ARTICLE

La Macaronicité 2: basic technique and simple macaron recipe

making art with the reject macarons

Mesdames et messieurs, enfants et français charmants,

So you want to make macarons? Welcome to the second instalment of La Macaronicité at Syrup & Tang! If you missed the introduction, click here to read it.

La Macaronicité: Technique and knowledge

Main sections:


Ingredients
Fundamentals
Recipe A — macarons au blanc monté
Background to my recipe

There's a lot of information here and it's possible that not everything applies to your kitchen or experience. I don't know everything about them (there's a limit to how many kilos of almond meal a poor writer can buy!). I welcome feedback about other solutions/explanations/ideas, but please don't submit comments listing other recipes unless it contributes to a better understanding of the actual process and problems. You're welcome to contact me directly if you prefer and I'll incorporate helpful info into the article where appropriate.

Ingredients

The macaron batter consists of only four ingredients:

  • almond meal (ground almond) – amandes en poudre
  • pure icing sugar (confectioner's sugar, no starch added) – sucre glace
  • egg whites, preferably old – blancs d'œufs
  • sugar, preferably caster sugar – sucre semoule

On occasion you might also see mention of cream of tartar or salt, both of which strengthen egg white foam.

The batter may be coloured (very common) and flavoured (less common, though not too difficult).


There are three types of recipe:

  1. macarons au blanc monté (1) – a simple eggwhite foam is combined with the dry ingredients; preferred in Pierre Hermé's books
  2. macarons au blanc monté (2) – a simple French meringue is combined with the dry ingredients; in most other books, including Alain Ducasse
  3. macarons au sucre cuit – an Italian meringue is combined with the dry ingredients; preferred in most professional books

I'll explain the second recipe type (French meringue) here, and introduce the third type in the next article.

Fundamentals

Almond meal is a fine cream-coloured powder made from ground blanched almonds. If it is very fresh it might be a little damp, so you could dry it very gently in a barely warm oven. You can make your own almond meal, but it will be hard to grind fine enough and will be damp.

Icing sugar (confectioner's sugar) is often sold with starch added (then called 'icing mixture' in Australia). This prevents it from clumping, but can leave a pasty mouthfeel if used in icing and is undesirable (though not fatal) in macarons. Use unadulterated (pure) icing sugar if possible.

The almond meal and icing sugar should be put through a high speed food processor or a (clean) blade coffee grinder to obtain a very fine powder (about 10 seconds on highest speed should suffice). Most almond meal is more like sand than flour, so if you leave it unprocessed the macarons will have a coarser surface. No big drama, but we're looking for perfection, right?

Egg whites consist of proteins and quite a lot of water. The water can make the final batter unmanageably wet, either in the making or in the oven (where the macarons refuse to dry adequately). Old egg whites have lost some of their water content through evaporation so can yield a more successful batter, though this is by no means guaranteed (from personal experience, even evaporating 15% of some egg whites didn't help). There are also changes in the composition of the proteins with time, but I haven't seen any analysis to explain why this might be better for macarons. It is also said that older egg whites yield a thicker meringue shell. Many professional recipes use dried egg white (egg white powder) to bolster the protein content.

Bottomline: do not fret about a few hours of ageing here or there; if you have time to age your eggs that's good. If you don't, then just use the oldest eggs (ie, not the newest carton) in your fridge that haven't gone rotten yet.

Oven temperature is a big problem. Very few recipes specify whether the author uses a conventional or a fan-forced (convection) oven. This difference has implications for (1) even temperature, (2) speed of temperature recovery after putting the tray in the oven, (3) actual temperature appropriate for your oven, (4) humidity.

It would seem that a fan-forced oven sometimes offers greater success (though others say the opposite), but I haven't been able to test this firsthand, as I live in renting-with-old-gas-oven land. Many recipes that explicitly mention a conventional oven recommend starting the macarons at a high temperature and then leaving the oven door ajar and dropping the temperature. There are two possible reasons: (1) this gives the initial lift that the batter needs and then permits drying and firming without burning (propping the door open helps lower the temperature quickly), and (2) this seals the surface of the macaron quickly, preventing cracking and helping it lift as the foot forms. Of course you could take the Roux brothers' (Roux Brothers on Patisserie) approach and just have two ovens at different temperatures. Yeah, right.

To ensure slow, even heat distribution underneath the macarons, it's desirable to use two or even three baking trays (cookie sheets) on top of each other. Again, many authors fail to mention that they're using (and stacking) professional-grade aluminium sheets which are considerably thicker than the cheapo homecook type. I'd probably need six of my flimsy baking trays stacked together! I recently tried using an insulated baking sheet for the first time and found that my previous problems with sticky-bottomed macarons were greatly reduced.

Baking on non-stick baking paper is the best approach. Silicone sheets and Silpat are fine for a successful batch, but just try removing tenaciously sticky, fragile, failed macaron shells from one of these and it will end in tears!

Meringue: when you incorporate it into the almond mixture, you don't want any pussyfooted folding (e.g., as for mousse or sponges) but nor are you allowed to beat the shit out of it. You need to work quickly and efficiently, incorporating the dry ingredients smoothly but without excessive mixing. At first the ingredients won't mix well, but it comes together quickly. The final batter is pale and smooth, with no visible aeration.
macaron batter looking good

Piping: if you're confident at piping, pipe from the side, pulling the tail up over the macaron so that it disappears quickly. However, it's easier to pipe vertically over the centre, about 5 mm above the tray surface. Flick the nozzle towards the edge as you pull away to finish.

Crusting: more than half of the world's macaron recipes mention leaving the piped macarons to rest so that they form a 'skin' or 'crust'. There seems to be very little evidence that this makes any difference in the final product. For some batters it will actually cause a duller shell. Maybe resting is necessary for some people's kitchens, but I didn't observe a benefit across four tests. It does, however, seem wise to let the batter settle for just a few minutes on the baking tray (see 'cracking'). [UPDATE: after more testing, I now recommend permitting the shells to sit for half an hour or so. It helps reduce some problems if your oven has strong heat below the baking tray.]

Humidity: I doubt that humidity in the oven is an issue for anyone, but do avoid making macarons on a very humid day as the mixture will tend to be too damp or require adjustment.

