Troubleshooting the Macaron: Tips and Tricks

So you can find these type of pages ALL over the internet and I am by no means an expert but I figured you can never be too prepared to make them. It’s funny, they look so simple and easy but they are actually so complex to make. Everything must be done perfectly to achieve a perfect macaron. Fear not though, they will almost always taste delicious! It’s just the appearance that might suffer. Also most of these tricks are for the Italian meringue macarons since those are the ones I am most familiar with making. I will specify if it is for the French meringue method. Again I know I am not an expert but when I first started trying to make macarons I found it really helpful to read what common people suggested and their tips. Also I will add more of these as I discover new tricks to baking the macarons. They are not magical, it is true. You don’t need to conjure a demon to assist you in baking them. However they can be tricky and sensitive to bake. It’s best to do a LOT of reading on what common people have found to be helpful in baking macarons. That way when you go to bake your first batch you are completely prepared for whatever condition arise!

hollow shells:

for me I got hollow shells from letting my macarons rest for too long and then not baking them long enough or at a high enough temperature, mostly the temperature being too low was the culprit. This made the shells strong and rise and the batter just stayed puddled in the bottom and baked there. There wasn’t enough steam pressure to make them batter bake and rise as fast as the outer shell did.

Sticky bottoms:

crank that oven up! well not really but turn the temperature up! don’t be afraid! turn it up your macarons are not fully baked. Also you MUST wait for them to totally come to room temperature and be completely cool before removing them! A warm macaron has a tendency to stick! I leave my macarons on the baking sheet and let them come to room temperature. That way there is some lingering heat on the bottom and it ensures the bottoms are nice and dry. Don’t worry if your macaron seems too dry, that is what maturation is for. Maturation is a MUST. Macarons are like wine! Better aged! Also if the bottoms seem sticky try piping the macarons on parchment paper and placing them on a single regular baking sheet. This way more heat will be directed to the bottom of the shells! Watch out though, don’t let the tops (or bottoms) brown from being in the oven too long!

burnt bottoms:

ok for one you need to double the baking sheet or use an air bake baking sheet. Bake at a slightly lower temperature too. And…..ok…this is sacrilegious…….but…wait for them to dry and get hard…then take a knife….and scrape off the burned part! I know it’s horrible but it works! Then put the filling in and sandwich the macarons. Let them rest EXTRA long and they will be moist and the filling should mask any lingering burnt taste. Unless they are just burned to a crisp. Then…start over.

shells not smooth:

there are a few reasons for this, you need to lightly tap your baking sheets after piping your macarons to release the air bubbles and then pop them with a toothpick. DO NOT wait too long or else when you pop the bubble the macaron is already too dry and will not fill in the massive crater left by the bubble. I have this happen to me often. Solution, use it as the bottom shell lol 🙂 hide that son of a bitch

another reason, SIFT your ingredients! Even after pulsing them in my food processor I sift them! I sift my almond flour and my powdered sugar together. Sifting not only removes the chunks it also mixes the almond flour and powdered sugar together for me!

cracks on the shells:

Rest your shells! I rest mine for an hour. I know some people have found this to be unnecessary but I always rest mine and they almost always turn out with nice shells! You can test if they have rested long enough by lightly touching the piped macaron, if it isn’t sticky and has developed a film then it is ready. If it is still sticky then let it rest longer. You want it to not be sticky at all and slightly firm to the touch, not firm as in hard but firm as in your finger doesn’t just sink into the batter. Also your batter may be too wet! try to add some more almond flour or powdered sugar to the mix. JUST a little! Macarons are sensitive! Honestly though you might just have to start over, the batter is hard to change once it has already been mixed. These pictures are of my FIRST attempt at making macarons. They were delicious but…ugly. It’s ok to laugh at my pain…really…laugh away! You aren’t getting any of my macarons! The real culprit to this disaster was the I added all of the ingredients when my egg whites started to foam making my batter entirely too thick and wet….why did I do this….I wasn’t reading the instructions carefully! Follow the steps to making macarons CAREFULLY!

