Macarons

This page is for all you macaron lovers like myself ūüôā

You’ll find here information gathered from various sources, troubleshooting based on my expertise and recipes. Feel free to send me suggestions or questions at [email protected] or message me on Facebook.

x Marianne

 

Macaron Mania & Troubleshooting

A macaron¬†–¬†the¬†pretty French meringue based delicacy we are obsessed about.

After a lot of research and practice I wanted to share some information and useful tips I have found through macaron making experiences and by reading tons of blog posts and articles on the subject (sources are mentioned when quoting to one).

I hope you will find this information comprehensive and useful. Should you after reading find something missing, please do let me know and I will find the answer and edit the post accordingly.

My ultimate advise on making macarons is that when you find a recipe and method that works for you – stick with it!

Index

What is a Macaron
History of macarons
World Famous Macarons
French or Italian?
The Perfect Macaron
Macaron sizes and templates
Equipment needed for making macarons
Ingredients
Filling
Storing & Serving
Troubleshooting
FAQs
Basic Macaron Recipes
My Macaron Recipes

What is a Macaron?

A macaron is a French sweet meringue-based confection made with egg white, powdered sugar, granulated sugar, ground almonds, and food colouring. A macaron is commonly filled with ganache,buttercream or jam filling sandwiched between two cookies. Wikipedia.

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History of Macarons

There’s some debate about the¬†origins of macaron. The history appear to have started in the 16th century but the macaron we know¬†today; ¬†A Parisian Macaron that is composed of two almond meringue cookies with filling of¬†buttercream, jam, or ganache is a creation of¬†French p√Ętisserie¬†Ladur√©e¬†founded in 1862.

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World Famous Macarons

Ladurr√©e –¬†a French luxury bakery and sweets maker house created in 1862. It is one of the top premier sellers of the double-decker macaron, fifteen thousand of which are sold every day.

An interesting article at¬†Girls Guide To Paris¬†refers to¬†Ladur√©e‚Äôs macaron as a¬†macaron parisien, sometimes also called a gerbet. The latter title comes from p√Ętissier Claude Gerbet of Chartres, whose brother sold their macarons in his Paris shop. Although the gerbet style is made without a filling, the family claims Desfontaines got his ‚Äúsandwich‚ÄĚ format from Claude. They say it came from the pastry he made every Christmas: his chocolate Belle Otero, named for the famous Belle Epoque courtesan.

Pierre Herme a French pastry chef most famous for his macarons, many of which have unusual flavor combinations. French Vogue magazine dubbed him “The Picasso of Pastry.”

Sybil Kapoor¬†was quoting Pierre Herme macarons as possibly the best in the world in this Guardian¬†article from 2010 that beautifully describes the taste and texture “They are, to put it mildly, the most delicious¬†macarons¬†you could ever wish to munch. Take his pistachio flavour ‚Äď an early Herm√© classic. You bite through the thinnest crisp crust into a soft, airy pistachio and almond meringue that melts into white chocolate and pistachio¬†ganache,¬†with just a hint of bitter almond. It is the way he combines new flavours with texture that really differentiates an Herm√©¬†macaron¬†from the rest. You cannot tell how or when the meringue becomes filling ‚Äď the transition is so smooth ‚Äď and as you eat, the texture and flavours change and develop in your mouth. The granular feel of quince melts on to your tongue as you eat his¬†coing¬†(quince) and¬†rose¬†flavour, and whole blackcurrants burst in your mouth as you bite into the dark chuao chocolate-and-currant-flavoured ganache of his Chuao variety. I start to feel a desperate desire to fully understand how they are put together. Could I recreate, I begin to wonder, such a perfect, otherworldly confection, as an Herm√©¬†macaron?”

Pain de Sucre Patisserie  another big name in pastry world, founded in 2004 by patisserie Nathalie Robert and Didier Mathray who worked together for six years at Pierre Gagnaire’s 3 Michelin Star restaurant.

