Hello friends, welcome to part 2 of our Frequently Asked Questions about Macarons. You can read part 1 here.
I have gathered your most frequently asked questions about macarons that I receive daily on my dms, email, comments. And I will do my best job to answer them!
Let’s get right to it!
Can I add salt to the meringue?
Adding salt to the meringue can help provide some stabilization to the structure. Salt will promote the coagulation of the proteins. That makes it harder to over whip the meringue because it makes the proteins more elastic in a sense and it delays the denaturation process, which will prevent the meringue from breaking.
However, if the salt is added too soon, it can be detrimental to the meringue because the coagulation process will start too early and will weaken the proteins before the denaturation process begins. So if you do add salt, keep it to 1/8 tsp, and do so once the meringue has whipped for 1 to 2 minutes, it should already be thick and whitened in color.
I personally prefer other ways to stabilize my meringue, but some people do use salt.
Why do my macarons stick to the mat after baking?
If your macarons are sticking to the mat after baking, that’s most likely because they are not being baked enough. There are other factors that can be affecting that as well, let’s take a look.
- Make sure the batter is at the right consistency. If the meringue was under whipped, or if the batter was over mixed, that will make the macarons “wetter” in a sense, they won’t dry, which can lead to slower baking, or to the bottoms of the shells not developing properly.
- Make sure the trays are close enough to the heat source, if the trays are too far from the heat source, the bottoms might not get a chance to bake and develop fully.
- If you are using the “double pan” technique, stop doing that. The double pan technique entails using two stacked trays to bake the macarons instead of one. Some people claim this technique helps with no-rest method. I recommend finding other ways to go about no-rest methods.
- Similar to the previous answer about the double pans, it could very well be the air bake tray’s fault that your macarons are sticking to the mat after baking. The air bake tray bakes the macarons slower, and because the trays are insulated, it might be that there’s not enough heat reaching the shells. You can fix this by raising the oven’s temperature, moving the oven rack position, or simply ditching the air bake trays altogether.
- Ensure your oven temperature isn’t too low. Either experiment with higher temperatures (even 5 degrees can make a difference), and get a thermometer to make sure the oven temperature isn’t dipping too low.
- Simply bake longer. Be patient. Bake the macarons until you can try to move the shell with your fingers and it won’t be jiggly. Wiggle the shells, and if they are jiggly, keep baking. Also touch the top of the shells gently and if they feel soft, continue to bake. The top should feel firm to the touch.
- Wait for the shells to cool down before removing them from the parchment or silicone mat.
Do I need to add egg white powder to the macarons?
Even though my recipe calls for egg white powder, and even though I’ve made sure to explain on my notes that it is not necessary, I still get this question quite frequently. No, egg white powder is not necessary. It is optional. Egg white powder is certainly not for everybody.
In this article I cover the whole science behind egg white powder, how, and why it works. I also cover why it might not work, or why it might not be right for you.
It is a very thorough article, so I strongly suggest you go read it, but basically if you are in a dry climate, it probably won’t work for you. Depending on the quality of the eggs you use, it might not work for you. Other factors that may determine if you should or shouldn’t use egg white powder are the recipe and method you use.
While egg white powder certainly isn’t right for everyone, it is a great way to stabilize the meringue when making macarons, so it is worth trying. Many bakers have found tremendous success using egg white powder. So give it a go.
I like to add about 4 grams of egg white powder for each 100 grams of egg whites for regular macarons, and about 2-3 grams of egg white powder if making matcha or chocolate shells.
Why are chocolate macarons harder to make?
Chocolate macarons are notorious for being harder to make than regular macarons. That’s because when you add cocoa powder to the shells, you are also adding fat. Some cocoa powder brands have higher fat content than others, plus depending on the fat content of the almond flour you use, the fat in the cocoa powder will also add into that, which will affect greatly the shells.
Fat particles disrupt the meringue by bonding with the proteins. The proteins are forming a very organized structure to protect the air bubbles from deflating and the water particles from getting into contact with the air bubbles. If there’s too much fat in the mix, the proteins will bond with them, which will weaken the structure of the meringue. So when that happens, you will come across cracked, wrinkled, porous macaron shells, or macaron shells with no feet.
The solutions are: first of all, look for a brand of cocoa powder with low fat content. I like to use Hershey’s because it has very little fat content compared to other brands such as Callebaut or Valrhona. While Callebaut and Valrhona are amazing brands, their cocoa powder has 1.5 grams of fat per tbsp. Hershey’s has 0.5 grams of fat per tablespoon, so as you can see, 3 times less fat.
Second solution would be to lower the amount of cocoa powder in the recipe. If altering the recipe on your own, I’d replace the substituted amount with powdered sugar, so for example if the recipe calls for 14 grams of cocoa powder (such as mine does), you can try using 5 to 10 grams instead. If you decide to use 5 grams of cocoa, substitute the other 9 grams with powdered sugar.
You can always use a bit of brown food coloring to deepen the color of the shells if they are too light for your liking.
Why are my macaron shells taking forever to dry?
If your macaron shells are taking forever to dry, there’s most likely something wrong with the batter.
If the meringue was under whipped, if the batter was over mixed, or if you used too much food coloring, the macarons can take way longer to dry, or not become dry at all.
In humid climates the batter will take longer to dry also. Depending on how humid the climate you are in is, resting the macarons will not be good because the batter will start to absorb water from the air instead of the air being able to dry the shells. However, the climate has to be really really humid for this to be the case.
If it is the case that your environment is extremely humid (I am talking over 70 or 80% humidity) and you don’t have air conditioning, or a dehumidifier, or a room with a ceiling fan to dry the macarons in, you can benefit from a no-rest method, or an oven-drying method. No-rest methods will work depending on your oven and baking sheet you use. You can try using an air-bake tray, you can try flipping the tray upside down, you can use a rimless baking sheet (all of these can work without altering the recipe, but will depend largely on your oven and the heat distribution in there). Some recipes can be no-rest because they require a larger amount of dry ingredients, so it’s worth researching and experimenting. When I made my French Coconut Macarons recipe, it didn’t require any resting.
In any case, always try to diagnose your macarons, if they are taking over 2 hours to dry, there’s something off with the batter or your climate doesn’t support resting.