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Stella ParksBest New Pastry Chef
Neapolitan OreosWhy Weight
total eclipse of the tartTotal Eclipse of the Tart
chocolate sprinklesHomemade Sprinkles
plaid tartAbout BraveTart


Monday March 21, 2011

Macaron Mythbusters forget the busy work

As I wrote in my first macaron post, I make macarons every day at work, learning something new with each batch. The most important thing I’ve learned is this: Macarons don’t have magical properties and shouldn’t require quasi-spiritual rituals as part of their mise en place.

You wouldn’t learn that from reading up on macaron-themed blog posts, though. Instead you’ll find bakers fervently insisting on an assortment of essential steps to prevent failure, while simultaneously conceding failure as both inevitable and incomprehensible.

Everyone harps upon their fickle nature, making half-joking references to spiteful macaron gods. A tone of fatalism prevails, “In the end, it’s out of my hands. I’ll never know why this batch turned out splendidly while that batch cracked miserably.”

strawberry macarons with white chocolate ganache

Um, guys? We’re talking about a cookie here, not the Heisenberg uncertainty principle.

Yet uncertainty makes up a common thread among macaron blog posts. No surprise given the mind boggling number of variables that “perfect macarons” appear to hinge upon.

Did you age the egg whites long enough? Well, perhaps you aged them too long. Or did you use them cold? Too fresh? Did you let the almond flour dry out in the oven? You didn’t use cornstarch laced powdered sugar, did you? Maybe you dried the piped meringues out longer than you should have before baking. Then again, perhaps drying them out longer would have helped.

Such tricks place the importance on ritual and obscure the role of technique, either good or bad. Whether a batch succeeds or fails, the praise/blame falls to the tricks employed.

Instead of coming to recognize the qualities of a good meringue and the consistency of proper macaronage, you fret over how many days the egg whites aged. This prevents learning from mistakes and subsequently improving technique, causing you to begin each macaron venture from square one.

So I wanted to conduct an experiment (or rather, a series of experiments) to determine which factors “the perfect macaron” actually depended upon.

I don’t know if my experiment would stand up to the rigors of the scientific method, but I did take a systematic approach. I standardized every aspect of my already stable recipe: the exact number of minutes spent mixing, weight and temperature of ingredients, oven temperature, baking time, etc.

Each day, I changed a single variable across multiple batches (generally three), and noted my results. I also tested variables by their absence.

For example: I listened to Huey Lewis and the News every time I made macarons. My macarons turned out fabulous. So then I made a few batches without The Power Of Love. Because these also turned out beautifully, I could at least conclude Huey Lewis didn’t play an essential role in the matter.

By no means will I stop jamming to Hip to Be Square during macaronage, and I wouldn’t suggest you give up a trick you like. Instead, I want to make the point that if consistently good macarons can result even without a particular method, we can’t call such a method essential. Knowing which steps work and which don’t will help considerably in macaron troubleshooting, letting you to discover and address the real problem.

lavender and milk chocolate macarons

BraveTart’s Top 10 Macaron Myths
or, the Unfounded Dogma of Macaron Making

1. Age and Temperature of the Egg Whites

I’ve tried aging my whites overnight and as long as two weeks. I’ve used whites from a two week old egg, and from an egg laid the day before (really!). I’ve aged them in a jar, I’ve aged them in the shell. And everything in between.

I’ve used them straight from the fridge, at room temp, warmed in a water bath, and with the chill just knocked off ‘em from a few minutes on the counter.

All of the macarons I made using any number of permutations of age/temperature combos turned out perfectly lovely, with chubby little bodies, shiny crowns and spongy feet. I’ve concluded you can make perfectly lovely macarons with any kind of egg whites, fresh or old.

2. Powdered Sugar with Cornstarch

Some have maligned powdered sugar that contains cornstarch as a culprit in bad macarons (most famously in the book I ♥ Macarons). Not true. The powdered sugar I use lists cornstarch as an ingredient and I’d like to think my macarons aren’t too shabby.

3. Drying the Almond Flour

I’ve used pre-made almond flour, but 99% of the time, I grind my own. I’ve never dried my almond flour out before. Maybe I should try it before I knock it, but I reason: how crucial could it be if I’ve never done it before and yet experienced great macaron success?

4. Even using Almonds

Skinned vs blanched? Factory ground almond flour vs ground in a food processor? Freshly ground or ground the day before? No matter how I changed it up, they turned out great.

In fact, I became so convinced of the irrelevance of almonds that I left them out all together. I began making macarons with ground hazelnuts, pistachios, peanuts, pecans, coconut and even using 100% cocoa nibs. Guess what? They were all freaking adorable and delicious. Use whatever kind of nut you’d like.

Check out my post on making macarons without nuts for more information on making macarons suitable for those with nut allergies.

5. Nationality

Some have suggested merely being an American will set your macaron efforts back. I can’t believe I’m using up a whole spot on this list to address it, but I’ve heard time and time again, “you can’t get a good macaron in America.”

This is crazy talk. Do they teach French schoolchildren how to make macarons or something? I’m an American. I’ve never even visited France. But the Frenchman who employs me keeps signing my paycheck week after week, so I get the impression my thoroughly American macarons aren’t a problem.

6. Drying out Piped Macarons

I made a batch of macarons and piped them onto 4 sheet pans. I popped one straight into the oven, aged one 15 minutes, one thirty, and one an hour. They all came out the same. When I make macarons, I pop ‘em straight in the oven after piping.

Caveat: If your macarons are slightly over-mixed, about 15 minutes of drying will give them a better foot. This probably has to do with the way over-mixed macarons spread. If they go straight into the oven, they will both spread and rise simultaneously, the macaron equivalent of patting your head and rubbing your stomach at the same time. So by sitting out for 15 minutes, they finish spreading and when they go into the oven they only have to go up, not out. Though not a macaron scientist, this is just my best guess.

7. Babying the Meringue

I used to add the sugar to the whites only after I’d whipped them a few minutes. Even then I’d sprinkle in the sugar very slowly, a little at a time. One day I realized, “Why the crap am I doing this?”

I make Swiss meringue six times a week in order to make buttercream. The very first step of Swiss meringue involves dumping the sugar straight into the whites.

Why would I make meringue with a more complicated method just for macarons? Yeah. Beats me. So now I just toss the sugar and egg whites together at the beginning. That’s right. The very beginning.

It makes my life easier not having to babysit the sugar, adding it in bit by bit; this discovery has also given me more consistent results because I’ve completely eliminated a variable (the exact timing of when and how fast I add the sugar).

8. Cream of Tartar and/or Lemon Juice

In ten years of professional baking, I’ve never used creme of tartar. Most certainly I’ve never used any in macarons. Likewise, I have never used lemon juice. I understand how and why acids can play a role in stabilizing meringue, but this isn’t necessary with good technique. So under the logic of #2: if you can get great results without something, it’s hardly essential.

9. Italian Meringue

Apologies to Pierre Hermé, but to me, this is just busy work. It involves an extra step (boiling the sugar syrup) that doubles the work time, results in an extra dirty dish (the pot of syrup), and requires a thermometer. Considering not doing any of those things works out just fine, why bother?

10. Blame it on the Rain

♬ Gotta blame it on something, whatever you do, don’t put the blame on you, Blame it On the Rain

Hint: it’s not the rain.

If I had to stop making macarons every time it rained, I’d lose my job. I work in a basement so dank and humid, condensation beads up on the exposed pipes. We’re not pulling sugar here, kids.

strawberries and cream macaron detail

So knowing what isn’t causing macarons failure, focus on what’s really to blame or praise for the end result. Whipping up a stiff, dry meringue and proper macaronage.

I hate to say it, but you’ll still have macaron mishaps. I still ruin them from time to time. But when a disastrous batch comes out of the oven, I know why, and that knowledge is empowering. I don’t feel helpless in the kitchen, a victim of a spiteful macaron-god. I instead can learn from my mistake and improve my technique the next time.

In my macaron recipe I give lots of detail on how to whip up a good meringue with any ol’ egg whites (or any new ones for that matter) and an in depth description of perfect macaronage, so you’ll know it when you see it.

Further Reading:
French Macarons
Nut-Free Macarons
All About Hollows
Macaron 10 Commandments
Macaron Are for Eating


Fork!
posted byStellaand filed under:  Chocolate  Fruit  Gluten Free  macarons  Sideshow Photos


166 comments and counting

Mar 21, 2011 · 10:25 AM

THANK YOU for busting many of the myths. Having taken a macaron class at Lenôtre in Paris, I totally agree with the main culprit being improper macaronnage, yet I am totally guilty of blaming my failed macs on all sorts of factors! My last batch (posted yesterday) were curious – one tray was a total disaster, the second was perfect. Same batter, same everything. {scratches head} I am going to try your method next time I make them. And invoke my inner Stella!!!

 · Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite · www.eatlivetravelwrite.com

Mar 21, 2011 · 11:40 AM

I’ve made these beauts a couple of times now and other than my first batch (which I undermixed) I’ve had success. They aren’t rocket science are they Thanks for this post, hopefully it will nudge people into giving them a try!

