Nut Free French Macarons

The October Daring Bakers’ challenge is the most temperamental cookies of all – French macarons. I stopped making these about three years ago, as my little son developed a severe nut allergy. Grinding the nuts, then multiple sifting seemed extremely hazardous and life threatening. I loved the cookies, but mother’s love was stronger, so I gave up on them. I didn’t have my baking blog back then, so this is my first macaron post. Somehow, it hasn’t occurred to me before to look for nut flour substitutes. But it is actually possible. Finely ground coconut, along, or in combination with black sesame seeds produced familiar, very French result. The shape, the texture (thin crackly crust and moist interior) were just as they were supposed to be. I made two kinds:

  • Coconut black sesame macarons filled with wasabi bittersweet ganache (totally awesome filling)
  • Chocolate coconut macarons filled with white chocolate and mango ganache

This month’s challenge was hosted by Ami S., who chose the macarons recipe from Claudia Fleming’s The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern, which worked for me with some minor baking time adjustments.

I would advise not to get discouraged by some intimidating information on the net concerning the macaron making. It’s definitely not a rocket science. I never had any problem myself; approached them knowing no fear and succeeded on the first attempt (unfortunately, I also didn’t know then that I accomplished quite a feat :)

Makes about 4 dozen sandwiches

For the macarons:

  • 2 ¼ cups confectioners’ sugar (225g)
  • 2 cups almond flour (190 g) (I used 50/50 ground coconut and black sesame seeds)
  • 5 egg whites, at room temperature
  • 2 tbsp (25g) fine granulated sugar

For the wasabi ganache filling:

  • 4 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 20 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ½ cup whipping cream
  • 2 tsp corn syrup
  • 1 ½ tsp wasabi powder

For the white chocolate mango ganache: follow this recipe, using mango puree (make sure fruit is ripe and flavorful) and mango liqueur or white rum

Preparation:

Preheat the oven to 200°F (93°C). Combine the confectioners’ sugar and almond flour in a medium bowl. If grinding your own nuts, combine nuts and a cup of confectioners’ sugar in the bowl of a food processor and grind until nuts are very fine and powdery.

Beat the egg whites in the clean dry bowl of a stand mixer until they hold soft peaks. Slowly add the granulated sugar and beat until the mixture holds stiff peaks.

Sift a third of the almond flour mixture into the meringue and fold gently to combine. If you are planning on adding zest or other flavorings to the batter, now is the time. Sift in the remaining almond flour in two batches. Be gentle! Don’t overfold, but fully incorporate your ingredients.

Spoon the mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a plain half-inch tip (Ateco #806). Pipe one-inch-sized (2.5 cm) mounds of batter onto baking sheets lined with nonstick liners (or parchment paper).

Bake the macaroon for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and raise the temperature to 375°F (190°C). Once the oven is up to temperature, put the pans back in the oven and bake for an additional 7 to 8 minutes, or lightly colored.

Cool on a rack before filling.

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110 Responses to “Nut Free French Macarons”

  1. Both of your versions look incredible! Really beautiful job!

  2. Yours look so great and I’m glad you could do a nut free version! I did find it hard to get the “feet” on mine!

  3. Wow, they look amazing! Well done on finding a substitute you could use :)

  4. They look beautiful! I love macarons (who doesn’t?). I’ve not time enough to bake them… It’s so long! I had a cooking lesson last year at “Lenôtre” in Paris, about macarons… it was great!

  5. simply wonderful vera – as always you are a star and am amazed at these nit free versions. brilliant!

  6. great photographs and love the coconut replacement, i will try it.
    you are mentioned in my latest blog of macaroons

  7. Oh wow! This is simply fantastic! : ) My boyfriend has nut allergies too and although I love macaroons, I can’t make any for him : <

    But thanks for the replacement ideas! Will definitely try this out. I’m also glad to hear that it’s not _that_ hard to make them : ) I remember reading another food blog which stated that macaroons are the most temperamental things one can bake!

  8. They are wonderful !!

  9. Finally your post is up …. I have been waiting eagerly and am certainly not disappointed. These are incredible and I really do like the black n white shots.

