13 Top Tips for Perfect Macarons

The Perfect Macaron Recipe
Macaron Wedding Cake. Photo © Elaine Lemm
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    Top Tips for Making Perfect Macarons

    The Perfect Macaron Recipe
    Macaron Wedding Cake. Photo © Elaine Lemm

    There is much talk about how difficult it is to make macarons.

    Not so.

    They are tricky but you only need a few handy tips and believe me; you will soon be making perfect macarons every time. The first time I made these delicious little French goodies, my attempt was a disaster - see it can happen to a professional too. The reason? I took little notice of the recipe believing it couldn't be that awkward, after all, this is basically a meringue. Well, I was wrong. It is possible to produce a...MORE macaron by paying no heed whatsoever to recipes and tips, but they won't look very pretty which is one of the reasons macarons are so loved, it's not just the taste.

    The Macaron Tower above is one I made for my stepdaughter's wedding; as you can see, I have improved since those feeble attempts in the beginning. These are the tips I have learned along the way and helped me to develop.

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  • 02 of 14

    Use a Mat

    Mastrad Macaron Pastry Sheet
    Mastrad Macaron Pastry Sheet. © Mastrad, used with permission.

    If you can, buy a Moule Macaron, a silicon mat designed specifically for making macarons. My favorite is from Lakeland in the UK, but shop around where you are. You don't have to buy a mat; you can draw a template onto greaseproof paper; the advantage to the mat is the indentations help to create a perfect shape.

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  • 03 of 14

    Use Food Color Paste

    macarons
    Macarons from Nadège Patisserie. Image courtesy Nadège Patisserie

    For colored macarons, use food color paste not a liquid; using a liquid alters the macaron texture.

    Add colorings to the liquid egg whites. Add more rather than less at this stage which will make a darker color than you ultimately want as it will lighten considerably with whisking and the addition of the sugar

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  • 04 of 14

    Sift Cocoa Powder

    Stack of chocolate macarons on white plate
    Chocolate Macarons. steveH / Getty Images

     Chocolate macarons are slightly different.  Sift the cocoa powder with the powdered sugar.  

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  • 05 of 14

    Be Prepared

    Powdered Sugar
    Stephen Gibson / Getty Images

    Weigh and measure all your ingredients before you start and always sieve the icing sugar and the ground almond; you may think skipping this step will not matter; it does. Not sieving, you risk lumps in the mixture which will flatten the macaron mixture.

    Use egg whites that are a few days old and make sure they are at room temperature.

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  • 06 of 14

    Clean and Sparkly

    Mixing Bowls
    Mixing Bowls. Tom Grill/Getty Images

    Before whisking make sure your whisk and bowl are sparkling clean and grease free.

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  • 07 of 14

    Slowly Does It

    Food Nouveau

    Don't add all the sugar to the egg whites in one go, in three parts is usually best. Whisk the egg whites really, really well, they should be so stiff you can turn the bowl upside down, and they will not fall out.

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  • 08 of 14

    Gently Does It

    Food Nouveau

    When mixing the almond / icing sugar to the beaten egg whites, use a slim spatula and fold quickly and gently. You will lose a lot of the air, but the resulting batter should still be thick and airy. Too runny and you have over worked it.

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  • 09 of 14

    Less is More

    Macaron Pastry Sheet
    Macaron Pastry Sheet. © Mastrad, used with permission.

    Use a simple round nozzle in your piping bag, anything fancier is a waste of time. Less is more when piping onto the mat or greaseproof paper; you do not have to fill to the brim as the mixture will settle and fill the indent.

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  • 10 of 14

    Tap and Wait

    macarons.jpg
    Macarons. Mastrad Macaron Kit

    Once piped, tap the baking sheet sharply on the work top to remove any air bubbles and to help the mixture settle. Leave the piped macarons to dry before cooking; 20 - 30 mins is best; the macarons surface will dry and become smooth.

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    Waft, Waft

    Food Nouveau

    Half way through cooking, open the oven door and quickly waft it a few times to allow any steam to escape. Close the door and finish the cooking.

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  • 12 of 14

    Wait Until They Are Cold

    macaron
    Food Nouveau

    Once cooked, slide the mat / greaseproof onto a cooling rack and leave the macarons to go completely cold. DO NOT be tempted to remove the macarons until they are cold, you will be upset if you do; the macarons will stick.

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  • 13 of 14

    Refrigerate Before Eating

    Food Nouveau

    Pipe the filling on to the flat side of one macaron, place the other on top and twist gently to spread the cream. Once the macarons are filled and you are about to think of eating them, just know; they are best kept in a container inside the fridge overnight. The end result is a more chewy and better flavored macaron. It's tough...but it works!

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  • 14 of 14

    Freeze the Shells

    Food Nouveau

    If you do not have the time to complete making the macarons once cooked, or want to prepare some in advance, the shells freeze really well. Put them into strong container so they don't break and keep in the freezer for no longer than a month. Always make the buttercream filling fresh, this does not freeze very well.