Tips for perfect macarons vary between vague aloof answers (some blogs don’t want to share secrets, but they want the traffic) to heavy weekend ready material (which will make you stressed and frustrated). Sometimes all you need to do is simplify the situation. Find out what you’re doing or using and be logical about how it could be hindering your macarons. Think about it… rough looking macarons just need the dry mix refining a little, wonky shapes need to be controlled more when piping, rock hard macarons need less bake time. Sometimes, in all the excitement, a step or ingredient may be getting looked over on the recipe meaning flat and unappetising treats. Check out our quick and simple top 5 essential tips for perfect macarons below for a little nudge in the right direction!
5 Essential Tips For Perfect Macarons
01: Read the recipe
This tip might sound crazy and obvious, but it’s the one most people get insanely wrong. We’ve had people think that whipping your egg whites means adding in whipped cream. Seriously. When you’ve found a recipe that you want to try print it out, sit down, READ it, make notes even, make sure you understand it and then plan when you can give it a try. The last thing you want is for a recipe to fail because you’ve gotten really excited and just rushed into making it. It’s pretty easy to do, but it’s also easy to avoid too.
Once you mess up a recipe it starts to feel like a chore so slow it down. If we find a recipe that’s got our taste buds a-tingling we print it out, discuss it between us, maybe tweak it a little (but we’ve worked as recipe developers so we’re used to this bit), sometimes put a twist on the flavour and schedule in some free time to give it a try.
Some good books on macarons…
02: Blitz and sieve
The amount of macarons we’ve spotted that have looked like baked versions of the Hunchback of Notre Dame is ridiculous. One of our tips for perfect macarons is to invest in a good food processor and blitz your ground almonds down to a fine powder. Also, sieve your icing / powdered / confectioner’s sugar. Even though icing sugar contains a little anti-caking agent to stop it from clumping it’s still going to have lumps and bumps in it. You’ll know you’ve got your dry ingredients to a lovely fine feel when you’ve piped out your macarons and they ‘settle’ and show as fabulous glossy discs with minimal bumps!
One handy tip (especially for anyone who hates sifting) is to layer your dry ingredients (half of the icing sugar then ground almonds and then the rest of the icing sugar) in your food processor before blitzing. This grinds down your icing sugar even further taking out the sieve step as well as keeping those ground almonds blitzed yet cool (once they heat too much they produce oil which isn’t good for macarons).
03: Use scales
Another one of our top tips for perfect macarons. Accuracy with macarons is beyond essential so cups just are not going to cut it. If you don’t have any scales then we’d strongly recommend buying some. Cups are never going to be accurate and cup amounts can vary depending on what you’re measuring… e.g. solids and liquids. When it comes to weighing, however, grams (for powders and solids) is the same as millilitres (liquids). So 100g of flour weighs the exact same as 100ml of water. Easy.
Your scales will also come in damn handy for weighing out equal balls for cake pops and even equal amounts of buttercream to layer between cakes. Keep it simple if you’re not used to scales, however, buying a set of beautiful Victorian style scales is not going to serve you well in the long run.
04: Use a template
All macarons should be fairly uniform. It’s a fairly runny mixture so this is hard to do at times, but by using a template underneath your baking sheet OR by getting hold of a baking mat specifically for macarons you get more consistent results. It also takes away quite a bit of stress that comes with piping them AND gives you a good idea of how many shells you’re going to get out of a sheet.
05: Test, test, test
Macarons are tricky. A few things can hinder their development both in the oven and out. Never think your macarons will turn out perfect every time (until maybe you’ve been testing them frustratingly for 2 years) or you’re destined to tempt fate. If your first or 50th batch comes out of the oven all wrong don’t feel bad. You probably need to try making batches and batches with slight variations of the recipe to find what works for you. Sorry, but it’s pretty true. For almost 2 years we baked macarons at least once or twice a week until we were happy. We’d try some with cream of tartar and some without. Some with a certain brand of food colorant. Some would be made with a stiff meringue whipped for 5 minutes and some whipped a little less. Even baking times and placements in the oven changed. We nerdy catalogued a few from each batch and wrote down pros, cons and what we did/used. Sometimes it just takes time and practice.
Sometimes it’s just a little problem solving work. One of the most essential tips for perfect macarons is to think logically… if your macaron shells are hard and crunchy they are either over baked because they’ve been in the oven too long or they’re on too high a temperature. If they’re browning then check if you left the oven light on or if there are heating bars inside (they glow red when hot) that could be caramelising the tops. Try switching the light off, lowering your tray or block the red bars with a baking try slid underneath but above the macarons and upping the bake time a little.