7 years ago while in Seattle at a French bakery, I tried French macarons for the first time. It was love at first bite! After tasting the delish confection, I was intrigued and determined to learn how to make macarons! After many attempts (and mishaps,) I had my first (semi) successful batch of macarons, using the Italian meringue method, for my daughter’s birthday in 2013, but I’ve had my fair share of disasters with macarons since then.
The idea that French 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! 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 are my tips and step by step recipe showing you how to make French macarons, in a step by step guide, while explaining the difference between the common French macaron baking methods.
This Italian macaron recipe yields the most delicious results and is also perfect for beginners!
HOW TO MAKE MACARONS – ITALIAN MERINGUE
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 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 back and forth about how to properly pronounce macarons. I assure they are not called “Macaroons.” I had lots of practice with pronunciation while in Paris last summer.
This is how you properly pronounce them in French. Scroll to 4.30 seconds.
French Macaron Methods
There are three common methods when learning how to make French Macarons. French Meringue, Italian Meringue and Swiss Meringue. Each method uses a different style of meringue. You’ll learn quickly that the quality of the meringue is an essential factor in the overall quality of your macarons.
French Macaron differences
The difference in the three macaron baking methods comes down to the preparation of the meringue. The method of choice is based on preference and the amount of time you have on your hands, but you’ll find that sturdier meringue, plays a big role in the overall success of French macarons. 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 macaron results.
French meringue is made by whisking sugar into beaten egg whites in thirds until glossy stiff peaks form. This method tends to be the quickest and easiest to learn on, but is not as forgiving based on my experience. To make macarons using the french method, fold the measured dry ingredients into the classic french meringue until it forms 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.
Baking mats for french macarons
Parchment is great for macarons, but I’ve noticed the shells bake slightly uneven along the bottoms, if the paper is not completely flat against the baking sheet.
Silpat works great for the Italian method. This is because the macaron shell bakes up much sturdier in the oven. When buying a silicone mat, I highly recommend using silpat brand. They are more expensive you’ll have better luck with a quality baking mat, than many alternatives.
Whether baking macarons on parchment or silpat, or even teflon, it’s important to let the shells completely cool before removing them. Leave the macarons on the silicone or parchment for at least 20 prior to removing. Macarons should be cool to touch.
Ingredients for French Macarons – Italian Meringue
While learning how to make French macarons, you’ll need the following ingredients for the the Italian meringue method. All of the macaron baking supplies are also referenced below.
- Almond Flour: You’ll want a good quality almond flour for making Italian macarons. The finer the grind the better. I’ve been using Kirkland brand almond flour for years and sifting out any large pieces and it always works great!
- Icing Sugar: I highly recommend using CH brand powdered sugar because it has a small amount of cornstarch in it which results in good quality macaron batter.
- Granulated Sugar: It is not necessary to use superfine sugar for Italian macarons. Granulated CH brand sugar works perfectly and is what is used to make the sugar syrup for the quality Italian meringue.
- Egg Whites: I recommend using the same brand of eggs each time. You’ll familiarize yourself with the quality of the eggs which will help determine whether it’s necessary to rest the eggs or not. If eggs are super fresh, rest them overnight by separating from yolks and placing in an airtight container for use the next day. Be careful that there are no yolks or shell pieces in the whites, so the egg whites whip up properly.
- Gel or powdered food coloring: Please do not use water based food coloring in your macarons. This will add liquid to the meringue. Instead use gel or powdered colors for the best results.
French Macaron baking tips
Make sure all tools are in good working order.
Measure and prep all of the ingredients and supplies prior to starting a batch of macarons. This will ease the baking process.
If using super fresh eggs, age the egg whites the night before. If egg whites are too fresh, this can result in a lower PH level which can in turn cause a low quality meringue and misshapen macarons shells.
Once meringue is ready, begin folding it into the almond flour and icing sugar mix for macaronage.
Macaronage /or folding the batter
Macaronage is the stage where the batter is folded around the edges of the bowl and once through the center to remove some of the air from the meringue, until smoothed and slowly running off the spatula with a ribbon like consistency. The figure eight is a common reference when macaron batter is ready. The macaronage process generally takes 3-4 minutes.
