Making French Macarons – An Introduction

macaron1.jpg

The topic of French macaron making is subject of many controversies and confusion. Like most other recipes out there, there are countless interpretations to making this unique pastry. Unfortunately, many home bakers and even aspiring pastry chefs mistakenly believe that there is some mystical skill needed to making macarons. Granted, making macarons is not something a beginner should tackle in their early stages of training without proper supervision but anyone with enough practice can successfully make a macaron with a flat smooth top with its associated ‘foot’ (a risen outer edge of the macaron).

At its most basic level, a macaron is essentially a delicate baked biscuit comprised of whipped egg whites mixed with sugar, almond powder, and some form of flavoring, coloring, or stabilising agent. That’s it. The list of components is simple but the execution of making macarons is where the confusion starts.

There are two methods to whipping egg whites for macarons; the uncooked meringue method and the Italian meringue method.

Uncooked Meringue Method

The uncooked meringue method typically involves whipping raw egg whites until stiff in form. Some recipes call for mixing egg whites with castor sugar while others omit sugar altogether. Recipes that call for whipping egg whites with sugar will achieve a more stable meringue (i.e. batter not deflating as quickly) than those without. Whipping egg whites with sugar does increase the sweetness factor in the overall batter so proper judgment will have to be made to decide how much sugar to add.

Italian Meringue Method

An Italian Meringue provides the most stability within the meringue family and is essentially whipped egg whites combined with a cooked sugar mixture. This method involves cooking a sugar mixture to a specific temperature and then pouring this hot mixture into the whipped egg whites. The meringue is then cooled to a workable temperature.

The whipped egg whites are then folding into the dry ingredients. For the uncooked meringue method, the dry ingredients are folded directly into the meringue. For the Italian meringue method, the dry ingredients are mixed with a small portion of raw egg whites to form a paste and then folded with the Italian meringue, Be careful not to over-mix the batter at this stage. After folding, the batter should resemble thick flowing magma and if you lift this “magma” with your mixing spoon, the batter should lift and slowly fall back into place resulting in a shiny smooth surface.

Piping macaron batter requires some practice and for those people not familiar with using a piping bag, this activity may pose quite a challenge. Of course, practice does makes perfect so it may take a bit of time before you can achieve perfectly round and consistently shaped macarons piped across the baking sheet. The key to success is to hold the piping tip directly (perpendicular) over the parchment paper or silpat to pipe the batter and then flicking the tip upwards with a twist of your wrist to finish piping

macaron3.jpg

Which whipped egg white method is best? In my experience, the Italian meringue method will provide the most stable and consistent results in macaron making. You will have a much smaller probability of over-mixing your batter and you can produce larger volumes of batter without worry of immediate deflation. In my opinion, the benefits of stability associated with Italian meringue far outweigh the extra precision needed to mix the cooked sugar mixture with the whipped egg whites.

Here’s my recipe for Chocolate Macarons:

macaron4.jpg

Chocolate Macarons (Yield = ~100 shells or 50 sandwiched macarons)

Ingredients

150g Almond Powder (finely ground)
150g Confectioner’s Sugar
60g Egg Whites

50g Unsweetened Chocolate (Valrhona’s 100% Cocoa Pate. If you don’t have Cocoa Pate, you can substitute this with the most bitter chocolate you have. The more bitter, the better)
6g Cocoa Powder (Dutch Processed)

60g Egg Whites
150g Granulated Sugar
30g Water

3g Carmine Red Food Coloring (Optional but this will give your macarons a nice reddish brown color. Without this food coloring, your macaron will have a light brown color more resembling light coffee as shown in my picture above)

Instructions

1. Preheat convection oven to 160 degrees Celsius or 170 degrees Celsius in a conventional oven

Almond Powder/Confectioner’s Sugar Paste.
2. In a large mixing bowl, mix the almond powder, confectioner’s sugar and 60g egg whites together until you form a wet paste. Set aside.

Chocolate Mixture
3. In a separate bowl, melt chocolate in a bain marie or microwave and mix cocoa powder into the warm melted chocolate. Set aside.

Italian Meringue
4. In a small pot, add water and granulated sugar. Put pot on stove over a medium fire and cook the sugar mixture. With a digital thermometer, measure the temperature of the mixture. When the temperature reaches 115 degrees Celsius, immediately start mixing the egg whites with the mixer at medium speed. Continue to cook and monitor the sugar mixture and when it reaches a temperature of 121 degrees Celsius, turn off the fire, immediately pull the pot from the stove and pour the sugar syrup down the side of the mixing bowl. Ensure you do not pour the mixture onto the whisk in the mixture. The sugar syrup should slide down the side of the mixing bowl into the whipped egg whites.
5. You will see the volume of the whipped egg whites visibly increase. Continue to mix at medium speed until the mixing bowl is slight warm or cool to the touch. The Italian meringue will thicken as it cools down.

Final Mixture
6. While the Italian meringue has cooled, add the chocolate mixture to the Italian meringue. Ensure the chocolate is fully mixed with the Italian meringue. Add red food coloring (optional) and mix thoroughly.
7. Stop the mixer and fold in the Italian meringue/chocolate mixture into the Almond powder/confectioner’s sugar paste. Once folded, you should obtain a thick flowing batter similar to “magma”. The batter is now ready for piping.

Piping
8. Put two baking sheets together (both baking sheets should touch without a gap in between and should be one top of one another). Lay a piece of parchment or silpat on the doubled baking sheet.
9. Put batter into a piping bag with a 1cm round piping tip.
10. Pipe batter into 2.5cm rounds across the silpat or parchment paper. The rounds will spread somewhat. That’s normal.
11. When completed piping, bang the baking sheets twice against the table to remove any residual air bubbles in the piped rounds. Let the piped batter rest for 15-30 minutes.

