Gorgeous, naturally gluten-free, and exquisitely tender, these homemade, foolproof Plum Flavored Macarons are an excellent way to show off your baking skills. Melt-in-your-mouth almond meringues are filled with a delicate cardamom plum buttercream for an unforgettable twist on the classic French recipe.
If you’ve ever had the pleasure of biting into a perfect, pillowy French macaron, you know that it is simply transcendent. This plum macaron recipe is my latest variation of everyone’s favorite dainty dessert, but I’m certain it will not be my last!!
French Macarons vs. Coconut Macaroons
Before we get started, I want to address a popular question: what is the difference between French Macarons and Coconut Macaroons? Aside from being spelled nearly identically and having short ingredient lists, the two are actually radically different.
Macarons (pronounced mah-ka-ROHNs) are made from two smooth meringue-based shells that are joined together with some kind of ethereal mixture like chocolatey ganache, bright jam, or luscious buttercream.
Traditionally speaking, classic French macaron shells are made with almond flour, egg whites, sugar, and little else; they’re somehow crisp, chewy and light all at the same time.
While macarons follow a strict template - usually two nut-based meringues stuffed with something tasty - the flavor options are nearly endless! While I have a tendency to lean towards dessert flavors like fruit, chocolate, coffee, or caramel, flavors like foie gras or ketchup with pickle are among the more savory interpretations I’ve seen.
Macaroons, on the other hand, are a chewy, heavily textured cookie that is made using shredded sweetened coconut usually held together with an egg white meringue or sweetened condensed milk. The flavor is always predominantly coconutty, though they may be dipped in chocolate for an added bit of flair.
About the recipe
In this particular French macaron recipe, I opted to maintain a simple, unflavored meringue shell (with just almonds and sugar as the predominant tastes) and let my plum flavored swiss meringue buttercream do the talking.
Swiss meringue buttercream is an excellent choice for filling French macarons because it is a very stable, not super-sweet frosting. Made from cooked egg whites, granulated sugar, butter, and the flavoring of your choice (in this case, cardamom plum jam), swiss buttercream is lusciously smooth and creamy without being cloyingly sweet like some American frostings.
Because I wanted full control over the ingredients and flavor of said buttercream, I started out by making a homemade plum cardamom jam. The process is quite simple, especially since plums are naturally rich in pectin and don’t require any additional thickening power.
If you’d like to break this macaron recipe up into smaller chunks, I recommend making the plum jam up to 4 weeks ahead of time.
Making French macarons might be a little fussy, but the ingredients you need are quite simple. Here’s your grocery list:
- Granulated Sugar - Don’t try swapping in brown sugar here; the moisture content is too high and can result in macaron shells that don’t have a foot.
- Blanched Almond Flour - It may seem fussy, but I usually reach for blanched almond flour; this means the skins of the almonds have been removed prior to processing, which results in a smoother, even colored macaron.
- Egg Whites - It’s best if your eggs are at room temperature in order to fully whip to stiff peaks. Also, be sure that you don’t let any egg yolks get into the whites - the added fat will prevent them from achieving stiff peaks. Finally, make sure you are not using the egg whites that come in a carton, as they simply won’t capture enough air to create those evasive stiff peaks.
- Powdered Sugar - While some French macaron recipes call for a stabilizer known as cream of tartar, I find that using powdered sugar does just as well because of the addition of cornstarch.
Plum Swiss Meringue Buttercream Ingredients
- Plums - This gorgeous stone fruit can generally be found from May through October here in the US. If they aren’t in season when you want to make these plum macarons, skip making your own preserves and opt for Damson plum preserves or Satsuma plum jam.
- Granulated Sugar - Keep it simple with your granulated sugar, now is not the time to experiment with alternative sugars.
- Cardamom Pods - I love using whole spices because the essential oils remain in tact and preserve the rich flavor much longer than ground spices. If you only have ground cardamom on hand, swap in a scant teaspoon.
- Salt - Salt enlivens most flavors, even sweet ones. I usually reach for sea salt, but if you happen to have kosher salt or iodized table salt on hand, you can check out this handy conversion table.
- Lemon Juice - Fresh is always going to taste superior to bottled, but of course you can make the swap if you need.
- Butter - Make sure the butter is at room temperature, but not melting. You should be able to indent it with your finger without much trouble.
- Egg Whites - Since we will be cooking the egg whites in a bain marie, you don’t have to worry about them being room temperature.
- Electric mixer with whisk attachment - If you have one, I highly recommend going the stand mixer route here; getting those elusive stiff peaks takes some time. In a pinch, a hand mixer will work, but you won’t be able to multitask as efficiently.
