All Things Macarons
This is one of those posts that will be added onto frequently. I believe you can never have enough baking knowledge, especially when it comes to macarons. These little cookies can either make you ridiculously happy, or completely devastated. I know I’ve had my fair share of moments thinking that I would explode if I even heard the word “macaron”. There are so few ingredients in this particular cookie that technique is all it boils down to. Once you get your technique down, then you’ve got it!
Most macaron recipes are very similar. It’s the technique that makes them different. I try to be as descriptive as possible and provide good videos. If you still have questions or concerns, I will be happy to help!
Here’s a link to my recipe and video tutorial for Italian Macarons.
Things I highly suggest owning for macarons:
- Oven thermometer (a few degrees makes more of a difference than you could imagine)
- Candy thermometer (for the Italian method)
- Kitchen scale (I’ve tried weighing ingredients as well as measuring and weighing is the sure way to go)
- Silpat mat or silicone mat or parchment paper
- Quality, heavy duty pan (I’ve also heard of people layering 2 regular pans)
- A Food Processor (I use a Ninja Master Prep)
- Lots of will power and determination!
I mention an oven thermometer frequently in my recommendations when baking. Ovens are often calibrated incorrectly. If you want your recipes to bake correctly, you should always use your oven thermometer. I never bake without mine. I use the Italian method, and for this you will need a candy thermometer. I know there are macaron recipes that go by measurements. I’ve never successfully produced a macaron this way. I highly suggest weighing your ingredients out. Silicone mats and parchment paper will yield different “feet” on your macarons. I prefer the silicone mats. This is just my personal preference. You can find heavy duty pans easily that won’t break the bank. These will distribute heat more evenly and if your oven happens to have a “hot spot” it will help combat it. Don’t give up! Take lots of notes and make little adjustments as needed.
Aged egg whites vs Fresh egg whites:
Personally, I’ve never aged my egg whites. I can still produce a proper macaron with good feet and no hollows. I think this advice is a lot like mine. Some people have always aged their egg whites so that’s what they suggest. We usually stick with what works. Not aging them works for me, so that’s what I do.
Boxed egg whites vs Fresh egg whites:
I’ve actually made macarons with both. I can’t say definitively which works best because I was also still working on my technique. I will say that currently I use boxed egg whites. Once I developed the technique and recipe that worked for me, that’s what I was using. Remember, sticking with what works?
French method vs Italian:
I’ve used both. I have never produced a macaron with no hollows using the French method. While the Italian method does require a few extra steps, it’s much more stable of a recipe and method. I highly recommend trying this method first. I know it would have saved me a lot of time and ingredients if I would have started with it first. It looks a little daunting, but it’s very much worth the few extra steps.
Sifting vs Using a food processor:
I’ve done both methods here also. I prefer to put my almond flour and powdered sugar into a food processor, pulse for a few seconds, stir, and then quickly pulse again. This yields the best results for me so I recommend doing it that way.
Silpat (Silicone Baking Mat) vs Parchment Paper:
I’ve used (and still occasionally use) parchment paper. I’m not really a fan of it because I find that my macarons don’t retain their shape well and I have to peel them from the paper after their baked. With my silpat, the shells will pop right off with little to no effort and they keep their shape. I do notice that the “feet” will look differently with the silpat than they do with parchment paper. This doesn’t bother me. As long as they produce feet and aren’t hollow, that’s what I’m looking for. With that being said, if you’re making my Chocolate Italian Macarons, parchment paper is the way to go.
Aging your egg whites vs Not Aging:
To be honest, I’ve never aged my egg whites. More times than not, I use mine still cold. Then again, I also usually use boxed egg whites, which is something a lot of people don’t do. Like I’ve said, these are just things that I do to produce fluffy macarons.
More tips and troubleshooting:
- Make sure your equipment is clean. If there is any grease or residue in your mixing bowl, your egg whites will not whip up correctly. For this reason I discourage using plastic bowls. Metal or glass is definitely the way to go. You can take a bit of white vinegar or lemon and wipe your bowls out before using. This will wipe away any residue that may be there.
- After piping your shells, bang your pan on the counter a few times, spin the pan around, and bang a few more times. If any air bubbles remain, you can pop them with a toothpick.
- Dry your shells 20-30 minutes or until they’re no longer tacky when touched lightly.
- Let your shells cool on the silpat (or parchment paper) completely before attempting to remove. Once they’ve completely cooled they should pop right off. You can bend the silpat (or parchment paper) away from the macarons to help if they don’t release on their own.
- The color of your baked macarons will be slightly lighter than the batter. However, be careful not to add too much coloring as this will affect the liquid ratios of the batter. I prefer Wilton gel colors or Americolor for my macarons.
- I always used bottled water for my sugar syrup. Where I live we have hard water and it always makes my sugar water mixture crystallize. I recommend using bottled water whenever possible.
- If you find that your shells aren’t drying fast enough (or just taking much longer than they should) you can use a fan to help. Obviously you don’t want turn the fan on high, just a little extra air flow going their way will help dry them.