Baking
12. Bake macarons for approximately 14min – 17min depending on oven type (Convection oven = less time / Conventional oven = more time). Every oven is different so it’s important to keep watch of the baking progress during the tail end of the prescribed time. Adjust timing where necessary.
13. Once done, pull tray from oven and leave macarons to cool down before peeling off.

Filling
14. Fill macaron with filling of your choice. Typical choices include dark chocolate ganache or salted caramel ganache.

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81 Responses to “Making French Macarons – An Introduction”

  1. TP Says:

    Oh my word! Peter, you must be a clairvoyant! It was at the tip of my tongue to ask you about macarons just now. This is next on my To Do/Try List. I’ve been reading online and general consensus seem to say the Italian Meringue method is the best. BTW, the patisserie of PH teaches the french method, no?

    Thanks for sharing!

  2. stickofachef Says:

    Hi TP,

    The Patisserie of PH teaches the uncooked French Meringue method for their macaron recipe. I don’t have the book with me right now but if I’m not mistaken, the macaron recipes in PH10 are done via the Italian Meringue recipe. In Alain Ducasses’ Pastries and Desserts book, both types of recipes are provided.

    Do let me know how your macaron making session turns out. Don’t hesitate to ask for advice or help if needed! I’ll try to help out in any way I can. :-)

    Happy baking!

    • Julia Says:

      Hi! I have just returned from a trip to Ile de Rey and sampled first Macaron and now, like all holidays I go on am now on a mission to find copycat recipies and stumbled across your site. Thank goodness as I was secretly thinking I was slowly going mad as I can’t stop thinking about those little tasty bits of heaven!!! Do you have a very basic recipe to give me (without the chocolate) involving the Italian method (I am a pain in the butt perfectionist so may as well start with the most trusted first). Also I have a fan assisted oven so would I need to adjust the temp? Thanks much from a now macaron obsessed fan in England

      • stickofachef Says:

        Hi Julia,

        Glad you are now a fan of macarons. You can take the chocolate macaron recipe I posted in my blog and simply remove the chocolate ingredients (unsweetened chocolate and cocoa powder). In place of the chocolate, I imagine you would add some other flavoring like coffee or other flavored extract. If you do add any sort of flavored extract, you may want to add around 5-10g of that liquid flavoring with a bit of coloring to enhance the look of the macaron. Follow the instructions of the recipe. In instruction number 2, add the flavored extract. Omit instruction number 3 and 6. Follow the rest of the instructions accordingly.

        If you are using a fan assisted oven, you may want to lower your temperature by 15-25 degrees celsius. It all depends on the unique characteristics of your oven. Through a bit of trial and error, you should be able to find the right oven temperature for baking your macarons without browning the top of the shells.

        Good luck!

  3. TP Says:

    Morning, Peter! Question for today ;)

    Given our hot and humid home ambient temperature, can I keep the unfilled macarons for 2 days in an airtight container?

    TIA!

  4. stickofachef Says:

    Morning TP,

    It’s better to keep the unfilled macarons in an airtight container in the fridge rather than outside in the humid weather. In fact, you can freeze the unfilled (or even filled) macaron shells and when you need them, just take them down into the fridge to defrost overnight. This is how you would store macarons in bulk. The freezer is your important friend when producing macarons in volume. Btw, when you are piping the macaron batter onto the parchment, try to work within an aircon environment if possible. The humidity here in Southeast Asia will cause the macaron to wrinkle when you bake the shells. High humidity does cause some problems for macaron making…

    Btw, by keeping the macaron shells in the fridge, it will make the shells even more tender and that is the best way to enjoy the macarons at its best!

    Hope this helps. Do let me know if you have any additional questions! :-)

  5. TP Says:

    That is most helpful, thanks!! Have a great day!

  6. Raymondnd Says:

    thanks much, guy

  7. dizzeecake Says:

    Thank you! I have been browsing macaron recipes lately- they are on my to-do list, and your blog has been very helpful. I have been reading about almond powder vs. flour, meal, etc. Can you buy almond powder and use as is? Or can you finely grind your own? What would you recommend and where do you find yours? Thanks again!!

  8. stickofachef Says:

    Hi dizzeecake,

    Thanks for visiting. I’m glad you found my blog helpful.

    Yes, you can buy almond powder and use as is. Although you can use whole almonds and grind your own, it is more convenient to buy almonds in powder form and use it that way. The almond powder that is typically sold in stores will tend to have a rather coarse texture. You’ll most probably need to sift out the smaller particles and grind the remaining larger granules in a nut grinder or food processor. The way to do this is to mix some of the coarse almond powder with confectioner’s sugar in a nut grinder or food processor and grind the powder into finer granules. By doing this, you’ll be able to achieve the smooth flat tops typically associated with macarons.

    I buy my almond powder in Singapore and Malaysia from bakery ingredient shops and they tend to be coarse. I always have to do at least one round of grinding to get it down to a finer texture.

    I’ve visited your blog and see that you live in California. You are very fortunate since there is a company in California called Mandelin (www.almondpaste.com) that sells almond flour that is perfect for making macarons. They have a product called “Blanched Almond Meal: Fine (Flour)” that is ground to a flour consistency. You can use this almond flour out of the box to obtain perfectly smooth macarons!

    Btw, your blog is very nice. You do have a talent for baking. :-)

    Hope this helps.

  9. dizzeecake Says:

    Thank you! You have been very helpful, and I appreciate it dearly. I will have to check out that website or try my best at making my own. Wish me luck at my first try at macarons! Well, when I finally find the time to do it- but hopefully soon! Thank you again.

  10. stickofachef Says:

    You’re more than welcome. Good luck on your macaron making venture!

  11. Demelzasn Says:

    well done, guy

  12. Eunice Says:

    why thank you for this! i have 250g of almond meal in my cupboard but i’ve been rather fearful in trying. i will document my macaron adventure after mother’s day – the day i finish baking the fearful amount of orders for cupcakes ;)

    thanks again!!

