Macarons are mac’ing me crazy ;)

Hi everyone! So for those of you who follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you know that I’ve been obsessed with making macarons for a few months now. Macarons are one of my favorite treats and I’ve finally dived in to making them myself.

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I’ve been making multiple batches a week now, playing with different recipes/techniques, testing out different variables, and I’ve finally figured out a way to consistently get a good batch every time. They are tricky little beasties and there are a lot of factors that can contribute to a batch failing from oily almond flour to bad meringue technique. I highly recommend joining some of the macaron groups on Facebook. I’ve learned SO much from the amazing bakers in that group.

My recipe is based on Mimi’s famous macaron recipe (https://www.indulgewithmimi.com/the-best-macaron-recipe/) as well as knowledge and techniques I’ve acquired from the All Things Macaron Facebook group.

Ingredients:

  • 65 grams almond flour – I use Costco.
  • 65 grams powdered sugar – I use Wholesome Sweeteners Organic Powdered Sugar which has tapioca flour instead of corn.
  • 10 grams tapioca starch/flour – I use Bob’s Red Mill.
  • 45 grams fine granulated sugar – I use Wholesome Sweeteners Organic Cane Sugar.
  • 50 grams egg whites, at room temperature – I use the Organic Valley carton egg whites. If I’m impatient, I add one fresh egg white and then use the rest carton because the egg whites whip up a little faster, but otherwise, I just use the carton whites. I do not age them like the original recipe calls for.
  • ⅛ teaspoon cream of tartar

White vinegar for cleaning

Equipment:

  • Stand mixer with whisk attachment – For this small of a batch, I prefer to use the 3 quart bowl with my 4.5 qt Kitchenaid Stand Mixer. It makes the meringue whip up better, especially when using carton whites.
  • Two large bowls – Use glass or metal. Plastic can hold on to oils.
  • Spatulas – I always keep a couple around so I don’t have to touch anything with my hands (oils there too!). Make sure you use your best one for any macaronage folding. 😉
  • Mesh strainer – I like the Norpro mesh strainers. Do not use one with double layers because stuff will get stuck and it’s horrible to clean.
  • Cookie sheets – Do not use cookie sheets with sides. If you only have baking sheets with sides, turn them upside down and use them. It helps with air flow. I really love my heavy duty cookie sheets from Vollrath. I got them here. A lot of other bakers really like the Airbake cookie sheets.
  • Silpat baking mats – I prefer the Silpat mats with the macaron markings. I got the actual Silpat name brand because I always worry about knockoffs from less regulated countries having bad stuff in them and also not working well. The original Silpat sheets are made in France.
  • Piping bag & tip – This is all up to the bakers preference. I prefer to use reusable bags from Wilton or Ateco with a plastic coupler and a size 12 wilton round tip.

Directions:

  1. Wipe everything down with white vinegar on a paper towel to help make sure there are no residual oils anywhere. This is especially important for the whisk and stand mixer bowl.
  2. Measure out your egg whites into the clean bowl and set aside to room up to room temperature.
  3. Measure out your granulated sugar into a small bowl and set aside.
  4. Measure the powdered sugar, tapioca starch and almond flour into one bowl (glass or metal is best). I usually use a mesh strainer and sift while measuring. Try to tap it out over a sink to clean it in between each ingredient. (NOTE: Do not press the almond flour through. It can release oils. I do however push my powdered sugar through in this round to help break up the clumps.)
  5. Take another large bowl and using the mesh strainer, I sift the flour/sugar/starch mix again to combine. Do not press anything through this time. Set aside.
  6. Once the egg whites have warmed up a bit, you can make your meringue.
    • Begin to whip the egg whites at a speed of 2. Once they’ve gotten foamy, stop the machine and place the cream of tartar in the center so it doesn’t stick to the sides of the bowl. Turn the machine back on to speed 2.
    • Once it starts become white in color, it’s time to add the sugar bit by bit. I usually just use a rectangle or square tupperware and use a corner as a pour spout. I put it super close to the body machine and pour out about a tablespoon at a time. Once it incorporates, you add another.
    • Once all the sugar is added, turn off the machine and quickly use one of your clean spatulas to scrape down the sugar that didn’t make it into the egg whites.
    • Turn the machine back on and increase the speed to 4 for a couple minutes. You can continue whipping at this speed or if using carton egg whites, it sometimes helps to increase the speed to 6. DO NOT EXCEED 6. This keeps the bubbles smaller and tighter. 🙂 If it is not whipping up at 6, you may have it in too big of a bowl for the egg white volume OR your carton egg whites aren’t great for meringue (not all carton egg whites work for meringue).
    • Your meringue is done when it is stiff and shiny. It can take anywhere between 6-12 minutes depending on your egg whites/mixer. It should be balling up within the whisk, form stiff peaks and be white & glossy in appearance. See my meringue checklist below for more help. Here’s a picture too!