Cracking: a few minutes after going into the oven, some macarons batters will develop fissures. In my experience this is the result of (1) overmixing, or (2) rushing the piped batter straight into the oven.

Maturing/ripening: the shells are not at their best when fresh. They will be slightly chewier around the edges than expected. Usually the macarons are assembled and then stored in the fridge for one to two days, after which they are heavenly.

For your edification, here are some useful photos:

good and bad macarons - low temperature
good and bad macarons - mid temperature


freshly piped batter - goodfreshly piped batter - overbeaten
Freshly piped good batter is on the left. Note how the overbeaten batter, on the right, is darker and looks slightly translucent. (The specks in the batter are vanilla.)

If you're not scared yet, still ready to face the batter, congratulations!

Recipe A
macarons au blanc monté (2); (French meringue)

This method is the one you'll find almost everywhere on the internet and in most cookbooks. It is simple but fraught with disappointment. In my experience (dodgy ovens, no fan, domestic trays), this style of recipe can yield less than 50% success rate. If you possess a digital probe thermometer or a sugar thermometer I'd recommend waiting for Recipe B. But there are perfectly happy people out there with, presumably, better kitchens than I. (You can see a charming fella explaining it (in French) on video here, and one of the clearest shorter explanations in writing is by Coco&Me. One brave experimenter, Veronica's Test Kitchen, may also have useful tips for you if you prefer this style of recipe.)

Regardless of what the recipes say, I suggest first deciding how many eggs you want to sacrifice. Crack and separate the eggs, remembering to keep the whites and all vessels and implements scrupulously free of fat or egg yolk. You don't need to weigh the egg whites at this point. One egg white will yield about fourteen 3-4 cm macaron shells.

This recipe will benefit most from aged egg whites or egg white powder. You can age the whites by leaving them uncovered at room temperature for 24-72 hours in a shallow bowl. This allows some of the moisture to evaporate. Cover the bowl with gauze or kitchen paper (not plastic) if you want to avoid any dust or other surprises. People are often apprehensive about leaving egg whites at room temperature, but the final cooked product will be safe even if the raw egg white might have been contaminated.

Formula and method

When you're ready to start cooking, weigh the egg whites and then scale the recipe appropriately. The formula is below.

'eggwhite' refers to the weight of the egg whites in grams. The righthand column provides an example calculation.

Ingredient Amount Example (with eggwhite=50 gm )
Almond meal 1.3 x eggwhite 1.3 x 50 = 65 gm
Icing sugar 1.6 x eggwhite 1.6 x 50 = 80 gm
Castor sugar 0.8 x eggwhite 0.8 x 50 = 40 gm
Egg white                 50 gm
Total weight _______ 235 gm

A batter with 50 gm egg white should yield one baking tray 30 cm x 40 cm or approximately 25 shells.

Preheat your oven:
Conventional oven: centre rack, 180C. Convection oven: 160C

  1. Stack two or three heavy baking trays. Line the top tray with non-stick baking paper. If you're well organised, mark the paper with 2 or 3 cm circles, spaced about 4 cm apart (the piped batter will spread about 1 cm).
  2. Process the almond meal and icing sugar at high speed to achieve a fine powder. Sift (or whisk the powder by hand) to break up any lumps of powder.
  3. In a clean bowl, beat the room-temperature egg whites until foamy and just at soft peaks. Gradually beat in the castor sugar, adding a little at a time. Beat on medium speed for a number of minutes until you have a firm, glossy and compact meringue.
  4. whipped egg whites at soft peak stageshiny, compact French meringuebatter falling from spatula

  5. Sprinkle half of the dry mixture over the meringue and fold in with a spatula using a circular motion around the bowl and under the batter. Repeat with the remaining powder. You don't need to be gentle, but the goal is to incorporate the dry ingredients quickly to avoid overmixing. It's better to undermix than overmix. You can add colourings or flavourings during this mixing.
  6. The final batter should be the colour of pale ivory (if you haven't coloured it) and smooth and thick but flowing (typically referred to as being 'like magma', but as few of us have visited an active volcano or been to the centre of the Earth…). A ribbon of batter dropped from a spoon onto the top of the remaining batter should take about 30 seconds to disappear.
  7. Dab a little batter under each corner of the baking paper on the tray to anchor it (otherwise it'll slip).
  8. Spoon the batter into a piping bag/gun with a 8-10 mm nozzle and pipe evenly onto the baking paper. Mild peaks should settle back into the batter eventually. If they don't disappear, tap the tray repeatedly on a table until the peaks have largely disappeared. Usually the batter will spread a little and any bumps will disappear. Sometimes the batter is quite runny and will rapidly flatten out. (It might be overmixed.) This consistency will often yield irregular shells. If the batter never stops spreading then you should probably scrape it all back into a bowl, gently add some more almond meal and try again.
  9. If you want, you can leave the piped batter to dry for anywhere between 20 mins and two hours.
  10. Place the tray in the oven. If you're using a conventional oven, cook as normal for two mins and then open the oven door about 2.5 cm and place a wooden spoon between the door and the jamb to permit hot air to escape for the rest of the cooking time. (Your spoon might get a bit singed, so soaking it in water briefly beforehand is a good idea.) For a convection oven, you will need to experiment a little, possibly leaving the door ajar for the whole time.
  11. At the 5 minute mark the shells should have lifted and developed 'feet'. At the 6-7 minute mark they should be starting to colour just slightly. Rotate the baking sheet if the colouring is uneven. The outermost shells often have to be sacrificed in order for the centre ones to be cooked, but the majority should be no more than the palest cream colour. They are probably ready if a shell moves only reluctantly on its foot when you lightly nudge it with a finger.
  12. Remove from the oven and leave on the tray for a minute or two. Gently try to lift one of the outermost shells. A slight twisting motion or a peeling motion can help. If the shells stick badly, but are firm, try spraying or brushing a little water under the baking paper. This will moisten the paper and soften any stuck bits after 1-2 minutes. Don't use too much water or the shells may start to dissolve around the edges. Remove each shell by gently peeling away the baking paper or with the aid of a thin palette or paring knife. Another solution to the sticking problem can be to place the paper or Silpat (with stuck macarons) in the freezer for a while.
  13. Once removed from the sheet, leave the shells to cool on a wire rack, face up.
  • If you haven't already made a filling, do so now. A simple chocolate ganache is one of the easiest quick fillings. (Break 50 gm dark chocolate into a bowl. Bring 60 gm cream to a gentle simmer and then pour over the chocolate. Leave to stand for two minutes, then mix together with a spatula. Allow to cool slowly, stirring occasionally. When completely cool, apply a small blob to the underside of one shell and gently press another shell on top. Refrigerate for 24-48 hours if you are the patient type.)
  • The plain shells can be frozen for a few weeks quite well. Complete macarons store well in the fridge for two to three days. After that they become softer. Eat macarons at room temperature.