  13. stickofachef Says:

    Hi Eunice,

    Thanks for visiting. You’re very welcome. Good luck on your attempt at making macarons!

  14. Lyn Says:

    Dear stickofachef,

    I’ve been making disastrous macarons for the past 4 nights. Each batch comes out different but all are same in the fact that they are disastrous – no feet, cracked top, bubble in the centre – although not one batch carries all these disastrous traits.

    I’ve used the french method of whipping with sugar and folding in whipped whites to sifted almond and icing sugar.

    Questions: Do we have to really use icing sugar without starch? Is this a strict rule? What is the inpact on the macarons?

    Why doesn’t my macaron rise? Which part went wrong that the feet didn’t appear?

    Please help! Thanks!

  15. stickofachef Says:

    Hi Lyn,

    I’m sorry to see that you are having problems with making macarons. There are many reasons why macarons may not turn out right but I’ll try to address the issues you’ve brought up in your query above:

    No, it is not necessary to use icing sugar without starch. I have used icing sugar bought from retail shops in Singapore and Malaysia and have never had any problems with them. I would not focus on this area as a concern for the issues you are facing in making your macarons.

    Macarons may not rise because you are overmixing the batter. Using the French method, the whipped egg whites are more unstable as compared to whipped egg whites achieved through the Italian Meringue method. Have you whippped the egg whites to stiff peaks? It’s important you do so to ensure the whipped egg whites are tight when folding in the dry ingredients.

    When you overmix the batter, you have deflated too much air bubbles and there isn’t enough air bubbles to expand with the heat to push the top of the macaron up to expose the wet part of the batter.

    Did you sufficiently dry your piped macaron batter before putting the trays in the oven. A sufficiently dry top will ensure the pressure from the heated oven will cause the air bubbles to expand inside the piped macaron batter and will push up the macaron top to reveal the inner wet part of the batter at the base, leading to what is termed as the “foot” of the macaron.

    In Singapore’s humidity, you may have problems drying out your macaron if you are not in an air con environment. Touch the top of your piped macaron batter after 20-30 minutes and if it’s still wet to the touch, then you will get macarons with cracked tops. Ensure the tops are dry and you will have better chances of success.

    The type of oven type may also affect your results. Some convection/microwave ovens may not bake your macarons properly. Using a conventional oven will generally yield the best results.

    These are some of the possibilities you may be facing in your macaron making sessions.

    I’ve provided the following links to a reader in a previous blog to help them find the proper info for making macarons. I hope it helps you.

    (From Professional Pastry Books – December 31, 2007)
    *********************
    If you would like to get some tips on making macarons, you can go to egullet and read this thread which should give you some pointers on what you are doing wrong:
    http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=24767

    You can also get some excellent tips from this link as well:
    http://www.syrupandtang.com/200712/la-macaronicite-1-an-introduction-to-the-macaron/
    *******************

    Good luck

  16. Lyn Says:

    Thanks so much for your kind advice. Just to update: made 2 more batches last night and again no feet. The texture was soft and chewy on the inside with a slightly crisp top. Just no feet.

    I visited the links you sent me. My whipped whites and final “magma” batter look like those on Syrup and Tang. But after piping, my macarons retain their height more than the slightly flatter ones on Syrup and Tang. So i reckon that i have to look at the way i fold the mixture (the overmixing bit) and my oven temperature. Is that right?

    Also, any tips on the mixing bit so that i don’t overdo or underdo it?

    So sorry to take up your comments page with all my questions and thanks for your patience. Appreciate it lots!

  17. stickofachef Says:

    Hi,

    You’re welcome.

    Typically, after you pipe the macarons on your baking pan, you bang the pan on table 2 to 3 times to flatten out the batter.

    I suspect several things. Either you are still over mixing your batter or your oven temperature is too low or the oven is distributing uneven heat which is not heating the bottom of the baking sheets enough to make the macarons rise. Do you use an oven thermometer to test the oven to ensure you are baking at the right temperature? If your macarons are still cracking at the top, you have to ensure you are also double panning your baking pans to insulate the bottom layer from too high heat.

    Sometimes, you also have to go back to the basics and ask yourself if the recipe you are using is reliable or not.

    Experience is the best gauge to determine whether you over or under fold. The best practical advice I can give you when folding is that it is done when you have reached the “magma” state.

    Hope this helps.

  18. Marlon Says:

    Dear stickofachef,

    Thank you so much for posting your recipe and instructions for making French macarons. I was so scared that the macarons might turn to be a disaster, thankfully, the result was really good! There’s shiny shell, crunchy outside and chewy inside! And best of all, it rose with tiny cute little feet! My girlfriend was really impressed, she said that she wasn’t expecting for first time maker of macarons to be that good! Thank you so much!!!

    Next time, I would be trying cashew nuts since its pretty cheaper than almond nuts here in Manila. Would there be a problem if I use cashew meal?

    Marlon

  19. stickofachef Says:

    Hi Marlon,

    Congrats! I’m really happy to hear that you had such good results on your first try. Although I’ve never made macarons with ground cashew nuts, I don’t see why it wouldn’t work. However, I would expect the macarons made with ground cashew nuts to impart a different taste than that of a macaron made with almond powder. If you do try it with ground cashew nuts, I would be interested to hear about your results!

    Happy baking!

  20. Marlon Says:

    Dear Stickofachef,

    Just to update you, the cashew nuts worked perfectly on my macarons! In fact, I gave samples of almond and cashew macarons to my girlfriend and to my mom – my mom said she liked the cashew (i colored it yellow and the almond violet) better. My girlfriend said they tasted the same!

    To conclude: they’re both perfect!