  10. Wow! Who would have thought they would turn out so well with coconut instead? And your mango ganache just looks like the creamiest thing ever, I would probably eat it all with a spoon before it even saw a macaron. Thanks for this beautiful post!

  11. son tan increibles tus fotos que dan ganas de alargar la mano y comerselos…a pesar de que he echo mi desafio…nunca me han quedado tan preciosos y tan apetecibles.Eres un maestro

  12. Breathtaking! It’ wonderful, original and looks delicious. I have to try then :-)

  13. Your macarons are lovely. It makes mine want to go hide in a corner! Someone needs to come teach me how to get those elusive feet. The chocolate and coconut ones look and sound incredible. Great job!

  14. I just have one thing to say – WOW!
    Your macaroons are just perfect!
    I love the flavors’ combination
    and as always the pictures are amazing.
    wtg for a fabulous work
    Inbal
    (also a DB)

  15. You really took this challenge head-on, good for you because your outcomes seem spectacular. I am sad that I didn’t have the time to participate in the challenge this month, but I look forward to trying out your wasabi ganache filling it sounds very interesting and unique.

  16. What perfect and beautiful macarons! Great flavors too!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  17. They are look wonderful Vera. I love your chocolate&Mango filling…

  18. Ils sont parfaits ! absolument magnifique !

  19. I have a thing for Black and White so your Coconut black sesame macaroons w/ wasabi bittersweet ganache stand out to me like no other, just gorgeous!

  20. I love baking macarons but it takes such a long time, I usually keep it for winter! Your coconut / sesame variation is very enticing.
    Yours are perfect. Felicitations :)

  21. These are gorgeous!

  22. Just letting you know I’ve given you a Shout-Out for having the most revolutionary macarons, in making then nut-free! Bravo!

  23. Beautiful!! I learn something everyday.. I want to try the nutless version

  24. Love them both and not using nut meals superb effort and result. And those photos are fabulous. Congratulations on these uber-excellent creations. Cheers from Audax in Australia.

  25. what interesting flavor combinations! i’m intrigued and quite honestly, infatuated. the powder white cookie looks awesome.

  26. I’m so delighted to see a nut free version that looks like the real deal! I have a mild nut allergy, which means I’ve tasted the glory of french macarons but could only eat a tiny bit. I love coconut, so I’ll have to try this out soon. Then I can eat as much as dare!

  27. No way! You pulled of nut free in the most stunning way =D. The flavours & everything look perfect.

  28. These are one of the prettiest I’ve seen so far..

  29. What a perfect solution to such a difficult (and scary) problem! I would never have thought of using either of those to sub for almonds. And your macarons are just gorgeous – love how classy the sesame ones look!

  30. they look amazing, close to perfection! really well done, cheers from london

  31. What an absolute success to work around nut allergies. They are perfect Vera…but I expected nothing less from you!

  32. Gorgeous! Kudos to you for getting around the nut issue! So inventive :) Yours look just stunning.

  33. I need to try that wasabi ganache. Love your pictures!

  34. That is just mind-blowing! I’m mildly allergic to nuts and I didn’t even think to try making them nut-free! Amazing and so gorgeous too.

  35. Maybe the trick is to start making macarons without knowing they’re supposed to be difficult! :) Yours are beautiful!

  36. I never would have even guessed that these were nut-free. What a wonderful innovation. Great post and pictures!

  37. I really like the idea of the black sesame seed/wasabi macaron. I will put that one on my list to try!

  38. Wow – your macarons look absolutely beautiful. I’m impressed!

  39. You are SO creative! What a great idea of substituting the nuts with coconut.

    Great pictures as always.

  40. great job that they are nut free. I have this bookmarked for when I have nut free friends over.

  41. Nut free? I wouldn’t have thought of substitutes, either. What a great idea. You couldn’t even tell.

  42. Tremendous thanks to everyone who left a comment! I truly appreciate it!

  43. I am fascinated with your Macarons, the substitutions, the fillings; all of it. Absolutely beautiful. I want to try your way for a different flavor, too. Brava – so unique!