 · Vicki @ Wilde in the Kitchen · wildeinthekitchen.blogspot.com

Mar 21, 2011 · 12:26 PM

ummm tnks for this,.

 · notyet100 · www.asankhana.com

Mar 21, 2011 · 12:40 PM

Hi Stella,
WELL SAID! Couldn’t agree more with you. There are so many almost superstitious methods out there that it can put many people off making them. So many people keep asking, what did I do wrong? Down to what part? I’m totally with you: it’s all about learning from mistakes and just loosening up! Making them should be as much fun as eating them Love your blog and well done on this great post!

 · Jill · madaboutmacarons.com

Mar 21, 2011 ·  1:53 PM

Actually, as a nuclear engineer who tries to bake, can I just say that the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle is far simpler than making macarons? I’m a chronic over-mixer. I’m in treatment. Working on it.

Thanks for the tips!

 · Victoria (District Chocoholic) · districtchocoholic.blogspot.com

Mar 21, 2011 ·  5:46 PM

haha, i kinda wrote this post three years ago. after i lived in paris for a while i had to finish my last year of college in the US— so i made macarons in my college house. that’s right; no kitchenaid mixer, no food processor, no piping bag! just the crap in my shared house kitchen with a 50 year old oven. First time? no equipment? no fuss? perfect macarons. i crushed almonds with the skin in a magic bullet (how fine do you think the grind was?) then i whipped the bloody egg whites by hand (straight out of the fridge btw) and used a little plastic zipping baggy to pipe them onto a pizza tray. Feet, no cracks, perfect spongy bodies. so i have never understood why people whine and $#&* about how scared they are about macarons and how $#!*ty their product is. every single time i’ve made since i have never made them the exact same way. when i make around 100 or 200 at a time, some sit out longer than others, really it makes no difference. macarons are a principle, not a religion! either you get em or you don’t. nice post, i NEVER read posts about macarons because they are always soooooooo awkward and annoying

 · mallory · www.saltycod.blogspot.com

Mar 21, 2011 ·  6:52 PM

@Mardi, had fun chatting with you on twitter re: macaron mysteries. Can’t wait to see how your next batch turn out.

@Vicki, Victoria down below may disagree…

@Jill, yes! “Down to what part?” is exactly the question when a mac recipe has 4 million steps and components. Simplify, simplify!!

@Victoria, a nuclear engineer? That’s incredible! I too need to join over-mixer’s anonymous, I have trouble resisting just one more turn. Let me know how your recovery goes.

@mallory, I think I love you. And your macarons are super adorable (I checked). Probably most macaron dysfunction comes from stressed bakers obsessing over the wrong steps. You seem like the epitome of not stressed and I’m sure that translated into your macs. Cold Whites Forever!!

Stella

Mar 21, 2011 ·  9:04 PM

thanks for this. i’ve heard so many myths about macarons that i’ve been terrified to try, and i LOVE macarons! you have given me the courage to do it!

 · erin · cutthecookie.wordpress.com

Mar 21, 2011 ·  9:48 PM

These are adorable! I totally dig the pink ones!

 · Jess · www.livininthekitchen.wordpress.com

Mar 22, 2011 · 12:13 AM

ingenious! My lecturer made macarons sans #1 to #8. He said in the commercial kitchen, there aren’t space or time to age the whites, dry the almonds, dry the piped macaron which is true really. He did it everyday for the restaurant he worked for it. When he showed us how to do it, it was just like making butter cake, as easy as 1 2 3. But he did use the italian meringue method tho. hehe

 · Swee San · thesweetspot.com.my

Mar 22, 2011 ·  1:54 AM

I had a three-day-marathon over Xmas holidays. The first two days, when I religiously followed instructions, I miserably failed. The third day, when I did not AND I used defrost egg whites I finally succeeded. I am glad you went through a more rigorous experimental data collection to prove all these myths wrong!

 · CaffeIna · caffeiina.blogspot.com

Mar 22, 2011 · 11:25 AM

Do you need to age egg whites for macarons? No!!!! Thanks for answering this question and proving it with the yummy photos.

 · Mac Attack · 

Mar 22, 2011 · 11:35 AM

AMAZING post! I’ve only attempted to make macarons once and FAILED. But after reading this article, I now know why. I can’t wait to try again! Thanks so much!

 · yoshi · 

Mar 22, 2011 ·  1:06 PM

Thank you so much for sharing this! I have read so many posts on macarons that I have been afraid to make them! I’ll give them a try though.

 · Elyse @The Cultural Dish · www.theculturaldish.blogspot.com

Mar 22, 2011 ·  4:54 PM

what about the double pan method? I think it sounds pretty stupid… this post was great timing for me, I’m making some mac’s tonight!

 · kirsten · poptartsandbacon.blogspot.com

Mar 22, 2011 ·  6:10 PM

Great tips, and I love how matter-of-fact you are. Any way to do these without powdered sugar so I can make them for Passover? (At least, I can’t use the powdered sugar with cornstarch – not sure if they sell it any other way.)

 · jami · nightbaking.blogspot.com

Mar 22, 2011 ·  7:30 PM

@Erin, that makes my day. Let me know if you ever give them a try!

@Swee San, well, he was after all teaching a class. Gotta look fancy so the students are impressed!

@CaffeIna, I think everyone has to make Macs at least 3 times. Once to see over mixed, once to see under mixed, and once to see it right.

@Yoshi, I am so so happy to hear I’ve inspired you to try again. Keep me posted!

@Elyse, I hope you do. I’m so sick of posts that make it sound so daunting!

@Kirsten, ugh. Agreed. Though if you have really terrible sheet pans, or a really terrible oven, I can see it being helpful.

@Jami, I understand from French methods, you can actually just substitute granulated sugar to grind in with the almonds. I will give that a try tomorrow and get back to you. I’m always down for a macaron experiment! I haven't had a drop of success so far with that method. You can buy cornstarch free powdered sugar here though!

Stella

Mar 22, 2011 ·  9:05 PM

Wow, this is great, you’ve got some great tips! Or rather, throwing away of tips!

 · Jessica · www.jessicasdinnerparty.com

Mar 23, 2011 ·  7:51 AM

You’re giving me courage to try this out. I only have one request – could you add photos or videos of undermixed and overmixed meringues? I think that would just be fantabulous

 · Lia · 

Mar 23, 2011 · 12:20 PM

Thanks for this! I love the way you write too I admit I do age my eggwhites and leave them out to dry before baking. you’ve given me the courage to make them without going through those time consuming steps! fingers crossed they’ll turn out exactly the same

 · bakingbitsandbobs · bakingbitsandbobs.wordpress.com

Mar 23, 2011 ·  3:20 PM

Thank you so much for this post. French Macaroons have become my recent obession (although, I have yet to try to make them as of yet) and with all of these myths, I feel just a little bit more confident when I finally am able to get down to it and make these lovely little cookies. Thanks again!

 · fatgirlinside · 

Mar 23, 2011 ·  4:44 PM

Really enjoyed reading your post.

This is my particular experience with making pavlovas so indirectly to do with macarons but same principal of making good meringue.

I went through a few batches and what I noted was the following..

..egg whites I had previously frozen which are often said good for making meringue gave me lousy pavlovas. Taste was fine but it didn’t give the height or ability to sculpt the meringue the way I wanted it.

the meringue tended to flop more on the baking sheet.

When making with egg whites not previously frozen it was great…my eggs are never that fresh anyway as I buy through the supermarket.

Cornstarch.

What makes a pavlova a pavlova and not a meringue is cornstarch and usually vinegar alongside it to give a really marshmellow interior. What I found once whisking in the cornstarch the meringue speedily collapse more on me a bit like using the previously frozen eggs.

What I had to do to minimize the effect of this was fold in the cornstarch at the very last minute rather than whisk it in…then it was fine.

 · azelias kitchen · www.azeliaskitchen.net

Mar 24, 2011 ·  7:16 AM

This is, by far, and without question, the best dissertation on the making of macarons I have ever read. Well done. As a scientist, I applaud your methodology and yes, some of the myths I believe revolve muchly around the central myth of “but we’ve always done it this way”.
Bravo!!

 · Chocolate Chilli Mango · chocolatechillimango.com/

Mar 24, 2011 · 10:40 AM

FANTASTIC post! I can’t wait to make macarons again!

 · Lindsay @eat, knit, grow · eatknitgrow.com

Mar 24, 2011 · 11:34 AM

@Jessica, haha. Yeah, I am totally throwing away tips. To the trash bin!

@Lia, I will see what I can do! Rosco rarely comes for a visit while I’m actually working, which is why most of the photos are not of process shots. Perhaps I can convince him we need some step-by-step action!

@Bakingbits, Good luck!

@fatgirlinside, I’d say there’s a lonely, macaron-less girl inside. Hop to it!

