Macarons are these delicious little cookies made from just 3 ingredients… eggs, sugar and almond flour. Sounds simple enough, doesnt it? I mean you whip up egg whites to stiff peaks (discard/ save the yolks), add the whipped up meringue to sieved sugar and almond flour, pipe out little round circles and bake. And voila you have macarons!!! Tres bien!
NOT AT ALL! These macarons are the worlds toughest cookies. Any chef will tell you that they discard atleast 20% of their macarons because the shells are lopsided or hollow or cracked or have bumps. The troubleshooting list on macarons is long.
Luckily there are numerous blogs and articles on how to overcome all these problems. But practise makes perfect. I went through a phase where I baked macarons everyday for an entire month because they just didnt come out right. In addition I live in a country with high humidity and that affects the outcome of these cookies too. My macarons suffered all the symptons of what they should not be.. the shells came out undercooked, cracked, hollow, no feet, too high feet… you name the symptom and the shells suffered from it.
I am extremely active on instagram and the pictures of these perfect unicorns and bears and hello kitty shaped macarons were challenging me.
After a month of nearly suffering from a macaron breakdown I think I finally managed to get decent results.
Instead of giving you a recipe for making macarons, here are a few tips that will definately help you through your process.
- Find a recipe that works for your climate and you. I use the French method as it has less steps and I prefer it since the sugar component is less. But if the Italian method works for you dont bother with what blogs say just go with it.
- If you are practising, reduce quantities by half. Dont worry about unused egg whites. Pop them into the fridge and use it when making your next batch.
- Invest in a digital weighing scale. You have to be precise in the measurements.
- Make sure all the utensils are absolutely dry. There should be no trace of water in anything.
- Do not use plastic utensils. Sometimes there maybe traces of oil which you cannot get out and which can ruin your macarons.
- Sieve the almond flour and icing sugar atleast 2 times.
- Ensure that your ingredients are not stale. Sometimes the icing sugar and/or almond flour can get soggy if not kept in an airtight containers especially in a humid environment.
- DO NOT BAKE WHEN IT IS RAINING. The shells will not dry out properly.
- I use a hand mixer to beat the egg whites. So dont fret if think you cannot make macarons without a stand mixer.
- Beat the heck outta the egg whites till they reach stiff peaks. About 5-6 mins should get you there.
- What is right macaronage stage? Almost every post I’ve read says stop mixing once you achieve the consistency of lava. What the hell is that! I dont live near a volcano nor do I have lava sitting in my fridge to check consistency. So to help you figure this out here are 2 simple tricks (1) if you can draw the figure 8 without any disruption in the batter then it is ready (2) drop some batter onto a plate. If the bumps disappear in about 20-30 secs, the batter is ready. If there is a nipple, continue mixing. Also note if the batter spreads too quickly, it would appear to be overmixed and you would need to start over.
- For piping the macarons, a simple disposable piping bag works just fine. You dont need to have to piping tips.
- Use stencils (available online) beneath the parchment paper when piping out the shells.
- Bake the shells on parchment paper or silpat for best results.
- Let the shells rest for atleast 30-45 mins before popping them into the oven.
- Get to know your oven. Some recipes call for baking at 160°c for 10-12mins others mention 150°c for 14-15mins. This time will vary depending upon your oven. Since I have a much smaller oven , my shells bake at 150°c for 8mins and then I rotate the tray and bake at 130°c for a further 8mins.
- Let the shells cool down before take off the mat/paper
- Pipe your choice of filling and sandwich the macarons. But here is the difficult part.. you need to let the flavours mature for about a day. Which means let them rest in the fridge and forget about them for an entire day. They will taste better the next day.
- Storing the shells: the shells can be stored for upto a month in the freezer. Put them into air tight containers and seal the containers with cling film. To defrost, remove from the freezer and place underneath a fan to dry out the shells (since the shells will sweat once removed from the freezer).
I follow Martha Stewart’s French macaron recipe which you can find here.
Here are some of the macarons shapes I made for friends and events using the above recipe.
Bear shaped macarons
Emoticon macarons. The faces were drawn with edible black pens
Baby Feet macaron. This was made for a client who wanted to announce to family and friends that they were expecting. The yellow colour was to keep it gender neutral.
One customer requested for Bear and feet macarons as giveaways for her sons first birthday.
An event I participated in June. We had chocolate, mango and blueberry flavours. Our unicorn macarons were a huge hit!