Background to my recipe

A very standard formula for the French meringue style of macaron recipe is approximately 1.25:2.3:1.0:0.3 (almond:icing sugar:egg white:caster sugar). Variants of this are used by Alain Ducasse, Christophe Felder, J.M.Perruchon & G.J.Bellouet and Dean Brettschneider. Pierre Hermé's formula is similar, though not using a meringue. Each of these authors has a different approach to temperature and crusting. Popular American writer David Lebovitz published a chocolate macaron recipe on his site which many people found reliable (and is the one I made without trouble and showed a picture of in the first article in this series). His recipe is, however, much sweeter and uses a stronger meringue. I noticed, too, that Pascal Rigo's popular recipe also takes this approach, as does Sydney chef Justin North in his recent book French Lessons. I didn't want the sweetness, but tried adapting the approach, with the result presented above (formula of 1.30:1.60:1.00:0.80). The total sugar is only slightly higher than the most common formula and the slight increase in almond meal seems to make it less wet.

Famous internet recipes: if you go surfing you'll find many recipes. Some are useful, some are rubbish, and many are unattributed. There's a very popular online recipe which has spread far and wide but is rarely correctly attributed to Pascal Rigo (from his wonderful book American Boulangerie). The majority of the remaining recipes are from Pierre Hermé's various books.

Famous chefs' recipes: even Hermé has occasionally underdescribed his recipes, but real disapproval should be directed at those who have blithely provided poorly explained recipes for a product as temperamental as this. I greatly doubt that most restaurants make their macarons using the first style of recipe I discuss (unless they have access to egg white powder), so why foist it on the uninitiated? Note, too, that French pâtissiers readily admit that it can take some time for a macaron-maker to get used to a new kitchen if he/she changes jobs.

Troubleshooting

My macarons are delicate and sticky. They fall apart or lose their insides when I try to lift them off the baking paper. Solution: Don't wet the paper. Instead, place the sheet of paper (with stuck macarons) on a drying rack and walk away for a few hours. In my experience the shells will be fairly easy to peel off once they've cooled and their bases have dried a little. These shells will usually be too damp for use for proper macarons. Save them for one of the alternative uses listed below.

My macarons are firm and chewy. Solution: Cook them for less time or at a lower temperature.

My macarons brown too quickly on top. Solution: Try covering a spare oven shelf with foil and place it on the rung above the macarons in the oven.

My macarons have a big empty space under the shell. Solution: Cook them at a higher temperature. (There may also be other causes.)
air pocket in macaron

My macarons have frilly feet which extend sideways from the shell. Solution: This is often a problem with the simple recipe, but seems worse at low temperatures. Try letting the piped batter rest for a while before baking.

Alternative uses

Whilst I wish everyone success, it's worth having a backup use for any abortive macaronic adventures.

Dessert 1: break up the macarons and place a number of pieces in a tall glass. Add morello cherries. Pour on some port. Leave to stand for 15 minutes. Top with whipped cream. Pour a little cherry juice over the cream. Serve.

Dessert 2: make a trifle-like dish with berries.

Dessert 3: give to unsuspecting friends or neighbours as 'soft almond meringues'.

Phew!

You can read La Macaronicité 1: an introduction to the macaron.
La Macaronicité 3: the more reliable macaron recipe and a few tips.
La Macaronicité 4: fillings, flavours, frippery.
La Macaronicité 5: Macawrongs and macarights, macarons day and night.

- DM

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COMMENTS

108 responses to “La Macaronicité 2: basic technique and simple macaron recipe”

  1. Vida

    You are amazing!!! Vida x

  2. Vida

    Duncan, I can imagine!!! If I was there I would give you a huge hug!!! You have gone into such detail that I believe I will not fail again… I may have to invest in a food processor as well as a kitchenaid (been meaning to anyway plus it is xmas) to really get there but I am willing to go all out for the famous "macaron"… The world owes you an enormous gratitude, I know I do, x x x

  3. Ed

    At last. This is amazing. Okay, that's my weekend sorted. Very pleased you've included the exact weights of egg whites required, which is all too often left out of these recipes where exact quantities are critical. To add another complication and twist, have you thought of making your own Almond meal. I can't remember whose recipe it was but the suggestion was that a lot of the stuff we buy is stale.

  4. Vida

    Duncan, I do have a blender so I will try with that and of course I have a handheld mixer but I thought with xmas and all it was a really genenuine excuse to purchase a Kitchenaid! Vida x

  5. Thanh

    Duncan, with your photos, I am now 100% certain that I overbeat the mixture. The batter looked too translucent and also the resulting cooked macaron looks exactly like the bad one you've shown.

    I've left the macaron for a day now and actually they taste quite good as a "biscuit" as my sister stated. I have to agree, they've got a nice almond flavour and I'm getting used to the chewy texture.

    However, I do want to make a perfect macaron so I'm still hanging out for your second more reliable recipe.

    I found a recipe over at Kitchen Wench from Ellie. These were the macarons Ellie made. They looked great too. When I emailed her for some clarification, she said that even with this recipe, she had a quite a few failures as well and she isn't sure why. Is this similar to the next recipe you will be sharing? Hopefully you will have more tips to reduce the failures.

    It's been a day of recovery and I'm ready to give macarons another try. :-)

  6. Thanh

    Oh by the way, which of the two macarons cooked at different temperatures taste better? The one at 120 deg has a better shape, but the colour of the one at 180 deg looks nicer.

