Recently, we asked what questions our fans and guests have for our pastry chefs, and it was no surprise that the most asked question was around how to make better French Macarons. So our executive chef and operations director, Mary Jayne Wilson, put on her favorite macaron baking t-shirt and created a video of herself making French Macarons and included some of her favorite tips and tricks.
The video will be posted on our IGTV channel and below is a summary of:
- Troubleshooting Tips
- Almond flour
- Powdered sugar
- Granulated sugar
- Egg whites
- Electric mixer with paddle and whip attachments
- Small metal sauce pot
- Cookie baking sheet
- Silicone baking mat or parchment paper
- 804 or 806 size (Ateco brand is what we use) straight piping tips
- Plastic piping bags – you will need one for each color that you make
- Several rubber spatulas
- 1 1/2 cups (113g) almond flour, sprinkled lightly into a dry measuring cup and leveled with a straight edge (if measuring by volume)
- 1 cup (113g) confectioners’ sugar
- 3 large egg whites
- Pinch of salt
- 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons (124g) granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon (46g) water
- Do Ahead: Separate the eggs and put the whites in a container with a lid and keep in the refrigerator at least overnight, but for up to three days ahead of time.
- Pull out your egg whites and let come to room temperature before you start your recipe.
- Combine the water and granulated sugar, to wet sand consistency, in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat until the sugar dissolves, then bring to a rapid boil.
- Boil for 2-3 minutes; the temperature of the syrup should reach between 235°F and 240°F. This is called “soft ball stage.” If you don’t have a candy thermometer, you can check this using the ice water method, as shown in the video. Take the syrup off the heat. Immediately start whipping the egg whites on a high speed, using an electric mixer. When they hold a curved peak on the end of the beater, stop, grab the pan of hot syrup, resume beating, and pour the syrup steadily into the whites as you beat.
- Continue beating until the meringue is smooth, glossy, and forms soft peaks. The mixing bowl should still be warm, but cool enough to touch. Remove the meringue from the mixer bowl and transfer the meringue to a different bowl.
- In the mixer bowl with the paddle attachment, mix the almond flour/powdered sugar until everything is evenly combined. Add your egg whites to this mixture to create a paste that is even and similar to a cookie dough consistency. Scrape the bowl very well.
- Add in 1/3 of the meringue into the almond flour mixture and mix on low speed. Scrape the bowl again and mix until fully incorporated.
- Remove the bowl from the mixer. Using the folding technique shown in the video, fold in the remainder of the meringue using a rubber spatula.
The mixture should be smooth and consistent. You don’t want any chunks of almond cream or it will be very hard to pipe.
- Use a pastry bag with a straight tip, pipe the cookies, slightly bigger than quarter size, on your silicone baking mat or parchment-covered baking sheet. The cookie should flatten out and may spread a tiny bit. Your goal is a disc-like, fairly flat cookie.
- Repeat with the remainder of the batter. Since the cookies won’t spread as they bake, you can position them fairly close together.
- Allow to rest in a dry place with good air circulation (a countertop is fine) until you can gently touch the tops and come away with a clean finger, about 1-2 hours. Towards the end of the resting time, preheat the oven to 275°F.
- Bake the cookies for 18-20 minutes, turning halfway through the baking time.
- Remove them from the oven, and cool completely on sheet. Use a thin spatula or your hands to carefully separate them from the parchment or baking mat.
- Fill half of the cookies with jam, ganache, frosting, nut butter, or any combination of fillings that you or your family loves. Top with the remaining cookies.
French Macarons Troubleshooting Tips:
- When adding water to the dry sugar to make a wet sand consistency, wash the sides of the pot with water as well. This helps prevent crystallization during the cooking process.
- Keep the whites on speed 2, or keep off until the sugar is very close, while the sugar is cooking; the whites should be no more than halfway up the bowl when adding the cooked sugar, turn the mixer up to speed 3 just before adding the sugar. If overmixed before the sugar is ready, they can get over whipped and grainy. You are looking for a smooth and shiny meringue.
- If the whites don’t have enough volume and your sugar is ready: whip at a higher speed before adding sugar (the cooked sugar has a small window of time to wait before pouring it without cooling down drastically).
- A slight flick of the wrist makes a big difference in whether your macarons will have a little “nipple” on the top vs. a smooth top.
- The angle that you are piping makes a difference in lopsided cookies or macarons with feet only on one side.
- Tapping the sheet pan a couple of times on the table or counter, immediately after piping, can help settle the macarons. Too much or too hard of the tapping can deflate the macarons and they could be less soft and chewy on the inside or create a gap in the shell, which causes them to break more easily, once finished.
- Perfect macarons will fall to a smooth top, but will not spread once piped.
- The oven should be set to 275°F-300°F degrees. (If convection oven, keep on low fan.) If your oven seems to be running hot or cold: use an oven thermometer to calibrate your oven and adjust the temperature.
- Each oven will potentially have slightly different bake times and different temperatures. If you know your oven runs a little hot, cut back your baking time by 2-3 minutes.
- Baking French macarons before the hour mark can result in cracks and a lack of feet.
- Waiting too long to bake, can dry them out and be easily overbaked and be too hard.
- Underbaked French macarons will be so soft that they break easily and typically get dark spots not them.
- Undercooked sugar results in a lot of spreading, too thin cookies that tend to be hard and overbaked because of how thin they are.
- Overcooked sugar or overmixed batter both create a grainy cookie that does not have a smooth top and has a nipple on top.
- Adding too much color can also result in overmixed cookies.