120g egg whites (divided into two 60-gram portions)
185g sugar (divided into two portions: 150 grams and 35 grams)
1 teaspoon vanilla paste
Preheat oven to 335° F.
Sift almond meal and powdered sugar together. Set aside.
Put 150g granulated sugar and 50g water into the tiniest saucepan you have and put it over medium heat. Resist the temptation to stir.
Meanwhile, put 60g of egg whites in a bowl and start whipping. When foamy, sprinkle in 35g of granulated sugar and continue whipping to soft peaks.
With your third arm, check sugar syrup temperature with candy thermometer. When it reaches soft ball stage (230° F), immediately remove from heat.
With your fourth and fifth arm, resume beating egg whites at medium speed while pouring in sugar syrup. Let it slowly trickle down the side of the bowl so it can blend with the meringue without turning into scrambled candy.
Increase speed to high and whip till the bottom of the bowl no longer feels hot, about 5 minutes or so, depending on the power of your mixer.
Add the remaining 60g egg whites to the almond meal/powdered sugar mixture and stir with a spatula until incorporated, then mix in vanilla paste.
Fold in the meringue mixture with the almond meal/powder sugar mixture. Keep stirring until the mixture will slowly flow from your spatula to the bowl. If it falls off in a big lump, keep stirring. If it's runny, you've gone too far. This is one of the trickiest parts. Better to err on the side of not blended enough because that can be corrected. Note: I usually divide the batter to mix in different food colorings, which requires more stirring, so I factor that into how much I blend the batch of batter.
Put half the macaron batter into a pastry bag with a medium-sized round tip. Pipe in small circles onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. You can trace circles on the underside of parchment if you’re terribly particular, but I just count to five while piping for a more or less consistent size.
Slam cookie sheet onto the counter a couple of times to prevent air pockets. Pop any surface bubbles with a toothpick.
Some people say that you should let the cookies rest for half an hour to dry. I don’t think it’s necessary. But I live in Seattle where nothing ever really gets dry.
Bake macarons in center rack at 335° for 12-13 minutes. If you aren't using an insulated cookie sheet, you'll want to double (or triple) up on the cookie sheets.
Check doneness by gently lifting cookie from parchment (with an offset spatula or your eager little fingers, if you’re like me). If it doesn’t stick, it’s ready. If it does, give it a couple more minutes. It’s best to err on the side of slightly overcooked.
Slide parchment (with cookies in tow) onto a cooling rack. Once they’re cool, you should be able to lift them off cleanly, but if not, a few minutes in the freezer works like magic.
Put filling of your choice in a piping bag (I usually cheat and use a zippered sandwich bag with a corner cut off). Match similarly sized shells; pipe filling onto the middle of one and top with the other.
“Mature” macarons by refrigerating in an air-tight container for 24 hours. Bring to room temperature before serving. If you can’t wait that long, go ahead and eat them. They’ll taste great, but the texture will be off (sometimes too crunchy, sometimes too chewy). I’m as impatient as they come, but it’s worth waiting for the moment when the filling becomes one with the cookie.
Store macarons in the fridge for a few days or in the freezer indefinitely. Ok, maybe not indefinitely, but at least a few months.