    Thanks,
    Marlon

  21. stickofachef Says:

    Hi Marlon,

    That’s great to hear. Now, you have found a suitable and more cost effective nut powder alternative to almonds! I’m also happy to see that you are having continued success with your macaron making. One day if you have the time, you should post some pictures for all to see!

    Congrats! :-)

  22. Marlon Says:

    Hello there stickofchef,

    Surely. Will post some photos. Though I still have to practice piping them out to the baking sheet, my hands are so shaky even if I follow the circle lining – they come in different sizes :-( At least the taste is good, and the little feet, they’re so cute!

    I know practice makes it perfect, though any tip you can give to me?

    Marlon

  23. stickofachef Says:

    Hi Marlon,

    Thanks for dropping by. It’s great to hear that you are successful in your macaron making even though the shapes aren’t nice and even. You’re right in that practice does make perfect.

    The only tip I can give you is to have steady hands and apply even pressure when squeezing the piping bag. As you know, piping is a skill that cannot be be perfected by words alone. Only through regular practicise will you become good at it.

    Look forward to seeing your photos soon! :-)

  24. rosanne Says:

    lyn

    I use an insulated cookie sheet and it makes a world of diffrence for me.
    I’ve also had great success with the uncooked method….
    also try and use egg whites that have been left out over night.

    good luck.

  25. Sufrie Says:

    Hello,
    I’ve made 2 batches of macarons (red & blue) that were pretty successful, eg feet and stuff, but the top is dull and not as shiny as those i’ve seen on the net! I think my macarons are also slightly burnt as there are brown edges.

    How do i go about creating shiny and colourful macaron??

  26. stickofachef Says:

    Hi,

    Thanks for writing in.

    Intensity in color will tend to vary depending on what kind (or brand) of food coloring you are using. I have found that using powered food coloring doesn’t give me the color intensity at that of a highly concentrated food coloring. I always get the best results from using Chefmaster’s liqua-gel coloring. They come in a myriad of colors and it’s up to you to choose the one or ones (if you want to combine colors) that best fits your needs.

    Macarons after baking will come out somewhat dull since it is dried from the baking process. Shininess tends to come from condensation forming on the macaron shell after you’ve pulled it out of the fridge.

    Your macarons are slightly overbaked if you are seeing brown edges at the foot.

    Hope this helps.

  27. joeel1 Says:

    hey there..

    i dont know why, perhaps i have some kind or curse with macaron.
    i still havent get my ‘feet’.
    but i notice 1 thing.
    the batter doesnt develop the so called ‘skin’ even after 1 hour.
    it still stick on my finger when i touch it.

    perhaps i’m better joining any macaron class.
    what do you think?..

  28. stickofachef Says:

    Hi Joeel1,

    Are you letting your piped macaron batter dry in a high humidity environment? If there is high humidity, your macaron batter may not dry properly. I would recommend you place your macaron batter in an air conditioned room to dry.

    I would recommend you hold off a little while longer to join a macaron making class. From what I can see, I think you just need a few tweaks in your methods to experience success in macaron making. High humidity does plays havoc on macaron making.

    Hope this helps.

  29. joeel1 Says:

    thanks for the reply..

    but, 1 thing that wonders me, instead of the batter got lift up (thus create feet) during baking, it just expanding in radius.
    but i believe that it has something to do with not developing skin properly.

    i also read it somewhere and saw on youtube that mentioned that you can actually bake the batter straight away after piping.

    • Alexis Says:

      do you have the correct temperature on your oven? I have to admit, the 1st TWO times I tried to make macarons I was so intent on getting the mixture right for the batter that I set my oven to 150 as instructed… I live in the US, so I actually needed my oven at 350 (duh). When the temp wasn’t high enough they would not rise… try raising your temp, even a little bit… Hope this helps! :)

      • stickofachef Says:

        Hi Alexis,

        Thanks so much for your comment.

        What you are describing with respect to baking temperature is one of the most challenging aspects of recipe writing. My specific oven is calibrated differently and thus, I bake my macarons at that temperature. For your oven, you may bake it at a higher temperature since it has different characteristics of its own. My best advice for anyone who follows any recipe is to view the baking temperature as a guideline and adjust it accordingly to the unique characteristics of your own oven.

        Thanks again for your constructive comment.

        Cheers!

  30. stickofachef Says:

    Hi Joeel1,

    Yes, it is critical to have the top of the macaron batter dried out with a skin before you can obtain a ‘foot’ in your baked macaron. Otherwise, it will expand outwards and crack as it bakes.

    If you make your macarons via the Italian meringue method, you will notice that the macaron batter will dry quicker than that of the French meringue method. Thus, assuming you are working in a cool and low humidity environment, you can get away with drying your piped macaron batter within 10-15 minutes and bake with success.

    If you make a sizable batch of macaron batter, you will typically take 10-15 minutes (or longer) to pipe all the macaron rounds on the baking sheets. After you finish piping, you will notice that the first pan that you piped would have been drying out for at least 10-15 minutes already. In this case, you can bake the first pan and should experience no problems. Perhaps this is what you read and saw on youtube when you commented that you can “…bake the batter straight away after piping.”.

  31. joeel1 Says:

    perhaps i should give it try one more time.
    but, it is necessary for me to age the eggs for italian meringue method?…

  32. stickofachef Says:

    Hi Joeel1,

    Although it helps, it isn’t necessary. I personally don’t do it myself. Just make sure you put your piped macaron batter in an air con room to dry for at least 10-15 minutes. I would suggest you pipe your macaron batter on small baking sheets so that you don’t spoil a big batch if something goes wrong. By using small baking sheets, you can have multiple batches to test.

    Good luck!

  33. joeel1 Says:

    do you think, is it ok for me for instead leaving the batter in air-condition room, to leave the batter in oven with temperature set to 35 – 40 degree celcius for 1/2 an hour to an hour?…

  34. stickofachef Says:

    Hi Joeel1,

    I’ve also never seen an oven where you can set the temperature to 35-40 degrees celsius. What kind of oven are you using? I would imagine 35-40 degrees is a rather high temperature to be drying your macaron batter. You want a cool environment with low humidity to dry your macaron batter.

