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My first failed attempt to make macarons – Martha’s easy recipe flops

They’re so cute, they’re so sweet, they’re so… freaking hard to make!

Macarons are light and airy cookies that sandwich a sweet filling like buttercream, chocolate ganache or even Nutella. Yum! I’ve been wanting to try my hand at making these pretty sweets so I jumped right in with minimal research. Not my best idea.

I later learned that macarons are known in some baking circles as the hardest cookies to make. And now I know why.

macaron template and ingredients

Tools and ingredients for macaron-making. Photo by Jennifer Melo

Martha Stewart macaroon recipe review

I wasn’t about to mess around with a random recipe so I turned to the domestic goddess herself, Martha Stewart for support. And by that, I mean I went to her website in search of a recipe (nice website redesign, by the way, Bravo to Martha’s web team!)

First I tried this recipe: French macarons

The recipe is simple and straightforward. But Martha, girl. You failed me.

I needed more instructions so I’d give it a three out of five in satisfaction rating. Specifically, I think the recipe needs more explanation when it comes to batter consistency.

piped macarons dry undermixed batter

Note: This is what undermixed batter looks like. Photo by Jennifer Melo

It could also use direction on working in food colouring because this green batter turned out a few shades lighter once baked …

piped macarons dry undermixed green batter

Note: Slightly undermixed batter looks like this. Photo by Jennifer Melo

…and more details about drying time in various conditions would be helpful too, please.

baked macarons, white, undermixed

Lumpy, bumpy, grainy macaron batter, dry, before baking. Photo by Jennifer Melo

Results:

  • The cookies cooked nicely overall, but they turned out too small for my liking. I thought the batter might spread (it didn’t) and maybe even expand after baking — it didn’t.  If this recipe was called “Mini Macaroons,” I would’ve been almost completely satisfied but I envisioned a bigger macaroon of maybe 1.5-2” in diameter. Mine were piped at 3/4” as the recipe directed and a three-quarters of an inch is where they stayed. That’s probably because I didn’t mix the batter long enough, so I’m partly responsible for this fail.
mini macarons undermixed batter

How many macarons can I fit in the palm of my hand? 4! Photo (shot one-handed) by Jennifer Melo

  • The colour lightened and browned a lot after baking. What started as a fresh apple-minty green batter turned into a dull, light khaki green after cooking. Reptilian, almost. Weird, definitely. This food-colour-fading effect is well-documented so I would’ve avoided this if I researched more.
  • Inconsistent macaron texture. Some of the macaron tops were rough, lumpy and grainy so I learned I should mix the batter a bit more next time and not mess around with the batter.
  • These macaroons tasted fantastic! Thank you, Martha. Yes, we can be friends again. 😉 I gave up on making macaron filling from scratch after I saw the cookies didn’t turn out so pretty. But waste not! I filled them with some delicious raspberry curd I got from a recent trip to the U.S. Want to hear all about it? Read me! > 10 great reasons to visit Norfolk, Virginia.
baked mini macarons undermixed batter plate

Forget the pretty presentation and just eat. Photo by Jennifer Melo

Learn from my mistakes

I went rogue by splitting the batter in half. I wanted to add food colouring to half of the batch and keep the other batch white but that was a bad idea. Don’t do that.

Macaron batter is sensitive and you need to pipe it promptly after folding the mixture. So I learned that if I want to make a batch in another colour, it’s best to start fresh by making the recipe all over again. Yes, even if that’s a whole lotta kitchen cleanup for one day.

macaron-mini-inside-view

Cooked through, with a crunchy shell and a chewy center. Photo by Jennifer Melo

So now I’m brushing myself off and starting again. In the meantime, please feel free to share stories of your macaroon flops or successes. I’d love to hear ’em. Ready, set, go!

4 Comments on My first failed attempt to make macarons – Martha’s easy recipe flops

  1. Connie Riordan
    August 29, 2013 at 9:29 pm (4 years ago)

    Oh wow – you do love a challenge, don’t you? They look delicious!

    Reply
  2. Jen Melo
    August 29, 2013 at 9:39 pm (4 years ago)

    Hah! Notice how the title reads “my first failed attempt…”?

    There are (at least) two more to follow. Harrumph! I’m happy to report that all my failed attempts were delicious, though.

    Reply
  3. anon
    February 21, 2014 at 8:30 am (4 years ago)

    nice try 🙂 to be honest it took me a few tries to get this perfect and trust me when I say that your batter looks way under mixed .. to test for the right consistency, run a knife through the batter and count to 10. if the line that was made by the knife disappears then you are done :)) this ensures a smooth top

    Reply
    • Jen Melo
      April 18, 2014 at 2:41 pm (4 years ago)

      I trust you. 🙂 It took me a few tries but I finally got it right and learned a lot about macaron-making along the way. Now I know that the batter for this batch was definitely undermixed. Macarons are tricky little buggers, aren’t they?

      Reply

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