Have you been trying to get your macarons to stop coming out hollow, but you are simply at a loss as to why you can’t do so? Well, you’re certainly not alone.
Macarons are tricky to bake perfectly, and ending up with hollow cookies is one of the most common issues bakers have with them. All you need is one little mistake, and your macarons will be hollow.
Although there are a lot of things to consider when you are attempting to correct a baking issue like this, this article should help get you headed in the right direction.
Causes for Hollow Macarons
In this section, you’ll read about the most common reasons for macarons turning out hollow. You can use this knowledge to either utilize a trial-and-error method to figure out your particular problem, or you can simply brainstorm which you think is the most probable culprit for your issue.
Here are the causes we will be discussing:
- Not piping macarons correctly
- Setting the oven temperature too high
- Problems with the meringue’s structure
- Shells of macarons not baked enough
- Batter is mixed too much
- Not tapping sheet macarons are on
Let’s take a look at each of these to see how to properly carry out every part of baking macarons that could lead to hollow cookies.
First, we will go over piping your macarons correctly. It is very likely that doing this step improperly could be the reason your macarons are coming out of the oven hollow.
How to Pipe Macarons
One way to prevent your macarons from being hollow is by piping them properly. First of all, you should either print out or create your own template or, in other words, a map of sorts that shows you exactly where to pipe the macaron batter.
This will greatly help you get your macarons to be the right size. You can find a free downloadable template online, or you can simply draw circles of the correct size by hand on the parchment paper you will be using.
Once you have your template prepared and ready to use, you can begin the actual piping process of your macarons. When you squeeze the batter from the bag it is in, try your best to form a 90-degree angle with the bag and surface where your baking sheet and template are on.
What this will do is help keep the batter more evenly spread out into each circle on the template. Try to fill in each circle while aiming it toward the center of every one.
Avoid filling the circles in from the outside because this can make it much more difficult to avoid overfilling the circles.
When you’re squeezing the macaron batter from the bag, it’s vital that you get a nice firm grasp on the bag. Also, make sure that you hold your hand directly above where the batter is in the piping bag, as this will provide you with more control while you are aiming for the centers of the circles on your template.
As long as you take heed of these tips during the piping stage of your macarons, you should be able to get it done properly.
Hopefully this will take care of the issue you have with your macarons coming out hollow, but if it does not, keep reading to find the solution that works for you. Keep in mind that it is very possible you are making more than one mistake in the preparation and/or baking of your cookies.
Perfect Oven Temperature for Macarons
If you don’t use the right oven temperature to bake your macarons, they can very well come out of the oven hollow. This is a particularly common issue with those who have convection ovens rather than conventional ones.
This is because convection ovens use fans to keep the heat circulating inside of them, which ends up making them get hotter than conventional ovens since they are more efficient. For this reason, you need to accommodate for this by lowering the temperature found on recipes by 25 degrees Fahrenheit.
To bake macarons in a conventional oven, you would set your oven’s temperature to 300 degrees Fahrenheit, and for baking them in a convection oven, you would use a temperature of 275 degrees Fahrenheit.
Also, make sure your oven preheats completely before you put your macarons into it. You can make sure the inside of the oven is the correct temperature by using an oven thermometer.
Whether you use an oven thermometer can actually determine if your macarons come out hollow, since baking these delicate cookies at the wrong temperature can result in them under- or over-cooking.
Prior to putting your cookies in the oven, you need to let the piped batter sit on the baking sheet for a half hour to an hour, or until it has dried. This will ensure that the cookies rise properly while they are baking and create their infamous feet on the bottoms.
Whip up the Perfect Meringue
Creating a meringue that is adequately stable can make a huge difference in how your macarons turn out. The meringue actually helps to hold the cookies together, and it plays a large role in whether they end up being hollow.
Giving your meringue a good structure all really comes down to properly whipping it. The whipping process adds pockets of air to the egg whites, which helps strengthen the structure.
Your meringue needs to be stiff enough to hold its form so it can keep those air bubbles within it. However, it should not be whipped too much, or the meringue will collapse in on itself.
Before you begin beating the egg whites, however, let them sit at room temperature for about a half hour. You can even let them sit for a longer period of time if you are patient enough.
To whip your meringue to perfection, start beating the egg whites with your mixer on the lowest setting using the whisk attachment. This attachment is perfect for making macaron meringue as it allows for enough air to be introduced to the egg whites.
Continue whipping the meringue for about a half-minute to a minute, or until you see several bubbles starting to appear in it.
Now, increase the speed on your mixer to medium, and whip the egg whites for another minute or two. Your meringue should be visibly on its way to getting thicker but still quite watery and able to run off of the mixer.
Next, change the setting on your mixer to increase the speed by one notch, and whip the egg whites until you have meringue with stiff points starting to show up. This should take anywhere from five to eight minutes.
As long as you have some nice, stiff peaks that stay in place well without falling over, your meringue has been beaten to perfection, and you have eliminated one possibility for your macarons coming out of the oven hollow.
Bake Macaron Shells Properly
A very common culprit for hollow macarons is not baking the shells for a long enough period of time. However, there is a very easy way to tell if your shells have finished baking completely.