@azelia, interesting! I haven’t had any trouble with frozen-whites in my meringue making. Perhaps they just need to be beaten more? Hmm…

@CCM, can I stamp, “scientist approved” on the top of this article?! That means a lot. I definitely wanted to weed out all of the red herring steps of macaron making so we can all have a simple, no fuss recipe to use.

@Lindsay, let me know if you do! Would love to hear how your adventures go.

Stella

Mar 24, 2011 ·  1:17 PM

What a great macaron troubleshooting guide! You should do a macaron FAQ next.

 · Harper · 

Mar 24, 2011 ·  9:46 PM

Excellent post! Thank you for this. I really enjoyed reading every tip you shared.

 · Ju · www.thelittleteochew.com/

Mar 25, 2011 ·  6:30 PM

Great article! I’ve never tried macarons – seriously, the macaron god scared me. I’m pretty certain I’ll try them very soon Love your writing style and photography too!

 · Heidi · fooddoodles.wordpress.com

Mar 25, 2011 ·  8:12 PM

Thanks so much for such a clever post regarding macarons. There are so many places to look for recipes and hints these days that it’s just plain overwhelming to even try. I’m definitely going to try your recipe next.

 · kristin · idlewife.blogspot.com

Mar 26, 2011 ·  7:24 AM

hugs
Next time I make macarons, none of this gradually adding sugar biz. I’m going to use all pistachios. Then proceed to not wait around for half an hour twiddling my thumbs.
…cheers for this! Will come and let you know if things go pear shaped or not.

 · Zo @ Two Spoons · twospoons.wordpress.com/

Mar 26, 2011 · 10:55 AM

@Harper, people will have to start asking me questions first.

@Ju, thank you!

@Heidi, @Kristin, yay! I hope you try them out. A bunch of people have sent me links or pix on Twitter of how their macarons came out, and I’m seeing a lot of first timer successes. One girl had a few failures, but she knew exactly why both times and her 3rd batch looked dreamy. As long as you learn, the failures are actually quite helpful. It’s the meaningless failures that make people want to cry, and hopefully this post will eliminate that.

@Zo, all pistachio is a personal fave! Can’t wait to hear how yours turn out.

Stella

Mar 27, 2011 · 10:15 AM

Love it! I’ve only tried macarons twice (with mild success) and haven’t had the troubles that others had (making me think I was doing something wrong). Thanks for clearing up some of the mystique presented in the blogging world. Now I can go back to just chugging through the recipe as normal!

 · egb · potandkettlecookbook.wordpress.com/

Mar 28, 2011 ·  5:24 PM

So you’re saying that the people who wear the SAME shirt and sit at the SAME table and order the SAME food maybe aren’t affecting the outcome of the UK game or the success of macaron making? Inconceivable!

But Huey Lewis = Success? Now I am puzzled. But those are some good looking macarons. (:

 · kingwell · 

Mar 29, 2011 · 10:58 AM

Oh, K. Whatever helps you sleep at night. And dude. Huey Lewis rules.

Stella

Mar 29, 2011 ·  2:08 PM

I’m determined not to be swayed by all these nay-sayers claiming macarons are impossible to make at home!

Cracks/no feet + still edible = great success! Only if they are burnt to a crisp are they a “failure”.

Great post.

 · Lizzz · 

Mar 29, 2011 · 11:42 PM

This is a good post. I’ve been reading about Macarons and scared to make them. But to think about that myths – aging, blanching almonds etc. I might want to try this earlier than I planned to! Thanks! This is really helpful

 · Meki · yourredalice.blogspot.com

Mar 31, 2011 · 11:35 AM

I think this post is so valid, and the idea applies to so much more than just macaroons! Recipes tend to be so complicated where there is no need for extra steps. I love you.

 · Liv · www.livglutenfree.com

Mar 31, 2011 ·  5:31 PM

@Meki, good luck!

@liv, I love you too!

Stella

Mar 31, 2011 ·  9:17 PM

This is a great post! Thank you for the encouragement, it pushed me to go ahead and give them a try at making them again! But for me I have an issue with hollowed shells. Does anyone have any idea on how to solve this? I haven’t been able to find any other resources online other than I could be making my cookies too small..

 · Robin · 

Mar 31, 2011 ·  9:35 PM

Hi Robin! (Are you the same Robin from Facebook?)

I’ve found hollow shells seem to result from slightly underdone macarons. What seems to be happening is that as the macaron cools, the meringue inside is not firm enough to support itself and so it collapses, leaving a hollow space.

Try cooking your macarons just a minute or so longer and see if that helps. I have not done much experimenting in this regard, so please take my response with a grain of salt. Looks like I know what kind of macaron investigation I’ll have to start next!

Stella

Apr 02, 2011 ·  2:27 PM

I blitz icing sugar and ground almonds in the food processor for few more minutes and I don’t need to sieve it. Same result in less time! I’m still fighting with the oven for the perfect time temperature that don’t change the final colour. Thanks for all the advise.

 · Nicoletta · www.theitaliancook.biz

Apr 02, 2011 ·  7:44 PM

I am so excited to find your blog! The whole ‘age the egg whites on the counter for days’ was really freaking me out – haven’t these people heard of salmonella? So relieved I can completely ignore this. I’ve made macs twice- both times they had hollow shells when I pulled them from the oven (not after cooling). Based on what I e read elsewhere I think it’s from under mixing, but if my next batch does the same I might need your help!

 · Sarah · 

Apr 06, 2011 ·  9:21 PM

Just tried out your strawberries and cream macarons. They cracked like nobody’s business and had no feet, but were DELICIOUS.

 · Amber · bamber.blogspot.com

Apr 06, 2011 ·  9:43 PM

Oh no!! But I’m glad you made them! I have learned (and I should update the recipe to reflect this) that the addition of the freeze dried strawberries kind of makes the batter a little more viscous than normal, and it takes a few extra stokes to get proper macaronage. It took me 2 or 3 times to get the hang of adding fruit powders. Fortunately, even failures taste crazy delicious. thanks for sharing your experience with me!

Stella

Apr 07, 2011 ·  6:58 AM

i did try to make them once and miserably failed… i read more than once that they should be cooked @ 160C.. my oven’s minimal limit is 180C.. would that be a problem?
P.S. my result was .. very almondy meringue very flat shells

 · sonicjuliette · 

Apr 08, 2011 ·  6:32 AM

have now officially made macarons. despite a moment of panic when i added vanilla bean paste to the egg whites before i’d started and it wasn’t looking like stiffening up, they turned out fantastic and every one loved them. thank you so much

 · erin · cutthecookie.wordpress.com

Apr 08, 2011 · 10:15 AM

Ok so I’ve tried a second batch last night, they weren’t flat, but they didn’t have the “foot” and they were hollow… perhaps the 3rd time’s a charm, I’ll keep trying

 · sonicjuliette · 

Apr 08, 2011 ·  1:54 PM

I have a question or two I just followed your macaron recipe, happy to not worry about aging eggs etc. Mine came out with very little feet, and cracked horribly. I’m happy that I was just trying it to use up some egg whites and it wasn’t for any occassion! Why do they crack? Do you have any tips? I don’t think I overmixed them – the batter didn’t spread out when piped or anything… I did use oats for my flour (as we have a nut allergy in the family) but I don’t think that’s the issue here… I had tried a different recipe the first time and yours definitely came out as a better texture, but I just don’t know why I can’t get them nice lol. I’d appreciate any insight!

 · Jenni · 

Apr 08, 2011 ·  2:21 PM

@SonicJuliette, I haven’t tried baking them at such a high heat, so that may be your problem. Perhaps you can try baking them with the oven door propped open with the handle of a wooden spoon? Hollow shells often are a result of slightly undercooked macarons, the meringue inside the shell collapses as it cools because it’s not baked enough to hold its structure. Fingers crossed, third time’s a charm!

@Erin, hurray!!! Congratulations on your success. I’m glad to know vanilla bean paste, like the straight up seeds, can go in at the beginning without a problem! I’ll have to update the recipe to let everyone else know that too. Thanks for letting me know.

@Jenni, I’m excited to hear that you had ANY FEET with oats instead of almonds. Wow. I think the oats may be problematic though, they make a very “thirsty” flour, soaking and binding up the batter in a strange way, I imagine.

It is very possible to make perfect, beautiful nut free macarons. I do it for work all the time. I’ve made nut-free macarons using ground pumpkin/squash seeds, cocoa nibs, and also using cornmeal in place of the almonds. The cornmeal ones have lovely feet and a nibby texture that’s nice, but not traditional. The cocoa nib ones have an amazing chocolate flavor and form nice feet, but usually end up very fragile, shattering when you take a bite. The squash seed ones live in the Goldilocks Zone. They work like a charm, just like traditional macarons.

If your batter didn’t spread out at all, that’s a sure sign of UNDER-mixing; but it could also be because your batter was artificially too thick from the oats. So, my suggestion is to head out and buy some squash seeds or pepitas to grind and use instead. Always be sure to keep on with macaronage until the batter oozes a little! Good luck!

Stella

Apr 13, 2011 ·  6:36 PM

Absolutely loved your post and agree with your two main success factors.