- Food processor - Ensuring that your ingredients are finely processed means you have a much better chance of having perfectly smooth, perfect macarons.
- Mesh strainer - Sifting is another step you don’t want to miss when you’re making these plum macarons; any large chunks that were missed in the food processor will not make it through the strainer. This means you don't have to worry about any unsightly blemishes.
- Sheet pans - If you haven’t yet, I recommend investing in some good (read: unwarped) cookie trays.
- Parchment or Silpat - I personally like to make myself a little template when I’m making macarons to ensure that they end up round and of the same size. I draw on a piece of parchment paper using a small 1” lid or biscuit cutter as my guide. If you prefer to have something ready to go, Silpat makes a macaron mat that has handy guides printed right on it.
- Piping bags and tips - Part of the allure of French macarons is their appearance, and piping bags and tips ensure that they are flawless. In a pinch, use a zip top plastic bag with the corner cut off!
- Use a scale! The French baking tradition is an exacting art; proper tools will ensure perfect results every time.
Tips and Tricks
- Use exactly ZERO yolks. The easiest way to separate eggs is by using cold eggs (cold yolks don’t break as easily) and the fingers of your non-dominant hand. Crack the egg open with your dominant hand, then pour the contents into the slightly separated fingers of your non-dominant hand; your fingers should catch the yolks, and the whites will drip through.An ounce of egg yolk can destroy the meringue, so it’s best to only work with one white at a time in case a yolk breaks.
- Don’t overmix. Getting the whites to stiff peaks takes a lot of time; don’t ruin all of that amazing levity by overmixing! Be sure to be gentle, stopping when the batter runs off your spatula slowly, with the drips resting atop the rest of the batter for a few moments before sinking in.
- Tap for smooth exteriors. Tapping the baking sheet firmly on a flat surface will knock any excess bubbles out of the macarons. You can also just hold the pan a few inches above your work surface and drop it flatly. Any remaining bubbles can be popped using a toothpick.
- Rest the batter. Once the macarons are piped onto your baking tray, it is absolutely imperative that you rest the batter. While the shells are resting, they develop a skin over the top. This means that any air that is forced out while cooking must go through the bottom, creating the signature “foot” on a French macaron.
- Use an Oven thermometer. Baking is always a scientific endeavor, and nothing could be more true of making French macarons. After living in a multitude of rented apartments, I can tell you one thing with certainty - most ovens are FINICKY. Get yourself a $7 oven thermometer so you can take the guesswork out of it.
Frequently Asked Questions
Sure! I recommend using a high-quality, seedless jam. Also, don’t feel like you’re tied to plum - any flavor can work if you want.
While traditional French macarons are made with almonds, you can certainly switch things up if you prefer. Pistachios are a great option, or you can use sesame seeds and ground tiger nuts if you prefer a nut-free version.
Generally speaking, simple is best. Use food coloring to brighten up the macaron shells to whatever color you like. You can also “paint” the baked macarons with some thinned-out food coloring, or use a bit of edible gold leaf if you’re into a little bling. Take a look at my Passion fruit macarons for tips on painting your macaron shells!
I’m so glad you asked! Yolks are an amazing ingredient. Use them to make custards and ice cream; add an extra yolk to your cookies for a chewier texture; use them to make lemon or passionfruit curd (which you can then use to fill other macarons)... The options are nearly endless!
Storing and/or Freezing
Technically, allowing your completed macarons to sit overnight in the fridge allows for the best texture for consuming! If you have the patience, place your macarons in the fridge overnight and enjoy the following day. Macaron shells can be stored in the freezer in an airtight container for a month and still taste as good as new! Take the frozen macarons out of the freezer and let them sit for 10-15 minutes before enjoying. In the fridge, filled macarons should be stored in an airtight container for no more than 3 days.
As always, I love seeing your creations and hearing from you! If you try making these Plum Macarons, please leave a review or share your creation with me on social media! You can find me on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest - and for more delicious recipes sent straight to your inbox, sign up for my newsletter!
Homemade, Foolproof Plum Flavored Macarons
- Food Processor
- Fine Mesh Strainer
- Mixer with Whisk & Paddle Attachment
- Parchment Paper
- Baking Tray
- Piping Bags & Piping Tips
- 75 g (⅓ Cup + 1.5 Tbsp) Egg Whites
- 150 g (1.5 tablespoon) Granulated Sugar
- 225 g (1 Cup) Unsalted Butter, room temperature
- 70 g (⅓ Cup) Plum Jam
- Line each baking sheet with your prepared parchment templates and prepare your piping bags along with your piping tips. I like to use small, round piping tips for piping.
