While I may be still kind of a newbie at baking, I think I’m qualified enough to share my experiences with making macarons. I’ve tried making them a total of 3 times and have only succeeded once, and I know what I’ve done wrong or haven’t done.
- Sift your dry ingredients. This cannot be stressed enough! Powdered sugar is sifted easily enough, but the almond flour is really a PITA (Bun changed PITA to BSTL… I don’t want to explain what that means.). When I sifted it, it took me over 2 hours! I don’t know if it’s supposed to be like that but by the end of it my arms were hurting a lot. Nevertheless, it’s really important that you do – by pushing the almond flour through the sift, it really makes everything more fluffy, and the almond flour isn’t stuck together so you get a smooth batter instead of a grainy one. Some recipes tell you to sift 3 times… but seriously, who has the time for that? Once is good enough.
- Actually use powdered sugar. Powdered sugar is the same thing as icing sugar and confectioner’s sugar. I didn’t know that I didn’t have enough, so I tried processing white sugar in the food processor. It wasn’t as fine and I really don’t recommend doing it again. So before you make anything, make sure you have enough ingredients!
- Make your eggs room temperature. While I haven’t tried making macarons with cold eggs (I was too scared to), I can really see the difference in separating room temperature eggs and cold eggs. Room temperature is way easier anyways! If you need room temperature eggs fast, submerge your eggs in some warm water while you prepare the rest of your ingredients. By the time you need to use your eggs, they should be ready!
- Beat your eggs until they have stiff peaks. The first recipe I used didn’t tell me that I had to do that, so I only whisked until they had medium peaks and… it didn’t turn out well. You’ll know when your peaks are stiff when you can turn the bowl over and nothing moves! You can try to do it on top of your head for the added thrill :P However, do be aware that you CAN overbeat your eggs so make sure you’re always checking the consistency. Adding cream of tartar to the eggs will help the eggs stiffen up faster.
- Don’t turn your oven on right at the beginning. This isn’t really a baking tip, more like a energy-saving one. Because the macarons need to sit outside for at least 20 minutes to become tacky, you can turn on the oven then so you don’t waste the heat and energy.
- Do not over/undermix. I haven’t done either of these so far but I’ve read that if you do one of them you won’t get feet, and if you do another one of them you will get cracked shells. I just can’t remember which is which! But apparently, if you fold your dry and wet ingredients together with around 60-70 turns of the spatula it will work out just fine (at least it did for me).
- Do not add anything to your macaron shells that you’re not supposed to add. If you add things, you may change the sugar content or the consistency and it just won’t bake as well. What happened to me was that I added caramel to my shells and needless to say.. it didn’t work out. The shell didn’t keep its shape and it flowed around while it was baking, probably because of the sugar content in the caramel.
- Use a piping bag and a tip. I had to use a plastic bag the first time because I didn’t know I didn’t have the proper tip, but believe me it is so much easier to use a piping bag than a plastic bag.
- Leave room between your macarons and do not pipe them too large. After you pipe them out onto the baking sheet, it will spread out a little bit so make sure you do not pipe them too close together or else they will all stick together. As well, don’t make them too big either – big macarons just don’t taste as good as small ones. If your macarons DO end up sticking together, make sure you separate them once you remove from the oven, while they’re still soft.
- Tap the pan on the countertop before you let the macarons set. This releases the air bubbles, and prevents cracking in you shells.
I myself need to remember to follow these tips the next time I make macarons… which will be in a while, because I don’t want to have random egg yolks in my refrigerator again ==”