There are a few more questions that I’d like your opinion on:

Did you try varying the cooking temperatures and durations?

Also, did you try baking them on various baking sheets (1 sheet versus 2 stacked), silpats, and parchment paper combinations?

 · mac man · 

Apr 14, 2011 ·  8:02 PM

Hey Mac Man! I haven’t played around with the temperatures very much at all. I do “play around” with the time with almost every batch, as sometimes they just need a little more. The time is actually pretty inconsistent depending on the type of mac, etc.

I haven’t done the singe sheet vs stacked, I always just bake it on 1 sheet pan. Since I’m in a professional environment, I have nice, thick sheet pans and a great oven. I think the need for doubling sheet pans has to do with a) thin, poor quality cookie sheets and b) ovens that run too hot with a heat source on the bottom. So I’ve never really needed to experiment in that dept; even if I did the experiment, I don’t think it would change my outcome.

I haven’t tried Silpat either, because I only have one Silpat at work, and it’s a half sheet size. Since I can’t use it for all my macs, I’ve given up trying to use it on any. But perhaps I’ll try and squeeze in an experiment using it! Thanks for stopping by, I’m sorry I didn’t get a chance to respond any sooner. Cheers!

Stella

Apr 18, 2011 ·  9:25 PM

My goal for this year has been to completely master the macaron. I’ve spent far too much time “researching” and picking up fussy little hints about proper macaronage. When I first read this post a couple of weeks ago, I was completely scandalized. Then I decided to give it a go, and disregard all the fussiness, and I wound up with my best batch in a long time. So, thank you!!

 · Kate · 63words.tumblr.com

Apr 19, 2011 ·  9:21 AM

Kate, first of all, I’m thrilled to scandalize. Yes! But second, and more importantly, congratulations on a successful batch of macarons. So glad to eliminate the fuss factor!!

Stella

Apr 19, 2011 ·  8:04 PM

Yay I love you for this post!! I found myself nodding along to each point, though I do dry out my almond meal (mostly because I store mine in the fridge so it’s more to bring it to room temperature). Definitely agree it’s all about the meringue, macaronage and drying them after piping. But you’re so right, even after knowing this I still mess them up sometimes!

 · Steph · raspberricupcakes.blogspot.com

Apr 21, 2011 · 12:01 AM

I still mess up macarons all the time, I’m a chronic over mixer. But at least I know who’s fault it is when they fail! So glad you enjoyed the post. Cheers!

Stella

Apr 21, 2011 · 12:02 AM

Hi Stella, I’ve made macarons a couple of times, I failed both times.. On my second attempt I supposedly got the meringue right, they looked beautiful in the oven, but once i popped them out they deflated, they were completely hollow and were stuck on the parchment.

Do you have any suggestions to fix the hollow macarons??

Thank you,
@finipe

 · @finipe · 

Apr 21, 2011 · 12:05 AM

Hi Finipe! Sorry to hear you’re having troubles, but I’m glad you’re learning about macaron making and getting better!

I am going to guess they were underdone. Underdone macarons deflate and stick to the parchment, and because they deflate, they become hollow inside. Bake them until you can peel one cleanly from the parchment. I hope that helps!

Stella

Apr 23, 2011 ·  9:31 PM

Couldn’t agree more about learning from each batch. I learnt through trial & error despite researching loads of blogs and books trying to find the “MAGIC SECRET” behind making the perfect macaron, which of course there isn’t one. I reckon find what works for you and stick to it! I’m keen to try your method with French meringue, however, because all of my attempts have FAILED miserably. Good to know that I only have to really worry about a stiff meringue and macaronage. BTW – love your blog!

 · ladymacaron20ten · ladymacaron20ten.blogspot.com

Apr 27, 2011 ·  9:28 PM

Love this post and wish I lived in KY so I could just buy the darn cookies from you.

Two batches in, and I’m still no closer to success. How about a post about troubleshooting macaron failure.

Flat, cracked and feetless…. failure trifecta. ARGH!

 · bobbieb · 

Apr 28, 2011 ·  2:40 PM

@ladymacaron20ten, well, based on a quick trip over to your blog, I’d have to say, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” Your macarons are spectacular! I’m glad to have another low-key macaron maker on my side.

@bobbieb, sorry that you haven’t had a macaron home run yet. That’s a great idea for a post, I get a lot of questions like that. In the mean time, try reading through the comments of my Macaron Recipe. A lot of people have asked similar questions, and I’ve tried to answer as best as I can without being able to see what’s going on. Reading those comments may give you an idea as to what trouble you’re experiencing. Head to my contact page and email me, I will notify you whenever I debut such a post! Thanks for the good idea.

Stella

Apr 30, 2011 · 11:46 PM

Thanks Stella. I may give up on macrons and just stick w the NYTimes chocolate chip cookies. Third batch was also a big, fat failure (if not tasty).

#1, flat and no feet but not cracked. #2, no feet, cracked and flat. #3, no feet and cracked but not flat.

I decided I had overmixed the first time so I mixed less the second and probably even less the third time. I know this last batch had some subtle peaks just before they went in the oven – so IF i try this again, I’ll mix more. In the mean time, I’m off for some chocolate chips… ; )

 · bobbieb · 

May 01, 2011 ·  1:37 PM

Thanks so much for this post! I studied abroad in Paris, and I LOVED the macarons there…I brought some back for my family and they were devoured. I’m trying to make macarons for the first time today with your recipe (I love baking, and my mom requested them for Mother’s Day…so I’m doing a test run)!

 · Em · 

May 02, 2011 ·  8:43 PM

@bobbieb, it definitely can take a few tries to get the hang of macarons. Chocolate chippies are definitely more reliable and definitely will hit the spot! I’m glad your macarons, while not perfect, were still tasty.

@Em, ooh, I’m jealous. I’ve never been to France. Your mom is a lucky lady!

Stella

Jun 02, 2011 ·  2:15 PM

Thank you so much for this wonderful post! I’ve read so many macaron making blogposts and they only made me put off ever trying to attempt macarons. After I read this, I thought, “Hey, it can’t be so bad,” and I tried making some. Guess what? I got feet and all on my first try! I broke a lot of macaronage rules except for the stiff egg whites and mixing in the dry ingredients. My friends were all impressed and said they looked like I bought them at a bakery. I can’t tell you how thankful I am with your post!! THANK YOU SO SOOOOO MUCH!

 · Lucky · 

Jun 16, 2011 ·  8:57 AM

You made me Laugh Out Loud ;o)

 · Haylark · 

Jun 16, 2011 · 10:26 AM

@Lucky, congratulations!! I’m so glad you felt motivated to try them out for yourself, and even happier you were rewarded with a successful first batch. Bravo!

@Haylark, awesome. I think there needs to be more macaron based humor in this world.

Stella

Jun 22, 2011 ·  8:51 PM

Finally i found a blogs that gave me hope, i hope that your tips will lead me to consistency, i’ve been making quite a few batches but keeps going on and off…will let you know what happen after applying your tips, and i have to say, i salute you for what you’ve done to get these myth busted, thanks!

Regards from malaysia

 · ichiro · www.facebook.com/ichiro14

Jun 23, 2011 ·  4:07 AM

Just tried baking it after i pipe, didn’t work…feet did not appear…

 · ichiro · www.facebook.com/ichiro14

Jun 23, 2011 ·  9:15 PM

@Ichiro, I hope you don’t give up. Macarons definitely take practice to master. I always say people need to experience under and over mixed macarons, and then they will understand “just right” when they see it. Good luck!

Stella

Jul 10, 2011 · 11:30 AM

I bought silicon macaron molds/pans and have not had luck with them. The macarons are not flat on the bottom. They look like toadstools and hard to sandwich together neatly. Any ideas/advice? Thanks,
Peter

 · Peter · 

Jul 10, 2011 ·  3:33 PM

@Peter, I’m not sure what you mean by macaron molds? Do you mean a flat Silpat mat, or something else?

Stella

Jul 10, 2011 ·  5:59 PM

They are silicone with 30 cavities for macarons. Not flat. You fill each cavity with the macaron mixture. I tried filling to level, underfilling, etc. It sticks, doesn’t seem to keep a flat shape on the bottom. I’m about to go back to trying to pipe the batter on a baking sheet.

 · Peter · 

Jul 10, 2011 ·  7:12 PM

@Peter, oh my goodness. I would see if you could get a refund on that, I think it’s a total scam. Deceitful marketers seem to have invented it just to a) capitalize on macaron madness by making a “specialty” product or b) allow people to make macaron shaped cookies without actually making macarons.

I have never used such a product but will nevertheless affirm that it (as you have experienced) will not help in macaron making. I do encourage you to pipe the batter on a parchment or Silpat lined baking sheet. Hope you see better results soon!

