I usually love trying out new recipes, especially if they are more technically advanced, because in my head “harder” probably means tastier. But attempting to make french macarons are a whole new ballgame and I’ve been hesitant to make these at home in the past.
But this week, I finally decided to face my fears head on. I went into this battle fully prepared. After pouring over dozens of recipes, reading every blog post possible, and even taking a macaron baking class – I decided I was finally ready to take on the challenge.
If most of you are like me, not sure where to begin with the plethora of macaron questions out there, I’ve compiled for you my handy-dandy list I’ve saved over the last few years.
Below are the questions I wanted answered before I started my macaron challenge:
- Which recipe am I going to use? I settled on the Pierre Herme one of course. I used the recipe and ratios posted by The Boy Who Bakes.
- What is the difference between the French method and the Italian method? The French method involves whipping egg whites and sugar into a meringue and incorporating the dry ingredients. The Italian Method involves an extra step of preparing a hot sugar syrup that is then poured into the meringue. But I agree with Jen, if the Italian method is good enough for Pierre Hermes, it’s good enough for me.
- Do I really need to “age” the egg whites? for how long? The recommended aging time is 48 hours to a week. My first reaction was, “A week!?!? How can you expect me to wait that long!” And my second reaction, “is this sanitary?” But according to my research, if you want smooth and shiny shells (and not tears of defeat), best to age the egg whites for at least two days, covered, in the fridge.
- What is almond meal/flour and where do I buy this? Both almond meal and almond flour is ground up almonds. However, almond meal can be made from blanched (skins removed) or unblanched almonds. Whereas almond flour is typically blanched and more finely ground. Even living in New York, I found this hard to find but ended up buying Bob’s Red Mill Almond Meal/Flour. (They now sell this online at Fresh Direct, yes!)
- Do I use liquid, gel, or powder food coloring? I’ve been told powder food coloring is the best for macarons. But that would require me going out to baking store before it closes at 6 PM. I used a mix of gel food coloring and liquid since that’s what I had at home.
- What should the final batter look like? According to SeriousEats, and my baking class, it should be thick and look like the consistency of magma. If you drag a spoon across the batter, it should return to its original position within 10 seconds.
- How long do I have to wait to bake the macaroons after I pipe them? The internet consensus seems to be 30 minutes to 1 hour, or until a skin forms. However, if it is summer or if you are in a high-humidity region, you may need to leave out for much longer. David Lebovitz also suggests tapping the tray on the table to flatten them.
- How long should I wait to fill the macarons after they are cooled? Once they are completely cooled, they are ready for filling!
- How long do I have to wait to eat them after it is filled? This is one of the hardest parts, MORE waiting! Consensus is wait at least 24 hours before eating the filling macarons. According to Jen, when she ate the macarons right away she would discover air pockets and the macarons would crumble. However, when she waited a day, the texture softened and no more air pockets! So I guess it’s worth the wait.
- With all this waiting, how many days do I need to set aside from start to finish? The answer, at least four days. Two days to age the egg whites, one day to bake, and one day after the macarons are filled until they are ready to eat.
So here it goes! Stay tuned for the recipe and wish me luck! (I will need it)
The blog posts, books, and articles I used in my research are below:
- David Lebovitz – A Chocolate Macaron Recipe and a good collection of tips and tricks from other blogs
- Syrup & Tang – Great detailed guide for all beginners! It goes over background of the macaron, what it should look like, basic techniques (complete with detailed pictures), recipes, and many, many tips.
- Serious Eats – A collection of recipes and tips on how to make macarons
- The Boy Who Bakes – Salted Caramel Macarons recipe and good discussion on why we need to “age” the egg whites
- Not So Humble Pie – Macaron troubleshooting guide
- Kitchen Musings – Her macaron chronicles answers many frequently asked questions
- And of course, Pierre Herme’s Macarons book for amazing pictures and recipes. But I do recommend reading a few of the websites above, as the book does not offer as many tips for macaron newbies like myself.