  7. Thanh

    Oh, hyperlinking didn't work. Here was Ellie's macaron post.

    http://www.insanitytheory.net/kitchenwench/2007/05/06/melt-in-your-mouth-macarons/

  8. pg

    Given that I have just inherited 5 kids for the school holidays, my macaron adventures will have to wait…

    And I thought Hollandaise could smell fear….

    **gulp**

  9. mellie

    Duncan…I am in awe. What a wonderful, thorough, informative and well executed post.

    Can't wait for your Italian meringue post, which is my preferred technique. I think they are a little easier to make that way, as long as you're not scared of working with liquid molten sugar and have a kick arse kitchen aid or Hobart mixer ;-) )

  10. Anna

    Frikkin' brilliant post (I don't have mellie's gift for prose). I'm inspired – and NEARLY brave enough to attempt a batch.

    (nearly)

  11. fanny

    Hi Duncan,
    these series of posts on macarons are terrific.

    I just want to clear up something. At Pierre Hermé Paris, macarons are made using an Italian meringue. I think I do remember that he uses a simple egg white foam in his first cookbooks but PH10 and his lastest cookbooks are more accurate and show the real processes.

    x fannt

  12. arfi

    Macarons have been a very recent challenge in my baking club (although not a compulsory task based on the club's rules) and only a few of us have finally done the 'right' thing. I have done mine and have tried several more which I consider a success (as they got feet, or rather) posted on my blog. I am curious about these beauties and have become obsessed and mad about them! I am trying different versions, different colours, different flavour and I become aware they are a lot, lot, lot more to overcome out there. The possibilities are unlimited! I just love macarons. And thank you, I've finally found a site to read more about them. I'll refer your site to my baking club members, with your permission, of course. Cheers from New Zealand!

  13. Tast.ie: The Spicendipity Irish Food Blog » Blog Archive » Luscious Links - September 17, 2008

    [...] After a particularly sticky macaron disaster a few weeks ago I was thrilled to find this photographic guide to making macarons.  H/T David [...]

  14. rachel

    hi! i love your 5-part write up on macarons (: i've been trying to make them recently.. whenever, i take out the macarons when the shells are cooked, i get soggy insides. but if i try and bake it longer to cook the inside, i get burnt shells. HELP! should i leave it longer on a cooling rack like you mentioned or should i change the temperature? also, i stay in singapore, where its very humid. does the humidity affect the way the macarons turn out? THANKS (:

  15. Jennifer

    hi there ,

    Any idea why my macarons look like Amaretti Biscuits(no feets at all) ???

    I used the Italian meringue method.

    Thank's

    Regards,
    Jen

  16. Claude

    Thank you for a great macaron recipe – Why is it that it's so hard to find a recipe using ratios of ingredients & weight?! Thank you.

    I made your recipe & the batter was perfect magma. But could anyone tell me why many of the baked cookies turned out lop-sided? – the top was askew on top of the frilly feet (the feet were too large also). Other than that problem, they are lovely.

  17. Claude

    Thank you for the info, Duncan. Yes, we here in the US just can't seem to understand metric volume, etc. It would make things much easier if we did!
    I was also wondering if it was something to do w/my piping…I rest my pans on a level surface & I have had mostly successful batches w/these cookie sheets & ovens seem to be very even temp. The macaron look so strange – the beautiful/perfect lid actually holds it's pretty shape & slides off the rest of the dough/foot! I actually put my hand in the oven & gently nudged the tops back into place on some of them before they were finished baking – it worked. They were lovely – no headspace between lid/foot section, proper texture, etc. I will try to do whatever I did before w/my piping & see if that helps.

    Your website is wonderful. I really like your holiday macaron!

  18. cheryl

    first time was disaster. 2nd time was beautiful but too sweet. 3rd time ok. 4th and NOW… DISASTER. What happened??? surface is no longer smooth… and they "shrank" when i took out of the oven. there is one batch in the kitchen now… which has turned brown becoz i got fed up when i did not see the feet . GRRRRRRRRRRRR…

  19. Claude

    Ah Ha! I've figured out my macaron problem – the lopsided macawrongs! The first recipe I ever tried was a recent one published in September 2008 Gourmet magazine. They have you add SALT to the unbeaten egg whites -which is WRONG. According to McGee, you shouldn't add salt to unbeaten egg whites, it increases whipping time & decreases the foam's stability (pg 104) – you add salt w/other ingredients….Gourmet should know better than that! When I only added salt, it did take longer to whip the whites but my macaron were ok – had a bit of head space but that could be because the recipe said a 300 degree oven (too cold). When trying your recipe, to "hedge my bets" & get my whites whipped faster/stronger, I added salt & cream of tartar. There must be some chemical reaction taking place between the salt & COT because every batch made with those 2 ingredients was lopsided. And my latest 2 batches with no salt & no cream of tartar were lovely!! Citrus juice (another ingredient in the Gourmet recipe – Grapefruit juice) would probably cause a similar problem because lemon (an acid) & grapefruit(?) work like COT to control the reactive sulfur in egg whites. McGee doesn't address this particular chemical reaction in his book but something is going on. A chemist out there could probably explain?
    Your recipe is really good (not sickly sweet & measured in weight not volume – much more accurate)- if only I had followed it EXACTLY & not let my "knowledge" from the previous recipe screw it up. Learn something new every day! Hope this helps other macaron bakers!

  20. Marina

    Just wondering if you ever came across the reason for lopsided macarons? I have tried and tired again (using italian meringue, no lemon juice, no salt, no cream of tartar, drying for 30 min, oven at 350, 325, and 300F) and every single batch is lopsided.

  21. Marina

    Thank you for the answers Duncan. I guess my problem is (3).. my oven sucks! Unfortunately i can't do anything about that, I am stuck with it for now. Again, thank you :)

  22. Wenceslao Pascual

    I came across your site today [vollisch zuffaelig] @ 35 degr. C in Manila and it matched the heat I experienced reading on French macaroons. Your "treatise" on marons alone [La Macaronicite 1 to 5 is so thorough & written in a user-friendly manner that it gives me gaense Haut.] If everybody would only see to it that he would know what you know in his own chosen field of specialty there would have been more love and harmony in this world and less strife, anger, and envy. Even late in the day, I would love to at least approximate your passion for your chosen discipline/career/profession. Man merkst es, fuellst es wie sie denken, schreiben and selbstverstaendlich, auch sprechen.

