Separate 3 egg whites. Place 45 grams of the egg whites in your stand mixer’s bowl, and set aside another 45 grams in a separate bowl.
Weigh out 112 grams (1 cup) of blanched almond flour and 118 grams (1 cup) of powdered sugar. Sift them through a strainer into a clean bowl. This process removes any lumps or large bits from the dry ingredients to give you a smoother macaron batter.
Add 45 grams of egg whites and 1 teaspoon of vanilla to the almond flour and powdered sugar. Stir together until you have a paste.
If you wish to make colored macarons, stir up to 1/4 teaspoon of gel food coloring into the almond flour paste. Avoid using liquid food coloring as it can add too much liquid to the batter. This then results to a runny macaron batter. Make sure the color is darker and brighter then you want your final macarons to look. The final batter color will turn out significantly lighter after folding in the meringue.
Combine 112 grams (1 cup + 1 tablespoon) of granulated sugar with 80 grams (1/3 cup) of water in a small pot, and heat it over medium heat.
While the sugar syrup is heating, add ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar to the egg whites in the stand mixer bowl and beat it until it comes to soft peaks. This means that when you lift a spoon or beater it leaves behind a soft point in the meringue. If the egg whites reach soft peak stage before the sugar syrup is ready, turn down the mixer speed to low and keep mixing so that the egg whites don’t sit and separate.
Continue heating the sugar syrup until it reaches 234-240°F. This is called soft ball stage and may be marked that way on your candy thermometer). Once it is the correct temperature, turn the mixer speed up to medium-high and slowly pour in the sugar syrup. Some of the sugar syrup will end up splattered on the sides of the bowl. This is unavoidable and quite alright.
Continue whipping the meringue until has reached stiff peak stage. This means that when you lift a spoon or beater from the meringue, a stiff point is left from the end of it that doesn’t droop or fall over. This is an Italian meringue.
Add about one-third of the meringue to the almond flour paste, and use a rubber spatula to stir until completely combined.It may seem like all of the air is being deflated from the meringue, but that’s okay! This step is actually creating a consistency that allows the rest of the egg whites to be folded in without deflating. This step is called the macronage and is how you achieve the correct consistency for your final macaron batter.
Once the first portion of meringue is mixed in, add another 1/3 of the meringue, and again, fold it in until well combined.
Add the last third of the Italian meringue and fold it in gently until there are no streaks left in the batter. Keep folding until the batter runs off your spatula in thick ribbons. You should see the bit that just ran off of your spatula sit on top of the batter for a count of 8-10. If it hasn’t melded into the rest of the batter after that, continue mixing for a few more folds, then test it again.
Line a couple of large baking sheets with clean parchment paper and set them aside.
Place the macaron batter in a clean piping bag fitted with a round coupler or a large round tip and spoon the batter into it.
To pipe your macarons, hold the piping bag straight up and down over the parchment paper. Squeeze to the count of three. Stop applying pressure to the bag and lift straight up. Continue this step until your batter is piped over the baking sheets. Be sure to leave 1 1/2 to 2 inches between each macaron cookie.
Preheat your oven to 325°F.
Set the piped macarons out to dry for 30 minutes. Allowing the tops to dry slightly gives the macarons shells something to lift up under and helps macaron feet develop during baking.
Bake the macaron shells for 10-12 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time.
Remove the baked macaron shells from the oven. Allow them to cool completely before filling.
Fill the macarons with a filling of your choice. A chocolate ganache contrasts nicely with the sweetness of the shells. Buttercream or jam also makes a great filling!
Allow the filled macarons to sit for a while, preferably overnight. Store them in the refrigerator.