7 years ago while in Seattle at a French bakery, I tried macarons for the first time and it was love at first bite!
After tasting the delish french confection, I was intrigued and inspired to start baking them on my own. Plenty of attempts later, I made what I called my first successful batch of macarons for my daughter’s birthday in 2013, but I’ve had my fair share of disasters with macarons since.
The idea that macarons are difficult to make is enough to feel intimidated even before the baking process begins. I know, because I’ve been there. But not to worry friends! Today I’m here to encourage you and let you know that baking macarons is not as hard as it seems. It is however, a process that takes time and experience…but with patience and practice you’ll be baking macarons like a boss in no time!
Below, I’m sharing my tips for baking successful macarons, while also explaining the difference between the two common baking methods.
Let’s start with the basics.
What is a French Macaron?
A french macaron is a delicate meringue based french confection made with almond flour, meringue and sweet fillings of choice. Not to be confused with the macaroon, which is a cookie made with shredded coconut and often dipped in chocolate. The shell of the macaron is naturally gluten-free.
There is plenty of talk about how to properly pronounce macarons. I assure they are not called “Macaroons.” I had lots of practice saying it while I was in Paris last summer.
This is how you properly pronounce them in French. Scroll to 4.30 seconds.
There are two common methods for making French Macarons. French Meringue and Italian Meringue.
What’s the difference?
The difference in the methods comes down to the preparation of the meringue. The method of choice is based on preference and really, the amount of time you have on your hands. Through experience I’ve learned that I prefer the Italian method (although it takes a little longer to prep and bake), because it yields much more consistent results.
French meringue is made by whisking sugar into beaten egg whites until glossy stiff peaks form. This method tends to be the quickest and easiest to learn on. To make macarons using the french method, you fold the measured dry ingredients into the classic french meringue until it forms the ribbon like batter.
Italian meringue is much denser and made by whisking a hot sugar syrup into the egg whites until glossy peaks form. The Italian meringue is then folded into the paste made from egg whites, almond flour and powdered sugar to create a thicker macaron batter. The Italian Meringue method takes longer to prep and bake, but can be sturdier and easier to work with.
Silpat or Parchment?
Parchment is great for macarons, but I’ve noticed the shells can bake up slightly uneven along the bottoms, if the paper is not completely flat against the baking sheet.
Silpat works great for the Italian method. I assume this is because the macaron shell bakes up so much sturdier in the oven! I haven’t had much luck using silpat with the French Meringue macarons.
Whether baking macarons on parchment or silpat, it’s important to allow the shells to completely cool before removing them.
Below are a few do’s and dont’s to take into consideration when you’re baking macarons.
Make sure to have a good working candy thermometer and kitchen scale on hand.
Do measure all of the ingredients prior to baking macarons.
Once filled, give the finished macarons time to mature in the fridge. I recommend at least 2 hours and up to 24 before serving.
Do store in an airtight container right away.
Over fold the batter. You’re looking for a batter consistency that is slightly thick and ribbon like, but not runny. When piped, any bumps in the batter should gradually disappear, but not run spread on the baking sheet.
Panic! Sometimes the first batch of macarons that you pipe won’t turn out as well as the second. Or the entire batch might not turn out at all! Take notes and test one sheet at a time so that you can make proper adjustments if need be.
A proper macaron whether made with the Italian or French method will have a smooth round shell with formed feet lining the bottom edge.
What are feet?
Feet are the magical ruffles that form at the bottom of the macaron shells, as they bake and rise in the oven. They are an indicator of a proper macaronage and sought after by every macaron baker.
Ready to give them a try?
Watch my quick video before you get started!
The Italian Meringue macaron recipe I use is an adapted from Buchon Bakery. This one has been my go-to for years with some adjustments made over time to suit my process.
For the macarons: For the Ganache: Assembly: Place macarons in an airtight container until filled. They will keep for 3 days in the fridge and 6 months in the freezer.
For the macarons:
For the Ganache:
Place macarons in an airtight container until filled. They will keep for 3 days in the fridge and 6 months in the freezer.
The most common fillings for french macarons are swiss meringue butter cream, jams, curds and ganache. My go-to is a combination of dairy free buttercream and jam, or dark chocolate ganache!
I’ve had half hollow shells or an air pocket inside my macarons many times. I haven’t quite figured out the cause, but I find it mostly corrects itself when the shells are filled and maturing in the fridge. To be honest, I don’t think macaron success should be based off of whether the shells are slightly hollow or not. People don’t view macarons from the inside, so I recommend focusing first on learning the basics and achieving a good looking batch!
As far as the cause of hollows goes, I’ve heard this can happen when the batter is over-mixed or when the shells are baked too long in the oven. If you know of any other reasons, share them below!
Shells that crack on top while baking in the oven, are usually caused by a short resting time. They did not form the skin and all the air that usually bubbles around the bottom of the macaron (feet,) ends up going out the top of the shell instead.
Runny meringue that’s not beaten to stiff peaks is what I usually find to be the culprit.
Over baked. Try turning the oven down by 5+10 degrees, or place a pan above the rack of macarons in the oven to shield them from the heat. Watch them closely to make sure they don’t over cook and pull them from the oven right away.
This is usually a piping error. Make sure to hold the piping tip directly above the baking sheet when piping the macarons, also be sure to only gently tap the piped batter on the counter so that they hold their even round shape.
The number one piece of advice I can give when it comes to baking macarons is this.
Practice, practice practice!
There’s nothing more rewarding than a perfectly baked batch of macarons, but all good things take time! I have years of experience and still run into problems every now and again, so don’t be hard on yourself, move forward with confidence, take notes and try again! When you do so, you’ll start to recognize what works best for you and hopefully my guide will help ease the process!
I wish you good luck with your next batch of Italian Meringue macarons! I’m here for the comments and I cannot wait to hear from you!
Check back for the part 2 guide, baking macarons with the French Meringue method.
I’ve linked all my favorite items for baking macarons below!
This post titled How to Make French Macarons – Italian Meringue Method was seen first on Posh Little Designs. All Rights Reserved. 2019.