  44. They look beautiful Vera! Both recipes you made were nut free? Amazing!

  45. Wow, lovely looking macarons! I’m not sure I’ll ever dare to make them myself…

  46. Vera, your photos are amazing as always. I didn’t really love the way my macarons came out but just looking at your pictures makes me want to try again (especially with some of your fillings).

  47. I cannot tell you how excited I am that you have made these. After reading Aran’s site, I have always wanted to make them, but could not to do a nut allergy. Months and months of research for a decent substitute followed, but since I did not know what texture to aim for, I was a little afraid to experiment. Thank you so much for posting this.

    One quick question: for the coconut, did you use sweetened or unsweetened?

  48. They look absolutely perfect! And I’m intrigued by the thought of using coconut as an almond meal substitute (even though I am fortunate enough not to have a nut allergy). Thanks for the tip! And a wasabit ganache is something I never would have thought of!

  49. Your macs are absolutely gorgeous!!!

  50. Wonderful and so ingenious!

  51. Absolutely stunning! I love your nut-free coconut version; will try it soon!

  52. Wow, nut free macarons, who knew? And I love the wasabi ganache idea, will have to try that one of these days.

  53. You did a fabulous job on your macarons! I love your nut free options for making them. Very inspired.

    Natalie @ Gluten A Go Go

  54. Thank you all for the kind words! I’m very touched!

    Aran, yes, they all are nut-free.

    Emily, I use unsweetened, finely shredded dehydrated coconut. I dry the coconut further in a low oven for about 6 minutes, then cool completely on a rack. There’s a little trick to grind it sufficiently into the powder. First, in a food processor combine all coconut and half confectioners’ sugar required by a recipe (use any recipe you are comfortable with, replacing almonds with coconut); process in long pulses for about 3 minutes, scraping the sides as needed. Sift the processed mixture through a fine sieve into a bowl. Return everything that didn’t go through the sieve into the food processor, add the remaining half of the confectioners’ sugar and process for another 3 minutes or so. There’s no need to sift it again; it should be quite fine by this time.

  55. I became so addicted to these precious little gems while doing a foreign exchange student thing in the 1970′s. After many years of being sick all the time I was diagnosed with a bunch of allergies one of which is nuts. Imagine my surprise to come across this recipe. I thought maccarons were lost to me forever! Thank youthankyouthankyou!

  56. Vera, beautiful macarons! I first read Sarah Phillips of baking911.com coming up with the idea of nut-free macarons using coconut and/or seeds this summer. Looks like it worked for you, too. The wasabi ganache is an intriguing idea.

  57. Im curious if you went 50/50 by weight or measure. Would that be 90 grams each of coconut and sesame or 1 cup each.

    Thanks

  58. c t,
    I always weigh the ingredients for the macarons, so it is by weight.

  59. @Ken

    Sarah Philips is an egotist who can’t accept that other people are creative in their own kitchens. She didn’t “come up” with any idea of nut-free macaroons. She simply made a list of possible substitutions no different from what you’d find in a good cookbook. Sarah Philips is a poor sport who, without any proof, has accused this site of plagiarism on her website.

  60. @madge – LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  61. wow looks so delicious. I think macarons is a very fashionable cookies.
    I never had a chance of tasting it but I’m sure it tastes sooo good. Nice photos

  62. Yours turned out beautifully. The flavor combo you chose is something I’d enjoy trying. The options are seemingly limitless on these little morsels!

  63. WOW, absolutely stunning photos and macs..well done!

  64. wow!!! those look absolutely perfect Vera!!! well done!!! beautiful work as always!!! i do love making macarons but mine usually end up dented with a clumsy thumb-print or two instead of being lovely and smooth haha!!

  65. Wow!They look beautiful!I want to eat them very much.

  66. They look beautiful!

    wow!!!

  67. Sooooooo beautiful and perfect looking! Love that mango ganache!

  68. Thanks to all of you for the comments! You are too kind!

  69. Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous photo. I want to eat my computer screen. I love the alternative ingredients. I will definitely be trying these in my kitchen.

  70. the pictures are like art, it’s fantastic and beautiful!! Bravo!