All you need to do is gently touch one of them with your fingertip or with a utensil of some sort, such as a butter knife, being careful not to damage it in any way. If the macaron shell moves around a bit when you touch it, they need more time to bake.
Make sure you check to see if they are done about every minute so that you do not unintentionally overcook them. Once they do not move around easily when you gently touch them, they should be finished baking.
After you remove your macaron shells from the oven, it is important that you let them cool off sufficiently before filling them with buttercream, which typically takes around 15 minutes.
Do not force them off the paper or baking mat, as you can accidentally break them by doing so. If they have dried long enough, they will easily come off of the parchment paper.
If you make sure your macaron shells are baked long enough, you have less of a chance of ending up with hollow macarons. Thus, this is a very important part of the process.
Make Good Macaron Batter
Making the perfect macaron batter can be difficult to get right. Many times, people will mix it too much or with more force than is necessary, which can result in hollow macarons.
To make a good batter for your cookies, first you should add cream of tartar to your egg whites, and whip them with your mixer until you have soft peaks forming. Then, add the granulated sugar into the egg whites gradually until you have stiff, shiny peaks starting to appear.
If you happen to be using food coloring in your macarons, now is the ideal time to add it. You should do so at a steady pace, folding the pigment into the mixture gently.
Now, you can put the beaten egg whites aside and work on preparing the dry ingredients of the batter.
Make sure you either sift the almond flour and powdered sugar together or use a food processor to blend them into a super fine consistency. This will help make your macarons turn out nice and smooth, as they are meant to be, as it helps to remove any lumps.
Next, you can begin to slowly add the beaten egg whites to the dry ingredients, gradually adding some in three separate times or so to get the proper viscosity.
You should be able to easily pipe your macaron batter onto parchment paper or a baking mat, so it should be thick while also being smooth.
One way to test if your batter is the right consistency is by making a figure eight using your spoon. If you are able to easily make the shape without the batter breaking away from the spoon, it is ready to pipe into the circles.
The key is being patient when it comes to making the perfect macaron batter. Keep using the figure eight trick until it is thick enough, and do not mix it any longer after this, or you might end up with hollow macarons.
Tap Your Baking Sheet
One reason you might bake hollow macarons is because you forgot to tap your baking sheet after the piping stage.
You need to do this to get rid of any air bubbles that might be present in the batter. If there are a lot of air pockets in the batter, it can result in your macarons breaking open, or in other words, becoming hollow.
This is a step that many people are not even aware that they should do, so overlooking it is an easy mistake to make.
Other Important Tips
Now that you know just what to do to try to prevent baking hollow macarons, there are a few other tips about baking them that can assist you in creating the perfect cookies. Keeping this advice in your mind will allow you to bake macarons that even a seasoned pastry chef would be proud of.
Sift Cocoa Powder
A lot of people like to use a bit of cocoa powder in their macaron batter to add a chocolatey flavor. If you are one of these people, make sure you add the cocoa powder in with your other dry ingredients, and then sift them all together.
As mentioned earlier in the article, this will ensure there are no lumps present before you mix up the batter. Run your almond flour, powdered sugar, and cocoa powder through a sifter or put it in a food processor to combine them into a very fine consistency.
Use Food Color Paste
If you are getting creative with your macarons and would like to add some color to the cookies, you should always try to use food color paste instead of the liquid food coloring.
Believe it or not, using the liquid variety can alter the consistency of your batter enough that it can turn out too runny. Thus, it is important for you to use the paste and to use it in your beaten egg whites before combining the dry ingredients with it.
This will ensure that you have batter that is thick enough to pipe properly.
When you are combining all of your ingredients together, it is vital that you gently fold them into each other rather than vigorously mix the batter.
This will help you create macarons that have a sturdy structure and will not become hollow during the baking process.
Chill Your Cookies
To make your macarons the right texture, pop them into the fridge overnight once they have cooled at room temperature. If you can find the strength to do this before eating or sharing your cookies, they will have the perfect texture and flavor, and they will be enjoyed even more.
When you are in the piping stage of making your macarons, make sure you fill your circles in carefully and slowly. This way, you can more easily avoid overfilling the outlines on your template.
If you are not using a template or parchment paper that has circles drawn on it, aim to pipe the batter out into circles that are about an inch and a half in diameter.
As mentioned previously, you should pipe starting at the center of every circle until each one is almost filled in, and then let the remaining area get filled by the batter spreading out.
It might be easier for you to use a baking mat for your macarons. Using one can also save you some money since you do not need to use parchment paper.
However, some bakers claim that using a baking mat can keep the macarons from getting sufficiently dry as they can hold moisture more than parchment paper does. This is certainly something to keep in mind when considering utilizing a mat.
Macarons are one of the most difficult types of cookies to bake right, so you should never get discouraged in your endeavor to bake the perfect macaron.
Most people who try to make them properly have to attempt it several times before correcting all of the issues that pop up throughout the process. These cookies are complicated because there are so many little things that can go wrong and ruin them.
Even those pastry chefs with years of experience can have some trouble baking flawless macarons. It is a process that can take a great deal of time for anyone to perfect. Always remember this when you find yourself on the verge of giving up.
You can get your macarons to turn out well without being hollow. Having patience and determination are the most important aspects of creating macarons.
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.