Do you ever have those times in life when something just sticks in your craw? For me, it’s that overwhelming sense of failure I have with macaron baking. I consider myself a pretty good baker (a pretty good eater of baked goods anyway). But I have attempted twice to make macarons and both times I failed miserable. Macarons are supposed to be pretty little puffed up meringue cookies surrounding a delicate buttercream filling. My macarons looked more like something the car ran over–flat and a little lumpy at the same time.
I take some consolation in the fact that macarons are widely considered to be the most difficult cookie on the planet to make. They are fussy, finicky and unforgiving of a baker who makes even small mistakes. While first created in 8th century Italy, the macaron was popularized in Paris in the 1800’s. Since the 2010’s they’ve become trendy in the United States with some macaron bakeries even honoring Macaron Day on March 20 by giving away free samples.
Macarons are not to be confused with macaroons–a coconut cookie usually dipped in chocolate. While macaroons also have their own day–May 31– that’s where the similarities end. Macaroons are pretty easy to make, unlike macarons which have caused many sleepness nights for frustrated amateur bakers. Quel tragique!
But I think I found help–a possible lifeline from YouTube chef Beth Le Manach. Le Manach runs the popular site, Entertaining with Beth. She said in one of her videos that she, too, has struggled with the macaron. After she eventually got it right, she threw together a few tips to help out all of us. Watch the video I put together to see if the third time was the charm for me. Here are two hints: Yes. And Yay! (Can you say, not only the best macarons I’ve ever made. They are the best macarons I’ve ever eaten).
If you’d like the recipe for Beth’s Foolproof French Macaron go to entertainingwithbeth.com.
Tips for Macaron Success
(courtesy: Beth LaManach)
Tip #1 – For the fluffiest meringue for your cookie base, use room temperature eggs. Either set them out on the counter for an hour before you begin baking or put them in a bowl of warm water for 10 minutes.
Tip #2 – If adding color to the macarons remember food coloring fades when baked, so add a few more drops than you think you need.
Tip #3 – Make sure to sift the almond flour and powdered sugar through a sieve to give you the finest powder mixture which creates a smooth and pretty top to the cookie. I think this might have been one of the biggest reasons behind my previous failures. Failing to sift the almond flour left me with big chunks of almonds which weighed down the batter and made it lumpy.
Tip #4 – Don’t under or over mix your batter. LeManach says 65 to 75 strokes is usually just about right. She said it should look like molten lava.
Tip #5 – After macarons are placed on parchment lined sheet pans, bang the pan against the counter two or three times to release air bubbles which could crack the tops of the macarons.
Tip #6 – After you’ve banged the pans, let the macarons sit out for about a half an hour until they’re tacky to the touch.
Tip #7 – Buy a cheap oven thermometer to make sure your oven is truly running at the correct temperature. If it’s not, adjust accordingly.
Tip #8 – Don’t under bake the macarons even if they look done. Underdone cookies stick to the parchment paper.