    Hope this helps.

  35. joeel1 Says:

    thanks..

    i will try the air-condition room first… ;-p

    btw, i’m using die dietritch oven.
    the lowest setting is 35 degree celcius.

  36. alexia Says:

    Hi
    i’ve been making macarons but mine are always chewier and wetter than usual and the feet do not rise equally (i.e: one side rises and the other doesn’t). I use the italian meringue method and dry my macarons in an air con room for an hour before baking them at 160 for 15 mins. Do u have any suggestions how i can improve?

  37. stickofachef Says:

    Hi Alexia,

    Thanks for dropping by. Without looking at your recipe, it would be difficult to troubleshoot the reason why your macarons are chewier and wetter than usual. As for an unequal rise, I would attribute this to a problem with uneven temperatures in your oven. You probably have some hot spots in your oven that is making your oven distribute heat unevenly. The way to resolve this is to turn your trays around at certain time intervals to give your pans more even heat. Eventually, I would suggest you figure out where your oven hot spots are by placing an oven thermometer in each part of the oven to gauge what the temperatures are around the inside cavity.

    Hope this helps.

  38. You Fei Says:

    Hi,

    I love the way you described in so much detail on making macarons. I tried making some using the french meringue method.

    The batter felt a little runny (i.e. i had to keep holding it upwards so it doesn’t flow on to the tray) i TRIEd to pipe them in 2cm rounds though it was pretty uneven. I left them to dry and then popped them into the oven.

    They rose beautifully and grew “feet” within a min or two after putting into the oven. however, by the 4th or 5th min, the macarons started turning brown, so i just quickly removed them. (i baked them in 160C)

    I am using an in-built oven with a oven thermometer. Oh, another thing i realised, the macarons rose beautifully at first with nice nice feet, but the feet became smaller and less visible as it baked away. Is this normal?

    I am using the top and bottom heat for my oven setting and was wondering if i could save the browned tops by just selecting the bottom heat?

    Needless to say, my matcha macarons turned out more like coffee ones =X Btw, the recipe i used is from here:
    http://www.latartinegourmande.com/2006/12/10/macarons-or-victim-of-a-food-fashion-les-macarons-ou-victime-dune-mode-culinaire/#comment-602995

  39. stickofachef Says:

    Hi You Fei,

    Thanks for dropping by my blog. I’m glad you had reasonable success with your macarons.

    You definitely should use only bottom heat only in your oven. The top heat is making the top of your macarons brown too quickly.

    It is very normal for macarons to rise up high when it first bakes and then settle down after the macaron shells are fully baked.

    Do continue your efforts to make that perfect macaron. You are so close and with a few adjustments, you will achieve success!

    Good luck.

    • Polly Says:

      Hi,
      My oven has only 2 functions: broil (top heat) and bake (top and bottom heat). Should I remedy by putting a baking tray at the top shelf to “block off” the heat from the top heating element since one of your advice is to use bottom heat only?
      Also, your recommendation to stack 2 baking trays is to insulate the macarons from strong bottom heat which diminishes the prospects of the little feet forming. Should I be baking the macarons in the middle of the oven or the lower third by adjusting the wire shelf?

      • stickofachef Says:

        Hi Polly,

        Yes, putting a baking tray on the top shelf should help. Without the baking tray to shield the top heating element, you risk overbaking and may develop brownness on the shell of your macarons.

        Yes, my recommendation to stack two baking trays together is to lower the bottom heat during the baking process. If the bottom heat is too high, you risk developing cracks on the top of your macaron shells as well as over-drying the bottom of your shells. Without proper heat regulation, you’ll end up with a macaron that is crunchy inside and out rather than chewy inside with a slight perceivable crust on the outside (which is what you are trying to achieve).

        Depending on the size of your oven, you will have to test to see which rack produces the best results based on the characteristics of your oven type. I would suggest trying to bake one tray of macarons on the middle shelf and to see what type of results you get there, and then try another test on the bottom tray to see what kind of results you get. Generally, the middle shelf should be okay but if you have top heat that may brown your shells too fast, you may need to put it on the bottom tray.

        In summary, you’ll need to fine tune your baking process to ensure you obtain the best results based on the unique characteristics of your oven.

        Hope this helps! Good luck!

  40. Ching Says:

    Hi,

    would like to know how I can freeze and defrost macarons shells properly. For the past week I made a few batches (in a quest to get the feet which I finally succeeded) and froze them in the freezer. Due to space constraints I took out two batches to defrost (in room temperature) for filling with buttercream and notice the shell structure is not as strong as before. The surface too became sticky. I’ve made them using the french meringue method.

    • stickofachef Says:

      Hi Ching,

      Thanks for visiting my site. To defrost frozen macaron shells, simply take them out of the freezer and place them in the fridge to defrost overnight. Gradually defrosting them slowly in a fridge rather then defrosting them at room temperature is the best way to avoid too much condensation forming on the shells.

      Actually, freezing macarons has a tenderizing effect on the shells which results in a more delicate “bite” experience. This is generally a good thing if done right (i.e. as in defrosting the shells properly). That’s why you correctly noted the strength of the macaron shell structure as weaker than before the freezing process.

      The stickiness of the macaron shells is formed as a result of the condensation created on the shells from the change in temperature from the freezer to room temperature. You will also get a light film of moisture on the shells when you take macarons out of the fridge to a warm room but the moisture will eventually dry out in a short while. Also, please remember that humidity plays havoc on sugar-based pastries since the hydroscopic nature of sugar will extract moisture from the air.

      Hope this helps.