Be careful not to over fold the batter. You’re looking for batter consistency that’s slightly thick and ribbon like, but not runny. When piped, any bumps in the batter should gradually smooth, but not spread on the baking sheet. It’s better to under-fold batter slightly, than overfold.
How to pipe macaron batter?
It is important to pipe the macaron batter by steadily holding the piping tip directly above the baking mat at a 90 degree angle. Gently squeeze each round of batter, using a flick of the wrist before piping remaining batter.
Give the macarons time to rest and form a proper skin prior to baking in the oven. With this recipe, the piped batter should be dry to touch with no batter coming off on fingers.
Do I need to mature macarons?
Maturation is a process that takes place when macarons are filled and moved to the fridge, for the flavors to mingle together, resulting in delicious flavorful and crisp shells, with a soft center. I highly recommend letting macarons mature 24 hours, or at least 4 hours before serving.
Store filled macarons in an airtight container right away, until ready to serve.
French macaron baking results
Sometimes the first batch of macarons 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. Also reference the macaron trouble shooting guide below.
A proper macaron whether made with the Italian or French method will have a smooth round shell that’s slightly crisp on the outside, with a soft center, and ruffly feet lining the solid bottom edge.
What are macaron 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 Italian meringue macarons a try?
Watch my quick step by step macaron video before you get started!
The Italian Meringue macaron recipe I use is an adapted version from Buchon Bakery. This one has been my go-to for years with many 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.
French Macaron Fillings
The most common fillings for french macarons include swiss meringue buttercream, jams, curds and ganache. My go-to is a combination of dairy free buttercream and jam, or dark chocolate ganache!
French Macaron Troubleshooting
Why are my macarons hollow?
I’ve had half hollow shells or an air pocket inside my macarons many times. There are multiple causes, but I find that any hollow air pockets mostly correct when the shells are filled and maturing in the fridge. To be honest, macaron success should not be based off of whether the shells are slightly hollow or not. On social media there seems to be an obsession with full macaron shells, to the point where bakers are breaking and throwing out batches of macarons that have even a small air pocket. Please know that air pockets are normal and should not be the deciding factor in whether or not your maacarons are considered usable or successful.
I recommend focusing first on learning the basics and achieving a batch with proper texture and appearance!
As far as the cause of hollows goes, I’ve learned this can happen when the batter is over-mixed or even under mixed, or when the shells are baked too long in the oven.
Why did my macaron shells crack?
Shells that crack on top or explode while baking in the oven, are usually caused by a short resting time. The macarons did not form the skin and all the air that usually bubbles around the bottom of the macaron to form the feet, ends up going out the tops of the shell instead.
Cracked shells can also with to hot of an oven.
Why did my macaron shells spread?
Macaron shells spread when the batter has been over-folded and is much too thin. With Italian macarons, you want the batter to be thick and slowly moving. Under-fold if necessary!
Why are my macaron shells soft?
Poor quality meringue that’s not beaten to stiff peaks is what I usually find to be the culprit. That and too much moisture, or humidity.
Why are my macarons brown?
Brown macaron shells are 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.
My macarons have no feet
Macarons that are missing feet are usually the result of a runny batter and poor quality meringue. It’s important for the batter to be thick and fully whipped for proper macaron feet to form. Also check the baking mat you’re using.
My macaron shells are uneven and or lopsided
This is usually a piping error, but it can also be the result of not removing enough air out of the batter during macaronage and too stiff of a meringue. And also hot spots in the oven.
Press the batter against the walls of the mixing bowl to remove some of the air bubbles. During piping, make sure to hold the piping tip directly above the baking sheet, also be sure to only gently tap the piped batter on the counter so that they hold their even round shape.
Lastly, check for hot spots in the oven. You can always turn the temperature down a few degrees to experiement.
The number one piece of advice I can give when it comes to baking French macarons is to 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 this step by step guide will help ease the process!
I wish you good luck with your next batch of Italian Meringue macarons! I’m here if you need me and 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.