These red velvet macarons are the perfect Valentine's day treat! The striking red color of the macaron shells contrasted by the bright cream cheese frosting makes them stand out in such a beautiful way!
If you're new to macarons, this post has everything you need to know, along with plenty of step-by-step pictures to guide you through the process.
I am obsessed with all things red velvet, and to say I'm obsessed with macarons would honestly be an understatement. Every time I make them I learn something new, and whenever I have a recipe that comes out as perfectly as this one, I can't wait to share it!
These red velvet macarons are made with vanilla and chocolate-flavored macaron shells filled with a tangy cream cheese frosting. They are a perfect, sweet, and impressive treat to make for Valentine's day!
What are Macarons?
Not to be confused with macaroons, which are coconut cookies, French macarons are delicate sandwich cookies made with almond flour and meringue. You can add different extracts to the cookies for new flavors, but the easiest way to change the flavor is to change the way they're filled.
Macarons are deceptively small and simple looking, but they are actually considered one of the hardest desserts to make! There is a lot of accuracy and precision involved, and you won't know if you've done everything right until they come out of the oven.
The good news is you only need a few ingredients to make them, and it's easy to keep trying until you get the hang of it. Besides, even if they don't look perfect, they always taste amazing!
Meringue for Macarons
Macarons can be made with a French, Swiss, or Italian meringue. No one method is necessarily better than the other, it just depends on what you feel most comfortable with or works best for you.
The French method is the most basic and is a great place to start if you're new to meringue or to making macarons. Most professional pastry chefs use the Italian method, which is the most advanced but also makes the most stable meringue. The Swiss method is less common and is somewhere in between the two.
WHAT YOU NEED TO MAKE RED VELVET MACARONS
- Bowls and mixers: Several large bowls and an electric or stand mixer. Unlike Swiss and Italian meringue, the French meringue can be made just as easily with a hand-held mixer.
- Food scale: Keeps everything accurate, which is crucial for making macarons! This food scale is hands-down my favorite piece of kitchen equipment, it makes baking so much easier and practically eliminates the need for measuring cups.
- Piping bag and round piping tip: For piping the macaron batter, I recommend using a ¼-½" round piping tip (I use a Wilton # 12 tip).
- Baking sheet: Use a sturdy baking sheet that won't warp in the oven. You can also stack two baking sheets to keep them from warping.
- Silicone baking mat or parchment paper: I prefer using silicone baking mats. They're easier and the shells always come out much more evenly round than they do with parchment paper. If you don't have a silicone baking mat, parchment paper will also work. Just make sure you cut the parchment paper so it fits slightly smaller over your baking sheet. Otherwise you'll have lopsided shells.
- Template: Very helpful for piping even-sized shells. A lot of silicone baking mats come with macaron templates printed on them. You can also make your own by tracing 1.5" circles onto a sheet of parchment paper. The homemade template can be reused several times as long as you don't pipe the macaron batter directly onto it.
Almond flour: Almond flour is made from ground almonds and is what gives macarons their unique taste and texture. Some brands of almond flour can be more chunky or oily than others, I highly recommend Blue Diamond almond flour. It's a lot finer and easier to sift than any other brand I've used.
Sugar: Macarons are made with both granulated and powdered sugar. Powdered sugar makes up the bulk of the dry ingredients and is crucial for the macarons developing feet during baking. Granulated sugar is used to make the meringue and is what gives it structure.
Cocoa powder: Natural unsweetened.
Egg whites: Separate the eggs while they're cold and then let them come to room temperature for about 30 minutes-1 hour. Eggs separate easier when they're cold and egg whites whip to stiff peaks easier at room temperature. Some recipes swear you need to use aged egg whites, but I've never had an issue with using fresh.
Cream of tartar: Helps the egg whites whip to stiff peaks and makes the meringue more stable.
Vanilla extract: Added to the meringue and gives flavor to the macaron shells.