If you wonder how macarons are made in the world known Parisian pastry shops, you should check the the Paris Patisseries in-kitchen session at Pain de Sucre :: Making Macarons Part I and Part II.

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French or Italian?

Macarons are French, no doubt on that! It’s the method of making macarons that’s either French or Italian.¬†The significant difference in the process is that Italian Meringue method involves a hot sugar syrup, and the French meringue method beats uncooked sugar into egg whites.

Macarons, their aesthetic traits and texture are heavily affected by air and moisture. Any change from the ideal levels of either air or moisture show up as unexpected, inconsistent results. By adding the boiling sugar syrup into beaten egg whites for a stiff and fluffy meringue, the Italian meringue controls the moisture in the egg whites and air in the meringue making it more stable.

The¬†steps in both methods are described in the recipes in the end of this post demonstrated in¬†Christophe Felder‚Äės magical book “Patisserie”. I use mainly the Italian meringue and you can find my macarons recipes¬†here.¬†

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The Perfect Macaron

The little macaron cookie has a list of requirements to fill for a perfect macaron.

The traits of a perfect macaron shell

  • egg shell-like thin crust
  • soft, moist & chewy interior
  • perfectly round shaped
  • ruffled edges, known as “feet” or “collar”
  • smooth from top
  • perfectly flat bottom
  • all same sized and aligned

The traits of a perfect macaron cookie

  • two same sized and perfectly aligned shells
  • 2:1 ratio of cookie to filling
  • filling visible but not runny
  • shiny colour assorted to the flavour

Yup, that’s quite a list and obviously not many macarons fill all the requirements at once. Don’t let it daunt you – with patience and finickiness you can master the skill of making macarons and get great results at home.

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Macaron sizes and templates 

The standard macaron sizes are around ¬†small ¬†diameter 3.75 cm (1.5‚ÄĚ ) and the larger diameter ¬†7.5 cm (3‚ÄĚ).¬†The sizes may vary but what is important is the¬†uniformity of the shells. ¬†

French site Pure Gourmandise provides printable templates in 4 sizes, printable on A4.

  1. Mini 2.5 cm diameter
  2. Small 3.5 cm diameter
  3. Medium 5 cm diameter
  4. Large 8 cm diameter

The templates are to be used under parchment paper or silicone baking sheet,  the black circles will help in piping same sized shells-taking into consideration that the shells expand a bit in the oven.

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Equipment needed for making macarons

  • a¬†food processor¬†or an electric spice and nut grinder¬†to process ground almonds and powdered sugar into a fine powder.¬†
  • a mixing bowl – preferably stainless steel – plastic can be greasy, glass too slippery and aluminium easily gives the egg whites greyish tone.
  • a mixer – preferably stand mixer as it frees your hands allowing to do many things at time. I use a¬†KitchenAid ArtisanTilt-Head Stand Mixer.
  • a sieve or a strainer – all stainless steel strainer is the best as you can wash it in dishwasher.¬†
  • a spatula or a large metal spoon¬†– I tend to avoid using any plastic or rubber spatulas and prefer using a metal spoon, to avoid transferring any grease.
  • a piping bag – disposable¬†piping¬†bags are handy but any clean reusable pastry bag will do.
  • a round piping tip – diameter 1/2 inch or 1,5 cm. Personally when using disposable bags, I just cut the end to 1-1,5 cm wide.
  • baking sheets – it’s recommended to double baking sheets to prevent the shells baking too quickly. I found using a heavy baking sheet works in my oven without doubling.
  • parchment paper or silicone baking mat ¬†-some find silicone sticking easier and report getting better results on parchment paper, personally I find macarons with Italian meringue come out nice on either one and often use silicone.
  • kitchen scale –¬†electronic kitchen is highly recommended ¬†as proper measurements brings best results.
  • in addition Italian meringue requires a sauce pan¬†and additionally a candy thermometer¬† – I normally don’t use a candy thermometer and just simply let the sugar syrup boil for a minute, the temperature should reach 115¬įc /240¬įf .

