Macarons, French Meringue Method (法式马卡龙)

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Here are 12 FAQ to help you make macarons:

1) Which almond flour?
I use Phoon Huat's superfine almond flour. PH sells three types of almond flour. Only the one labeled "SUPERFINE" is good for macarons.

Almond flour that's not "macaron grade" is too coarse. Can you grind it to make it superfine? If you have a super duper grinder that's leagues ahead of what most people have at home, yes.

2) How to make French meringue for macarons?
I whisk fresh egg white on speed #3 to start with (#24 is the fastest on my electric whisk). I then drop to #1 after sugar is added. Finally, I whisk by hand to finish off. The meringue, when it's done, is at stiff peak stage, i.e. the peak is straight, not hooked. It's smooth and glossy, not grainy and matt.

Whisking slowly helps make the meringue stable. A stiff, stable meringue is crucial to everything that's important in macarons: the foot, the height, the sleek crust, the inside. If you don't want flat, footless, rough macrons with a hollow inside, you must get the meringue right. Remember: whisk SLOWLY.

3) How to hit the "macaronage" sweet spot?
Mixing the meringue with almond flour and icing sugar correctly is very important. If the batter is under- or overmixed, the macarons will be flat, footless, rough, or hollow inside.

How to tell when the mixing, the so-called macaronage, hits the sweet spot? By testing. When the batter's texture is smooth, I stop folding every 10-15 folds to drop some batter from about 25 cm high. When the batter doesn't move at all after landing, it's not ready. When it moves ever so slightly, it's almost there. From this point, I stop every 3-5 folds to observe the batter. When it oozes a bit after I stop folding, it's done.

4) Why do macarons have feet?
Before the batter is baked, it needs to rest till the surface isn't tacky. The dry surface is crucial to the macarons forming feet. Why? Because it's a shield, which stops steam formed during baking from rising. Since the steam can't go up, it looks for an alternative exit. Where's that? Between the batter and baking tray. That's why macarons have frilly bottoms, aka feet.

5) Why don't your macarons have feet?
Cracked macarons are footless (or have poorly formed feet). Why? Because most of the steam escapes through the cracks, not the space between the batter and the baking tray. Refer to Q4.
Macarons that aren't cracked may still be footless. If the oven temperature is too high, the batter is overmixed, the batter has too little egg white, or the macarons are too small, you can wave good-bye to macaron feet. These mistakes make the batter set too quickly, so there's no time to form cracks or feet.

6) Why do your macarons crack?
If the oven temperature is too high, or there's too much egg white in the batter, macarons crack because too much steam is created. Air bubbles that are too big could lead to cracks too.

Batter that isn't dry enough when it's baked could also result in cracks. Macaron batter doesn't dry well if it has too much egg white, it is overmixed, or the resting time is too short. Poking the batter when it's dry or half-dry – maybe to remove air bubbles – creates wet spots. Touching the batter before it's dry – to check if it is – creates wet spots too.

7) Why are your macarons hollow inside?
When the meringue is overwhisked or whisked too quickly, it's grainy; or it turns grainy whilst the batter is waiting to be baked. Grainy meringue can't rise well, so the batter doesn't rise to fill the big air pockets created by heat. That results in a hollow under the crust.

9) Why do your macarons blister?
Because big bubbles in the batter expand when heated.

8) Why are the results from your single batch of batter uneven?
Only evenly mixed batter yields even results. When the batter is uneven, some macarons have feet and some don't; some are hollow inside and some aren't.

10) Why are your macarons rough?
Because the almond flour is coarse, the meringue is grainy, or the batter is undermixed. 

11) Why do your macarons stick to the parchment paper?
Because they are underbaked, removed from the paper whilst still warm, or piped on the batter used to glue the parchment paper to the baking tray.