    Am awed. You are absolutely a model to look up to… and I was just trifling with my fascination for marons. Now I shall aim to make some myself even if I only half-succeeded in my first try at a "Dresdner Stollen". Thank you so much for awakening that culinary zeal in me.

    Alles Guete and bis dem absolut naechst.

    Ihre

    Wenceslao "Sut" Pascual

  23. ButterScotch

    Hey Duncan,
    I really enjoyed reading about macarons on your site. I hope that I will be able to cook them like you one day.
    Unfortunately I didn't mix the ones in my 1st attempt well enough. Oh well, next time.
    I can't believe it is so hard to find a decent macaron there)-:. In Japan, it's reasonably easy to find them, especially in the big department stores. Ever tried they starbucks ones? They look like an abomination!
    I'd like to try and make mandarin flavored ones.

  24. adski

    I just had my first go at making these little beauties. First batch was a flop. Second batch I added a little more almond meal to mix, left to harden up on bench a bit longer and they puffed up a treat. Only problem was that they stuck to the baking paper when I took them out of the oven. However, I simply gently lifted an edge off the paper and slid a palette knife underneath and the whole lot popped up! Great macaron guide you have here, well done! Very inspiring!

  25. deeba

    Thank you, first, for what to do with a failed attempt, coz I only got here after failing. I have a box of silly looking macarons, ate the rest which were DELICIOUS goodness!! Thank you for this wonderful post. Have to thank Manggy for sending me here. I enjoyed reading the post A LOT and was strangely sad when it finished! I think I'm building a macaron obsession, with 2 failed attempts under my belt. I'm off to investigate the Italian meringue method now. (Have checked my spellings to make sure there isn't an extra 'o')

  26. Angela

    Dear Duncan

    Its very educational reading your site.. I'm often in a dillema on what cream to sandwich the macarons. Chocolate ganache is ok, but I would like to try other flavored fillings. Do you have one recipe which gives stable filling, one which won't melt in 20 mins after taking it out of the fridge? Its very humid here in Singapore..

    Thanks so much/Angela

  27. Katie

    Oh my word…I just had an absolute macaron disaster! Let me preface this by saying I live in Denver; I was nervous about trying my hand at macarons because of the elevation, but I was eager to make use of a 2 lb bag of almonds I bought recently. Macarons seemed like a fun challenge!

    So, I decided to start with the Italian meringue method. Well, I had trouble getting the sugar syrup to the right consistency. I tried twice, and each time it was very clumpy and grainy. Not wanting to give up, and still having lots of ground almonds to play with, I switched gears to the French meringue method.

    To be safe, I added 1/4 tsp cream of tartar to the fluffed up egg whites before adding the sugar. This seemed to work great because the meringue looked nice and glossy. Problem: I accidentally only used 25g of egg whites here because I was still in the Italian meringue mindset. Oops! But rather than start over again, I added the other 25g whites to the almond meal/sugar and plopped the meringue on top. I combined everything in about 25 strokes, but it seemed a touch too thick, so I gave it 5 more. Upon piping my rounds, the consistency seemed just right because the rounds settled nicely and didn't spread.

    I let them rest for 30 minutes before turning my oven to 360 F. Popped em in, did some dishes, checked at 5 minutes and…Oh no!! Explosion!

    I admit, I thought it was more hilarious than anything :o ) Yikes, what on earth happened?? Was it the cream of tartar? Not fluffing the eggs all at once? Oven too hot? Altitude?

    I'll try again tomorrow and let you know what happens, but hopefully you can provide some insight on this mess :o )

  28. Katie

    Ah, I feel silly now…Hopefully my next attempt will turn out ok.

  29. Katie

    I made my second batch following your instructions to the letter, but the feet still spread slightly (albeit not nearly as bad as yesterday). The feet also collapsed, leaving a huge hole in the center.

    Needless to say, after 4 failures I will not be trying macarons again :o (

  30. Michelle

    I've visited numerous websites/blogs relating to anything macarons for awhile now but never had the guts to dive in and just try making them… until now. I'm sad to report that it turned out to be an utter disappointment (although catastrophic kept popping into mind). I knew the minute I mixed the dry ingredients with my perfectly beaten egg whites that I was destined for macawrong city (thanks for coining the word, btw). I should just come to terms with the fact that macarons are every bit as complicated and persnickety as you and other macaron masters everywhere make them out to be. I am a fool for thinking that if bbcgoodfood website has the recipe then it can't be that hard. Well, I've learned my lesson and it costed me 2 eggwhites, 140g of ground almonds and 250g of icing sugar + 2 insulated pans, a hand mixer and a basic piping set. I'll try your method next time. I'll have my hubby eat my sickly sweet macawhats. I thought I'd get that off my chest. Love your site, btw.

  31. Anita

    Thank you so much for going into so much detail with heaps of useful tips. I have attempted macarons twice. The first time I overfolded so ended up with flat, sticky soft almond meringues. Round 2 was better but still no feet and the shells had few holes and some fissures even though I tried very hard not to overfold. I am going to try round 3 today and use your recipe and all your suggestions. Thanks heaps

  32. Paris Perfet Blog

    Duncan, thank you for an excellent teach in on macarons. This is the best treatise on making them on the internet. Thought you'd enjoy this funny blog about attempting to conquer the Everest of Macarons, those by Pierre Herme': http://www.parisperfect.com/blog/2009/10/making-the-best-macarons-in-the-world/

    Will include your recipe and information on the followup blog, Macarons Recipe for Mere Mortals

  33. Halloween Calendar Cake

    [...] recipes proven to be more successful: Tarlette's recipe – a much straight forward and simple recipe Syrup and Tang – a recipe that involves three Daring Bakers to change the lightbulb Melanger – a more stable [...]

  34. Selene

    Ducan,

    Thank you for taking the time to write such a wonderful blog about making French Macarons. I followed your directions exactly. I used the Italian meringue method. My macarons do have feet but some of them came out lopsided. They are all on the same tray, and therefore have been treated the same. I don't understand why they are not all perfect, or not all lopsided. I baked them at 280F for 18 mins. There are no problems with the texture, etc. The only problem is that some are lopsided. Please help.

