Macarons were the bane of my existence until I found foolproof tips
Do you ever have those times in life when something just sticks in your craw?
For me, it’s that overwhelming sense of failure with macaron baking. I consider myself a pretty good baker (a pretty good eater of baked goods anyway). But I have twice attempted to make macarons and both times I failed miserably.
Macarons are supposed to be pretty little puffed up meringue cookies surrounding a delicate buttercream filling. My macarons looked more like something the car ran over – flat and a little lumpy at the same time.
I take some consolation in the fact that macarons are widely considered to be the most difficult cookie on the planet to make. They are fussy, finicky and unforgiving of a baker who makes even small mistakes.
While first created in eighth century Italy, the macaron was popularized in Paris in the 1800s. Since the 2010s, they’ve become trendy in the United States with some macaron bakeries even honoring Macaron Day on March 20 by giving away free samples.
Macarons are not to be confused with macaroons – a coconut cookie usually dipped in chocolate. While macaroons also have their own day – May 31 – that’s where the similarities end. Macaroons are pretty easy to make, unlike macarons which have caused many sleepless nights for frustrated amateur bakers. Quel tragique!
But I think I found help – a possible lifeline from YouTube chef Beth Le Manach. Le Manach runs the popular site called Entertaining with Beth. She said in one of her videos that she, too, has struggled with the macaron.
After she eventually got it right, she threw together a few tips to help the rest of us out. Watch the video I put together to see if the third time was the charm for me. (Here are two hints: Yes and yay! Not only are they the best macarons I’ve ever made, they are the best macarons I’ve ever eaten. Period).
Here are Le Manach’s most crucial tips in macaron-baking:
Tips for macaron success
Tip 1: For the fluffiest meringue for your cookie base, use room temperature eggs. Either set them out on the counter for an hour before you begin baking or put them in a bowl of warm water for 10 minutes.
Tip 2: If adding color to the macarons, remember food coloring fades when baked so add a few more drops than you think you’ll need.
Tip 3: Make sure to sift the almond flour and powdered sugar through a sieve to get the finest powder mixture. That creates a smooth and pretty top of the cookie. (I think this might have been one of the biggest reasons behind my previous failures. Failing to sift the almond flour left me with big chunks of almonds which weighed down the batter and made it lumpy.)
Tip 4: Don’t under or over mix your batter. Le Manach says 65 to 75 strokes is usually just about right. She said it should look like molten lava.
Tip 5: After macarons are placed on parchment-lined sheet pans, bang the pan against the counter two or three times to release air bubbles that could crack the tops of the macarons.
Tip 6: After you’ve banged the pans, let the macarons sit out for about a half an hour until they’re tacky to the touch.
Tip 7: Buy a cheap oven thermometer to make sure your oven is truly running at the correct temperature. If it’s not, adjust accordingly.
Tip 8: Don’t underbake the macarons even if they look done. Underdone cookies stick to the parchment paper.
If you’d like the recipe for Beth’s Foolproof French Macaron, visit entertainingwithbeth.com or visit my site thegreatindoors.areavoices.com.
Readers can reach Tracy Briggs at 451-5632.