  41. Ching Says:

    Hi stickofachef,

    thanks for answering my question on how to properly defrost macaron shells. Baking those little macs can really make me jump with glee or reduce to tears.

    Today I tried making them using the italian meringue method. It was a major flop. The macs developed huge feet and very thin tops (like rice paper thin) that breaks when I poke it with my finger. Could all these result from my underfolding of the batter and inability to dry properly due to the very wet weather (it was raining non-stop the whole day)? I had dried them for 2 hours but the tops were still a bit sticky.

    Between the french and italian method, I have better success with the french but wanted to try the italian since everything I’ve read point to it being the more reliable one. I think it’s better for me give up the idea of baking macarons for xmas gift since the weather is not getting any better.

  42. stickofachef Says:

    Hi Ching,

    I’m happy you achieved success making your macarons. After making them a few times, you’ll achieve a certain instinctive feel for how the batter should fall when folding and you’ll be able to better understand how environmental factors affect the outcome of the macaron batter and make adjustments where necessary.

    If you are operating in a very humid environment, you will get erratic results such as the inability of the macaron batter to dry properly. That’s why your tops were still sticky even after two hours. The dryness of the tops will affect the thickness of the shells after baking. I highly recommend you put the piped macaron batter in an air conditioned room to dry out. An air conditioned room is cool with less humidity and should dry your macaron tops within 15-30 minutes. You’ll get even faster drying results from the Italian meringue method (10-15 minutes). As I mentioned in my last response, sugar based products are highly hydroscopic in nature and will absorb the moisture from the air if you are operating in a very humid environment. Always ensure you keep this in mind and make adjustments where necessary when working with sugar based creations.

    If you are making small batches, the French method is probably faster and easier for you. You’ll get the same results as the Italian method anyway. The Italian method becomes critical when you are making large batches of macaron batter. The holding time (i.e. stability) of the macaron batter needs to be maximised since you will be piping the batter over a longer period of time. If you were to do this with the French method, the batter would deflate too quickly (due to the instability of the French meringue).

    If you have access to an air con room, you shouldn’t abandon the thought of making macarons for xmas. I’m sure you’ll see better results once you tweak how you approach making macarons within your kitchen environment. Good luck!

  43. sunee Says:

    Thank you. best information for me.

  44. amye wong Says:

    Hi Stickofachef,

    I’m currently using French Meringue to make macaroons. I would like to use machine to pipe the batter onto baking trays instead of using piping bags. What i afraid is the batter can’t stand long in the machine and become more watery over time. Do u have any suggestion to make the batter more stable? Tq very much :0)

    • stickofachef Says:

      Hi Amye,

      Thanks for dropping by.

      Typically, the way to tighten and stabilize your meringue to give it slightly more holding time is to add a small amount of egg white powder. Adding egg white powder equivalent to 2% of the weight of your egg whites should be sufficient to give it more stability in your macaron batter. You would typically add the egg white powder once you achieve soft peaks in your egg white foam.

      Usually, in my experience, only large professional production environments would use machines to drop the macaron batter onto trays. I’m curious as to what type of machine you would be using in your kitchen. Are you able to share this information with us?

      Hope this information helps.

      Cheers

      • amye wong Says:

        Hi! Stickofachef,

        So sorry for late reply. I’m using multidrop machine – a machine with a hopper and a few nozzles drooping the a fixed grammage of batter onto baking trays.

        Hope that my info is clear.

        Regards :0)

  45. Chloe Says:

    Hi stickofachef,

    I’ve made macarons before, but have not reliably obtained the elusive foot so thank you very much for suggesting the use of Italian meringue. My question has to do with the almonds: can you use almond flour (Bob’s Red Mill brand in the US)? Or do you have to finely grind yourself in a food processor? Also, can I substitute hazelnut flour?

    Thanks!

    • stickofachef Says:

      Hi Chloe,

      Thanks for dropping by!

      Yes, you can certainly use any commercial almond flour. You do not need to grind them yourself. You can also substitute any nut flour (like hazelnut flour) in place of almond flour but the taste will be different. It all depends on the taste you are trying to achieve in the end. Experiment and find that combination that works best for you.

      Good luck! :-)

  46. Chloe Says:

    Hi Stickofachef,

    I think I’ll stick with the almond flour for now since I have problems getting hazelnut. Regarding the baking pans, is it all right to use an air insulated cookie sheet for baking? My two baking sheets don’t seem to nestle together closely.

    Thanks for answering my previous question. I’ll try making the macarons this weekend.

    Chloe

  47. stickofachef Says:

    Hi Chloe,

    Based on my experience, the gap in the insulated cookie sheet makes the surface of the pan too hot and the macarons will crack when it bakes. The best results will be obtained when the baking sheets are stacked one on top of the other to form a tight double layer.

  48. macbaker Says:

    Dear Stickofachef
    I would like you opinion about macaron conservation. I will be producing macarons to sell at a local market on a weekly basis. I plan to produce on tues and wed and sell on the week end.
    What is the best way to keep them? Freezing? Fridge? with or without filling?
    How long should they sit for maximum flavour? I have heard that Pierre Herme ages his for 3 days before selling.
    Also would you suggest I sell them at room temp or from a refrigerated pastry display case?
    Thanks
    macbaker

    • stickofachef Says:

      Hi macbaker,

      Thanks for dropping by.

      If you are going to have a lag of 2 – 3 days between the time you produce and sell your macarons, then I would suggest you refrigerate them. If you are going to be producing in large volumes that will be sold over a total of several weeks, then I would suggest you freeze the portions you plan on selling in subsequent weeks. You can fill the macarons and store them either by refrigeration or freezing. The key is to slowly defrost the macarons in the fridge overnight if you plan on freezing the filled or unfilled macaron shells.

