Don't let these macaron cookies make you think they are too hard to make. With a few simple tips and tricks, you'll be making these like a pro!
It's our daughter's birthday this week, and she is my little baker. One thing that she LOVES to do is watch baking shows. Her favorite is the Kids Baking Championship. She has a dream of being on that show one day. She says she is waiting till she's closer to 11 because that's what "most of the kids are on the show." So she is going to use her time to learn as much as she can. Then, when she does get on it (one day), she knows how to do everything they will ask of her.
It just so happens this is where her love of macarons has come from. She saw the kids make them on the show and then instantly came to me (with her recipe book in hand, of course), asking me if I could give her the recipe so she can try it out herself. Of course, I had a method, but it wasn't one I had made in a long time because, well, I didn't have a reason to very often. So I gave her the recipe, and off to the kitchen, she went to see if we had all the ingredients to make a batch; luckily for her, we did. Since then, she has made at least one batch a week and is testing all the different flavor combinations and going through all the trials and errors trying to get her little macarons.
She turns nine this week, and she has decided that her party theme this year will be a French Patisserie and that her cake this year was going to be made with macarons. So I figured this is the perfect time to share this little treat with you guys.
Did you know that macarons are naturally gluten and grain free?
Indeed, these heavenly little cookies come together with only a few simple items. They can even be made dairy-free by simply switching up the traditional buttercream filling.
Tips and Tricks to Make Macarons
- It all starts with the egg whites. This is going to sound odd, but I promise it matters that your egg whites are OLD. What does this mean? It's simple separate your egg whites, cover them, and put them in the fridge for about 2-3 days or up to a week; when you are ready to make your macarons bring them back to completely room temperature before whipping them.
- Sifting - This recipe calls for superfine almond flour, but trust me, when I stay, no matter what the packaging says, ALWAYS sift your almond flour with your powdered sugar. Do not force the large pieces through; just discard them. I usually sift them together and then sift again before I add the mixture to the egg whites.
- Weigh your ingredients - I know this isn't super common, especially in the United States, but trust me, this is going to make a world of difference in your final product. A simple kitchen scale is all you need.
- Parchment paper vs. Silicon - There is a LOT of talk between whether or not to use parchment paper or to use a silicone baking sheet for baking your macrons. I've tried both, and especially in a more humid area, I find that the silicon tends to hold on to the moisture more than parchment paper does, so I prefer to use parchment paper for baking macarons.
- The perfect size - This is a preference. You can pipe your macrons bigger or smaller if you like, but the average size is about a 1 ½ inch circle. When you are piping, you don't want to pipe to the size you want it; instead, just go a little smaller because as you tap out the air bubbles in the cookies, they will expand a little to their final shape and size. There are many silicon mats on sale that have the circles already drawn, or you can draw your own and place them under your parchment paper.
- Taking the parchment paper - This is simply so the parchment paper does not slide around on the baking sheet as you are piping or taping out the air bubbles. I add a small dab of the batter into the four corners and smooth the parchment paper down, so it sticks, and it dry and hold the paper in place.
- Only cook ONE pan at a time - This might sound silly, but it does make a difference. Even with convection ovens that help circulate air, having more than one tray in the oven can cause the cookies to bake unevenly.
- Can I color my macrons? Yes, you can use a concentrated (not liquid) food color of choice and add it into the egg whites once they have come to stiff peaks. If I use Powdered food coloring (freeze-dried strawberries, for example), I will add and sift them with the dry ingredients.
- Keeping them grain-free - Make sure you are using a grain-free powdered sugar. Conventional powdered sugar is usually made with cornstarch. If you want something grain-free, I recommend using a good powdered sugar like Wholesome Brand that uses tapioca starch instead of corn starch when they produce their powdered sugar.
Common Mistakes in Making Macarons
- My macarons turned brown - This is usually due to the oven temperatures. Does your oven read true to temperature, and is it sitting at 300 degrees? I like to make sure my oven is right on temperature with a simple oven thermometer that sits inside my oven.
- Another trick is to double the pan that the macarons are baking on. As well as placing another tray on the rack above the tray, the cookies are on. This will help shield the macarons from browning on the bottom or the top because it is protected from the direct heat.
- My macarons are sticking to the paper - This indicates that the macarons are not fully baked. When a macaron bakes, it is drying out, and if the cookie is not 'fully dry," it will not release from the parchment paper. Adjust the cooking time for what your oven is putting out. You can fix a slightly over-baked macaron.
- My macarons are cracking - This is a classic issue with macrons that means the batter was "under-mixed" When you are mixing and folding your batter, you want your final mixture to be able to make a smooth "s" pattern when holding the spatula. If the batter is dripping unevenly when you lift the spatula, give it a few more folds.
- It can also mean that your macarons had air bubbles in them when they went to the oven. This is why it is essential to knock those air bubbles out before you let them dry and bake. Try giving the pan a few more good slams to knock them out, or use a toothpick to help get the stubborn ones out.
- My macarons exploded and didn't keep their shape while baking - This is usually an indicator of the oven temperature being too hot. This is where the handy oven thermometer comes into play again to check and ensure that the oven is reading correctly to the temperature you want.
- My macaron batter is spreading while I am piping it - This is usually due to deflated egg whites. When the mixture gets over-mixed in the folding process, or maybe you forgot to add the cream of tartar to help stabilize the egg whites? The trick is to make sure that your egg whites have formed a STIFF peak before adding the dry ingredients. I usually test this by turning the bowl upside down. If it doesn't drip, then I know my egg whites are good to go.
