Fancy making some macarons at home? Then this article is for you. In this article, I am covering different topics related to macarons, and I will share with you my top tips. There is a lot of info to digest, but believe me, it’s worth it.
A few months ago I have shared with you a very basic and easy to make at home french macaron recipe. I have noticed that a lot of people liked it, and asked me about it. So I have decided that it might be handy to write about how to make perfect macarons at home using some insider tips. Exciting isn’t it? Lets get started!
HOW TO MAKE PERFECT MACARONS AT HOME
This is probably the most regular question I receive: “how to make perfect macarons at home?”. People somehow tend to think that making macarons at home can be complicated and you will need a lot of special items in your kitchen to accomplish it. But NO, it is not hard, and you won’t need all this fancy stuff professional bakeries use to make macarons. In fact, less fancies you have, better the result will be.
PS: and also it is MACARONS, not MACAROONS. Macaroon is just a coconut cookie (on the left):
*image of macaroons is taken from here, and the macaron pic one is my own:)
And the macarons are what I am talking about here..they are those lovely and photogenic almond cookies that everyone loves. For me, being a very picky on details person, it is painful to see how those two are being confused. That is why I wanted to make it clear in here how to spell it right.
So, yeah great, but what should I do to start with macarons?
First of all, it is important to find a reliable and clear recipe. Internet is filled with numerous macaron recipes, however, most of those recipes and just copy paste from somewhere else. Some people have even never made macarons, so what they write about is pure theory.
When I was just starting with baking macarons, I used to look for different recipes and trying to see if there is a consistency in those. Also trying different things each time helped a bit. I have sometimes referred to some videos on Youtube with tips from professional bakers. Some things worked, some didn’t. But this is how you learn, and making mistakes and failing is part of it.
Speaking about some useful videos, below some really nice macaron recipe video I absolutely loved during my early days of learning how to make macs:
Youtube and all those videos are cool and helpful. However, what will help you even more is practice. So put on your apron, remove the spider web from your oven, and start baking.
French meringue vs Italian meringue
Probably you have noticed that there are two ways of making macarons: one is called French method (which I am using mostly in my recipes), and another one is Italian. The dvrrence between those is that French method uses raw eggs, which are mixed with sugar, while Italian meringue recipe suggests heating sugar and water to 117 degrees and then adding this mixture to whipped to a certain level egg whites. In Italian method you add meringue to what is called almond paste, and in french method you will add dry ingredients to the meringue. Which is better? I don’t really see any difference. I tried both methods, and to me it is the matter of what you personally like better. My advices are for French macarons though, so if you use Italian meringue, certain parts won’t be relevant to you.
WHAT ABOUT THE KITCHEN EQUIPMENT?
This is another interesting topic to talk about. I will be honest with you. I really love shopping for some nice baking equipment. When I go to Waitrose or John Lewis or any other shop I will most certainly pass by the “baking” section just to have a look on what’s new. No, really! How can you miss out on checking on all those baking mats, different size spatulas, new solutions for cream piping and those cookie cutters in different shapes..and……..(this list can be long).
All those items just make my heart melt. But truth is that without half of those things you can also make things work, and sometimes even better. For piping the most simple disposable pipes can work very well, instead of cookie cutter you can just use kitchen knife..one spatula is just enough and it doesn’t matter what colour it has. Ehh..reality hurts, doesn’t it?
So, I would suggest that you just use the following items for you macarons:
- 2 big bowls and 1 small
Any type of the bowl will work out well. Just ensure that it is clean and dry, otherwise you won’t get right your meringue.
- sieve (the most basic one would work just well)
Sieving your dry ingredients is crucial to making macarons nice and smooth. However, to get a super expensive and extra featured sieve is not necessary. Just be sure that your sieve is dry and clean.
- spatula (regular size)
Spatulas..they come in different colours, but truth is that pink spatula won’t make your macarons better looking than black basic spatula. So grab one that you have from ages, and start baking!