  35. rosa

    Hi Duncan, i've been looking through some macarons articles, but yours give me clues on what errors might happens and why. I'm just a housewife with ordinary tools: conventional oven, handmixer, blender. I hope i can try with not so-many-times errors (even a great bakers can't make it perfect for the 1st time, right?)….but end up with great expectation! Thanks and wish me luck!

  36. Estelle

    I made my first batch of macarons yesterday (grapefruit flavour) and surprisingly they worked perfectly (using the simple french method)! My second batch, however, failed slightly – they had a huge cavern of air under the shell, and some developed cracks. The reason…CONCENTRATION. I lost concentration and overwhipped my meringue.
    Needless to say i shall be making more, and shall make it my mission to perfect them.

  37. ad

    Hi Duncan,

    Your great work is very much appreciated. I tried your recipe with egg whites left in room temperature for 12 hours. It works fabulous!

    However, the following batch with egg whites kept for 17 hours & more, I failed to get the batter to dry up the the firm texture that allows me to get the feet. Note the mixed battle was in the right manner & no bubbles or rough surface.

    PLEAASE HELP

    AD

  38. AR

    Hello – Thank you for sharing your knowledge of the wonderful macaron!

    I am using an old French recipe that is similar to your recipe above. However, I am experiencing a few problems and am trying to figure out if my issues are due to overmixing or brand new eggs (or both). My batter spreads more than I would like when piping and my final product appears veiny and wet on top, but not sunken in like your pictures of overmixed macarons. I have to bake the macarons a very long time to ensure that the top is not veiny/wet, but the macarons end up being tougher than I would like. I tried eliminating one egg white to see how this would affect the batter and it was less runny, but I still ended up with the veiny/wet-looking issue.

  39. JDRobbo

    Hi Duncan,
    Just wanted to thank you for your recipe, I have just tried making them for the first time and they turned out great thanks ot your instructions! :)
    Thanks again!!!
    JD

  40. Becky

    Hello!

    Thank you for the great instructions! I was wondering if you could troubleshoot this- my macarons look great in the oven- beautiful feet, round, everything. I take them out of the oven and they immediately deflate. They still have their 'feet', but they flattened, not like the pretty lifted 'feet' I see so often in photos. Am I not baking them long enough?

  41. Rosanne

    Hi,
    Thank you for your recipe, I've tried it a few times but I've never succeeded. For some reason, my batches either turn out 1)cracked tops and not shiny, or 2)runny mixture, thus flat as a pancake and spreads out sideways. I'm not sure which step I'm doing wrong. Whether I'm over/underbeating the eggwhites, or else, I'm overmixing the mixture once the dry ingredients are added. Can u give me approximate times for beating the eggwhites, and about how many strokes to fold & get the right macronage. I'm getting really frustrated. Please help. Thanks

  42. sunny

    can imake macaron without almond meal?its bwcause here almond is quite expensive.thank u very much

  43. finoop

    Hi! Thanks so much for the recipe written in such a scientific way. I've found while experimenting around and attempting to perfect my technique that returning to your post always answered the questions no one else did! Currently still struggling with the perfect oven temperature – but you really only leave them in 8 minutes? I've read articles on cooking them range anywhere between that to 20 mins!

  44. Gabi

    i am about to embark on my first trial run of making the notorious macaron dared buy my cousin! i found this blog fantastically informative in my preparations and i have tried to eliminate any of the usual mistakes and am following the recipe religiously! i will be sure to let you know how i get on, thank you for all your help.

  45. Gabi

    my first batch went quite well, the serface wasnt as smooth as it should be, the batter was a little too airated i think, in my attempts not to over mix the batter i think i may have under mixed it!!! they taste amazing though… i filled them with salted caramel and orange curd. im going to have another go and see if these come out better.

  46. Gabi

    still cant seem to get a smooth surface… any ideas for next time???

  47. Pen

    I'm hooked! Love your website and writing Duncan and have developed a macaron passion/obsession in the last few months. Any idea how I can buy or order Macaron by Pierre Hermé (I'm also in Melbourne and am not having any luck tracking down a copy). Cheers and wonderful work, Pen.

  48. Pen

    Thanks Duncan, I had already checked the links from Gastronomer's (another great project by the way). Books for Cooks have since advised that an English version is in the pipeline although not sure when it will be available.
    Cheers, many thanks and I will continue to follow your macarons adventures.

  49. Nona

    I tried these this past weekend and they were superb. They looked and tasted great. I had people begging me for the recipe. I felt special. Thank you so much for your in depth explanation and recipe.

  50. Zodora

    Hi there, firstly thanks so much for posting such a detailed guide to mac. I have tried making macs with recipes from books but failed badly. I used your recipe and tried it for the fourth time. The batter looked promising but I didn't managed to get feet. I am using a convection/microwave oven, do you think that's the problem? I have tried to use different temperatures, 120/150/160/190, all didn't work. May I know what causes the mac to rise to have nice feet? thanks in advance!

  51. Lucy

    Amazing! I have tried so many difference recipes and they were not quite there, but on my fifth attempt using your technique and recipe they turned out perfectly – very professional looking I must say so myself! I was so please!! Many friends are bugging me to make them for them now! I might even start charging! Yours is the best explanation I've found on web – thank you!

  52. An

    Hi Duncan,
    I follow your tutorial and use this recipe. This is my first try and it turned out pretty good in my opinion. I cook for 7 minutes at 435F (~160C), my macs have feet, delicate skin, slightly soft center and the it feels like it melts in my mouth. Just extraordinary, but the only thing that bugs me is that they are kinda of too delicate. The feet is good but it's kinda hard to get the macs off the sheet without leaving some of its low and behold :( I think the only deviation that I made is may be my sugar syrup is not hot enough. I dont have a thermometer so I do some calculations and find out 80% sugar solution boil at 112C and I let it boil for about 3 mins before mix with beaten egg whites.
    Another thing is that I don't have a food processing machine so I used ground almond flour and there's tiny brown flakes that I can't sift out so my mac doesnt look shiny. Do you have any suggestions to get rid of the flakes?
    Anyhow I am very pleased with my first try.
    Thank you.

