French Macarons really are a work of art and mastering the perfect technique is no joke! From the moment I tasted my first french macaron I decided then and there I needed to know how to make them myself! “How hard can it really be?” I remember thinking this to myself when I first started out… Well, 2-ish years later, and many flops. Here I am. I have learnt a lot, and finally mastered the perfect technique, and the perfect recipe to that ensures the perfect macaron every time!
There are so many factors that go into creating the perfect french macaron. Below, I have listed as many as I can think of.
- When you are making the meringue use a stopwatch. This will help you perfectly time the mixing. Without a good meringue your macarons wont rise properly and will likely not work. Luckily most smart phones have stopwatches built right in! You can find the stopwatch in your alarm/clock app on iPhones.
- Use a macaron template to ensure that you get consistent sized macaron shells. If you are wondering “where the heck do I get that?!” you are in luck! I have created a free printable version for you! Just simply print the printable out on an 11″ x 17″ piece of paper and place the paper underneath the parchment paper before you begin piping. After you have all your shells piped, carefully slide out the template and store for later use! (The free printable is available near the bottom of this post)
- When you are piping the macaron shells, hold the piping bag straight up and down. This will lessen the amount of air bubbles in the shells and ensure you get a perfect circular macaron shell.
- After the macaron shells have been piped, lift the pan up 2-3 inches away from the counter top and drop it. Repeat this step 4-5 times. This helps form the shells and pop any bubbles that may be in the batter.
- Let the macarons rest for a MINIMUM of 20 minutes (up to 1 hour). The shells should not be sticky to the touch before baking. You should be able to gently run your finger along the tops of the shells with no batter sticking to your finger.
- A well preheated oven is another key to the perfect macaron shell. I let my oven preheat for about 45 minutes before I even bake the macaron shells. If the oven is too cold the macarons will not rise and will not bake uniformly.
- Humidity can be your biggest enemy, see troubleshooting tips below to combat this.
Issues? It might be your humidity, believe it or not!
Three of my most common problems that I ran into while learning how to make the perfect french macaron are:
- Macarons were lumpy and bumpy on top, and did not have that iconic glossy flat finish.
- Macarons not having the “feet” and just blowing apart in other areas.
- Not whipping my egg whites long enough, makes for flat “feet” that spread out the sides instead of rising up.
Everything I read while I was learning how to make french macarons warned against over mixing. I guess I took it a little to literally and under mixed almost all of my first batches.
Macarons are lumpy and bumpy on top and don’t have that flat glossy finish.
Cause: Under mixing/folding the batter.
Fix: Mixture should be ribbon like and smooth before transferring to a piping bag.
Macarons have no “feet” and have blown apart in other areas.
Cause: HUMIDITY, did it just rain outside? Or is the humidity in your house super high? This was my #1 most common problem. It took me forever to figure out how to combat this issue. Let alone figuring out this was the issue in the first place! At one point I literally thought it would come down to me having to run home on my lunch break when the sun was high in the sky and the wind was blowing west to be able to make a decent macaron shell.
This can also happen if the batter is under mixed. But 9 times out of 10 for me the cause was humidity.
Fix: While your macarons are resting, before baking them, turn on your hood fan above your stove. This will pull enough humidity out of the air in that immediate area that they shouldn’t have any issues!
Macarons have flat “feet” that have spread out to the sides instead of rising up.
Cause: An under whipped meringue makes for flat “feet” that spread out the sides instead of rising up.
Fix: Make sure your meringue is stiff enough. I have found that using a steel bowl to be the most consistent for creating a stiff meringue. Also, monitor the mixing time using a stop watch to ensure that you are not under-beating your meringue. Macarons are tricky though, over mixing your meringue will also cause flaws in the final product.
- Into the base meringue recipe, add a mixture of pink gel food coloring mixed with ¼ teaspoon of clear vanilla or almond extract.
- Into the base buttercream recipe add ¼ cup of strawberry compote.