12) How to make macarons less sweet?
Do not change the recipe for macaron shells. It will end in tears if you do. Instead, go for a filling that has a bitter ingredient, such as coffee, matcha or cocoa buttercream. Homemade yam paste, green/red bean paste or lotus paste would be good too. You can make these with as little sugar as you like, to balance the macaron shells' sweetness. Imagine macarons filled with thick yam paste that's made with coconut milk. These "orh nee" macarons would give the buttercream and ganache lot a run for their money.

MACARONS, FRENCH MERINGUE METHOD (法式马卡龙)
(Recipe for 20 macaron shells)

40 g superfine almond flour
50 g icing sugar
 
35 g egg white
25 g castor sugar
small pinch fine salt
5 drops liquid red food colouring

click here for Swiss meringue buttercream recipe

1. Cut parchment paper to fit bottom of 13" x 10" baking tray. Draw twenty 3.3 cm circles on paper with pencil, evenly spread out.


2. Place piping tip #802 in piping bag. Cut tip of bag to fit piping tip. Tie bag with rubber band just above piping tip.

3. Place almond flour and icing sugar in food processor. Blitz till mixture looks lump free, scraping down as necessary, then blitz a bit more (to be doubly sure all lumps are obliterated). Alternatively, sift almond flour and icing sugar.

4. Whisk egg white on slow speed till thick foam forms. Gradually add castor sugar, still whisking. Reduce speed. Continue to whisk till firm peak stage, i.e. peak is hooked. Reduce to manual speed. Continue to whisk till just hitting stiff peak stage, i.e. peak is straight. (Meringue is now smooth, not grainy.)

5. Sprinkle half of almond mixture on meringue. Cut with spatula till almond mixture is wet. Sprinkle with remaining almond mixture. Cut as before. Fold till just evenly mixed.

6. Add food colouring and fine salt.

7. Fold batter till colour is even and texture is smooth, pausing now and then to scrape down spatula.

8. Continue folding, pausing every 10-15 folds to drop batter from about 25 cm high. When batter moves ever so slightly after landing, it's almost ready.

9. Keep folding, now pausing to observe every 3-5 folds. When batter oozes slightly after you stop folding, it's ready.

10. Transfer batter into piping bag. Remove rubber band. Twist top of piping bag tightly, squeezing batter downward.

11. Pipe small dollops of batter in corners of baking tray. Place parchment paper on tray, pencilled side facing down. Press paper against batter so that it sticks well. Pipe using drawn circles as guide, avoiding batter that's under parchment paper.

12. Rap baking tray against worktop – hard, 4-6 times – till tips of batter disappear or almost disappear. Prick visible air bubbles with skewer. Smooth holes and remaining tips.

13. Set tray aside till batter isn't sticky when touched lightly, about 30 minutes depending on the weather. (I put the tray in front of a table fan turned on low because Singapore is very humid.)

14. Whilst macaron batter is drying, preheat oven to 135°C. When batter is ready, bake on middle shelf of oven for 30 minutes.

15. Remove tray from oven. Drag parchment paper onto wire rack. Leave till macarons are cool. Carefully peel parchment paper from macarons.

16. Separate macaron shells into pairs that are same size. Pipe filling of choice on one shell and top with the other.

17. Place macarons in fridge, covered, for a few hours or up to a few days. Remove from fridge before serving and allow to come to desired level of softness.

40 comments:

IT said...

Hi KT

Shouldn't it be gel colouring?

Vincent said...

This recipe turned out flawless! I have tried a dozen before, but they all failed me. In this recipe, even the oven temp and time were correct for me! Photo as proof attached ;)

O, did i said "thank you" already? No? THANK YOU!

KT said...

That's a myth, as my video shows.

KT said...

You tried my recipe within 18 hours of me publishing my post? I don't believe you. It sometimes takes me 2 years to get round to trying a recipe. When I'm really keen, it'd still take maybe 2 months.

Vincent said...

