Nut-free French macarons: a first attempt

Light pink macaron cookies on a sheet of ripped parchment sit on a marble surface. It is clear cookies have been removed from the parchment on the left side of the image - there are light pink circles of stuck cookie on the parchment. A small offset spatula with a dirty blade rests in the empty space on the parchment

Back when I was working at the bakery, I would make macarons about two or three times a week. It felt really good that my boss trusted me with them – they have a reputation as a fussy, technical cookie that requires attention to detail, and, at the time, I was still just the intern. Which is not to say things went well all the time – I had batches crack, rise weirdly sideways, brown too much, come out too wet, and, at least once, land on the floor. Honestly, I lost about one batch in five. 

But I loved making them. They felt like a challenge – for a cookie with only four ingredients, there were so many places where things could (and did) go wrong. No matter how many batches I made, it was always a little nerve-wracking, and when I succeeded it felt like a victory. Besides, there has always been something compelling about seeing those tiny, identical, pastel-hued sandwich cookies lined up on a tray. I have made thousands at this point, and it never stops feeling special. 

I have no idea what they taste like. 

Light pink macaron cookies on a piece of parchment. The parchment sits at an angle on a marble counter, and an offset spatula with a dirty blade sits on the space where cookies have clearly been removed. Some of the cookies have been flipped upside down to show the underside, which is wet and sticky looking. It is clear that the bottoms of the cookies stuck to the parchment and have been forcibly removed.

Macarons are made with finely ground almond flour – and I’m allergic to almonds. I’ve wanted to experiment with a nut-free version for a long time (the FOMO is so, so real) – but they are buried so deep in tradition and mythos of the French culinary establishment that I just assumed that any other flour base was probably doomed to failure.


Jessi Spell

A culinary degree and two years of professional experience has not stopped Jessi from making stupid mistakes – she just makes them more efficiently. She habitually reads cookbooks before bed, loses track of time on Wikipedia, and yells at cooking shows like dads watching football. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband Jackson, five plants, and more cookbooks than a 600 square foot studio should hold.


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