- Pour your egg whites into the bowl of a standing mixer and start whisking on medium speed. Once they start to foam, slowly add your sugar and bring up your speed to medium for about three to four minutes.76 g Granulated Sugar, 90 ml Room Temperature Egg Whites
- While your meringue is whisking away, grind together your measured powdered sugar and almond flour using a food processor for one minute. Sift these dry ingredients into a large bowl with a fine sieve and set aside.80 g Almond Flour, 150 g Powdered Sugar
- Your meringue is complete when it holds stiff peaks - add desired food coloring and gently whisk for a few additional seconds to incorporate,Gel Food Coloring
- Now it’s time for the ever so important Macaronage! This is the act of mixing your dry ingredients into your french meringue and folding these ingredients enough to allow for the perfect desired consistency. To start, pour your dry mixture onto the meringue and slowly start to fold with a spatula. While rotating the bowl, continue to fold ingredients together. Press mixture on the side of your bowl until the mixture the batter flows off your spatula rather slowly and smoothly. You should see that the batter will drip off the spatula back into the bowl, and rest on top for a moment. Then, the batter from your spatula will slowly sink back into the mixture. One too many folds and your batter could be over mixed leading to it being impossible to work with, so be careful not to overmix!
- Pour your macaron batter into your prepared piping bag and pipe in circles onto your templated parchment paper. In order to get rid of any air bubbles within your piped shells and to even out your tops, tap your baking sheet firmly on a flat surface. You can always use a toothpick to gently pop any extra air bubbles that you see hovering on top of your shells.
- Allow the shells to rest for approximately 30 minutes. Once the top of your shells are dry to the touch they are ready to bake!
- Place your macarons in your oven that has been preheated to 310 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake for 9 minutes, then rotate the baking tray and bake for an additional 2 minutes.
- You will know that your macarons are ready to remove from the oven when you gently touch the upper shell, and it barely moves, while the developed foot of the macaron stays set to the parchment paper. Remove from the oven to cool completely before removing shells from the parchment paper.
- Add your sugar and egg whites to the bowl of a stand mixer and place over a saucepan of boiling water. Make sure that your bowl is not touching the hot water! Your goal is to simply whisk the egg whites and sugar together over a gentle heat until the sugar has completely dissolved, then attach your bowl back to the standing mixer. The temperature of your egg whites and sugar should reach 170°F75 g Egg Whites, 150 g Granulated Sugar
- Whisk mixture starting at a low speed and gradually increase until soft peaks form and the mixture has cooled. Switch to using your paddle attachment, then start adding your butter bit by bit.225 g Unsalted Butter
- When you’ve reached the point where the buttercream is glossy and smooth, turn the mixer speed back to low.
- Add plum jam, and mix on low until combined to complete.70 g Plum Jam
- Once cooled, the shells will peel easily off of your parchment paper. Find each shell’s matching half and pipe approximately two teaspoons of buttercream to the bottom shell, topping with the matching half.
- What is the best food coloring to use? I recommend using gel food coloring for best results; the pigment is richer and the liquid content is lower, so you can get more vibrant colors without disturbing the meringues.
- Do I have to use almonds? While traditional French macarons are made with almonds, you can certainly switch things up if you prefer. Pistachios are a great option, or you can use sesame seeds and ground tiger nuts if you prefer a nut-free version.
- What’s the best way to decorate macarons? Generally speaking, simple is best. Use food coloring to brighten up the macaron shells to whatever color you like. You can also “paint” the baked macarons with some thinned-out food coloring, or use a bit of edible gold leaf if you’re into a little bling. Take a look at my Passion fruit macarons for tips on painting your macaron shells!
- What should I make with my leftover egg yolks? I’m so glad you asked! Yolks are an amazing ingredient. Use them to make custards and ice cream; add an extra yolk to your cookies for a chewier texture; use them to make lemon or passionfruit curd (which you can then use to fill other macarons)... The options are nearly endless!
- How should I store my macarons? Technically, allowing your completed macarons to sit overnight in the fridge allows for the best texture for consuming! If you have the patience, place your macarons in the fridge overnight and enjoy the following day. Macaron shells can be stored in the freezer in an airtight container for a month and still taste as good as new! Take the frozen macarons out of the freezer and let them sit for 10-15 minutes before enjoying, In the fridge, filled macarons should be stored in an airtight container for no more than 3 days.