Well, i have been trying various recipe's for 2 weeks straight. They always ended cracked or hollow. Yesterday night i was ready to try a new recipe, but one of your fans (my lil sis in law), forwarded my your youtube tutorial. The classical music in the background caught me. And few of your steps were different than the majority of recepi's online. E.g.: adding salt in batter instead to the unmixed egg white and pulvering the granulated sugar. Also, your recipe contained less sugar. So I tried yours instead.

The photo is the result of working till 3 am in the morning ;) (and yes, i am also a photo enthousiastic and know my gear very well...)

You have a strange way saying "you're welcome". But i don't mind. You gave me a lot of happiness last night. Altough I am dead tired on my way to work. But I finally have found the recepi that works for me. So... THANK YOU. (Feel free to abuse the photo for your own usage. I can send you the original if you like. My way of showing my gratitude ;)

KT said...

I said "I don't believe you!" in jest. Sorry it came out the wrong way. You are, of course, most welcome. Thanks for the photo and feedback, Vincent.

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Tham Ru Yueh said...

Hi kitchen tigress! I never really got to thank you for sharing your recipes here! I always use your Japanese cheese cake recipe and my family LOVES it, I kid you not. I have a question about your instructions to making the meringue, you emphasized on whisking slowly. Does this apply to every recipe that calls for meringue? I can't wait to try this out, it will be my first time as I've never made macarons before, fingers crossed!

KT said...

I said "I don't believe you!" in jest. Sorry it came out wrong. You are, of course, most welcome. Thanks for the feedback and (very nice) photo, Vincent.

Vincent said...

Oooh... right... 對不起, I missed the tone there. I just had 3 hours of sleep last night. So my focus is bit off. But it was worth it ;) 謝謝 very much XD

KT said...

No worries. Will you adapt the recipe for chocolate macaron shells? Please post the adaptation if you do. Thanks in advance.

KT said...

"Does this apply to every recipe that calls for meringue?"
Do you see "this" applied to all my recipes that call for meringue?

Zorc said...

This recipe looks great! I can't wait to try it.
(By the way, the circles should be 33 mm wide, not 3.3)

Are you going to publish a book with your recipes and baking tips some day? I would buy it.

KT said...

Thanks for pointing that out. Recipe is amended.

Sharon said...

Hi KT,


I'm super duper excited to see your Macaron recipe! I write you as soon as I read it, even before I start baking it! Remember you once asked me if I have succeed in my last try of macaron baking? No, never succeed! Your detailed tips on how to hit the sweet spot of the macaronage is super useful! I think that's what I failed last time. I thought I should minimise the folding just like cake batter. Didn't realise the more you fold the more runny it becomes. The batter was hard when I piped it on the parchment paper.


Out of 10+ videos I've seen, yours is the only one that explains in full details.


In your tips you mentioned about using the "super fine" almond flour, is "Phoon Huat" easy to be found in the supermarkets in Sing? I live in Hong Kong and last time I used "Blue Diamond" (the only brand I found). I'm so happen visiting Sing next week so I will try to find it in large supermarkets.


Will share with you the picture once I baked it. Don't think I can do it as successful as Vincent. I think I am the kind you mentioned - at least takes me 2 months... :-)


Thanks again KT!

Vincent said...

[Picture attached!]

So I heard you like Chocolate ;) And if it comes to chocolate, I like them as pure as possible! So I adjusted your recipe by adding 2 ts of 100% pure cocoa powder. I just added it in the food processor along with the icing sugar and almond flakes (yes, I use flakes because they are better dried than the almond flour over here) and mixed it all together there.

Result: after having baked them for 30 min, they were still a bit undercooked and a tad hollow. So I decided to add 10 more min cooking time (135c). The 10 extra minutes did the job. The tad hollow part can't be fixed anymore, but the macaron wasn't soft anymore.

Aftermath: my wife says the chocolate taste is too overwhelming. But that was my intention to do so since I like my chocolates very pure. But the almond taste was faded by the chocolate taste by doing so. So I guess next time I should rather add 1 ts of 100% pure cocoa instead of 2. (Will I guess also help getting it cooked easier without the extra 10 min).