- 2 piping bag (or 1 if you put the filling with spoon)
When I made my fist macarons, I was using silicone piping bag. I was very frustrated, as making macarons can be quite messy, and I just hate mess in my kitchen (ask my husband, he will confirm). So I switched to disposable ones. This frees me from extra cleaning, and piping is as easy and fast as with reusable ones.
- silicone mat or parchment paper
To be honest, I think all types work well. Probably parchment paper is slightly better, as macarons do not stick to it, but on the other hand if you baked your macarons well, then silicone mats also are stick free. I tend to use more parchment paper as I can cut it according to the size of the baking tray, and also it saves time dedicated to cleaning. Silicone mats need to be cleaned each time they are used, and you should be sure they are cleaned and dried well.
- templates for macarons
When I just started I used silicone mats that had macaron template on those. Now, I do not use those anymore as I know how much batter to pipe to make equal macs. So, if you really need those you can find some templates online and use them to pipe your shells. Or you can also order a silicone mat with remade template, but I find those less efficient than just using your eye to pipe shells.
- baking trays
Some bakeries use flat trays with no corners, and with holes in it. In theory it helps macarons to bake better, in reality, it does, but regular trays also work just fine. So just use the one you have, and start baking!
Creativity and motivation should also be there when you make macarons, and of course a pinch of patience is key element here 🤓. Macarons can be naughty sometimes, so ensure you follow steps carefully, and don’t rush the process.
ABOUT THE INGREDIENTS FOR THE MACARON SHELLS
As I mentioned previously, finding the right recipe can be tricky. It took me some time to find the right proportions for the ingredients (almond-icing sugar mix) that works. Below you can find my ingredient list that works for french macarons. In further sections of this part of the article, I will tell you about requirements for the ingredients a bit more, and also mention how to play with this recipe and adopt it to other flavours.
The egg white topic for your french macarons
The number one question in macarons topic is about egg whites. Aged or not aged, room temperature or cold, and to use or not to use creme of tartar… Oh, and of course what about using ready to use egg whites?..and other crazy stuff.
Lets start from the beginning: aged or not. It really doesn’t matter. I tried both, and it works in both cases. In theory, aging egg whites in French method helps to reduce the moisture in your egg whites, so it can help you to get more stable meringue. However, if you just follow the recipe, and follow all the instructions, your meringue will be fine.
Temperature of the egg whites. This is important. Your egg whites NEED TO BE a the room temperature. This is not a suggestion, this is a must! Remember, that well made meringue is already 50% that your macarons will be successful.
Creme of tartar.. I remember, when I was just starting my macaron journey, I did a lot of research and looked for ways to improve my macaron shells. So I found some article about this “creme of tartar” or egg whites powder. This article said: “<…> trick is to add 1 tablespoon of meringue powder for each egg white. The meringue powder stabilizes the egg whites, and helps them thicken properly so that you get perfect macarons, even on your first try<…>“. I think that this is not needed. I make my macarons without any stabilisers and they have nice feet, and do not crack. In fact, creme of tartar is mainly used to increase the life of the shell. However, for homemade macarons it is not needed. Stay natural, people!
Ready to use egg whites versus manually getting egg whites: hard to say what’s better as it all depends on your situation. If you do not bake a lot during the week, then buying egg whites that are already separated from the egg yolk doesn’t make sense, as you won’t use all of it before it expires. The result is good in both cases, so just do whatever you like, but try not to waste food.
Adding salt, lemon or something else is not needed unless you want to add lemon taste to the meringue, or you are making salty macaron. Otherwise don’t bother. It is not some sort of trick to make meringue better or anything. Meringue will be fine if you mix it well, other “tricks” are just myths and fiction that some people use to get attention.
The almond flour and caster sugar proportion in homemade macarons
The truth is that ingredients matter in macarons. Also the proportions. I have tried to do macarons with equal percentage of each, and it gave inconsistent results. The most successful recipe for me was with 130gr of sugar and 70gr of almonds. Also after sieving I always add extra 30gr of almond flour.