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 Ingredients

  • egg whites – separated from the yolk, for best results egg whites should be aged and brought to¬†room temperature few hours before beating.
  • almond meal –¬†finely ground almonds, should be stored in airtight container.
  • powdered sugar – also known as confectioners’ sugar, cannot be substituted with any other kind of sugar
  • caster sugar –¬†or¬†granulated sugar when making with Italian meringue
  • cream of tartar –¬†used to help stabilise egg whites¬†and give them volume and strength. Personally I don’t normally use cream of tartar when making macarons.
  • food colouring –¬†gel or powder food colouring is ideal, as liquid colouring has less colouring power and may end up adding¬†too much moisture ¬†in your batter.

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Filling

Macarons are commonly filled with one or combination of ganache, buttercream and jams

  • Ganache – icing/filling made out of cream and chocolate.
  • Buttercream – icing/filling made out of butter and powdered sugar
  • Jam – fruit preserve made from fruits and sugar, honey or pectin.

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Storing & Serving 

  • Macarons¬†¬†should always be stored in an airtight container in the fridge.
  • Freshly made macarons should rest in fridge 24h before eaten.
  • Macarons should be brought to room temperature 20-30 min before eating.
  • Macarons stay good 4-5 days in fridge.
  • Macarons withstand freezing very well and stay as good as fresh for up to 3 months.
  • Frozen macarons need 20-30 minute to defrost.
  • Jam filled macarons should not be frozen as the shells get too moisten – it’s better to freeze shells alone and fill on serving date once defrosted.

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Troubleshooting

3 possible reasons for problems that may occur after making macarons.

No Feet 

  • batter¬†too thin
  • under beaten meringue (soft peak & foamy)
  • oven temperature too low

Bursting Feet 

  • over mixed batter
  • oven temperature too high
  • a poor meringue

Lopsided/ Uneven Feet

  • resting on uneven surface
  • oven temperature too hot or uneven
  • use of fan-forced heat

 Hollow Shells

  • over mixed batter
  • too long resting time
  • oven temperature too high and baked too fast – insides are not set and collapsed when cooled.

Cracked Shells

  • strong heat from bottom of the oven making the shells rise rapidly – double stack baking sheets to prevent this.
  • under beaten batter resulting in too much air in the batter
  • baked on too low oven rack

Puffy, Uneven Shells

  • imprecise ingredients ratio, often too much egg whites
  • under mixed or too thin batter
  • use of liquid food colouring

Lumpy Shells

  • ground almonds too course – grind into powdered sugar or sift bigger pieces out
  • air bubbles in the batter because of not tapping the sheet on counter or tapped too late – tap as soon as you finish piping
  • over mixed batter

Soft Shells

  • under baked shells – try baking a bit longer until firm and come off the sheet when gently taping from the side
  • oven temperature too low
  • over mixed batter

Dark/ Browned Shells

  • oven temperature too hot – temperature¬†vary depending on oven, try lowering to anything between 120 -160¬įC
  • baked on too high oven rack – use middle rack
  • baked for too long

Bottom of the shell sticks to the baking sheet 

    • lifted too early – let them cool down completely before lifting
    • under baked
    • baking on other than baking/parchment paper or silicone baking mat

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Frequently Asked Questions

 Can I substitute sugar with low calorie sweetener?  

Powdered sugar is necessary for the macaron texture and there isn’t¬†a known substitute that would bring the same results.

You may find recipes using substitutes such as Splenda or Stevia. Personally I rarely use sugar substitutes in baking, apart from liquid stevia, honey and maple syrup that I use in my sugar free recipes which are not suitable for the texture of macaron shells.

Is it possible to make nut-free macarons? 

Yes it is. There are many nut-free macaron recipes with coconut, seeds and even quinoa. I have not yet tried making a nut free version but I’d like to try these coconut and black sesame macarons by Baking Obsession¬†

What does ageing egg whites mean? 

