Macaron Tips and Tricks
Baking macarons is hard, y’all. It requires a little patience, some technique and a lot of practice.
I’ve been watching a lot of videos of professional bakers making them and taking notes of their tips and tricks, and even though I’m not an expert, I thought I would shared what I learned.
I attached below a simple vanilla recipe, no fancy flavours, no muss no fuss. It’s best to start simple.
- Almond meal is not the same as almond flour. Depending on where you live, almond flour might be hard to find. Almond meal is coarser and it needs to be pulverized further on a blender or food processor, otherwise your macaron will turn out grainy and ugly.
- Sift everything twice. Macarons are very delicate cookies, if you don’t sift everything, the big chunks of sugar and flour will alter the consistency and texture.
- Measure after sifted. After you sifted everything twice, you will be left with less quantity of ingredients than originally measured, specially almond meal. Make sure you make up for the loss by adding more quantities than the recipe calls for.
- Choose a glass, ceramic or stainless steel bowl. No plastic.
- Before you crack the eggs, make sure the bowl is clean, meaning no oil, or soap residue. You can wipe it with some vinegar to make sure everything in grease free. Same goes for the whisk attachment.
- Egg whites must be at room temperature or they won’t fluff as much.
- Cream of tartar is optional, but useful. It is used to stabilize egg whites and to help achieve the stiff peaks, you can substitute it for white vinegar or lime juice.
- Add sugar to the meringue slowly a little at a time. By adding too much too fast you risk deflating the eggs and turning the thing into marshmallow.
- If adding flavour and/or colour, stay away from liquids. Zests or extracts and gel colour only.
- Don’t over whip the eggs, once stiff peaks have been formed, leave it alone. The right consistency is achieved when you turn the bowl upside down and the eggs don’t move.
- Folding the flour/sugar into the meringue is the most crucial step of the entire process. Add the dry ingredients by sifting them over the meringue and fold it with a soft spatula.
- Over mixing or under mixing are the most common problems with baking a macaron. You really need to pay close attention to the consistency of the batter.
- Most professionals describe the right consistency as hot lava, which is so weird, but really, once you know what it should look like, there’s no better way to describe it. If you lift the spatula and the batter just falls and stays there, holding its shape, is not ready yet. If it falls and incorporates with the rest, you went to far. It should spread out a little, but still maintain its shape.
Piping and Patience
- Piping the cookies is really a matter of practice, all the tips in the world won’t help you make consistent shapes unless you practice. Using a template that you can make it yourself with a round object (such as a shot glass) and a pen will make your life easier though. It also helps to count to three or four every time you pipe, then all the cookies will have more or less the same amount of batter. If all else fails, you can always buy one of those macaron making mats to help you out.
- After piping, gently bang the tray against the table a couple of times to release air bubbles. You can also pop them with a toothpick one by one if you have the stamina.
- Your patience will be tested now. You have to wait before baking them. Macarons need to dry out in room temperature before going in the oven. Depending on how hot and how humid it is where you live, this can take a while. You know they are ready to be baked when the are dry to the touch.
- Cookies always should be baked in the middle rack of the oven, one tray at a time.
- The cookies need to cool completely before you handle them.
- Cookies should be baked at a low temperature (150*C) for no longer then 13 minutes.
- Perfect consistency of a macaron is a thin crispy outer layer and a slightly chewy inside.
Filling, Assembling and Storing
- Pair cookies by likeness. If your piping skills are still not perfect, take some time to organize cookies by size so you can sandwich two similar ones together.
- Make a designated area for filling, a smaller circle inside the cookie, without touching the edges. The filling will spread once you squeeze them together.
- Macarons should be stored in an airtight container in the fridge right up until serving time. If you leave them out, they will harden.
- 1 cup icing sugar 125g
- ½ cup almond flour or meal 60g
- 2 egg whites 75g-90g
- 1 pinch cream of tartar
- ¼ cup granulated sugar 50g
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 pinch salt
- blue gel food dye (optional – used to offset the yellow of almond flour)
- ¼ cup unsalted butter 60g
- ¾ cup icing sugar 100g
- 1 tsp milk
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, place a template beneath
- Prepare a piping bag with a large round tip
- Swift the dry ingredients two or three times and discard the rough bits, measure again
- Blast almond meal with a food processor or blender until you get a very fine grain (if using almond flour, skip this step)
- Add icing sugar and salt and pulse until thoroughly combined. Set aside.
- Whip the eggs with cream of tartar until starts to foam
- Continue to whip the egg whites adding granulated sugar bit by bit until glossy stiff peaks form
- Add flavour and food coloring, if using and mix
- Fold in the almond flour and mix with a spatula until smooth, sticky and glossy
- Transfer batter to the piping bag, pipe the cookies onto the baking sheet
- Gently tap the bottom of the baking sheets on your counter to rid any large air bubbles
- Allow cookies to dry out at room temperature for about 1 hour
- Bake in middle rack in a preheated oven at 160°C for 10-12 minutes
- Allow to cool completely before assembling
- Cream butter until soft and smooth
- Add sugar, milk, and vanilla and mix until light and fluffy
- Transfer filling to a piping bag, sandwich it between two cookies
- Store macarons in the fridge in an airtight container