Gel food coloring: Gel coloring is a lot stronger so you don't need as much of it to get the right color. Add the coloring directly to the meringue, before the dry ingredients are added. Keep in mind that the color will become darker once the dry ingredients are added.
HOW TO MAKE RED VELVET MACARONS
Separate the eggs while they're cold, then set the whites aside to come to room temperature. Make sure you don't get any of the yolk in the bowl with the whites or you won't be able to whip them to stiff peaks.
Sift the granulated sugar into a small clean bowl and set aside.
Sift the almond flour back and forth between 2 bowls, discard any larger chunks that are left at the bottom of the sifter.
Place a clean glass bowl on your food scale, set the scale to '0' (in grams), and add 100g of the sifted almond flour to the bowl. Zero out the scale (press the tare function) and sift 130g of powdered sugar, 5 grams of cocoa powder, and ⅛ teaspoon of salt into the bowl with the almond flour. Sift everything again into one bowl and set aside.
Make the Meringue
Use a hand-held mixer or the whisk attachment in your stand mixer to whip the room temperature egg whites for about 30 seconds until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and continue to whip for another 30 seconds or until starting to thicken.
With the mixer running, add the granulated sugar, about 2 teaspoons at a time, and mix for 20 seconds after each addition. Once all of the sugar is added, mix until the meringue reaches soft peaks. Add the gel red food coloring, vanilla extract, and keep mixing until medium-stiff peaks form. When you lift the mixer out of the bowl and flip it upside down the meringue should have a peak that sticks straight up with a very slight droop at the tip.
Macaronage is the process of combining dry ingredients and meringue to make the macaron batter. It can be tricky because you want to very gently deflate the meringue as you fold until the batter is at the right consistency.
In 3 additions, gently fold the meringue into the dry ingredients by wiping around the sides and bottom of the bowl. It will be thick and pasty after the first addition. Wipe any batter or meringue off of the spatula as needed.
After the last addition, continue to fold by wiping the sides and the bottom of the bowl. Take your time and check often for signs it's getting close to the right consistency. It should be smooth and flow off of the spatula in thick ribbons without breaking.
The figure-8 test is a good way to check the consistency of the batter. Lift the batter up with your spatula and draw a figure 8. You should be able to make an 8 that disappears in about 10 seconds. If it doesn't disappear or if it the batter breaks then fold a couple more times and do the test again.
Pipe the Red Velvet Macaron Batter
Add the macaron batter to a large piping bag fitted with a small round piping tip. Note: You'll have more control if you only fill the bag halfway.
Hold the bag straight up and down with the tip right in the center of the circle on your template. Gently squeeze the batter out from the center until it almost fills the circle. Stop squeezing and lift up with a quick twisting motion.
Once you've piped all of the circles, lift the pan up about 5" and drop or bang it firmly on your counter several times. You can also just hit the bottom of the pan with your hand several times if you don't want to drop it on your counter.
Dry the Shells
Let the shells dry out for 30-45 minutes, or until they form a skin on the surface. You should be able to gently touch the tops without wet batter sticking to your finger.
Arrange your oven rack to the middle position and preheat your oven to 300°F/150°C. Bake the macarons, one baking sheet at a time, for 15-17 minutes.
Remove from the oven and let the macaron shells cool completely on the baking sheet for at least 30 minutes before touching or removing them.
Cream Cheese Frosting:
- Cream cheese: 4 ounces, softened to room temperature
- Butter: 2 tablespoons, softened to room temperature.
- Powdered sugar
- Vanilla extract
- Cream: Or milk
In a medium bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the softened cream cheese and softened butter until smooth. Add the powdered sugar, vanilla extract, and cream (or milk), and mix until smooth.
Use a piping bag to pipe a dollop of the frosting on the bottom of one macaron shell. Gently top with a second shell.
How to Store Red Velvet Macarons
Macarons taste best a day or two after they've been filled and stay fresh for one week in the fridge. Store them in an airtight container and keep in the fridge, you can also freeze the shells, filled or unfilled, for up to 2 months.