Stella

Jul 26, 2011 ·  7:51 AM

Divine intervention! was planning to bake my first batch then found your blog and this hilarious and fabulous post today through Apartment Therapy. I salute you in your invaluable research and will keep all your tips in mind. May also – just to be on the safe side- keep Huey Lewis in the back ground, hahaha.Thanks for this fabulous post.
Bea

 · Bea from Modern Country Lady · moderncountrylady.blogspot.com/

Jul 26, 2011 ·  9:07 AM

@Bea, I’m so glad you found me just in time! :Hope your macarons go swimmingly, and, well, I mean, a little Huey Lewis certainly won’t hurt anything…

Stella

Jul 29, 2011 · 10:38 AM

THANK YOU! I’ll be working on making a bunch of macarons this weekend for my family. You have no idea how much I appreciate this.

 · megan · twitter.com/megan_maria

Jul 29, 2011 · 10:40 AM

@megan, I’m so glad to provide a little info to soothe your nerves. Good luck & happy macaroning.

Stella

Aug 02, 2011 ·  1:36 AM

Hello! I read your post and I was greatly inspired by it! I tried to make macarons following your guides and blogged about it here!

http://ryanwantstobeachef.wordpress.com/2011/08/02/the-road-to-macaron/

I even made mention of you! So please, if you have time please do check it out. Thanks!

 · Ryan · ryanwantstobeachef.wordpress.com/

Aug 03, 2011 ·  9:36 AM

@Ryan, thanks for dropping by and telling me. OMG, you post is hysterical. Love it! Totally not rocket science. I mean, not exactly a cake walk either, but you know.

Stella

Aug 03, 2011 · 11:07 AM

There you are, the first person who dares to make fun of making macaron! I LOVE IT! You not only put a big smile on my face while i read along but also gave me the immediate urge to start making it (with my cold eggs, which are the reason why i looked up on the internet and was directed to your blog). I’m off to the supermarket now!
(you don’t by any chance have something like “myth” of making perfect beefsteak do you?)

 · Mei · 

Aug 03, 2011 · 11:46 AM

@Mei, ha! So happy I could answer your question. Good luck with your baking project, keep me posted. I don’t have a savory bone in my body, so if you do find that perfect beefsteak recipe you’ll have to let me know!

Stella

Aug 09, 2011 ·  6:48 PM

Thanks Stella. I’m taking a course this weekend on making macarons. Only after signing up I started doing some reading on the Internet…So many horror stories! Thank you for the removing some of the building trepidation. As you say, it’s just a cookie!

 · Marty · 

Aug 10, 2011 ·  9:34 AM

@Marty, good luck this weekend with your class! I definitely espouse a lot of non traditional elements in my recipe, so don’t be surprised to hear info flying in the face of everything I say. XD Have fun, I hope it equips you to become a macaron master!

Stella

Aug 18, 2011 · 11:03 AM

At last! Someone who doesn’t meekly approach the alter of the macarons! Thank you so much for not only the myth busting but the tough love for all the macaron-coddlers out there. I am now very happy.

 · Jenni · www.pastrychefonline.com/blog

Aug 28, 2011 · 10:18 AM

Hey Stella! My siblings and friends have been bugging me to make some macarons so I decided to give your recipe a go. I’ve tried making macarons twice before using different recipes (first was a total failure, second was excellent, except that I overbaked it a bit, but was a hit with my family and friends), and I wanted to see how your fuss free recipe would go. Big fat UNFORTUNATELY, they were a disaster! I baked them tray by tray to see how it would go and the batch that I baked straight away without resting were cracked horribly and had no feet. I also tried letting them rest for an hour (or more; apparently it took ages for the shells to form!) and they still had no feet! I tried using fresh and aged egg whites, same results.

Not very sure what I did wrong here, I dont think I overmixed or undermixed it. I’ve also camped in front of my oven to see if the feet forms. They actually did! But then, they sort of, collapsed back. Why!!!!

The best thing about it was that they tasted absolutely delicious! My family members were raving about it, it’s just very saddening that they don’t look as lovely.

 · DK · 

Aug 29, 2011 ·  7:02 PM

@DK, yeah, it doesn’t matter how long you rest my macaron recipe, they will never form real shells (due to the high sugar content). After the feet collapsed, how much baking did they undergo? A lot of times the feet will collapse on underbaked macarons. If they collapsed in the middle of baking, I“m not sure what to say! That is really unusual; I tend to think of feet as being an all or nothing sort of thing, not appearing and disappearing. It could be an oven issue, if your oven runs a little off kilter and you experienced a sudden drop in temperature during baking, that might account for it, but honestly that’s just a shot in the dark. I’m sorry your macarons weren’t as pretty as they tasted, but they will only get better with practice!

Stella

Sep 04, 2011 ·  6:42 AM

Thankyou so much for this really awesome recipe. So simple, and yes, I showed that meringue whose boss. My most succesful batch of macaroons yet. Thanks for the absolutely wonderful analysis.

 · LH · 

Sep 04, 2011 ·  1:15 PM

@LH, congratulations!! I’m so happy to hear about your success. Way to go!

Stella

Sep 06, 2011 · 12:54 AM

A thought and a question…

While trying to find the answer to my question, below, I read through the majority of your Q&A section. Just so happens I had the same problem as an earlier question from bobbieb about the macaroons not turning out, at all. Incidentally, I was pouring ALL of the sugar (both granulated and confectioners sugar) in with the egg whites, and whipping. Then folding in the almonds last. After I took the time to SLOWLY read the instructions, I realized that ONLY the granulated sugar goes in with the whites in the beginning. So on my third attempt I was excited and delighted to see feet, and a beautiful crown. However, when taking a bite, I sadly realized they were ALL hollow… Needless to say I was D-E-V-A-S-T-A-T-E-D!!! Sounds like I may be under baking them. Any other reason that might happen? HELP!

 · Trace · www.thepaintedcupcake.com

Sep 07, 2011 · 12:12 PM

@Trace, glad you caught yourself with the powdered sugar issue! Are you grinding your almonds and powdered sugar sufficiently, and sifting the mixture in two stages? My friend Veron has noticed a correlation between too chunky almond flour and hollows (I think I’ve posted a link in a previous comment). How does that idea match up to your macaron experience?

Stella

Sep 15, 2011 ·  5:07 PM

im 13 and im making macarons for my project on france ^^
i have already made some and few came out cracked
and all of them were kind of gooey in the middle with a lot of space between the “feet” thing and the top of the shell help??

 · sj · 

Sep 16, 2011 ·  1:18 AM

@sj, that’s a hardcore project!! It sounds like the macarons were under baked- when they’re gooey inside that’s a sure sign that the meringue did not have a chance to fully bake. Next time, try baking them a little longer- until you can peel one free from the paper. Good luck on your project!

Stella

Sep 17, 2011 ·  2:16 AM

I love your detailed post of macarons. I’m experimenting with them now and am on batch #4. It’s ALMOST there, if you have time please check out my blog, there are pictures of the macarons with some issues still. I think they were undermixed and undercooked, but any extra tips would help tons! (When I piped the filling in, it ended up collapsing the cookies in the middle a little.)

 · Julie · foodiejulie.wordpress.com

Sep 20, 2011 ·  1:37 PM

Great post—amazing pictures and very lively writing—we were surprised that there is so much controversy around macarons. It seems they are becoming ever more popular here in New York, to the point that <a href=“http://www.glenwoodnyc.com/manhattan-living/maison-laduree-the-beloved-parisian-macaron-shop-now-in-new-york”>Maison Laduree</a> a famous Parisian patisserie, opened a New York location, so we hope to keep reading and learning more about them in the future.

 · Glenwood · www.glenwoodnyc.com/

Sep 22, 2011 · 11:50 AM

@Glenwood, I think their sudden surge in popularity is funny, they’e been around for a very, very long time. But we act like they just came into existence! Enjoy all the macaron wonders NY has to offer!!

Stella

Sep 24, 2011 ·  2:21 AM

Hi!

I have made quite a few attempts at macarons so far, and have been having difficulty. The recipe I’ve been using asks for them to be dusted with icing sugar after piping, and then to be left to stand. Mine have feet, a domed top, and a nice texture, but the dome has a grainy quality, rather than being smooth. Could this be because of the dusting with icing sugar? Or perhaps I am not beating the whites stiff enough? Anyway, I’m totally going to use your recipe next time…. I’ll let you know how it goes. You make it sound like it isn’t a form of witchcraft, which I find comforting.

 · GirlWonder · 

Sep 24, 2011 ·  2:17 PM

@GirlWonder, what an intriguing step! I’m not sure what purpose that would serve (to help the shells crust?), but it may indeed have prevented your macarons from having a smooth dome. I must admit, I’m terrible at diagnosing problems with other recipes, because I’m most familiar with mine and know macarons are very peculiar to each recipe. But let me know if you do try my recipe, I wish you the best of luck!

Stella

Sep 28, 2011 ·  2:17 PM

Hi, I followed your recipe and my problem was no feet.
1) no cracked tops
2) 150 deg at 14 mins
3) powdered sugar with no starch

4) silpat mat
5) dried almond powder in oven and grinder and sieved.

Are you able to advise on why I cannot get the feets?

Thanks!