- My macarons are hallowed inside - If your macarons are hollow inside, it is usually an indication of two possible things. Either you cooked them too long, or your oven is hot. So double-check the oven temperature and make sure that you are pulling them out just when done and not sticking to the paper anymore.
- My macarons don't have feet - This might sound weird, but it is merely referring to the cookie's base as it bakes. The feet refer to those little ridges at the bottom of the cookie that form as it cooks. This usually means your macarons did not rest long enough before you bake them. You want to make sure that you let your macarons dry out before you bake them. This might sound weird, but it is essential to get a good macaron. I usually let my macarons sit for about 30 minutes to an hour. I know they are ready to make when I can run my finger over the tops, and the cookie is smooth to the touch and not easily pressed down on.
- If you are in a less humid climate, 30 minutes might be long enough, but it might take a little longer to reach this point if you are in a more humid environment. Placing your pans under a fan on the stove usually helps them to dry out better as well.
- My macarons are too sweet - Yes, these can be sweet little cookies, especially when the filling is applied. You can easily reduce the sugar by merely omitting the sugar in the egg whites, but make sure that you do not reduce powdered sugar in the dry ingredients. That is essential in making sure your finished macrons have their smooth, glossy final finish.
- My macarons are leaning - This can either be an issue of oven circulation (if using convection, is the fan on high?) or lousy piping skills. Trust me; this is an issue that even the pros can mess up. To ensure you get the perfect macron shape, you have to pipe them STRAIGHT DOWN. If your batter is not even, it's going to set your macron up for not being straight. So make sure that you are piping them as straight on as you can.
These cookies might sound hard, and yes, they can be a little picky, but I promise even if they don't turn out the prettiest (there's always a few in the batch), they will still taste delicious! Give them a try and let me know what you think!
More Cookie Fun
Classic Vanilla Macarons
- Kitchen Scale
- Stand Mixer
- Sheet Pan
- Silicone Mat or Parchment Paper
- Piping bag with ½ inch round piping tip.
For the vanilla macarons.
- 110 Grams Almond Flour Finely ground.
- 100 Grams Egg Whites At room temperature, about 3 large eggs.
- 60 Grams Sugar This is about ⅓ of a cup of sugar.
- 200 Grams Powdered Sugar This is about 1 ½ cups + 2 ¾ tablespoons.
- ½ Teaspoon Vanilla I suggest vanilla bean paste over extract.
- ¼ Teaspoon Cream of Tartar
For the buttercream frosting.
- ½ Cup Butter Softened.
- 3 ½ Cups Powdered Sugar
- 1-2 Tablespoons Milk Add more or less depending how thick you want your buttercream.
- ½ Teaspoon Vanilla
- ¼ Teaspoon Salt
- Sift together the almond flour and powdered sugar in a bowl.110 Grams Almond Flour, 200 Grams Powdered Sugar
- When your egg whites are ready, place them in a bowl of a stand mixer on medium speed until they become bubbly. Add the salt and cream of tartar.100 Grams Egg Whites, ¼ Teaspoon Cream of Tartar
- Turn the mixer to medium-high and slowly add the granulated sugar. Be careful when adding, so your egg meringue does not fall.60 Grams Sugar
- Once it is all incorporated, increase the speed back to high and continue mixing until the soft peaks have formed.
- Add the vanilla, and then continue whisking on high until stiff peaks are formed in the meringue.½ Teaspoon Vanilla
- Gently fold in the sifted dry ingredients with a spatula in batches until they are all incorporated. You want the mixture to have a thick, almost lava type consistency that you can make a figure 8 with the batter. DO NOT over-mix the batter. (See notes above)
- Take a pastry bag fitted with a ½ inch round tip and fill with the batter.
- Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and pipe batter into about ¾-inch circles, 1- 2 inches apart.
- Firmly tap the baking sheet against the counter 2-3 times to release any air bubbles.
- Let the piped macarons stand at room temperature for at least 30 minutes until they form a skin, so you can lightly touch the top of the macarons without the batter moving.
- Preheat oven to 300 °Fdegrees.
- Bake (one sheet at a time) for 10-12 minutes, rotating halfway until cookies have risen and are just set. The cookies should be able just to come off the baking sheet when you try to lift them.
- Let the baked macarons cool completely on the baking sheet before moving them.
- Using a hand mixer or a stand mixer, cream butter until soft and smooth.½ Cup Butter
- Add powdered sugar, milk, vanilla, and salt, and mix until light and fluffy.3 ½ Cups Powdered Sugar, 1-2 Tablespoons Milk, ½ Teaspoon Vanilla, ¼ Teaspoon Salt
- Transfer the buttercream filling into a piping bag with a round tip.
- Pipe a swirl of filling on half the cookies.
- Sandwich cookies together with the remaining halves.
- It all starts with the egg whites. This is going to sound odd, but I promise it matters that your egg whites are OLD. What does this mean? It’s simple separate your egg whites, cover them, and put them in the fridge for about 2-3 days or up to a week when you are ready to make your macarons bring them back to completely room temperature before whipping them.
- Sifting – This recipe calls for superfine almond flour, but trust me when I stay no matter what the packaging says, ALWAYS sift your almond flour with your powdered sugar. Do not force the large pieces through just discard them. I usually sift them together and then sift again before I add the mixture to the egg whites.
- Weigh your ingredients – I know this isn’t super common, especially in the United States, but trust me, this is going to make a world of difference in your final product. A simple kitchen scale is all you need.
- Parchment paper vs. Silicon – There is a LOT of talk between whether or not to use parchment paper or to use a silicone baking sheet for baking your macrons. I’ve tried both, and especially being in a more humid area, I find that the silicon tends to hold on to the moisture more than parchment paper does, so I prefer to use parchment paper for baking macarons.