      After baking, refrigerating macaron shells for at least one day will give the macaron shells tenderness in texture and that is what you are looking for when chewing into a properly made macaron. I have not heard that Pierre Herme ages his macarons for 3 days before selling but I have heard that he lets his egg whites dry out slightly at room temperature for 3 days before he whips them to give them greater volume when making his italian meringue for his macaron batter.

      Macarons can remain at room temperature if the ambient humidity is low (ideally around 50-60% humidity) and temperature is less then 25 degrees celsius. Also, another factor on whether you should leave macarons out at room temperature or in a refrigerated pastry case is on the type of filling you use. Buttercream or ganached based fillings should remain in a refrigerated environment. Macarons with jam-based fillings or no fillings at all can remain at room termperature.

      Good luck in your macaron venture!

  49. Ann Says:

    Sorry, typo mistake, should be :
    can i check with u, how to see whether the macarons are baked and not over or under bake? Thanks.

    • stickofachef Says:

      Hello Ann,

      You can tell if the macaron is baked if the top is no longer shiny and the foot is no longer wet. You’ll also need some experimentation and experience to judge when is the best time to pull the macarons out of the oven based on the type and unique characteristics of the oven. A proper macaron should have a thin discernible top crust with a moist but chewy interior. Despite what you read in recipes of the timing for baking macarons, you’ll always have to use your own judgment to refine the baking times to reflect the conditions of your own oven. You’ll eventually find the right timing after a few tries through trial and error.

      Generally, if you remove a macaron from a parchment paper and a large part of the interior sticks to the paper, you can usually take that to mean that the macaron is generally underbaked. On the other hand, the macaron will be over-baked if the top crust is thick and the macaron is crunchy rather than chewy.

      Hope this helps.

  50. Alexis Says:

    Hi,

    I use the above Italian Meringue method (minus hitting the baking sheet or leaving them out to form a skin). They turn out nearly perfect every time, with feet and a crunchy shell. The one issue I do have is that they are not chewy enough. There is a noticeable gap between the foot and the shell, and if I handle the cookie too hard the shell will just crumble. Also, if they don’t cool thoroughly before I pick them up, the feet will stay stuck to the silpat.

    How do I get rid of that space between feet and shell so that they are more chewy and not as fragile?

    Thanks in advance!

    • stickofachef Says:

      Hi Alexis,

      It’s possible you are under-folding the batter and thus, not deflating the macaron batter enough. The gap is usually due to excess air bubbles in the batter which will lift the crust higher than it should during the baking process. It is also important to give the baking sheet one or two bangs on the table after piping your batter to rid yourself of excess large air pockets.

      Cheers,

  51. Chloe Says:

    Is egg white powder the same as meringe powder? What’s the difference?

    Where can i get egg white powder in Singapore?

    • stickofachef Says:

      Hi Chloe,

      Egg white powder is pasturized and dehydrated egg whites in powder form. Meringue powder is egg white powder with additional ingredients. Depending on the manufacturer, meringue powder may contain additional ingredients like sugar, cream of tartar, constarch, or gum (a stabilizer).

      You should be able to purchase these items from Sun Lik Trading on Seah Street.

  52. Sam Says:

    Hi,
    I’ve made macaroons a few times, they turn out fine when i make small batches (50-100) but whenever i’ve made large batches of 100+ I come across strange results. The macaroons are good, they have their feet but after they have cooled down and i flip them over some of them are concave on the bottom while some are flat. Is it because of mixing ( under or over)? I use an industria Sveba Dahlen oven, so i’m guessing the the oven’s not at fault here.
    Thanks

    • stickofachef Says:

      Hi Sam,

      If I had to troubleshoot without more information, I would imagine that the macaron shells with the concave shapes are due to the shells being slightly undercooked (not dried enough) and thus the moisture inside the macaron shells are shrinking and pulling the bottom of the shell up.

      If you are finding that the macaron shells with the concave effect are happening around the centre and not around the edges of the double panned baking tray, it may be due to the lack of air circulation flowing around the bottom of the trays. As you know, baking anything tends to happen from the outside in so I am imagining that your shells around the edges will be properly cooked while the ones centred around the centre of the tray may be slight undercooked.

      Hope this helps.

      Cheers

  53. Sam Says:

    Hi,
    Thanks for that, will try baking them for longer :)

  54. Patricia Says:

    Hi,

    I was wondering if it is possible to replace the powdered and granulated sugar with brown sugar like coco sugar or muscovado? Is it possible to make powdered brown sugar in a food processor without it turning sticky?

    Thanks!

    • stickofachef Says:

      Hi Patricia,

      You should be able to replace the granulated white sugar with granulated brown sugar but it’ll impart a different taste if you do so. If that difference in taste is what you are seeking, then it’ll be fine. As for turning granulated brown sugar into powdered sugar, it won’t be possible to do so with your food processor. As far as I know, powdered sugar can only be achieved in industrial sugar production. Achieving such a fine powdered grain can only be obtained by special industrial equipment that isn’t available to the home cook.

      Cheers,

  55. Patricia Says:

    all right, thanks for the helpful response!

  56. Tiff Says:

    Hi,

    Every time I put my almond meal through the food processor, it clumps together to form little balls that are quite oily. Do you have this problem and if so, how do you avoid it? Is it because I am not food processing the icing suger WITH the almond meal?

    Thanks,
    Tiff

    • stickofachef Says:

      Hi Tiff,

      Yes, you are actually squeezing the nut oil out of the almond meal when you are putting it through the food processor. To minimize the oil extraction, you must use the pulse function on your food processor and use a combination of almond meal and icing sugar when grinding the almond meal in your food processor bowl.

      Hope this helps

  57. Ben Says:

    Hi,

    1. As in SEA, what is the longest period macarons can be kept in chiller ?

    2. consuming macarons straight from the chiller may result to the shells are too rispy, is that normal ?

    3. Should macarons be best consumed 15min to 30 mins after taking out from the chiller to gain best texture and flavour ?

