The first time I made macarons, they turned out to be large, thin, chewy, & messy disasters. They tasted amazing (my trusted taste tester assured me), but they looked terrible. I accepted defeat and wallowed in utter sadness with the realization that I would never be able to make macarons. Then for a Christmas/Valentine’s Day present, my trusted taste tester bought me a “Macaron 101 Baking” class. In those 3 hours, I made 35 macarons (and ate 7 more plus a glass of champagne during the course of the class). I came out of the class feeling like a success (and feeling slightly sick from eating too many macarons!).
Three months later, the craving hit and I decided to test my hand at making macarons once again. With this new confidence, I figured nothing could stop me. I watched copious YouTube videos, scoured the internet for recipes, researched tips and tricks and set about to the task. My macarons were about 1.5 inches too big, and they did not have those beautiful pieds – ridges. They were a bit too chewy as well. But they were way better than my very first attempt.
Fast forward to a year later, and I decided that I wanted to try my hand at making them again. I felt more confident. But the main reason primarily stemmed from the fact that I had this huge and sudden craving for these deliciously chewy and decadent French treats. This time my macarons turned out perfect. Okay, almost perfect. But considerably better than the other times I tried.
In any case, I cannot express how proud and how happy I am with how my macarons turned out. The feeling you get when you finally achieve perfection and success making macarons is huge (cue Donald Trump voice).
However, I do mention that these macarons turned out almost perfect. I don’t think I can say they are 100% perfect. That isn’t because the recipe is flawed, rather I haven’t perfected the technique. And that largely comes from practice. Nevertheless, I have compiled a list off all the tips and tricks you need to keep in mind when making macarons- so that you too, can achieve perfection.
I have compiled a list of tips and tricks to ensure that your macarons turn out to be as perfect as possible – especially if it is your first time. I know that it is disheartening and quite frankly a pain, to hear that you may not be successful your first try. Even more so if you are a perfectionist (like me) when it comes to baking. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but there is a small chance even with incorporating all the tips, that you may not be as successful.
On the other hand, I can offer you two bits of advice. First, even if you may not yield les plus belles macarons I can assure you they will still be tasty. Secondly, the French pastry chef and owner of the macaron boutique informed us that he too failed the first few times he made macarons. Now he is a master and he teaches others (meaning practice makes perfect). Finally, I am pretty sure that if you fail the first time, you will knock it out of the park the second time.
Before you begin, I suggest taking a look at Entertaining with Beth’s YouTube video for her French Macarons. Her video is insightful and gives a good idea of how you want the batter to turn out. I also suggest you look at other videos online. If you want more troubleshooting tips, this blog post from MisoHungry further expands on some tips for success.
In addition, I want to clarify two key things. The recipe I am sharing with you utilizes the French meringue technique rather than the Italian or Swiss method. The French method is considerably easier than the latter methods, especially for first-timers. There is a divide between which method yields a fluffier and better macaron, but that is a debate for another time. The key difference is how the meringue is made. With the French method, we whip the eggs and sugar together. With the Italian method, you incorporate liquefied sugar to the egg whites and whip it. And finally, with the Swiss method, you whip the eggs over top a double boiler.
The other key item I want to clarify is the use of aged egg whites. Using aged egg whites will give you the BEST result and will ensure PERFECTION for your French macarons. Aging egg whites is as simple as separating them the night before and leaving them in the fridge. When you are ready to make macarons, bring your egg whites to room temperature by leaving them out for 1 or 2 hours. There is no lazy girl hack. I mean you could use un-aged egg whites (in fact, Beth does), but there is a high chance that you won’t be successful and you’ll definitely have issues with achieving proper ridges (pieds). These two things are important to keep in mind, along with the rest of the tips mentioned above. When you make these macarons please be sure to read my instructions carefully as they also have some tips for proper technique.
Originally, I was supposed to make red velvet french macarons. However, I realized that I did not have red gel food colouring. I figured that I could use purple instead and perhaps yield a more lavender like colour. After adding a few drops of purple, I realized I did not like the colour and decided to add some red liquid food colouring. That essentially turned my egg whites to a deeper shade of purple (seen in the photos). In that instant, I knew when to accept defeat and came to terms with the fact that my macarons would be this purple colour. Hence the name purple velvet.