Jane

 · Jane · 

Sep 29, 2011 · 10:07 PM

@Jane, Congratulations on your smooth macarons! You’re halfway there! I have heard some people say that a silpat mats inhibit feet, but I have never used one so I can’t answer for myself. Have you been able to confirm your oven temperature with a thermometer? It may be running a little cool, which can prevent feet from forming. Next time, try baking them at 155 and seeing if they do better. Good luck!

Stella

Sep 29, 2011 · 11:41 PM

Thanks for your tutorial. Although I did not manage to succeed with your recipe, I manage to do so with another. thank you!

 · Jane · 

Sep 30, 2011 · 11:20 PM

@Jane, one way or another you’ve found success, and I congratulate you. Well done!

Stella

Oct 18, 2011 ·  2:21 AM

I’ve made a few batches of macarons with good success, but I’ve recently tried coconut flour with disastrous results. The coconut flour seems to just absorb all of the liquid from the meringue and leave me with a thick, sticky paste that no amount of folding will fix. Just wondering if you’ve had better results with coconut flour. I’m open to any suggestions…

 · Xeria · 

Oct 19, 2011 · 10:24 AM

@Xeria, quick questions: are you using commercial coconut flour? I do suspect it is ground so incredibly fine it would absorb an awful lot of moisture.

I have had fabulous results with coconut in macarons, but I always make my own flour. Here’s how: take unsweetened coconut flakes (make sure coconut is the only ingredient on the label!!) and toast them until golden. Cool. Grind in a food processor with powdered sugar, as per the recipe’s instructions. The coconut won’t ever get quite as fine as the almond flour, but that’s okay. They turn out great anyway.

Stella

Oct 21, 2011 ·  4:25 PM

Wow Stella, amazing macarons considering you are doing everything by scratch. I also agree with most of you here that the meringue is the biggest problem when it comes to making the perfect looking macaron. Each time I make them, I use about the exact same method but if the meringue is not the same, the macarons come out different as well. I like my macarons looking smooth. Either way, they are still yummy.

 · themacaronqueen · themacaronqueen.blogspot.com

Oct 22, 2011 ·  8:25 PM

@themacaronqueen, Yeah, it definitely all depends on the meringue. When it doesn’t come together correctly, the macarons don’t either.

Stella

Oct 29, 2011 ·  9:46 AM

STELLA. I’m training in french pastry right now, and I SWEAR this post needs to be required reading. HYSTERICAL and you can tell by my ALL CAPS just how much I loved it.

I stumbled upon this while looking for variations on the macaron formula to produce a macaron suitable for SAVORY experiments. Not that I necessarily think it needs to be changed, but what’s the point of playing with flavor if you’re not going to muck around with the ingredients to figure out what happens when you do it, right? Any thoughts on savory macarons? I’ll have to check and see if you wrote a post about them….

anyway, LOVED this, thank you.

 · ali · www.pickwickbakingco.blogspot.com

Oct 29, 2011 ·  5:36 PM

@ali, I’ve made savory macarons before, but it’s tricky. The sugar is crucial for the meringue and also for macaronage, so you can’t really deviate much in that department. Which means opting for savory macarons with a sweet edge is much more achievable. I made yellow curry coconut macarons using coconut flour and a teaspoon of salt in the macaron, and using yellow curry paste in the buttercream. They were great because a good yellow curry has an edge of sweetness too. So try and bear that in mind as you choose flavors to play with and choose flavors that that are enhanced by a touch of sweetness rather than trying to fight the sugar to make the macarons into something they’re not.

Stella

Nov 04, 2011 ·  6:20 PM

Hi Stella, I want to thank you for your most helpful tips. I’ve done macarons before with diverse results and now I have a better understanding as to why certain things happen (or not) when baking them. Just one mistery left and maybe you could help me: why is it that sometimes they start beautifully but after 3/4 minutes baking the just-formed feet start oozing out and my macarons end up looking like sunny side up eggs?

 · marita · 

Nov 05, 2011 · 10:48 PM

@marita, I think I know what you mean; the macaron forms a foot that squishes out the side? I’ve found that happens when the oven is just a little too hot. I haven’t done any definitive experiments, but I did take a batch of macarons once and baked off a small tray at a wide range of temperatures (250, 275, 300, 325, 350). The ones I baked at 350 all had that squished out weird foot, while the rest turned out (more or less) fairly well. If you’re describing something else, let me know; better yet, send a photo!

Stella

Nov 06, 2011 ·  5:47 AM

Thanks a bunch, that’s exactly what I meant. I thought it might be the oven temp because it’s new and I was so excited about having a fan that I put it on. I’ll try and check exactly what the temperature is or I’ll just go back to no-fan.
Thanks again for your hilarious advice.

 · marita · 

Nov 07, 2011 · 12:00 PM

Hello Stella
Today I tried to make macaroons. I see the shapes are good even few have crack. But the macaroons based (is that you mean feet??) flat and a bit brown. The temperature oven was 325 and I didn’t close tight the oven’s door. What’s my mistake? I have the picture but don’t have twitter account. Don’t know where should I post the pic. Thank you very much in advance for your advice…xxx

 · Rita  · 

Nov 07, 2011 · 10:28 PM

@marita, awesome! Let me know how your future batches turn out. Also, I should add, sometimes “squishy foot syndrome” is a result of too much acidity, as when making flavors like lemon or pineapple. Good luck!

@Rita, do you have a facebook account? You can upload your photo on the BraveTart page if you like, I’d be happy to take a look at it. It sounds like your oven is running a bit hot, but it’s hard to say. The “foot” is the spongy-looking frilly part at the base of the cookie.

Stella

Nov 11, 2011 ·  5:36 AM

Hi. Tried this recipe. Why did my macroons not develop any feet? I have used other recipes before and always got feet! Thanx

 · Fathima · 

Nov 12, 2011 ·  6:06 PM

Hi,
Finding your posts on macs has come at the perfect time for me. I am about to make attempt #2 and have been searching the net for the last hour+ trying to figure what I did wrong -batch #1 was fully cracked, no feet, gooey soft, but totally delicious nevertheless!
I was wondering what time zone you live in (I am in New Zealand) so I could FB message you ‘live’ as I go. Would that be possible??
Do you have a You Tube posted for this?
Your blog posts are wonderful and the pictures beautiful! thanks so much.

 · cathnco · 

Nov 12, 2011 ·  8:52 PM

@Fathima, unfortunately there are a lot of variables that can contribute to macarons not developing proper feet. Have you had a chance to read my 10 Commandments post? There are a lot of troubleshooting tips there, I hope they help!

@cathnco, awwww, I honeymooned in New Zealand! Are you making macarons with my recipe, or another? I only ask because my recipe has some unusual quirks and behaves differently from most recipes which means my some of my advice is null and void for many recipes. I’m on EST; I hope we can chat it up on FB to help solve your problem. Thanks for stopping by!

Stella

Nov 22, 2011 · 12:22 AM

Oh my GOD – those are the prettiest macarons I have ever seen in my life. This is the first post I have ever read on your blog and you got me. I’m a fan. I am just delving into this whole candy and pastry gig. It has risen from a need for quality handmade treats that are a)so terribly delicious that they make your head spin and b)gorgeous. I was originally really afraid to try these, but this entire post has made me feel more confident. Tomorrow – it’s on!

 · Chelsea · 

Nov 22, 2011 · 12:08 PM

@Chelsea, wow, thank you so much! I’m glad you found me. Good luck with your macaron experience and don’t forget, you’re learning a skill. If things don’t work out on the first try, remember what you learned and attack the next batch with more knowledge and confidence! They’ll be delicious no matter what.

Stella

Nov 29, 2011 ·  2:11 AM

Hi Stella, first things first. I LOVE this site. Your attitude and sense of humor is the icing on the cake.

Armed with all the knowledge here I tried my first batch. Long story short, no cracks at all. Yay me. But, a couple of other imperfections: dull surface, some of them were lopsided, and short stubby feet that DO poke outside the dome. I look at your pictures and I know perfections is achievable. Any ideas what went wrong? Thank you much.

 · Sammy · 

Nov 29, 2011 ·  9:41 AM

@Sammy, congrats on a batch free from cracks! Often, when the feet squish out the side, it’s a sign the oven is too hot. Alternately, they tend to do that in batches with an acidic flavoring agent, lemon, pineapple, etc. But you might try just reducing your oven temperature or double panning your macarons, that’s the cause 90% of the time. Let me know how your future batches turn out!

Stella

Dec 07, 2011 ·  8:29 PM

Just wondering if you’ve ever tried a macaron tray. I’m bad with a pastry bag and thought about getting a macaron tray on Amazon. Do you know if they work well? Thanks!

 · Rachel · 

Dec 07, 2011 · 10:29 PM

@Rachel, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it’s physically impossible to make macarons in a mold, those trays are a total scam. So sad.

Stella

Dec 08, 2011 · 10:40 PM

I LOVE you!! I’ve made macarons twice, the first time they were perfect. I didn’t wait to put them in the oven, they were just popped right in. The second time they were not so great and I didn’t know why. After reading your myths it makes so much sense! I was concentrating on the wrong issues, old egg whites, they must sit for an hour etc. You explain about over/under mixing, that’s the key! I want to try other nut flours now too!