    4. Should macarons be chewy in general ?

    5. Powder form and liquid form colouring… what different would they cause to the final result of macarons ?

    6. Why would a proper macaronage batter for non colour macarons turn out to form larger feet all the times in my practise ?

    Thank you

    • stickofachef Says:

      Hello Ben,

      1. You can refrigerate macarons in an air-tight container in the fridge for 1.5 to 2 weeks before they start drying out
      2. If you’ve chilled macarons overnight in your fridge, they’ll actually become more tender and chewy rather than crispy. If they are still crispy after you’ve refrigerated your macarons overnight, that means they are probably over-baked and too dried out.
      3. Yes, it is preferred that you consume the macarons around 15 minutes after you’ve pulled them out of the chiller.
      4. Yes, they insides of the macaron shells should be chewy in nature with a slight discernable crisp from the thin top of the macaron shells.
      5. Liquid coloring is more concentrated than powder form to get the same depth of color.
      6. There should be no difference in foot size from non-colour to coloured macarons. One possible explanation is that you are deflating the macaron batter more when you are mixing color into your batter (it takes more folding to incorporate color into a macaron batter) and therefore, there will be less air to create a larger foot as a result.

      Hope this helps.

      Cheers,

  58. Vee Says:

    Hi Stickofachef,

    I think it’s wonderful that you provide such detailed advice for us regarding macarons! I finally had success after 8 tries hehe. I use mostly the french meringue method and it turned out quite nice with feet and all, but I find that the shells are a bit concave. I read a former post and you said to bake it longer right? Is there any other reason as to why that might happen? Like am I overmixing or undermixing the batter?

    Also, I stored them in the fridge for 2 days and I find that they got way too soft. I covered them just with saran wrap so that might have been the cause? Would it have made a difference if I had stored them in an airtight container?

    Also, is there a way to put toppings onto the shells (like dragees) without them sinking in the macaron (cuz they did after I baked them)?
    And what is the difference between making it with Swiss meringue and italian meringue?

    I hope you don’t mind me asking so many questions. Your site is the most helpful site I’ve found. Thank you on behalf of all of us macaron-lovers out there :)

    Vee

    • stickofachef Says:

      Hi Vee,

      Thanks so much for your kind words. I’m always happy to assist where I can.

      For the shells to be concave (i.e. depression in the middle of the macaron shell), I would attribute that problem to underbaked macarons. There could be a problem with the calibration of your oven where the temperature on your knob does not correspond with the actual temperature in the interior of the oven. The only way to resolve this issue is to put an oven thermometer in the cavity of the oven to measure the actual interior temperature. Another possibility is that you are simply not baking the macarons long enough based on the size of your piped macaron shells. The answer to this is to bake it longer. A third possibility is that your temperature is too low. Depending on your oven, you must find the right temperature ranging from 160 degrees or 170 degrees Celsius to bake your macarons.

      I believe the reason the macaron shells are soft is because they are not baked long enough. The top of the shells have not been able to develop a thick enough skin during the baking process and the humidity (i.e. moisture) in the fridge is making the thin skin too soft to handle. If the shells are too soft, it would make no difference if the macarons are covered in saran wrap or stored in an airtight container.

      The dragees are simply too heavy to place on the piped macaron batter before baking and your macaron shells will not fully rise as a result. The only way around this is to bake the shells unadorned and then stick a dragee (e.g. with a bit of glucose) on top of the baked macaron shell afterwards. Other type of toppings like cacao nibs are okay to dredge on top of unbaked macarons since they are very light in nature and will not impede with the rise of the macaron shells during baking.

      Swiss and Italian meringues are both cooked meringues. The Italian version is slightly more stable but without being too nit-picky in technicalities, you can take both types as roughly equivalent. In all professional applications that I’ve seen, either French or Italian meringue techniques are used to make macarons.

      I sincerely hope the answers above helps with your macaron making adventures.

      Best of luck to you. :)

  59. diana Says:

    Hi Stickofachef,

    I’ve enjoyed reading your blog about French Macarons.

    I make mine using Jill Colonna’s book entitled “Mad About Macarons” and it uses French Meringue Method and it’s not sweet at all. Which I like very much.

    I would like to use the Italian Meringue Method but it’s too sweet. Is there any way to reduce the sugar?

    Thank you,

    Diana

    • stickofachef Says:

      Helo Diana,

      Thanks for your positive comments.

      For the italian meringue, you can reduce the sugar accordingly by 10%-15% and still maintain good results. Please keep in mind that a meringue is a stablised egg white/sugar foam mixture and will always be sweet. It’s simply a matter of how less sweet it is when you reduce the sugar. The only problem with a lower sugar content is that if you reduce the sugar too much, you risk creating a less stable foam structure that will deflate over time.

      I believe the critical success factor to creating a good macaron is to have a proper pairing of fillings against the sweet macaron shells. For example, for raspberry macarons, you can have a nice acidic raspberry jam that will reduce the sweetness of the macaron shell. The same can be said for chocolate macarons where you have a nice bittersweet chocolate ganache as a counterpart to the macaron shell.

      Hope this helps.

      Cheers!

  60. Nadia Says:

    I have tried making chocolate macarons with cocoa mass 5 times and each time and i get really soft tops that look wrinkled.(not your recipe though). Will be trying yor recipe in the next few days, could you please give me some hot tips to avoid this happening again.
    thanks Nadia

    • stickofachef Says:

      Hello Nadia,

      Soft tops are usually in indication that they have not been baked at a high enough temperature or that they have not been baked long enough at the set temperature. Wrinkled tops are usually an indication that the piped macaron batter have been left out to dry in particularly humid environments.

      Try to correct your baking temperatures or adjust your baking times. Also, try to dry your piped macaron batter in air conditioned environments.

      Good luck in your macaron making efforts!

      Cheers

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