I felt that macarons deserved their own page separate from the cakes and other pastries if only for the amount of physical and mental labor I have invested in their development. I started keeping tedious notes at one point in the journey and I logged about 50 batches before I started giving myself a 4.5/5 rating — and this was after I started keeping track. I still refer to it as “the macaron year.” You will find many posts in the blog about macarons but this formula and notes are anchored to the home page because it is my current preferred method.
I. Equipment: you must use a scale to weigh out your ingredients. Making macarons is all about precision– precise measurements, precise temperature and precise baking times. Do not even speak to me about macarons unless you are using a scale. You also should use a stand mixer especially with the Italian method. It will be very difficult to pour in hot syrup while using a hand mixer. You should also use a candy thermometer if you are using the Italian method.
2. Ingredients: The almond flour needs to be finely ground. There are a few brands like Kirkland’s or Domino’s that are already finely ground but if you can’t buy it then you have to grind the almond flour and powdered sugar together before you sift them.
The egg whites need to be at room temperature but they don’t need to be aged. You can also use liquid pasteurized egg whites but you will not get the same volume in the meringue.
You can use gel or powder food color but only a few drops or about 3 grams of powder or it will affect your outcome (hollows), baking times, etc. If you are just starting out leave the colors out — it is just one more factor that you have to take into consideration when tweaking your method.
3. Oven: You will need to experiment with oven temps and times. I recommend you get an oven thermometer to gauge the accuracy of your oven’s displayed temp vs the actual temp inside. The “macaron year” was all about 2 things: perfecting my macaronage and adjusting my temps up and down by 5 degrees at a time until I found the sweet spot. A minute more or two in baking time can decide the outcome of your macarons.
All I can say to someone attempting macarons for the first time is be patient, be diligent about keeping notes and good luck!
My Current Preferred Method for Making Macarons
- 212 g almond flour preferably Kirkland’s or Domino’s which is very finely ground and does not need further grinding.
- 212 g powdered sugar
- 82 g egg whites at room temp
- 90 g egg whites at room temp
- 236 g granulated sugar
- 158 g water
- Line 4 light colored baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats. Use a 1.25in round cutter to trace 25 circles on the parchment paper sheets and then flip them over in the pan. You can either use silicone mats that are already imprinted with the macaron template or slip a piece of parchment paper that you have already traced circles on under the silicone mat while piping then gently remove it before baking. I prefer macarons that have been baked on a silicone mat.
- Also have ready an 18" disposable piping bag fitted with a Wilton #12 tip (approx 1/4" wide).
- Sift almond flour and powdered sugar together in a large mixing bowl and discard any bits of almond that do not go through the sifter.
- Pour in the 82 g portion of egg whites and mix together with a spatula until a thick paste is achieved. Set aside.
- Pour the other 90 g portion of egg whites into the spotlessly clean bowl of your stand mixer along with a pinch of sugar.
- Combine the granulated sugar with the water in a small saucepan and slowly stir over medium heat. Stop stirring when the sugar is dissolved, attach the candy thermometer and simmer. When it reaches approx 230°F , start mixing the egg whites and sugar at medium-low speed (kitchenaid setting "4").
- Continue simmering the syrup until it reaches a temp of 248°F. The egg whites, meanwhile should be reaching soft peaks. If they reach soft peaks before the syrup reaches 248°F, then turn down the mixer speed to stir but do not turn it off.
- When the syrup reaches 248°F remove the pan from the heat. Turn the mixer to medium-low (4) speed again and carefully pour the syrup into the bowl aiming for the space between the bowl and the whisk. This can be done by hanging the pan just over the lip of the bowl and tipping it.
- Once all the syrup has been added turn the mixer speed to medium (6) and continue beating until a glossy, stiff meringue is achieved and the bowl is just warm to the touch (about 5 minutes). You may add a few drops of gel color at this point into the meringue.
- Using a silicone spatula fold one third of the meringue into the egg/almond flour mixture at a time. Unlike other meringues your goal is to deflate it rather than to preserve the volume. This can be achieved by flattening portions of the batter against the sides of the bowl over and over again until — and this is the most crucial part– a continuous flowing ribbon of batter is achieved. This can be tested by lifting the spatula up above the bowl and watching for a continuous ribbon or "lava" effect. You must stop just when you achieve this and not keep going. If it is falling from your spatula in clumps you need to keep going. This is the macaronage technique.
- Pour the batter into your piping bag. You will likely need to do half at a time. I do not recommend larger bags as this gives you less control. Pipe the batter onto your circle templates. Take each piped pan and bang it with gusto onto your counter several times to get rid of air bubbles.
- At this point turn your oven(s) on. The temp is the other crucial part. My macarons turn out perfectly at 315°F. You will need to adjust 5 degrees at a time until you find your perfect temp. Also, I never had successful macarons unless I turned the convection fan setting on. Your oven needs about 30 minutes to come to full temp even if it beeps before then claiming that it is ready.
- Your macarons must rest about 20-30 minutes to develop a skin. For me they are ready when you can lightly press a macaron and create a dimple that does not crack or stick to your finger.
- Bake your macarons one tray at a time. on the middle rack. The final crucial part is the timing. Again mine are perfect at 13 minutes but if I add a lot of color it may take 14 minutes. Do not open the oven. I used to turn the trays around midway but I found it better if I didn't. At 13 minutes I check one sacrificial macaron to see if it comes off the mat easily. If not, I give it another minute.
- Once baked, let them cool on the pans for about 3 minutes before removing them.
- Pair the macarons with same sized shells and fill with your choice: buttercream, jam, nutella, ganache, etc.
- Macarons will crisp when cooled. They taste their best when they are chewy on the inside and crisp on the outside. This can be achieved by refrigerating the filled macarons in an airtight container for 2 days then allowing them to come to room temp for about 4-6 hours.