To freeze: Place the macarons in a single layer on a baking sheet and set the sheet flat in the freezer until the shells are completely solid. Then transfer to a sealed container that will protect them from getting squished. Keep frozen for 2 months.
More Red Velvet Recipes:
More Macaron Recipes:
Red Velvet Macarons
- Electric mixer
- piping bag and round piping tip
- 2 Baking sheets
- 2 Silicone baking mats or parchment paper
- 2 Macaron templates recommended
- 100 grams almond flour
- 130 grams powdered sugar
- 5 grams cocoa powder
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- 100 grams egg whites
- ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
- 85 grams granulated sugar, or caster sugar, sifted
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 5 drops red gel food coloring
Cream Cheese Frosting:
- 4 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature
- 2 tablespoons butter, softened to room temperature
- 1 and ¼ cups powdered sugar
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon cream, or milk
- Clean and dry several large bowls and any equipment you'll be using to make the macarons.
- Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats with macaron templates. You can make a homemade macaron template by tracing 1.5" circles onto parchment paper. Cover the homemade template with a sheet of parchment paper so it stays clean.
- Separate the eggs while they're cold and then set them aside to come to room temperature for at least 30 minutes. Make sure you don't get any yolks in the bowl with the whites or you won't be able to whip them to stiff peaks. Sift the granulated sugar into a small bowl and set aside until needed.
- Sift the almond flour back and forth a couple of times between two bowls. Discard any larger chunks left at the bottom of the sifter each time. From the sifted almond flour, measure 100 grams into a large bowl and sift in 130 grams of powdered sugar, 5 grams of cocoa powder, and ⅛ teaspoon of salt. Then sift everything together into a large bowl and set aside while you make the meringue.
Make the Meringue:
- Add the egg whites to a completely clean and dry bowl or bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Begin whipping the egg whites on medium speed for about 30 seconds or until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and whip for another 30 seconds-1 minute until starting to thicken and turn white.
- With the mixer running on medium speed, begin adding the sifted granulated sugar, about 2 teaspoons at a time, and mix for 20 seconds after each addition. Wipe the sides of the bowl if needed and keep mixing until the meringue is at medium-soft peaks. It should be thick and glossy with peaks that droop down.
- Add the vanilla extract and red gel coloring and keep mixing on medium speed until the meringue reaches medium-stiff peaks. If you lift the mixer up out of the bowl and flip it upside down there should be a peak that sticks up with a very slight droop at the tip.
- In 3-4 additions, use a rubber spatula to gently fold the meringue into the dry ingredients. It will be thick and pasty at first. Keep folding by wiping the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula.
- After all of the meringue is added, fold until the batter flows in thick ribbons from your spatula without breaking. If you lift the batter up and draw a figure 8, it should disappear into the batter after about 10 seconds. If it doesn't disappear or if the batter breaks off of the spatula, keep folding and check again after every few turns.
- Pipe the shells: Add the macaron batter to a large piping bag with a ¼-½" round piping tip. Hold the piping bag straight up and down with the tip right in the center of the circle on your template. Gently squeeze the bag until the batter spreads and almost fills the circle. Stop squeezing and lift up with a quick twisting motion.
- Once you have all the shells piped, lift the pan up about 5" and drop or bang it firmly on your counter several times. You should see little air bubbles come up to the surface and pop.
- Let the shells dry out on the pan for at least 30 minutes, or until they form a skin on the surface. You should be able to gently touch the tops without wet batter sticking to your finger.
- Arrange your oven rack to the middle position and preheat your oven to 300°F/150°C. Bake the macarons, one baking sheet at a time, for 15 minutes each. Take them out of the oven and let cool completely before touching them or trying to remove them from the pan.
Make the Cream Cheese Frosting:
- Use an electric mixer to beat the softened cream cheese and softened butter until smooth. Add the powdered sugar, vanilla extract, and cream (or milk), and mix until smooth.
- Once the macaron shells have cooled, use a piping bag to pipe a dollop of frosting onto the bottom of one shell, then gently top with a second shell.