Egg whites are aged by separating the whites from the yolks and storing the whites in a airtight container in the fridge 24-48h before using them to make macarons. The purpose of aging is to reduce moisture content and increase of elasticity of the whites. Aged egg whites should be taken to room temperature 3-4 hours before using to make macarons.

Can I add flavouring to the macaron shells? 

Yes you can, powdered flavouring is the best mixed in with the ground almonds and powdered sugar. Or you can use extract in the meringue, just be careful not to add too much moisture to the batter.

Basic Macaron Recipes 

Recipes for both Italian Method and French Method from book “Patisserie” by¬†Christophe Felder

Italian Meringue Macarons

Preheat oven to 170¬įC ¬†(340¬įF).

Pour 200 g (7 oz) ground almonds and 200g (7 oz) confectioners’ sugar into a food processor. Process for 30 seconds and mix. The result should be a fine powder. Sift it into a bowl.

Combine 3 1/2 tbs. water and 175g (6 oz) granulated sugar into a medium heavy saucepan and cook over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Bring to boil, washing the sides of the pan with a moistened pastry brush. Dip a candy thermometer into the syrup without touching the bottom. Cook to 118¬įC (244¬įF).

Meanwhile, pour half of the 150g (5 1/2 oz) egg whites into a mixing bowl and whip the egg whites until they hold a soft peak.

When the syrup is ready, carefully pour it down the side of the bowl into the egg whites. Whip until the meringue cools down. The meringue should be shiny, smooth and thick and feel slightly warm to the finger.

Pour remaining egg whites into almond-confectioners’ sugar mixture and stir with a wooden spoon. The almond paste should be fairly thick.

Beat one-third of the meringue into the almond paste, to lighten the texture of the almond paste. Gently fold in the remaining meringue in 2 batches. Continue folding until the batter is smooth and pourable. Spoon the batter into pastry bag.

Draw 3.75 cm (1.5‚ÄĚ ) circles on a sheet of parchment paper. Place on a baking sheet and cover with another parchment paper. Pipe flat mound within each circle.

Lightly tap the bottom of the baking sheet, this smoothens the surface of the macarons.

Bake 1 sheet at time for 10 to 12 minutes, or until just firm but pale. Rotate halfway through baking.

The baked macarons should be pale and evenly colored, with a distinct “collar” around the base. Let cool completely on the baking sheet before sandwiching pair of them with filling.

French Meringue Macarons

Preheat oven to 170¬įC ¬†(340¬įF).

Pour 125g (4 1/2 oz) ground almonds and 225g (8 oz) confectioners’ sugar into a food processor and grind to a fine powder, about 30 seconds. Sift through a sieve into a medium bowl.

Place 100g (3 1/2 oz) egg whites in the bowl of stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment and whip at medium speed until they hold soft peak. Add 25g (1 oz) granulated sugar and whip until the French meringue is dense and very white about 10 minutes.

Pour almond-confectioners’ sugar mixture into the meringue. Gently fold with a flexible spatula. Stir quickly to deflate the meringue slightly. This helps break down the structure of the whipped egg whites and prevents them from cracking when they bake. The batter should be pourable but thick. Spoon the macaron batter into a pastry bag.

Draw 3.75 cm¬†(1.5‚ÄĚ ) circles on a sheet of parchment paper by using a cookie cutter or glass, spacing them 2.5 cm (1″) apart to use as guides for piping. Place on a baking sheet and cover with another parchment paper. Pipe flat mound within each circle.

Tap the bottom of the baking sheets with palm of your hand to smooth the surface of the macarons. (The book does not mention resting period but most French macaron recipes call for letting them rest on the counter for at least 20 minutes before baking.)

Bake one sheet at time for 10 to 12 minutes, or until just firm but pale. Rotate the sheet halfway baking. The macarons should have the characteristic “collar” all around the edge. Let cool completely on the baking sheet before sandwiching pairs of them with filling.

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My Macaron Recipes