Butter Cream Fillings: (see attached photo, from left to right): Strawberry Jam, mint, green tea, and.... CHOCOLATE XD

In my humble opinion, they turned out great. I don't care they were tad hollow. All macarons are equal to me. All will be eaten with lot of enjoyment. Cheers! XD

KT said...

Phoon Huat is a chain of specialty shops that sell baking supplies. Here's the website for their locations: http://www.phoonhuat.com/cos/o.x?c=/wbn/pagetree&func=view&rid=15084
The shop at Bencoolen Street is closest to the city centre. The one at Buona Vista is the largest. It has stuff that other branches may not have.

Phoon Huat's stocks are very irregular. Products may be out of stock for weeks or even months. I always phone ahead and check if what I want is in stock. If it is, I make a reservation. They hold products for only 1 day.

Aren't macarons very popular in Hong Kong? I'd be very surprised if baking supply shops in Hong Kong don't sell superfine almond flour.

Can you sift Blue Diamond almond flour quite easily? Not with a fine sieve that's meant for wheat flour but a "general" sieve that has bigger holes in the mesh. If you can, then Blue Diamond should be OK for macarons.

Macarons made with coarse almond flour look rough but they'd still have feet if you get them right.

KT said...

Thanks, Vincent. (If you're just as fast and efficient in your day job, you must be your boss' pet.)

Vincent said...

Wanna hire me? I work for food you make ;)

IT said...

Thanks for the info. I will try your recipe the next time I make macarons. At the moment I am done with macarons. Made more than 100 macarons last month. The recipe I used was quite similar to yours.

Sharon said...

Hi KT,


Thank you for the taking time to write back with so detailed info. Much appreciated! I willl definitely pay a visit to the shop at Bencoolen Street. Browsed through the website and found wide choices of baking goods, even the boxes and baking cups! I will be staying near Marina Square so would be convenient for me to get there.


Macarons are very popular in HK, and quite pricey too. So far I haven't seen one supermarket that sells super fine almond flour (even the big supermarkets) and instead I can only find "Blue Diamond Ground Almond" from a few of them. (or Bob's mill ordered in iHerb). The baking stores I went before do sell almond flour, but no brand, so to me not very reliable, unlike with Phoon Huat that is a wholesaler of those baking goods.


Today I did a test to put some ground almond in a mixer to grind it with some icing sugar. After that sift them through the "general" sieve, it was ok. Hopefully I will have time to try your recipe soon. :-)


My daughter saw your recipe and is now very looking forward to try my macarons soon. She loves green tea macarons so will see if I can bake some successfully. :-D Take care!

KT said...

You can also check out Sun Lik, which is about midway between Marina Square and Bencoolen Street. Here's their website: http://sunliktrading.com/index.php?route=information/contact

Btw, Bencoolen Street had wooden Castella cake moulds last time I was there, hiding in some corner (the moulds, not me). : - )

KT said...

Hi IT, did you bake in batches? Did the last batch turn out differently from the first? How much longer did the last batch wait? Thanks!

IT said...

Hi KT

Usually for each batch, I used 100g egg whites and piped onto 3 trays. I am in Syd and it can be very humid here. I piped all the shells at the same time. First tray goes in when they are dry enough, about 45 mins to 1 hour.

My oven temperature is slightly different. I preheat the oven to 210C (Fan forced) and when the macarons are in, I dropped the temp to 130C and baked for 18 to 20 mins.

For the next tray, I only preheat to 190C. They all come out the same. I do noticed that certain colours affect the baking time.

I have also tried using the Italian meringue method but I was not successful.

evangeline05 said...

Hi KT,


Your macarons are gorgeous!


Was wondering what oven are you using? I've tried using Phoon Huat's superfine almond flour, but my macarons never turn out as beautiful as yours.


