Today I have some more macaron tips for you! I want to talk about the three main stages you have to master in order to bake perfect macarons. Regardless of the recipe and method you are using, as long as you master these three stages, you will be in pretty good shape!
Three main stages to learn
The three main stages to learn and master are: the meringue, the macaronage, and the oven! And in the following post, you will find many macaron tips and knowledge on how to master these stages.
On my previous post How to Make Perfect Macarons, I’ve outlined 5 basic macaron tips, and the first one was: find a recipe and method you like the most, and work on perfecting it.
So, once you find a recipe and method you are willing to work on and use to perfect your technique, it’s time to pay attention to three main areas: the meringue, the macaronage, and the oven.
And regardless of what method or recipe you are using, the macaron tips below will for sure be helpful to you.
Let’s dive in!
Learn how to make the most perfect meringue, with stiff peaks, not over whipped, and not under whipped, but just right. And how do you do that? Well, you practice.
The meringue should have peaks that are shooting straight up. Not bent down to the side, and not soft and long. The peaks should be somewhat short, or medium height, and be shooting straight up, with maybe a slight bend at the top, without bending down, but something like a slight curve.
The following video is a good example of what the meringue should look like. Click play and it will show you the exact time where I show the stiff meringue.
By the way, I have lots of videos on my Youtube channel showing you how to make macarons! Check them out here!
Here are some common meringue issues:
Under whipped meringue will cause cracked macarons with no feet, macarons that spread out because the batter is too wet and runny, hollow macarons.
Over whipped meringue will cause hollow macarons, feet that are too tall, stiff batter that can be too hard to fold sometimes and won’t achieve the perfect consistency.
Broken meringue (due to water drops, or grease particles touching the meringue, or over whipping) will cause cracked shells, no feet, or porous looking shells.
This right here is what your meringue is supposed to look like.
Let’s talk about the macaronage. When to stop folding macaron batter?
I’ll say this: it’s always best to under fold the batter, then to fold it too much. Because once you pipe your first macaron and realize the batter hasn’t been folded enough, you can easily just fold it a couple more times and get back to piping.
If you pipe your first shell and realize the batter has been folded too much, there’s nothing that can be done to fix that.
Under folded batter will have a pointy tip at the top of the shell that won’t smooth out as you bang the trays or wait it out.
Over folded batter will spread out too much, and maybe the feet will spread out as the macarons bake, the macarons might crack, and they might be misshapen, which means not a perfect circle.
Also, it’s good to notice that if you fold the batter too much, but not to the point of causing the feet to explode to the sides, or the shells to crack and be misshapen, this causes another very common issue: hollow macarons.
And lots of times, when macaron bakers are having a hard time pin pointing why their shells are hollow, since they are doing everything perfectly, it can be due to over folding the batter ever so slightly.
Watch the following clip showing you what the batter is supposed to look like. Just click play and it will be at the exact time of the video where I am showing the macaronage:
For the macaronage to be perfect, you are supposed to be able to draw a few figure-8s with the batter flowing off the spatula without the batter breaking up.
The batter should fall slowly but effortlessly off the spatula, without breaking up too soon, or too often. And if it does break up, it should continue to flow after that.
If you are a beginner, perform something I call the Teaspoon test. Grab a teaspoon of batter and spoon on top of the silicon mat or parchment paper. Give it a minute or so, as you tap the tray gently against the counter.
If the batter is still forming a tip at the top that won’t smooth out or spread out, it means you can fold it a couple more times.
Now this is a very important one. Possibly the most important factor. Because you can have done everything right up to before baking the macarons. And then when it comes time to bake them, the oven can totally make or break the whole deal.
Take time to learn your own oven!
Your oven is most likely different than mine, which is different than your neighbor’s oven, and your mom’s, and your friend’s.
So probably one of the best macaron tips I can give you is: make sure to have an oven thermometer. This should probably be on top of every single macaron post I make, because it’s THAT important.
It’s absolutely necessary to have an oven thermometer when making macarons. They are inexpensive and essential.
Why is it so important to have an oven thermometer?
Home ovens are almost always inaccurate. The oven’s internal thermometer is gauging the temperature of where it’s installed, which is on a spot in the back or sides of the oven, where it’s subjected to drafts or hot spots, so it’s not actually telling the temperature of the inside of the oven, where the macarons are baking.
Plus, ovens cycle on and off in order to keep a stable temperature.
So all of these things just mean that the temperature you are setting your oven to, probably won’t be consistent or reliable. The only way to really know and be able to control the oven temperature is to have an oven thermometer in place.
Macarons are very finicky and delicate cookies, and a simple 5 degree difference in the temperature can yield extremely contrasting results.
Here’s the perfect example. The two shells above are from the exact same batch (they are regular non-vegan macarons, but the same applies). The shells on the left were baked at 320ºF and the shells on the right were baked at 325ºF. Look what a 5 degree difference can do to the shells.
This is why you should take time to learn your oven!
Pipe the macaron batter between different sheets, and bake each at one temperature. Also experiment with the height of the oven rack. Make notes about the results.
Also, keep the notes and experiment with different batches also, since there could be issues with other factors in the batches that could influence the results.
High oven temperature can cause: feet to spread out, macarons to crack, hollow macarons.
Low oven temperature can cause: macarons with no feet, macarons that won’t form a bottom skin, hollow macarons.
And yes, hollow macarons can happen if the temperature is too high, or if the temperature is too low. Which may seem weird at first, but once you’ve been baking macarons for a while, you know nothing is weird when it comes to understanding these little cookies!
Finding the optimal temperature for your oven, your method, your climate is the best move here!
Also, somethings to consider:
- If you are using a convection oven, drop the temperature by 10%, or something like 25 to 30 degrees Fahrenheit.
- If using a dark baking sheet, drop the oven temperature (or consider buying a light colored baking sheet, like a silver one). Dark baking sheets tend to retain more heat.
- Italian method will usually require a slightly lower oven temperature.
- Consider looking for hot spots in your oven, I have three oven thermometers in my oven, and I know that my front left corner gets hotter than the rest of my oven.
While baking the macarons, I usually rotate my trays every 5 minutes or so, because my oven is not very even, and doesn’t keep a good constant temperature all throughout.
Some bakers don’t have to do that, since their oven is great at keeping the temperature constant on all four corners.
Find out what works best for your own situation.
Anyway, I hope you enjoyed today’s post and tips!
Visit Macaron School to see more informative posts about macarons.
Here are some posts that might interest you:
- How to make perfect macarons
- Frequently asked questions (coming soon)
- Understanding your oven
- Macarons for beginners
- Macaron Troubleshooting Guide
- Tools I use to make macarons
- Vegan Macaron Troubleshooting
- Meringue lesson
- Hollow macarons
And for my whole list of macaron flavors please click here.
Also visit my YouTube channel, where I post macaron videos every week!