5 Tips For Making French Macarons With Confidence
Making macarons can be complicated and intimidating. Technique is so important to produce the perfect, delicious macarons. Our member, Pokin recently took a French Macaron baking class and shares with us all the essential tips and techniques she’s has learned. Pokin is a food loving traveler and is also the Founder of Geckogo.com. You can read about all her travel adventures on her travel blog. Here’s her awesom baking tips:
I still remember my first and last attempt at making macarons. It almost turned me off baking for life.
After reading countless recipes online, I picked one that felt right, rolled up my sleeves, and went at it. And it was a mini-disaster! By the time I was done, the kitchen walls were plastered with almond bits from a food processor explosion, my macarons out of the oven were looking like sad little sunken donuts, and my icing had separated into clumps. I was ready to acknowledge it was not my forte, give up, and move on with life. Problem was, I still loved eating macarons. And macarons aren’t cheap.
Fast forward a year, and I discover Baking Arts, specifically Richard’s French Macaron class. After reading all the rave reviews about his class, I decided to give it one more shot. Gathered a deep breath, called up, and booked a class.
Class day came, and I felt a mix of trepidation and excitement. Is this where I’m going to finally get over my macaron-making fears? Walking into Richard’s SOMA loft (where he holds his classes), I saw a few other participants already seated. It’s a small class – there were only 4 of us in total, and I felt comfortable as we were huddled over his main work bench. Here’s how the class works – Richard first demonstrates how to make it, and then you get hands on practice making your own batch. And bit by bit, I found out where I went wrong.
Tip #1 – Ingredients
The texture of the macarons comes all from the ingredients. You want to make sure your almond flour is as fine as you can get. This won’t happen from food processing your own almonds! Buy almond flour online, or at Trader Joe’s.
Tip #2 – Measure well!
Really! It’s not good enough to go off one egg or two, because the eggs vary in size. I guess it’s what they say – baking is a science! Measure everything down to the grams. Richard had an electric scale that he used for measuring the eggs, almond flour, and sugar. All of it was precisely weighed. I learned that room temperature eggs are slightly easier to pour as they are runnier than cold eggs.
Tip #3 – Temperatures & Technique
We learned the Italian meringue style of making macarons, which involves beating egg whites, then incorporating a simple syrup into the meringue and continuing to beat till the meringue cools down. This results in a very glossy high sheen meringue. I don’t know if it’s the case, but it certainly looked a lot sturdier than the fragile plain whipped meringue I made before. Temperatures were also critical for the sugar, and we literally sat with a Taylor probe thermometer waiting for 226F to start whipping the egg whites, and 230F to start pouring the syrup into the mixing bowl.
Tip #4 – Folding technique
After the meringue is beat, you want to mix your dry ingredients (almond flour, sugar) with some unbeaten egg whites, then start incorporating the meringue in. I learned that when you fold meringue, you cut through and flip, turning your bowl a quarter turn each time. Keep going until the consistency of the meringue flows like lava, but stop before you see too many air bubbles. That will give you a forgiving batter that will have a nice smooth coating. Forget those tips about wetting your finger and patting down the batter. You don’t need it if you’ve made your macarons properly!
Tip #5 – For perfectly even macarons, cheat a little
What do you do to get consistently sized macarons? You draw a circle. And another. And repeat. Take a 1 inch wide cookie cutter and just trace multiple circles onto parchment paper. That way, you have a guide when you pipe in each cookie. Slip this paper under a Silpat silicone mat, and pipe on top. When you pipe, pipe it evenly straight up and down, and finish off the piping with a little twist to the side.
The class flew by. Richard was personable and entertaining throughout, and as you can see, the class was littered with tips. Our macarons came out looking as good as I’ve seen ‘em in stores. Confidence restored…at least till I try them again at home.
And there you have it – how to make French macarons. Still, watching it live is 100,000 times better than reading about it, so if you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, it’s worth checking out his class.
More tips here on How to Make Macarons in 5 Simple Steps.