 · Mina · delicio8.wordpress.com

Dec 13, 2011 ·  3:54 PM

I’ve long admired macarons and read all the blogs and was totally scared off from making them, but reading all your posts has made me want to try them for the first time. If they don’t come out perfect, I’d still be thrilled as long as they taste great, but now I’ll know what to “troubleshoot” to make the next batch better. Can’t wait to try them! Thanks for giving me courage!

 · Donna · 

Dec 13, 2011 ·  4:50 PM

@Donna, thanks so much for the message. I hope you do jump in and make a batch for yourself. Worst case scenario? Delicious cookies (here's another yay-macarons post that might help put you at ease too). Let me know how yours turn out! Cheers!

Stella

Dec 15, 2011 ·  5:32 PM

Thanks Stella – this has been super helpful!

I’ve tried you macaron recipe before and very luckily had some success but recently I’ve had the same thing happening to me twice and I can’t figure out why….

Basically when I add the almond flour + icing sugar (with cornstarch in the ingredient) mixture to the meringue and fold it, I can instantly tell it’s a lot stiffer than my “successful” mixture.
No matter how long I fold it, it just stays stiff and hard to fold…

Could this be due to over beaten meringue? I’m 90% sure I measured everything correctly and used the same recipe, so I can’t figure out why this happens sometimes…

Any tips or suggestions will be very much appreciated!

Thanks!

 · sophdobe · 

Dec 16, 2011 · 10:55 AM

@sophdobe, just a few quick questions to help in diagnosis. A) are you using a scale? and B) did you double or halve the recipe?

No matter how overbeaten the meringue, it will eventually break down. So if you’re folding and folding and folding but the mixture is strangely stiff, it means something has gone wrong with the ingredients. Too much flour, too few whites. In the beginning, it is very dry and seems a little hopeless, but after about 15 turns, the mixture will begin to break down and turn into a batter; that’s when macaronage really begins.

For it to never loosen up means there’s some fundamental problem with the ratio of ingredients. I hope some of that info helps and you can try and figure out if anything has changed in your kitchen.

(Once, the edge of my clipboard had been pushed under the balance of my scale. I thought it was just going under my scale, but instead, it was preventing the weighing platform from depressing the scale. As a result, I weighed out like 20 ounces of flour, but it only registered as 4. Another time, somehow a piece of chocolate got wedged in there and did the same thing. So sometimes a good inspection of your scale is in order…

Stella

Dec 17, 2011 ·  5:51 PM

Thanks for the quick reply! You’re a star~

I did use a scale and I did halve the recipe~

I think it’s sounding more like a wrong measurement of ingredient problem because it just didn’t break down at all (after like 80 turns and my arms were aching!)

I shall go check my scale see if it’s playing on me – thank you thank you thank you!!!

 · sophdobe · 

Dec 18, 2011 ·  2:08 PM

@sophdobe, I hope you get to the bottom of it! Folding the dry ingredients into the meringue is certainly dry and stiff for the first few folds, but it should start loosening up right away. Good luck with the next round!

Stella

Dec 28, 2011 ·  1:50 AM

Hi Stella!

I’ve recently made macaroons using your recipe again, only I completely forgot to add the granulated sugar to the egg whites when beating. So after folding everything in and piping the batter out, I tend to let the macaroons sit for a bit before I bake them, even though your recipe says its not necessary (the shells don’t harden, but they are no longer sticky either).

But……happy mistake! my macaroons turned out great without the extra sugar in the recipe! lovely feet, shiny shells and soft moist middle.

Just thought I’d share the successful mistake with the bonus of sugar reduction (and one less thing to weigh)

 · LH · 

Dec 28, 2011 · 10:56 AM

@LH, wow, that’s crazy! I never would have guessed. Thanks for sharing; I’ll have to try that out for myself. Who knew?

Stella

Jan 02, 2012 ·  7:31 PM

This post has sent me on the way of Almond-free macarons, and I love it! I’m still in the overmixing club, but my Pistachio macarons turn out cracked and flat in the exact same way as my Almond ones (and they all taste AMAZING so I’m not really bothered by it), so at least I’m doing something right SOMEWHERE.

Now, I’ve got this plan in my head to make a few different types of macarons that represent my sister’s favorite sweet flavors, and then mail them to her so she’ll have something nice while she’s living alone during the Chicago winter. One of those favorite flavors happens to be Chestnut.

I know nothing of Chestnuts. But my local grocery store does have them, both fresh and canned.

Do Chestnuts have the proper consistency to replace the Almonds in the cookie? Or should I just go with the usual Chocolate cookie and Chestnut cream filling?

 · Sqoozh · 

Jan 03, 2012 · 12:30 PM

@Sqoozh, congrats on making so many delicious macarons! Unfortunately, chestnuts just don’t have the right consistency to make a good flour for macarons. So you’ll have to stick with the chestnut filling rather than a chestnut shell. I’m sure your sister will swoon over her care package, what a lucky lady!

Stella

Jan 06, 2012 ·  7:21 PM

Ha! Thank you! Love this!

 · Mim · 

Jan 06, 2012 ·  9:12 PM

@Mim, you are so welcome! Thanks for stopping by!

Stella

Jan 12, 2012 ·  5:11 PM

Thank you so much for putting to rest all those stupid ‘rules’ about macaron making. I have been attempting to make the perfect cookie for like 3 years now, and was constantly second guessing everything from the dryness of the almond flour, to the pre-baking wait time. I think my main problem was batter consistency. For my next batch, I am probably going to follow your recipe!

 · EnergeticCrab · 

Jan 13, 2012 · 10:28 AM

@EnergeticCrab, good luck! Ultimately, with macarons it all comes down to technique more than ingredients. It can definitely take some practice, but the point is to learn with each batch and stop second guessing. Keep me posted!

Stella

Jan 14, 2012 ·  3:48 AM

i just discovered the blog and this post while i was waiting for my first ever batch of macarons to cool! i would say i wish i had seen earlier, but it’d have to be 2 days earlier as that’s how long the egg whites waited – ridiculous, i know, but i just wanted to make sure i followed the recipe.

i think i actually whipped a stiffer meringue than what the recipe called for, and that’s probably the reason behind this first attempt to not be an utter failure. upon further reading, i understand that would have resulted in disaster

ok so here’s the result: http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/717/makarom.jpg/ (sorry for the terrible photo) not bad, ha?

(i ground the almonds in a magic bullet, and teehee at one point i think i overdid it and ended up with almond paste (almond butter?) stuck everywhere. i have to find a better way to make it)

oh and my advice would be: get to know your oven before you try macarons – for example, my racks are ridiculously close to the top and the bottom, that’s ok for the top rack, but the bottom rack is always ruined if i don’t try veeery hard and pay extra attention ._.

this batch was pretty straightforward, plain shells with pomegranate white chocolate ganache, but as soon as i get over my fear of adding liquids to the meringue (don’t want to/have access to food colorings or many artificial flavors) i’ll be a macaronage machine!

[this feels like a ridiculously long comment. sorry in advance!]

 · myriamonde · 

Jan 15, 2012 · 12:53 PM

@myriamonde, no worries! Welcome to the world of macaron making mayhem! Well, bear in mind the advice I dish out is specific to my recipe, so my tips don’t always work with other recipes. I agree, getting to know your oven is one of the most important things any baker can do!!

Stella

Jan 16, 2012 ·  4:15 AM

Hi Stella,
I chanced upon your blog when searching for info on whether frozen egg whites will still produce macarons successfully. Drawing my own conclusions from your post, I reckon that fresh egg whites that have been frozen, then thawed, and then used for macs would still give nice macs. But I wanted to consult your expert opinion. What do you think?

 · nel · thebatterbaker.blogspot.com/

Jan 16, 2012 · 11:27 AM

@nel, I would think they work out alright. I use frozen egg whites all the time to make Swiss meringue, so you shouldn’t have a problem. I have heard from others that store bought frozen whites or pasteurized whites, however, don’t work. Good luck, lemme know how they turn out!

Stella

Jan 22, 2012 ·  9:13 AM

I love the way you make me feel mac-confident. Thank you for this brilliant post {and all the hard work} and the mac-myths you did away with! Bravo!!

 · vindee · www.passionateaboutbaking.com

Jan 22, 2012 ·  1:54 PM

@vindee, thanks so much, happy baking!

Stella

Jan 26, 2012 ·  9:45 AM

I have tried making macaroons several times and I usually always have this post, along with your recipe up on my laptop on the opposite side of the room, and when I am in a particularly “i-am-about-to-tear-my-hair-out” kind of mood, I run over and read them to restore my sanity, hehe.

They come out mostly not cracked. Mostly. The under/overmixing conundrum is STILL one I can’t quite nail. But I am determined!