  71. Wow! These are beautiful! And they sound amazing. I love black sesame and coconut. I’m going to have to try these.

  72. Very creative and very interesting flavours! Love the black and white. gorgeous.

  73. I always thought that almonds and eggwhites were the onlyway to macarons. These are gorgeous. I must try them.

    Unfortunately, I am one of those who has had numerous mac failures amongst 1 success! :)

  74. Oh my god Vera!! These are wonderful! beautiful! And what a revolutionary thing for me to find out you can substitute the almonds.

  75. Oh, excellent! My in-laws are allergic to nuts, and I really want to make macarons for them. Just to clarify – does one kind have half sesame, half coconut, and the other one all coconut (and chocolate)? I’m slightly worried about finding good – fresh – sesame seeds, so I’d love to try all coconut. (It also seems more neutral in flavor.)

  76. Anne, yes, one kind is half-and-half and another kind is all coconut plus cocoa.

  77. Perfect. Thank you so much :)

  78. I have had a nut allergy my whole life and have always admired these in the window of confection shops, but never been able to try them myself. Can’t wait now. Thank you!

  79. Nice and nut-free! I’ve been told that ground semolina is a good substitute for almond meal – do you think that would work? It’s got a similar texture and I could always put a drop of fake almond essence in…

  80. Alex, no, I don’t think so… not in this case.

  81. Your macarons look so beautiful & delicious! Do you think I could use ground pumpkin seeds instead of almond meal? My little brother is allergic to nuts too.

  82. Rachael, I think it could work. Dry the ground seeds in a very low oven for a little bit to get rid of moisture.

  83. hello there, i used dessicated coconut and it turn out like macaroons. do you think i can use coconut powder?
    desperate…

  84. How did you make your chocolate coconut macarons? I know you subbed coconut for the almond powder (I’m guessing you used flaked?) but how did you add in the chocolate? Is it cocoa powder and what ratio?

  85. Vera

    Have been looking for a nut free meringue recipe for ages. Can’t thank you enough. My daughter is deathly allergic to nuts. I am so excited to have found your recipe, thank you, thank you, thank you!!

    Important info for people who may be making these for nut allergic friends and family… mangos are directly related to cashews, so they should NOT give these nut allergic people the mango ganache filling. In some people it causes the same anaphylactic reaction. Just want everyone to stay safe.

    Thanks again, I am so excited to make these for my daughter this Christmas!

  86. Andrea, you are very welcome. And thank you for the mango info, I didn’t know about that. I guess, my kid is not allergic to cashews… Although, I’ll be careful with the mango from now on.

    Merry Christmas!!!

  87. These look amazing! Unfortunately, my daughter is allergic to nuts, sesame, and coconut! Wondering if you ran across any other substitutes. Thank you!

  88. Have you experimented with a nut-free Linzer cookie? Thanks.

  89. Jen, I haven’t tried any other substitutes, sorry.
    As for Linzer cookies, are there any seeds your daughter is not allergic to, like sunflour, pumpkin? I’m afraid they wouldn’t be quite Linzer, but the ground seeds would add similar texture. I’d probably double the spices in this case.

  90. Hi! I have a quick question. I’m supposed to grind the sesame seeds into a powder, right? should I grind the sesame, coconut and sugar together? Your pictures are amazing and I am truly inspired to make these in my own kitchen! My brother has a severe nut allergy, so I’m excited to be able to make a macaron for him that he can try. Thank you so much!

  91. Cassandra, thank you. Yes, you grind everything into very fine powder.

  92. Hi Vera! Would ground rice also work as a substitute for this recipe? Your photos look amazing by the way. Thanks, Madi :0)

  93. Madi, thank you. Rice flour wouldn’t work. French macarons are meringue-like cookies, with only crisp shell and not crunchy throughout but still. If you add flour (rice or wheat) to the meringue, you’ll get some cookies, but not these particular ones. Other seeds or nuts, on the other hand, should work.

