Before I wrote this blog post, I confess I knew nothing about Macarons, but after doing some research, I’ve learned that they’re typically made from almond meal, icing sugar, granulated sugar and they may sometimes contain artificial flavors and colors, as well as a shiny chocolate coating.
Yes, that’s not the full extent of ingredients manufacturers can use to make macarons, but let me say that the list started out with promising plant-based ingredients.
Unfortunately, I found out that macarons are typically not vegan because the standard recipe calls for egg-whites, and even in cases where egg-whites aren’t added to the recipe, they include other animal derivatives.
Even though you can find vegan macarons, you’re probably not going to find them everywhere, not even in supermarkets like Tesco or ASDA. Therefore, if you want macarons that badly, the best thing you can do is to put on your chef outfit and start recreating some of the popular vegan macaron recipes online.
What is the Difference Between Between Macarons and Macaroons?
As I was researching about Macarons, I came across Macaroons, which are like Macarons but the main ingredient is different, which for Macarons is almond meal and Macaroons is shredded coconut.
Macarons, or Parisian Macarons, are made from a batter of almond flour, egg whites, and confectioner’s sugar, that puffs up to form a round cookie. They then form these cookies into sandwich cookies filled with ganache, jam, or buttercream. They’re available in various flavors and colors.
Coconut Macaroons are made from shredded coconut held together by egg whites and granulated sugar.
They have a ragged surface and chewy interior and are often dipped in chocolate.
They’re different desserts but are often confused because they descend from the Original Macaroons, an Italian cookie made from chopped almonds, egg whites, and sugar. Needless to say, the name is also identical.
If you’re also interested in Coconut Macaroons, you can find a vegan version of these delicious desserts in popular UK supermarkets like Tesco or ASDA.
Non-Vegan Ingredients in Macarons
There are a couple of non-vegan ingredients that you may find in Macarons, but that will obviously depend on the brand or place selling the product.
Below I’m listing the common non-vegan ingredients in macarons so that you know exactly what to avoid when searching for vegan macarons. Even if you’re unable to find vegan alternatives right now, it’s just a matter of time until good vegan alternatives pop up on the horizon.
Egg whites are among the principal ingredients in Macarons, and it’s rare for a brand or pastry shop not to use it, particularly when creating meringue-based cookies like Macarons.
Bakers typically have two methods when creating merengue preparations: the French or the Italian method. The method used varies based on the brand or shop creating it, but it primarily involves whisking egg whites with sugar to create a fluffy, glossy, stable foam, that is deposited onto the selected baking medium.
Bakers separate the egg yolk from egg whites, because only with egg whites are they able to create properly textured meringue. They also add the sugar because it helps stabilize the egg white foam to make it thicker and less likely to collapse. It also makes the end product sweeter, which is basically the whole point.
To create the meringue for the macarons, egg whites are almost always included, but I know of macarons made without egg whites.
If you intend to make vegan macarons at home, a common replacement is aquafaba, which is the leftover liquid from cooking chickpeas. It’s an excellent binder that also enables you to create a foam capable of trapping air and give food structure, providing it with a fluffy crumb and lift.
Buttercream doesn’t come until later when the baker has given the macarons a shape and needs a filling to create a cookie sandwich. There are several fillings bakers can use, and one of the most used is buttercream.
You can make buttercream by creaming together fat (butter, margarine, or oil), powdered sugar and icing sugar until you get the right consistency and lightness. Naturally, dairy butter is not suitable for vegans, but you can use vegan butter, powdered sugar, and plant-based milk to make your own vegan buttercream at home.
Soy milk is usually the milk of choice, but coconut milk gives the buttercream an interesting flavor.
You’ll also see a lot of macarons filled with simple chocolate ganache, which is basically warmed up cream poured over chocolate. Once combined, it becomes a smooth mixture with a variety of uses.
Depending on the consistency which is controlled by the ratio of chocolate to cream, you can use ganache for filling cakes, glazing or dripping onto cakes, or in this case, to fill your vegan macaron.
For vegan ganache, you can use coconut cream and a bar of vegan chocolate. Nora Cooks has a luscious vegan chocolate ganache recipe that only requires two ingredients and it takes five minutes. Try it.
Unfortunately, the macarons you will find selling in most pastry shops or in the supermarket contain animal ingredients — such as egg whites, and milk-derivatives.
I also pointed out the different between Macarons and Macaroons because they’re technically not the same, even though they both descend from an OG Italian cookie. The name is also quite similar, so I understand why many people confuse both desserts.
If you’re trying to find vegan macarons but cannot do so, you can always search for vegan macaroons, as those are available in places like Tesco and ASDA. As for macarons, you’ll probably have some niche vegan shop that makes a vegan version, but I found nothing.
If you want to eat vegan macarons that badly, I recommend you give a vegan macaron recipe a try.
Can You Make Macarons Without Aquafaba?
Even though aquafaba is best thing for someone who doesn’t eat eggs, you can also replace it with potato whip, which is basically potato protein. It also has an emulsifying and gelling effect that is like aquafaba, and you can also use it to make macarons.
Can You Make Macarons Without Almond Flour?
If you don’t have almond flour, search for coconut, peanut, or sesame flour. If you’re allergic to peanut or sesame seeds (which is quite common), there are also pumpkin seeds, which people are less likely to be allergic to, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. It turns out that they don’t have a botanical relationship to nuts, so they’re a safer or more reliable alternative.
Can You Make Macarons Without Sugar?
I’m not sure if you can make macarons without sugar because it plays an important role in the merengue’s structure by providing it with stability and thickness. Without sugar, the merengue might fall apart, and you might not give the macarons their shape.
With that being said, I found a recipe where the author uses powdered xylitol to replace sugar. Xylitol is found in small amounts in many fruits and vegetables, but we also produce tiny quantities via normal metabolism.