 · Mel · balzbakes.blogspot.com

Jan 26, 2012 ·  2:08 PM

@Mel, haha, that’s great! Macaronage can definitely be elusive. Cracking is about undermixing 99% of the time, the remaining 1% is usually oven temperature or forgetting to rap the pan. At least macaron failure is delicious! You’ll get there, I promise. It’s just like learning to ride a bike or make a jump shot; a skill acquired through practice. Good luck!

Stella

Jan 27, 2012 ·  3:50 PM

I’ve been making macarons for the past few months, and they’ve been turning out well until the past week. Now they are coming out with huge air pockets, despite trying every permutation of cooking time/temperature/recipe variations. They still look perfect, until you bite into a hollow shell. I’ve tried over-mixing, under-mixing with no success. Any suggestions?

 · MarcoM · 

Jan 28, 2012 · 12:06 PM

@MarcoM, I am working on a post to address hollows, I’ve found a few tricks to share; but it will take up a bit more space than just a comment. Hang tight for the new post, coming soon I promise!

Stella

Jan 28, 2012 ·  6:16 PM

This blog helped me overcome my fear to bake macarons, i used to think it was something super hard to make, with a lot of secrets, but after reading this i’m gonna try, i already bought the ingredients, and tomorrow i’ll try for the first time to make them, i’m a bit anxious not gonna lie, but even if they’re ugly at least i tried! and i’m planing to keep practicing.

 · Bree · 

Jan 29, 2012 · 12:17 AM

@Bree, congratulations for deciding to take the plunge!! If every failure in life tasted as sweet as “failed” macarons, this world would have a lot more risk taking people, haha. Enjoy the experience and don’t worry about chasing perfection. You’re in the kitchen, making something from scratch, sharing sweets with your friends or family, and learning about a new cookie: what’s to be afraid of? Keep me posted!

Stella

Jan 30, 2012 · 10:57 AM

Hello i’m french and designer of jewelry gourmet, macaron, puff, cupcake and so much sweets. Only for watch not for eat! Enjoy eat! (worldwide shipping)

 · afrenchbakery · www.afrenchbakery.com

Jan 31, 2012 · 12:39 AM

I baked 8 sheets!! well 4 one day (chocolate) and 4 today (regular) maybe my baking sheets are too small :p and fllled them with Nutella.
Anyway the first day i was amazed with the results, just 4 cracked, and a lot of them got ‘foots’ But today almost every Macaron cracked in every sheet (i did hit them, i hit them Hard), only 3 or 4 didn’t, and no true foot in any of them i don’t know what i did wrong. I ate them tho, everybody loved them and nobody cared for the way they looked. But i want to know could it be the batter? or my oven the problem? BTW today i used liquid food coloring but only a drop or two. Maybe macarons are harder than i thought

 · Bree · 

Jan 31, 2012 ·  5:04 PM

@afrenchbakery, too cute!

@Bree, when you just start out making macarons, you’ll have a lot of inconsistency with your final results because you’re still learning. Just think about shooting a basketball. In the beginning, it’s a lot of hits and misses, but eventually you get the hang of it and misses become more rare. So with macarons, you can definitely get ‘em just right, but have trouble with the next few batches. I’ve tried to write these posts to illustrate that when macarons go wrong, it’s not voodoo, but technique. The more you practice, the better your technique, and the more often your results will be great!

You’ve got the right attitude! Enjoy those delicious little “failures”!

Stella

Feb 01, 2012 ·  4:34 PM

Aha.
I’ve tried out macarons once (I’m a busy student so haven’t got much time to try it again). But my, do you make me feel silly. Not because of my failure. Have I seriously been standing in the kitchen for 3 hours with sugar in a pan and carefully beating my whites first? And that’s just a few of the things.
You know what. I’m going to try your method. I bet it’ll work. Otherwise it’s probably ‘cause Denmark is such a rainy country.
No, I’m kidding.
My first macarons were delicious. They were just lacking feet… Poor little fellas.
So thank you. Renewed hope!

 · Anna W · 

Feb 05, 2012 ·  4:28 PM

i just realized i read this post last year without even bothering to read the rest of your fabulously genius blog. i am so silly.

 · maya · www.bazekalim.com

Feb 05, 2012 ·  6:31 PM

@maya, bahaha. I know the feeling! There are several blog posts I’ve read online and then it only dawns on me much later that I’ve become friends with those people on twitter or facebook. Slowly, it always comes full circle.

Stella

Feb 06, 2012 · 11:56 AM

When measuring ingredients (specifically egg whites) do you use a measuring cup, or go by weight measurement. my meauring cup, does contain oz, but a weight measurement vs a volume measurement could be completely different.

 · pez · 

Feb 06, 2012 · 12:31 PM

@pez, you are absolutely right, weight and volume measurements wind up totally different! I use a scale for all measurements. If you’d like to know more about my measuring philosophy, check out this post.

Stella

Feb 23, 2012 ·  6:56 PM

These posts make such great reading, thanks for putting the work in and sharing! Your sport analogy is right- my misses are rarer now ( thankfuly for my state of mind… but try as I might my oven issue is not going away. I’ve invested in an oven thermometer (such a good buy), lowered my middle rack to near the bottom of the oven and put a baking sheet on a rack just under the element and still my prettily-coloured macs turn out browned. Delicious, hollow-free and be-footed, but brown, brown, brown! Anyone else had and/ or solved this problem?

 · Lou · 

Feb 25, 2012 · 12:23 PM

@Lou, this usually has to do with using Wilton gel paste; they’re meant for buttercreams and non-heat applications and so they discolor while baking. I use a brand that’s only available through a restaurant supplier, but I’ve heard really good things about Americolor gel paste maintaining a bold color in macarons. You can find them on Amazon too.

Stella

Feb 27, 2012 · 11:50 PM

I just found your blog, and as a scientist foodie, this post totally made me a follower. Can’t wait to read more!

 · Brianne @ Cupcakes &amp; Kale Chips · cupcakesandkalechips.com

Feb 28, 2012 ·  5:28 PM

@Brianne, scientist foodie?! Now I’m ready to tune into your blog. Awesome!

Stella

Mar 01, 2012 ·  1:04 AM

WHy would I not have feet??? The domes are so beautiful but no feet. Even the insides are amazing if I should say so myself..!!!! THey would be perfect if only they had feet!!!!! any suggestions

 · GerryBerry · 

Mar 01, 2012 · 12:13 PM

@GerryBerry, how frustrating! But congratulations, honestly, smooth domes are trickier than feet. So many people send in pictures of cracked macarons with feet, it’s the smoothness that’s so elusive for many.

Are you using silicon or parchment paper? For some reason, I’ve had a lot of trouble getting feet with silicon. Otherwise, I’d say you must be so close! Usually no-feet are accompanied by cracks, so your smooth domes tells me your technique must be great, but it may just be that they are ever-so-slightly overmixed. Feet are the result of excess air artfully escaping the shells, so you may be mixing them just enough to lose that important bit of air, but not overmixing enough to create runny macarons. Mix just a tiny, tiny bit less next time and see how it goes. Let me know!!

Stella

Mar 02, 2012 ·  7:03 PM

Just to say thanks for taking the time to comment back!

 · Lou · 

Mar 04, 2012 ·  1:41 AM

hey, my macarons had a layer of air between the ‘feet’ and the tops. what went wrong?
PLEASE HELP!

 · gchoo · 

Mar 04, 2012 ·  2:20 AM

Thank you for this post. I’ve been making French macarons from a recipe in a baking book. The recipe was no fuss, with none of the aging talk regarding the egg whites, and even suggested using other types of nuts instead of just almonds. The macarons turned out great every time. Recently, I started looking at other recipes on the web, and was surprised at how complicated people have made the process to be, with all sorts of mind-boggling caveats. I’ve started to doubt myself until I read your reassuring post.

 · jeff · 

Mar 04, 2012 · 12:54 PM

@Lou, but of course!

@gchoo, I’m currently working on a post to help people troubleshoot their hollows. As with all things macarons, it’s an issue of technique and I’m afraid I don’t have a short answer for it. If you’d like, sign up for an email subscription to my posts and that way when I do finally write my “hollows thesis” you can be sure to have it delivered straight to your inbox.

@jeff, sounds like you found the rare no-fuss macaron book! That’s awesome. I’m glad you found some reassurance here that you don’t need to jump through so many hoops.

Apologies to future readers, but I’m going to close commenting for this post. In all likelihood whatever question you’re seeking an answer to has been answered above. As I mentioned to Gchoo, I am working on a post to address hollows but I don’t know when it will be ready. Things have been a little crazy at work lately and I just have not had the time. If you’d like to be sure not to miss it when I do get to it, subscribe here and stay tuned.

Otherwise, I’ve tried my best to detail all of the things that are truly important to good macarons, as well as eliminate the factors that don’t matter, but in the end they are still something that take time to master and I can’t offer anyone a magic bullet for perfecting macarons. It’s something that does take time and patience to master. Don’t be afraid of macarons. Don’t be afraid to try, try again. Don’t be afraid to enjoy the hell out of your cracked macarons. Unless it’s your job to make perfect macarons, no one is judging you! Enjoy them, they’re delicious.

Stella