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How to make macarons: 10 tips and warnings

Photo by Jennifer Melo

Photo by Jennifer Melo

I did it! I made pretty and yummy macarons. Yay, me! Now it’s your turn.

To avoid the same macaron-making errors I experienced, follow these 10 tips.

1. Master batter consistency

The single most important tip, in my opinion, is to get the right batter consistency for macarons.

When you’re done folding the mixture, thick ribbons should fall from your spatula. And when the batter drops back into the bowl, it should expand and move a bit.

Fold until everything is well-incorporated, flatten some air out by pushing the batter against the side of the bowl. When the batter is smooth and shiny (30-50 folds) stop folding.

Keep too much air in the batter and you’ll get hollow macarons. Over-mix and let all the air out of the batter and you’ll have flat macarons. Don’t overmix and don’t undermix.

2. Dry your macarons before baking

Some say you should never make macarons on a rainy day.  That’s because humidity can really make a difference. And during a humid summer day, I suggest using your air conditioner to make your environment drier.

Rather than rely on the drying time specified in the recipe, use your eyes and the touch test to determine when the macarons are ready to go into the oven. You should see a thin skin formed on the macarons. This could take 15 mins to one hour depending on humidity and your batter consistency.

Use the touch test to determine when you’re ready to put the macarons in the oven: When you lightly touch a macaron, your finger should show no signs of batter sticking to it.

3. Use food colour wisely

Macarons go pale when cooked. So when you’re folding your mixture, make the shade one or two drops/shades darker than your desired outcome.

4. Bake one sheet at a time

If you’ve figured out a way to bake macarons evenly with two sheets baking at a time, that’s great. I haven’t. So please share your secrets.

5. Sift your flour

Take the time to sift your almond flour and sugar. It’s key to getting a silky smooth cookie surface. Discard or reuse the lumpy almond bits in another recipe.

6. Use room-temperature eggs

Crack and separate your eggs about an hour before you plan to bake and you’ll have room temp egg whites ready when you need them. They’ll whip up and increase in volume faster than chilled egg whites. Save the yolks for tomorrow’s omelette.

7. Tap your trays

Release those air bubbles, prevent cracked macarons and help the batter settle into a smooth shape by tapping your trays on a counter, hard, a few times. Do that immediately after piping. Three to five taps per edge should do it.

8. Pipe it right

I found the best technique for me is to hold the piping bag at a 90-to 95-degree angle to the cookie sheet. Start with your tip in the middle of where you’d like to place a macaron, squeeze your piping bag until you’ve piped to the right size you’d like, gently release pressure and a make a little swirl to detach the tip from the batter and minimize a peaked top.

9. Watch it like a hawk

To encourage even cooking, avoid opening and closing the oven door. Remove the macarons just before they brown.

10. Research

Read several macaron recipes from various sources and pay close attention to common tips and techniques. Watch YouTube videos, like this one:

And pay close attention to piping technique, folding technique and batter consistency.

For me, the fifth’s time a charm. But with each failed attempt, I learned something new and was able to correct a few things. Ready to make your own macarons? You can do it! If you give ’em a try, please let me know how your they turned out. I’d love to hear how you fared.

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