A delectable and delicate dessert, macarons are the perfect treat for just about any occasion. As delicious as they may be, however, they can be difficult to make. It takes precision, skill, and talent to perfect these cookies but once you do, you’ll be filled with immense pride.
Many people give up on making their own macarons right from the start because of how difficult it can be to get them right. But if you pay close enough attention, you could be well on your way to making the perfect macaron.
Why Won’t My Macarons Rise?
The reason your macarons aren’t rising may be due to the fact that you didn’t whip your egg whites correctly or they lost their shape when they were folded into the rest of the batter. Macarons get their shape from egg whites, which means if you aren’t whipping them properly you won’t see them rising when they bake.
Flat macaron tops can also be a result of overmixing your batter, so try not to fold too much or you risk having your macarons rise properly. Ideally, you want to fold your macarons using a “figure 8” design to get the ideal consistency.
Another important step in the macaron making process is leaving them to develop a “skin” before putting them in the oven. This means leaving your macarons to sit for about 30 minutes prior to baking them.
You have to make sure that a thick crust forms on the tops of your macarons, otherwise, they won’t bake correctly.
Making Sure Your Macarons Develop Feet
A macarons’ feet is what the ruffles around the shell are called. It’s important to make sure the ruffles are unbroken and small, otherwise it indicates that all the filling from the inside of the macaron has leaked out.
Many times, however, bakers find that their macarons haven’t developed any feet at all. This is a result of your batter being too wet, but could also be tied back to the fact that the skin didn’t develop properly on the macarons.
No feet in your macarons can also be the result of a “dry” meringue. This happens when you mix your egg whites too much. The moment that you notice your egg whites starting to cling to your bowl, stop whisking them.
Aside from helping your macarons rise, the skin also helps the macarons’ feet from spreading out of the cookie. Again, it’s vital to leave your macarons sitting for about a half hour before putting them in the oven so that they can develop their skin.
You can tell whether or not the skin has formed on your macaron by touching the top part. If it feels hard, there’s skin. If not, you need to let it sit for longer.
Before you decide to completely give up on your macarons, however, rest assured that there are still ways to fix it. If you notice that the shells of your macarons are too wet, place them underneath a fan and turn on a dehumidifier if you have one. This will help to draw out the moisture.
Oftentimes you may find you have the opposite problem and you may find that the feet on your macaroon have spread too much. If you notice this happening during the baking process, be sure to turn down the temperature of your oven and increase your baking time.
Another mishap that could happen with your macarons involves cracking. If you notice that the tops of your macarons are cracked, this is likely caused by having too much air in your batter.
To prevent this from happening in the future, tap your tray several times to ensure you pop all of the air bubbles. You also want to be sure you’re putting one tray of macarons in the oven at a time as overcrowding your oven could cause cracks due to lack of air circulation.
Macarons That Spread
You may think you have the batter down perfectly but the second you place your macarons onto your baking sheet, it falls short and spreads like a pancake. This is a common problem for bakers and is usually the result of overmixed batter or under whipped egg whites.
The ideal texture for your batter should be thick, not runny.
Using the Right Ingredients
A surefire way to make sure your macarons come out perfectly is to make sure you’re using the best ingredients. For example, aged egg whites tend to create a stronger meringue than fresh ones.
An aged egg white may not sound very appetizing, but it simply means they are egg whites that have been separated a day before being used. This is thanks to the proteins in the egg whites that are given a chance to relax overnight.
Another thing to make sure of is that you are using almond flour or some kind of nut flour in your macarons. If you use something such as an all-purpose flour, the batter of your cookies will turn out cakey instead of fluffy.
Using the Right Methods
At this point you are probably well aware of just how sensitive the macaron making process can be. So it should come as no surprise that there’s even a proper way to fold in your batter. In fact, it’s recommended that you fold your dry ingredients into your wet ingredients in separate batches.
This not only makes sure you’re getting the proper consistency, but will also regulate your folding.
Macarons are known not just for their delicious flavors, but also for their bright colors. So of course, you’re going to want to incorporate food coloring into the mix. If you decide to do this, however, steer clear of liquid food coloring and opt for a gel or powdered coloring instead.
Adding in too much liquid will end up thinning out your batter, which is why a gel or powder works best in this situation. This is another thing to keep in mind when adding in flavoring.
Now that you know the ins and outs of making macarons, it’s time to put your expertise to use! For this macaron recipe you will need: almond flour, egg whites, granulated sugar, powdered sugar, vanilla, and cream of tartar to make the cookies.
For the buttercream you will need unsalted butter, egg yolks, granulated sugar, vanilla, water, and a pinch of salt.
To start making the cookies you’ll want to make sure you are mixing in the powdered sugar and almond flour together. In another bowl, you will then add your egg whites and begin to whisk. When you see the foam starting to foam, you can then begin to add the granulated sugar and cream of tartar.
Any time you are adding anything into egg whites make sure you do so slowly. Next, add the vanilla and food coloring before you begin the folding process using the figure-8 test along the way.
Add in the rest of the dry ingredients and continue to fold as gently as possible. When you feel like you’ve reached the right consistency in your batter, be sure to scoop it into your piping bag and start putting the dollops of dough on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet.
Don’t forget to tap your tray several times to get rid of any air bubbles in your batter. Let your macarons sit for about 30 to 40 minutes before you put them into the oven.
While waiting, preheat your oven to 300 degrees. After the setting period, put your cookies into the oven and bake for about 15 minutes, be sure to keep a close eye on them along the way.
Your buttercream filling is next up and can be easily put together while your cookies are baking. You will want to start off by combining the sugar and water into a small pot and heating it up until the sugar has dissolved entirely and you’re left with a simple syrup.
In another bowl, beat your egg yolks until they are frothy and creamy. You will want to put the simple syrup mixture into the egg yolks but be extremely careful doing so as you don’t want to end up with scrambled eggs.
Be sure to keep the mixer on while you are mixing in the syrup. When the mix is cool, you can then begin to add in the butter, vanilla, and salt. Continue to mix it all up until it has blended together smoothly.
Again, you are going to use your piping bag here to add the filling into your cookies.
Sarah is the founder of Baking Kneads, LLC, a blog sharing guides, tips, and recipes for those learning how to bake. Growing up as the daughter of a baker, she spent much of her childhood learning the basics in a local bakery.