  53. An

    A picture of my first try.
    http://sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc4/hs974.snc4/76723_469815348146_732438146_5514882_3704243_n.jpg
    Another thing I noticed is that I feel that the recipe is a little bit too sweet for me. Especially when I used jam as filling.
    Can I reduce the amount of icing sugar or super fine granulated sugar but don't affect the quality of the batter?
    Thank you, Duncan

  54. An

    Hi Duncan,
    Thanks for your comment. I just read the article about the oven and I have a question, the oven in my dorm's basement have the heat source at the bottom of the oven but there's also a thing resemble a heat source on top like in this picture: http://fentonrents.com/oven.jpg.

    In my first try I do 2 trays, the 1st tray is a little bit brown-ish near the edge so I decide to cut down the time on the second tray to alleviate the brown. However it turned out more sticky.
    Should I bake a little longer (like 10 mins) and lower the temperature of the oven some what (from 160-157/155 C)?

    Thank you, Duncan.

  55. bakingbitsandbobs

    Hi Duncan, thanks so much for sharing your macaron recipe. It's one I often use that doesn't cause too much drama. Just wanted to let you know I blogged about it and included your recipe in my post with links and credits given, I hope that's okay. Thanks again!

  56. Carlo

    Hi, i had been trying to make decent macaroons for months and i bumped into your post and you literaly saved my life! not kidding! my mixture finally came out wonderfull and the ITALIAN MERINGUE MACAROONS are great! but i have 2 questions though, and i hope u can help me out to figure them out!

    1. is it ok if the macaroons seem a little flat? 'cuz i've seen lots of them and most of them look chubby, mine look a little anorexic lol!

    2. i've also seen that macaroons have some kind of a lovely bubbly skirt around the bottom, mine don't! so how they get it? am i over mixing and should i leave a little more air inside the mixture?

    i really hope you can help me with these issues! thank u so much for ur post and for ur help! u are great! :D

  57. Maryann

    Duncan…. I am so frustrated. I bet I have made 100 batches of Macarons in the last 2 months and maybe 5 have turned out. I have tried every single combination you can think of to get them to turn out. Temperatures high(325c) and low(290c), French method,Italian method , double pans, silpat , parchment, drying 20 to 1 hour,fresh eggs, aged eggs you name it and they continually come out either hollow, or lopsided . The last batch I did four separate pans with different temps and pans,and they were all lopsided( and lopsided in all different directions , so it wasn't the resting surface or pan)I'm sure you are sick to death of macaron questions…I don't blame you ! Thanks in advance for any suggestions you have.

  58. Maryann

    yes , you are right I meant F not C , duh ! Thanks for your tips ….although I have gotten lopsided feet even if I haven't rested them at all also :( I will keep trying , thanks again!

  59. Tammy

    I want to refrigerate/freeze my macrons. Do I need to separate them with baking paper or put them in special tupperware? What's the best way of doing this so that they will come out looking great?

  60. Anita

    Hi Duncan,

    Thanks for this article, it's so good, and I'm eager to read on to the 3rd instalment. My sisters and I had a Sisters Night In on Saturday and I decided to make macarons for the first time (this was prior to finding your website and articles today). For a first attempt I had very good luck and I'd say more or less success at turning out what must have been around 60 filled delicious gems (I stopped counting at 60 half shells on two baking trays and I ended up with enough batter to fill 4 baking trays… or was it 5?).

    I was fortunate enough to get two for the price of one 2 hour cooking classes at the London branch of a French cooking school in September last year and although I'm not convinced the Asian Chef was trained anywhere near France, he was nontheless an experienced pastry chef and managed to get a motley bunch of amateurs to produce an array of tasty filled macarons of the right shape and consistency.

    However, there has been a lot of time passed since that class and I was using failing memory and educated guess work when it came to getting the correct piping consistency. I have a feeling I stopped mixing a few turns of the spatula too soon but by the time I'd filled that piping bag for the third time, I think I finally got it right. Of course, Saturday’s attempt was not without other problems. I had problems when adding the powder colour at the folding stage, and my lovely green macarons were less than lovely with what looked like black threads in them from unmixed colour. So, when do you add the colour to ensure it mixes evenly without mixing that bit too far and ruining the batter? Also, I used two baking trays: one was a dark (almost black) non-stick insulated tray and the other was a much lighter grey non-stick. I can’t remember which one produced which result but one batch of the cooked biscuits came out the same colour as they went in (a pale ochre yellow) and the other turned a pale version of the desired green. Have you any idea why this would happen?

    Now onto the real reason for writing… for the life of me, I can’t understand the formula in the formula and method section above. Could you please explain it in words for dumbies like me? Although my recipe served me well, I might not want to use 7 egg whites next time and it would help to understand the ratios. Oh, and does a lovely shine on the macaron come from the perfect consistency or is it due to another part of the process?

    Right, on to part 3…

  61. Sarahb1313

    Duncan,
    Thank you so much for this excellent tutorial!
    I had complete success from my first attempt through my most recent, and this has been appreciated by all. I find the simple recipe so easy and quick and so far has been fool proof, although the italian one has worked equally as well.

    The only recipe that has given me consistent problem has been a chocolate macaron. You do not list a recipe here for that but a referring site did, and it has come out either overcooked (as the top was still moving on the base and I left them in the oven too long, or they were cracked on top. In this recipe, the almond flour is partially replaced with cocoa powder.

    Do you have any thoughts or suggestions for proportions for that type of Macaron??

    So appreciate if you get to see this post and reply.

    Again, thanks for the delectable formula- it's perfect!

    Sarah

  62. Bulut

    Hi
    First off thanks for the great tutorials. I recently followed this recipe and the turned better than my first attempt, but far from perfect. My macarons started cracking about the same time they started developing the foot. They were also rather undercooked on the inside and half the shells remained on the baking paper when i tried to remove them. The only step i missed was using double baking sheets. That may be why they cracked but why were they undercooked?

    Thanks

  63. linda

    Hi Duncan,,

    I love your website.. I've been making macarons using french method,,and it ended up with air pocket.

    I whipped egg white to firm peak and bake at 160C for 20mins using convection oven.

    Do we have to whip egg white till firm or stiff peak?

    Could you pls advise what makes the air pocket?
    Thanking you

  64. Emma

    Thank you so much! How excited can one perfect batch of pretty pink macarons make one household- very, very, very!
    Your recipe worked first time for us after two previous failed attempts-Yay!