- To make the strawberry compote, add ½ cup frozen strawberry slices to a sauce pan and boil down until thick. Crush the strawberries with the back of a spoon to create a thick paste.
French Vanilla Macarons
- Add 1 Tablespoon of instant French vanilla cappuccino mix to the dry ingredients.
- Use regular base buttercream as filling.
Macaron Piping PDF
As promised, here is my free downloadable and printable Macaron Template PDF! This is an excellent tool to help you learn precise macaron piping techniques. Remember, hold the piping bag straight up and down to fill the circle! I would recommend printing the template on heavy card stock for durability and storing.
Ingredients (BASE RECIPE)
- 2 Large Egg Whites
- ¼ cup White Sugar
- ½ cup Almond Flour
- 2/3 cup Powdered Sugar
Buttercream Filling (BASE RECIPE)
- ½ cup Butter, softened
- ½ teaspoon clear vanilla extract
- 1 cup Confectioners Sugar
- 2 teaspoons milk, any milk of choice
- Preheat oven to 300°F
- Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and place the Macaron template print out underneath.
- In a large bowl, sift together the almond flour and powdered sugar and up to 1 Tablespoon of desired dry flavoring (examples include, cocoa powder, French vanilla cappuccino flavoring, matcha, etc.) and set aside.
- In a large metal or steel bowl with either a hand mixer or on a stand mixer with the whisk attachment attached. Pour the egg whites into the bowl and turn the power to medium speed (on a kitchen aid mixer this is speed 6). Whip for 2 minutes until egg whites are frothy and white. Keep the mixer running on this speed and gradually over the next 30 seconds sprinkle in the white sugar. When all of the sugar is added turn the speed to full speed (10 on a kitchen aid mixer) and run for 1 minute and 30 seconds. Stop the mixer and make sure that you have a stiff meringue. This means when you pull the whisk out of the bowl, the meringue should be stiff enough that a peak forms in the top of the meringue and on the bottom of the whisk. It is very important that you have this consistency. This should not be runny at all.
- At this point you can add in the coloring and wet flavoring. I recommend using gel food coloring mixed with ¼ tsp clear vanilla extract or almond extract. Mix the coloring and flavoring together in a small bowl and pour into the meringue. Whip for an additional 30 seconds to fully combine.
- Scoop meringue into the bowl with the sifted dry ingredients and using a spatula fold the meringue and the dry ingredients together until a smooth consistency is reached. The batter should run off the spatula in thick ribbons.
- Transfer the batter to a piping bag that is fitted with a circular piping tip. Holding the piping bag straight up and down pipe onto parchment paper to desired size. Use the macaron template that is placed underneath the parchment paper as a guide.
- When all of the macarons are piped, carefully remove the macaron template from underneath the parchment paper.
- Lift the pan up 2-3 inches away from the counter top and drop it. Repeat this step 4-5 times. This helps form the shells and pop any bubbles that may be in the batter.
- Let the macarons rest on the counter for a minimum of 20 minutes (up to 1 hour) before baking.
- Place the macarons on the middle rack of the well-preheated oven and bake for 14 minutes. Do not open the oven to check on them during this time.
- Remove macarons from the oven and let rest on the pan for 1 minute before very carefully transferring the cookies to a cooling rack.
- Let cool completely before filling.
- Pipe the filling directly into the center of the backside of a macaron shell and gently press another shell on top, creating a sandwich.
- Let the macarons rest in the refrigerator for a minimum of 1 hour before serving. Serve cold or at room temperature.
- Macarons will last refrigerated in an air tight container for 1 week.
- In a small bowl with a hand mixer beat the butter on high for about 2 minutes until smooth and airy.
- Add ½ cup of the confectioners’ sugar and the vanilla extract. Beat on high for 2 minutes. Add remaining confectioners’ sugar and beat on high for another 2 minutes. Gradually add the milk until desired consistency is reached. Add in any flavoring or fruit purees and beat until well combined.