incorporate it. Add splashes of milk as needed to help with mixing.
  • Once all the sugar has been incorporated, stir in food coloring as desired. I used a 3:1 mix of red and blue to achieve the plum-purple color. Transfer the frosting to a piping bag fitted with a small star tip and set aside.

Finish Macarons

  • Bake one sheet at a time for 6 minutes, then rotate it 180° in the oven and bake for an additional 6-9 minutes, until the macarons can be carefully peeled off the parchment or mat. Slide the paper or mat off the pan onto the counter to cool.
    Repeat the baking with the second sheet.
  • Once the macarons have fully cooled, carefully peel them off the parchment or mats and pair up to make sandwiches.
  • For each sandwich, flip one of the cookies upside down to expose the bottom. Pipe a ring of buttercream around the outer edge, leaving space in the middle. Fill the space with about a teaspoon of the chilled plum jam. Top with the other cookie, and twist about a quarter turn to hold together.
    Repeat with the other macarons.
  • Refrigerate the filled macarons overnight for best results, or for at least 6 hours.

Notes

  • My base macaron shell recipe is Dorie Greenspan's from Food52. The first time I made these, it was a success, so it's definitely a winner of a recipe. 
  • Make ahead tips:
    • Store filled or unfilled macarons in the fridge for up to 4 days, or frozen for two months. Thaw frozen macarons in the fridge overnight, and refrigerated macarons at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving.
    • Store the jam in a sealed jar in the fridge for up to week.
    • Store buttercream in the fridge for 3-4 days, and let it thaw to room temperature before piping.
  • Weighing your almond flour and confectioners sugar is super important in macarons. These cookies are delicate, and small changes can greatly alter the texture and structure.
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