  65. Ha

    I've tried 4 times and each time it's looking better and better, however, i'm still getting hollow macarons. why? Also, I have no idea where to get castor sugar or powdered food coloring. Any ideas?

  66. Anita

    Hi Ha

    Castor or Caster sugar has a texture finer than regular sugar that you would use in a cup of tea or coffee but coarser than icing sugar (powdered sugar/dusting sugar). It's used in a lot of lighter cakes such as sponge. You should be able to find it at any supermarket in their baking goods aisle. Some countries call it superfine sugar. As for the powdered food colouring, you should be able to get it at any good cake decorating supply shop or cake decorating suppliers online. Where do you live? If you happen to live in London, there is a French cooking school that sells all kinds of things including powdered colours specifically for this type of thing. I did a class on macaron-making with them. you can find them at http://www.atelierdeschefs.co.uk

    Can't help you with the techincal problem of hollow shells, sorry.

    Happy baking.

    Anita

  67. James

    Hi Duncan,
    Any idea where I can get a fine almond meal in sydney or any online shop here in australia?
    The one I get from the local supermarket are a bit coarse.
    Thanks.

  68. Adrian

    Just made 'macarons' for the first time ever this evening. Turned out to be more like almond cookies instead. Tasted good and in fact it had the texture of the macarons that I had before, slight crisp on the outside and bit chewy inside. However the whole thing was a disaster other than the flavour and texture. :(

    I didn't weigh my egg whites, just used three large eggs, the mixture prior to piping was horrendously thick, I piped some and realised it wouldn't work. Then I frantically whisked up another egg white and incorporated it into the mixture and the panic got the better of me I guess. The batter turned out to be over-mixed and spreading too much giving me all shapes and sizes. The skin took almost two hours to form too. I also realised that my oven belongs to type 'D', does this mean I will NEVER be able to make macarons in my flat?

    Anyway I am happy to give it another go later this week, there were rooms for improvement afterall. I guess everything that could have gone wrong went wrong today with my first attempt. :)

  69. Adrian

    @Duncan:Thanks for taking time to reply. I didn't weigh the egg whites because my weighing scale has a plastic bowl attached and it's really difficult to completely de-grease it after all those previous butter weighing. I think I should just get on with it and give it a really good wash next time.

    It's a shame macarons don't work well in type D ovens, is there a reason for that? I could potentially borrow my landlord's super modern digital oven but I'm not that close to her. Hmm..

    Or I'll have to wait till I get home where my mum's got a brand new oven thatI could choose whichever direction the heat source is coming from.

  70. the Communal Pantry

    Thank god for this article and the wooden spoon, who would have thought! Finally 3 trays of beautiful Macarons… We linked this article to a recent Communal Pantry blog 'The bottle dump and French Macarons! Cheers Kate

    http://www.thecommunalpantry.com/90/post/2012/02/a-bottle-dump-with-macarons.html

  71. Adrian

    Hi Duncan!

    You won't believe it I just made a small batch of macarons today and they turned out really well with the feet and about the right texture! And I baked it in a Type D oven! Though I did cover the top shelf with aluminium foil and baked at 190C at first and turned down to 160 after the feet had developed. Just one thing though, the outer shell was smooth and slightly crisp but was more fragile than I thought, they would break with a bit of pressure from my thumb, not sure if is normal. Or should I leave them longer before baking next time to develop a thicker skin?

    I'll make the ganache tomorrow as I didn't even think the shell would work but it's getting late here though I now know they actually worked. :)

    I guess tomorrow's the time to start playing with the colours!! Can't wait. Thanks for your recipe by the way and advice on weighing my egg whites. I didn't bother aging them though because I was too tempted to make the macarons when I finally received my proper piping bag today. :)

    I'll upload some photos when I have them. Cheerio!

  72. Adrian

    Thanks Duncan for all your advices. I have indeed bought a pizza stone and it's probably being shipped to my flat at the moment. I just assembled my macaron shells with a cinnamon chocolate ganache today and they tasted pretty good and my flatmate had two in one go! If only I haven't got an essay deadline to meet next week I'd be baking macarons full time for the next few weeks at least!

    Not sure if I have said this before but THANK YOU for your extremely detailed description of macaron making, it's rare to have someone who's as experienced as yourself to help out amateurs like us and even taking time to reply to our maca-wrongs. Merci beaucoup monsieur! Vous etes tres tres gentil!

  73. Julie

    Well, after (literally) more than a dozen batches using a different recipe, from a different source, each one was a failure of a different nature. I read your blog entries (a couple of times), used your ingredient ratios and gave it one more go.

    Perfection. Absolute perfection!

    I just took the fourth tray out of the oven and I swear each one is better than the one before. I started out with a single batch, then did a double.

    You can't begin to know how grateful I am for your detailed instructions and guidance. I have to make over 400 of these beauties for an event in May and I was getting to the point where I was about to order them from an online source because it was beginning to look like I'd taken on more than I could chew.

    Thank you.

    Julie

  74. Fay

    Thank god I found you! You are like my Macaron hero, thanks Duncan
    I have so many questions answered by reading your articles and those helpful comments but still I have some more questions…
    1. I have a domestic convection oven with the oven coil located on top (no coil at the bottom)
    but the oven has the opption for me to use only the bottom heat when baking.
    So would my oven fall into the "C" or "D" category?
    2. Should I bake the macarons with the fan turned on or off?
    3. The only problem I found with my macarons so far is the air pockets…although I made sure to knock the baking tray many times before baking. (I bake mine at 130'C for 15 mins with a fan turned on) What do you think could be the problem?
    4. I did an experiment with powder egg white yesterday & ended up with a very wet & runny batter that would not stop expanding after being pipped…-_-" I made sure to whip up the egg white into a very stiff peak but somehow after I mixed the dry ingredients in it collapsed so fast and had visible air bubbles! Have you tried using powder egg white before? Got any smart tips for me?

    Thank you sooooo much
    Fay
    Ps. You can sneaked a look at my macarons at http://www.facebook.com/dailycious and tell me what you think of them. I'll very much appreciate your comments!

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TASTY PRESERVES

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