I also want to be candid and show that I make mistakes too! I am by no means a professional (i.e. no formal training), and I sort of go along my merry way when I make mistakes. I chose the best looking macarons to photograph. This meant ones that were perfectly even, had those crisp pieds and did not have any cracks on their shell.
Why am I being this honest? Well, often times it is easy to see the most perfect looking dishes on Instagram and feel inadequate. These dishes are plated perfectly, have no faults and are executed with flawless perfection. This gives the impression that some of these food bloggers never make mistakes. Well, I am here to clear the air. We do make mistakes. Even the really big food bloggers do too. We spend a lot of time choosing the perfect pieces, and plating our food properly so that it looks aesthetically pleasing. However, this should not dissuade you from trying your hand at difficult dishes.
At the end of the day, it can only go two ways. Either it looks ugly/pretty and tastes great, or it looks pretty and tastes terrible. Either way, you should be proud you even endeavoured to try something new! 🙂
Macarons are finicky and delicate desserts but are incredibly delicious. I show you how to make these fantastic French delights, with all the tips and tricks so you ace it the first time!
Place the icing' sugar, cocoa powder and almond flour in a small bowl. If your ingredients seem lumpy - place them in a sieve and sift.
Apply a small amount of vinegar to a sheet of paper towel and wipe down the inside of a large bowl (or stand mixer). Place the egg whites, salt and cream of tartar. Beat together on medium speed for 1 minute (or till the egg whites are slightly frothy). Switch to high speed and gently pour in the sugar. Beat until stiff peaks form, about 3-7 minutes (you must really eyeball this stage!). Do NOT overbeat. On low speed, incorporate the food colouring.
Using a spatula, fold in half the dry ingredients. Mix until just Incorporated. Add the remaining half. GENTLY fold your mixture in one direction, ensuring that you get the edges and go "under" that way you evenly mix the ingredients. At this point, it may start out as tough, but eventually, the two substances will combine to reveal a mixture that should be shiny, glossy and run off your spatula in a ribbon/molten lava-like motion. DO NOT OVERMIX. The batter should gently run off your spatula, not rush like liquidy-water.
Fit your piping bag with a round piping tip, fill with batter. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
Begin to pipe evenly sized rounds onto the baking sheets (approximately 2 inches wide with 2 inches space between). Hold the bag vertically, squeeze and pull up. Grab the baking sheet and tap the 4 sides of the tray on your counter to get rid of any air bubbles. Add your desired sprinkles on top.
Let the piped rounds sit for least 20 minutes to 1 hour. This is so that the macarons develop its "shell" and become tacky. You can lightly touch one of the shells to check it's tackiness. If you are baking macarons when it is very humid outside, this can impact how long it takes to develop a tacky shell.
Fill one shell and sandwich together with another shell. Be careful not to press too hard or you will break the shells (they are delicate!). Gently place the macarons in a glass container and let them rest in the fridge for 24 hours prior to eating them. If you are like me you will set 5 aside to eat right away, and save the rest for tomorrow. Macarons can be placed in the fridge for 1 week or left in a freezer safe container in the freezer for 6 months. If you want to serve these, let them rest outside for 15 minutes or till they come to room temperature. But I am not judging your impatience if you want to eat it right away - I do the same thing!
* I use Bob's Red Mill Almond Flour because it is already finely milled, which means I do not have to process the flour and icing sugar together. In the event that you use another brand (that may be coarser) or you make your own, I do recommend that you either sift or grind (in a food processor) the flour and icing sugar.
** Yes your egg whites should be aged. Place the egg whites in a glass jar the night before, in your fridge. Take them out 1 hour before you are ready to use them. You can use "un-aged" egg whites, but this will drastically impact the final result. Also, I used 99 g of egg whites as that is what I had. If you are up for the challenge I recommend playing around with 120g and 99g of egg whites. Some recipes only call for 110g. This is a pain I know, but once you find the egg white measurement that works for you, you will be golden!