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  1. Bang off the removed whisk attachment to remove the large chunks of meringue, then take your sifted flour mix and put it all in directly in the meringue. Put the whisk attachment back on the machine.
  2. You’re going to be using the machine for your macaronage for about 15 seconds. It’ll be okay. 😀 Just be careful and don’t count too slowly. 😉 It is better to do only a little bit than too much. I work my way up to a speed of 6 so that I don’t have flour flying everywhere. I do 1-2-3 at stir or speed 2, 4-5 on speed 4 and the remainder on speed 6. DO NOT EXCEED speed 6. Quickly turn off the machine once you hit 15 seconds.
  3. Take off your whisk attachment and using a spatula, scrap the sides and fold in the meringue that didn’t get mixed in. Now, it’s time to check and see if your batter is ready. Check out mimi’s videos on testing on macaronage and how to test. I do a ribbon and then count to 30. If it is mostly disappearing back in, then it is ready. If it isn’t ready yet, finish your macaronage by hand. Check out youtube videos for tips on how to do macaronage by hand. (I tend to err on the side of slightly undermixed since I am not super gentle with the piping bag.)
  4. Gently transfer to your piping bag and then pipe away! Make sure you’re piping with the bag vertically. Piping at an angle will create lopsided macarons (Check out Mimi’s video here to take a look at her technique and see batter consistency.)

NOTE: If you pipe slowly, proceed to steps 11 and 12 immediately after you finish piping each tray. If you are not slow, you can do additional trays first. It is important to do step 11 and 12 before the skin starts to thicken up.

  1. Drop or hit the trays on your counter a handful of times to help break up bubbles. Turn the tray perpendicular and do it again a few times. Be careful to not bend your trays by banging on an edge of a counter. Learn from my mistakes! 😉
  2. Use a toothpick to pop any large air bubbles that remain afterward, especially ones on the edges of the macarons because they’ll create breaks in your feet.
  3. Once everything is piped, turn on your oven and set a timer for 20 minutes. Preheat to 350 degrees fahrenheit convection(fan).
    1. Ovens are where things get trickier. My temperatures may not work for you. It took a lot of trial and error (along with buying multiple internal thermometers and calibrating my oven!) to figure out what works for my oven. My oven seems to cycle pretty well if I give it 20-30 minutes to warm up, but some people may find they want to start their ovens at the beginning of the process to allow them to go through multiple cycles and even out.
  4. Leave your piped macarons sitting for at least 20-30 minutes on the counter top. Once they have formed a good skin (can gently touch them and it feels dry), you can put your first tray in the oven. Here’s a picture of how I have my oven set up. I have a “shield tray” on the top shelf to help protect them and then bake my macarons on the middle shelf. (Please ignore how dirty my oven is. Ew.)