In reference to almond flour, select it well. Macarons are tricky cookies, and if your almonds have some moist in it, or too oily result can be disappointing. So ensure your ingredients are selected with care.
A lot of recipes say to sieve almonds and icing sugar, and you should do it. However, avoid pressing almonds too much. It is better to use whisk for this purpose. Pushing almonds will impact on the taste and texture of your cookie.
Cool..but what if I want macaron shells to have some flavour?
You probably noticed that some macarons have more than just sugar and almond in its shell? This is because you can also add some flavour to your macaron shell. I wrote some article a few months ago on how to add some flavour to your macaron. If you are curious to see I will leave a link below. But making the long story short: it’s super easy. Just add vanilla powder, some freeze dried fruits powder or any other DRY ingredient in your almond-sugar mixture and voila! Your macaron will have an extra flavour!
AWESOME! What if I want my macs to have some colour?
If you are using freeze dried strawberry powder, for example, your macaron will already get some nice pinkish colour. However, sometimes we just want to enhance the colour of the macaron. Then colouring gels/powders come to help. Those tend to be used in macarons as meringues do not like liquid, so if you are using liquid colourings, then your meringue will collapse resulting in macaron with no feet or cracked shell.
What about the “MACARONAGE technique” and other stuff?
Practice, practice and practice. I have inserted some short video, which is probably not so helpful in terms of really teaching you the technique, but you can see the result: your batter is good to go when it forms ribbons as shown on the video. On Youtube there are a lot of helpful tutorials and tips, so you can go ahead and use those. I will leave one link below of my favourite video with some tips on the process. Note that each baker will have their own way of making the batter, so you will need to see what suits you the most. Also if you are doing the Italian meringue method, then you should search for tutorials that do this method as well. Otherwise you will end up using wrong advices.
ALL DONE! READY SET GO BAKE!..HMM…nope not yet
So your batter is all ready, you have inserted it into the piping bags, made nice blobs and ready to start baking… but nope. Now it is time to remove all unwanted air in the shells by tapping the trays. Rotate the tray to ensure that all air is out and macs are going to be nice and crackless. After that you will need to leave your macs for another 20-30min. They need to form a nice layer, that doesn’t stick to your finger. That is in fact a good way to check if macs can travel to an oven.
MAKING YOUR MAC EVEN MORE FABULOUS
If you wish to add some deco on your mac shells, then it’s the time! You can add some coloured sugar, or some freeze dried fruits to make your macarons a bit more interesting.
Wonderful, can I bake yet?
Sure. When your macarons developed a “skin” and has been beautifully decorated you are all set and ready to start the baking process. Bake your shells tray by tray. Baking time is 15 minutes at around 150 degrees C. All depends on your oven and you might need to experiment with temperature and length of the baking time.
Experimenting with the baking methods
I usually bake my macarons for 10 minutes, then turn the tray and bake for another 5 minutes. Sometimes I rotate the tray every 5 minutes, if I see that some sides baked better than the other. My oven has some hot spots, so to avoid overcooked tops I do this trick. Your macs are ready when you touch them from the side and they do not move. Also a sign of a ready and well baked macaron shell is that it easily separates from the baking paper of the silicone mat. If your macaron shell is partially left on the baking paper, then your shells are undercooked and you need to experiment with the temperature of the oven.
The last bits of the macaron making
So you are almost ready, and the only thing that is left is to let your macaron shells to cool off and staff them with some nice cream. You can choose whatever you like the most: buttercream, cream cheese or some… Nutella. Sometimes I combine different tastes and cream to make something interesting out of it. So be creative and create some interesting flavours!
Any troubles during creation time? Check out my recent post on top-10 tips for macarons baking process, and solve your issues right away! If you still struggle, send me a message and I will help you out, see below for my contact points!
🗣Did you try out this recipe? Please share your results and tag @macaron_adb on Instagram with the hashtag #macaronadb to show your creations! And as always: any questions? Contact me via website, Instagram or Facebook. I also recently got an email address: firstname.lastname@example.org so please feel free to drop a message.