No feet? Cracked top? Hollow shells? If you’ve ever made French macarons, chances are you’ve experienced one (or all) of these. But don’t fret, even professionals encounter difficulties from time to time. While these pretty cookies have been touted as one of the hardest confectioners to master, they are not impossible to make. Below are some tips that I’ve learned to help you make the perfect macarons. You may not become an expert overnight, but they will help lessen some frustrations when learning how to make macarons.
PREPARING YOUR INGREDIENTS
- Use a digital scale to help get the exact measurement of your ingredients.
- Sift your almond flour and powdered sugar to get rid of big, chunky pieces to help prevent lumpy, grainy tops.
- Age your egg whites by preparing them at least a day earlier, as this will result in stronger shells and better texture. But if you don’t have the time, or you’ve forgotten this step, put the egg whites into the microwave for 10 seconds at medium power.
MAKING THE MERINGUE
- Ensure that your mixing bowl is free of dust and oil before pouring the egg whites. Even a little dirt can affect the outcome of your meringue.
- When you’ve reached stiff peaks, stop mixing. You do not want to over mix, lest you end up with no feet and hollow shells. Also, the meringue should be shiny and glossy (not dry).
MACARONAGE (THE MOST CRUCIAL STAGE)
- Fold your meringue into the dry ingredients in batches. This will help you regulate your folding. You might need to do between 40-60 folds to get the proper consistency.
- Test your batter by lifting a small amount and dropping it back in the bowl. If it flows back into the batter within 10 seconds, it is ready. You can also try doing an “8” pattern to make sure it is ready.
- While it’s crucial not to over mix, be careful also not to under mix, as this may result in dull, lumpy shells.
- When piping, use a template and a big round tip like the Wilton Tip 1A or 2A to help you create a consistent cookie size.
BAKING THE MACARONS
- Know your oven. Sometimes, even if you’ve followed the recipe instructions to a T, you could still end up with a bad batch if you’re not familiar with how your oven works. For example, say your recipe suggests baking at 300 degrees. Depending on your oven, this might be too hot, so you’ll have to bring it down to a notch lower. You can see how oven temperature affects macarons in the photo below. The darker blue macaron on the left is starting to burn, while the blue macaron on the right is bright and vibrant.
- Give your macarons time to cool off before taking them off of the parchment paper or silicone mat to protect the bottom of the cookies and prevent them from breaking. You may want to transfer the cookies (while still on the parchment or mat!) to a cooling grid to prevent them from further baking.
While it’s very tempting to eat these cookies immediately, it’s best to store them in an airtight container and keep in the refrigerator for one or two days to give the filling and the cookies time to establish the flavor. Trust me, it’ll be worth the wait!
Making macarons takes practice and a lot of trial and error. Adjust as needed and take notes as you make them. If you’re a beginner, don’t feel intimated. Try our French Macaron Recipe to help you get started. I’ve never made macarons before until I joined a class at The Wilton School where I learned a lot of great techniques including proper batter preparation and hand piping. And if you’re looking to give these cookies your own personal touch, check out our post on Macaron Decorating Ideas for some inspiration.
Got some macaron tips or more questions? Share them by leaving us a comment below!