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  1. Bake at 350 for 6-7 minutes. Then, open up the oven, turn your tray around and turn the oven temp down to 315. Continue baking for another 7 minutes.
  2. Time to check and see if they’re done! Open the door and quickly wiggle the top of a shell. If there is any movement, they aren’t done. Check them in 1-2 minute intervals after this to make sure they don’t overbake. When they don’t wiggle, take them out of the oven to cool. I don’t use dye so mine come out an ivory/light beige. Here, I err on the side of overbaked. It’s easier to fix an overbaked macaron than an underbaked one.
  3. Bring your oven back up to 350 and begin again with your next tray.
  4. Let them cool completely on the warm tray and silpat mat so they do not cool too fast. When they are completely cool, they should easily come peel right off the mat.
  5. Fill immediately or place them in a container and line with parchment or wax paper in between layers to freeze. I personally prefer to freeze them first because I like my filling to stick nicely due to them being cold. To each their own here!

I hope this works out for you. Just remember to be kind with yourself and keep at it. I have been making so many macarons that I’ve begun to dream about making them. In the end, it was worth it for me because they taste so darn good, make my friends (aka my taste testers) happy, and I love being in control of what’s going into them since we try to avoid artificial dyes and use organic and fair trade if possible.

Macarons are NOT easy and anyone who tells you otherwise does not know how to make a good macaron.

There are SO many things that can go wrong. You have to approach this like a scientist and test different variables one at time. Most common issues involve meringue technique, household humidity (this can cause issues with the skin forming), oven temperature, and ingredient issues. Ask questions of your fellow bakers in the Facebook groups. They are amazing and will be able to help you out so much!

Also, the fabulous Mimi has a great troubleshooting section to her website. You can find it here.

I’ll share a few of the problems I personally encountered in my process.

The biggest instigator of problems? MERINGUE. It’s all about technique here and figuring out what works for you. Here’s the checklist I’ve developed along the way.

  • Is there significant balling up within the whisk while it is whipping?
  • When I remove it, does it leave behind pointy peaks? (If the peak is tall, it will flop over, but shorter peaks should stand at attention!)
  • While holding the detached whisk and dipping it into the meringue, is there a decent amount of resistance or does my whisk move easily? Easily = not done.
  • Does the peak on the whisk look like a firm bird’s beak (so a little droop from gravity, but not much)?
  • When I rotate the whisk around in my hand, does the peak on the whisk move with the whisk or hold its shape?
  • When I bang off the meringue on the whisk back into the bowl, does it look like warm taffy?

The other issue I have regularly encountered with my adaptation is that the macarons end up with little oily blotches, this can mean a few things – your almond flour is oily. Sometimes these fade within a day or two, other times they don’t. Here are some possible fixes.

  • Try pre-baking it around 200 degrees fahrenheit for about 20 minutes. Let it cool completely before using.
  • As mentioned in the directions, be sure not to push it through your mesh strainer as this can release some of oils from the almond flour.
  • If you’re making your own almond flour or using a food processor to make your flour a little finer before sifting, be sure to always do so with some powdered sugar to help with the oil releasing.
  • Blotches could also be related to your baking/oven.
  • It could be from an overall underbaking like taking them out too soon.
  • It could be that your oven temperatures are off.
  • It could be you need to increase your time for the initial high temp part.

And the last problem I’ll be covering today is wrinkled shells. This was the hardest thing for me to fix when I was developing this recipe. The trick that I developed to make sure this didn’t happen is two fold.

  • Making sure the piped shells get a good skin on them prior to be putting in the oven (As I said in the recipe, 20-30 minutes of resting should do it. Don’t go too long or that can cause other issues!)
  • The higher temperature for the first 6 minutes. This helps provide slightly taller feet, but it also helps with the wrinkling. Play around with your oven temperatures if you’re experiencing wrinkles following this higher than low. You may need to raise or lower one or both of the temperatures. Each oven is different.

That’s a lot, but I hope you find it really helpful. 🙂 Happy baking!

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