           

general info on feet:

if you want your feet to extend beyond the shell (cute) then bake them at a higher temperature. This makes the batter try to escape from inside the shell and so it spreads out from beneath.

if you want your feet to be parallel with the shell (also cute) and not extend out then bake your macarons at a lower temperature. This makes them rise gently and rise without the extra steam pressure that would make the feet extend.

I am lucky I guess, I have NEVER had a batch of macarons come out without feet. I think it is because I have always rested my macarons. I pipe all of my macarons, then rest them for 45 minutes and bake the first piped macarons first and then follow down the line. That way they rest a maximum amount of time. Touch the top of the piped macaron. If it is not sticky at all and there is a skin then they are ready to bake! I know some people have had lucky without resting their macarons but I have always rested mine and they have always turned out with feet so I don’t want to mess up a good thing.

how to know when the batter is ready:

for the French method beat the egg whites until they have formed stiff peaks. Then comes the macaronage. Mix the meringue with the almond meal until you can pick up the spatula and the batter falls down into the bowl in a continuous ribbon. If anything I slightly under mix mine because they get mixed around more when I put them in the piping bag and slosh them around and stuff. If you pick the spatula up and the batter sticks to the spatula and falls reluctantly keep mixing. If the batter falls into the bowl like, cake batter, then you have over mixed (unless you are thinking of a thick cake). Just mix until the batter falls thickly and smoothly into the bowl. Don’t stress out over this. It’s easy. I do it all the time and I am just some kid who picked up a spatula and decided he was going to make macarons. People freak out over this. I think if you freak out and over think this step it makes you second guess if you’ve mixed enough or if you have mixed too much. Just mix calmly, have a beer or a wine cooler, and test every few strokes wether or not the batter falls thickly and smoothly.

for the Italian method beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks and then pour the sugar syrup in a thin stream while continuously mixing the meringue. When you have added all of the syrup and the meringue is glossy (and delicious to eat as is 🙂 ) keep mixing until the bowl is warm (not lukewarm) but nice and warm, like you are snuggled in a blanket by a fire in the winter. Then add it to the almond flour and powdered sugar mixture. Now for the macaronage. Mix them together until the batter falls in a thick and smooth ribbon back into the bowl. We don’t want thin drippy streams. We want thick luscious streams. We don’t want clogged streams either. Nice relaxed flowing streams. Be peaceful people. Macaronage isn’t a big bad monster! The Italian mixture has more give and leeway. You can mix it longer before it is over mixed. It’s not that it is a better method, it’s just more full proof. I for beginners it is recommended by me. It’s just a more resilient batter. It is more forgiving.

color fades after baking:

this has happened to me for almost all of the colors I have tried. Solution is simple, dump a TON of food coloring into that batter! Remember to use powdered or gel food coloring, NEVER liquid coloring. It makes the batter too wet. Also bake at a lower temperature and longer that way the intense heat in the oven doesn’t brown the macarons making the shells lose color.

if you want higher feet then bake them at a higher temperature and the baking sheet you are baking them on might be too insulated. I find that silpat plus air bake baking sheets are a BAD combo.

if you want smaller feet, lower temperature and less direct heat to the bottom of the macaron, so insulate with two baking sheets or air bake baking sheet.

Advertisements

5 thoughts on “Troubleshooting the Macaron: Tips and Tricks

  1. This was really interesting. Having eaten a lot of your creations (soo lucky) I am increasingly blown away by how much skill and knowledge you have for this. You are amazing! I love you Patrick!

  2. I am in Montpellier now, and I discovered your blog because I ate the Lionel Hautbois macarons and they were perfect! I also bought the book Les petits macarons you were talking about, and although I have no oven right now, I will be home in a month and start making these little lovely cutiepies! And I will definitely use your tips 😀 Your macarons look very nice!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s