  94. Thanks Vera. Going give the coconut and sesame seeds a try this week…….can’t wait to taste them!

  95. By the way, is it the same 50/50 ratio when making the coconut and chocolate flavor?

  96. Hi Vera. I’m going to try making the coconut and sesame Macarons but, was wondering about the coconut and chocolate ones. Is it the same ratio of 50/50 cocoa powder and ground coconut??? Thanks, Madi

  97. Madi, for the chocolate ones I used 68 g egg whites (about 2 whites), 45 g extra-fine sugar, 55g ground coconut, 100g confectioners’ sugar, and 15g Dutch-processed cocoa powder (sifted with dry ingredients).

  98. Hi sweet Xiaolu just told me about you and your nut free macarons so I googled. I launched a tree nut free and as it turns out some are complete nut free macaron series for the same reason you stated, my son has severe allergies. Though my son is all grown up I still felt a void (and he comes home during the summer and college vacations) and turned to my twitter friends who came up with amazing innovative versions! It’s an ongoing series so more scheduled to be published. Love your version here it’s fantastic!! You are welcome to join as well if you wish. I am now scheduling August. I can also link to this post if you wish in my recap in every guest post. I will look for you in FB I don’t know if you are on twitter I am @foodwanderings, FoodWanderings (FB) & Shulie FoodWanderings. Hope to hear back from you at the least I can link if you agree for me to. Shulie

  99. btw saw Jen’s comment and Igot one on my site, sesame free, nutfree and coconut free. ganache can be made with oconut milk or whipping cream. It’s the pumpkin seed matcha macaron by TheBraveTart

  100. Shulie, thank you. I will check your macarons for sure. I should try the pumpkin ones myself one day.

  101. wonderful and yours pictures are very beautiful.

    Vive les macarons français ;-)

  102. I tried the recipe on saturday with the 50/50 sesame and coconut flour, didn’t work. I am kinda frustrate. My daughter is allergic to nuts, so I thought to give this recipe a go, but with no success. My shells were not that light grey color at all, it was a lot darker. And it tasted more like cookies than Macaron. I cut the recipe in half, I wonder if that affect the result? Please help.

  103. Jo, to be honest, this particular macaron formula isn’t the best. It worked for me, but I knew exactly what to expect, knew the consistency of the batter. It was a daring bakers challenge, so we had to make this exact recipe, I just replaced the nuts with the seeds and coconut. If you tried any other macaron recipe before and it worked fine, stick to it, but use the seeds-coconut instead. Make sure they are very finely ground (it could have affected the color also). If you scale the recipe down carefully, it shouldn’t affect the result; I do it all the time.

  104. This is what I need. Thanks!

  105. THERE ARE STILL NUTS IN ALL OF THESE RECIPES!????

  106. Sophie, what do you mean? The original recipe calls for almond flour, but I used ground seeds and coconut instead (it’s written in brackets).

  107. Actually, it is very common to be allergic to coconut if you have a nut allergy (I am). The FDA actually recognizes it as a tree nut, so I would be careful before serving it to people with tree nut allergies. Regardless, the wasabi filling sounds so interesting!

  108. The coconut, can I use coconut powder?

  109. While I agree the photos in conjunction with the recipe are beautiful it is hard for me to believe you got the results in those pictures from the recipe provided. I am a Chef/Baker and have with the ease you have expressed made beautiful macaroons with almond flour. Using the 50/50 coconut flour and sesame flour through weight measurements the cookie of the macaroon turned out dense like shortbread. I followed your recipe with extreme precisn. On reading through the responses it seems one person actually made these and they too had the same result I did, a dense cookie. Your recipe says coconut flour so I used store bought coconut flour by Red Mills.In reading your response to the other baker who encountered difficulty I see that you did not use coconut flour but made your own starting with unsweetened dehydrated coconut and a process you described. I am going to retry this with that new detail and see if the results improve. Are there any other tricks or details you feel are left put of your original recipe in addition to the “coconut flour” preparation that mighthelp with a successful macaroon? Also what are the proportions of cocoa that you added to the chocolate macaroon? That was left out of your instructions as well. Thank you for your time.

  110. So I love this but i have no black sesame and I need to make them today so i was wondering if I just wanted to use coconut flour alone do i just substitute it 100% or should i use a lesser amount?

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