I have tried countless different baking methods and temperatures: 130 to 150 degree Celsius, they would become brown and have skirts; 100 - 120 degrees and they have extremely soft caps and are under cooked even with very long baking time; start with high temperature and lower later; with fan; without fan, etc. I'm at my wits end. :(

Vincent said...

[Picture attached again!]

The last chocolate flavored macaron turned out to be a brownie structure like. It was bit flat, wet but with a good crispy top. Totally good for a brownie, but not for a macaron. So I wanted to redo that. This time I used only 0.5teaspoon of 100% pure cocoa (instead 2 teaspoon). As a result, a good macaron was born! No additional coloring added.

The pink one is flavored with 5 drops of rose water and bit of dry red food coloring. The rose flavor is quite strong even after the baking!
For the yellow one, 5 drops of pineapple flavor was used. But the flavor was lost after the baking. Better mix it in butter cream next time.

Once again, your recipe used as base ;) (love this recipe!)

And last but not least, no minions were hurt during the process XD

Arthur said...

Hi KT, unrelated question but what camera do you use? Thanks!

KT said...

Gorgeous macarons and photo! I wouldn't trust those minions with the macarons if I were you.

KT said...

Hi Arthur, I use my mobile phone.

Grace Foo said...

Hi KT
A big thank you for sharing this great recipe . My Macaroons turn out ok and I believe still have room to improve as I think it needs lots of practice. Really appreciate your efforts making the video as I think that need time to do so. Thank you so much!!!!

KT said...

Hi Grace, you are welcome. How did you make the macaron stand at an angle in the third photo?

Grace Foo said...

Hi KT,
Actually I would like them to stand straight. However, my poor skills of making macaron didn't turn out flat at the top. Somehow, it still able to stand still at an angle.
After the first attempt, I practice again for 2nd and 3rd times. I need to bake them at 140C for 35 minutes.
I personally like the macaron grow more feets but it didn't. Do you think I should let them dry further, 1 hour++.?My 3rd batch of macaron was dried 45 minutes but still the fees not that obvious. I shall practice more.
Once again, thank you for your very precise and details recipe. Super good!!!

KT said...

Did you weigh everything (save for salt and colouring) exactly?

Grace Foo said...

Hi KT,
I weight everything but not the colouring, I add 4 drops of yellow colouring and the other batch I add 1/2 teaspoon of cocoa powder like Vincent did. Would that be affected?

Vincent said...

Please allow me to share some experiences (since i see my name mentioned ;)

Too much cacao would cause the buttom of the macaron not rising as much as it should be. So my macaron was first bit hollow.

My macarons are also not completely flat if:
1.) Bit undermixed causing them having nipples ;)
2.) Not dried enough. The top was then simply not hard enough when putting it in oven. It's quite humid where i live these last week. So i sometimes let them dry for 3-6 hours.

Hope it helps.

Btw, i like your pictures ;)

Grace Foo said...

Hi Vincent,
Thanks a lot for sharing your experience. I followed 1/2 teaspoon of cocoa as you did and dry for 45 minutes. The shell wasn't hollow, in fact it got nice flat bottom for the cream. The only thing is the feets not much so I will try to do as you did to fry for few hours. Hopefully it helps. I was thought I over mix the batter so the yellow one I try not to mix too much but still not obvious feets. So I guess it really need long hours to dry. Many thanks to you for highlighting the posit le failure. Cheers!

Grace Foo said...

Hi KT & Hi Vincent,
I am so excited to share my 5th attempts on my result of macaron practice with both of you as you both has been my great teachers 😊
I tried matcha macaron using the same method but of course matcha was added 1/2 teaspoon in the mixture of ground almond and icing sugar. I suspect my oven temperature at 135c wasn't right so I bake it at 150C about 10 minutes. After the feets grow and macaron was set I turn down the heat to 135c continue the baking process.
This time the feets grow much more during the first 10 minutes. I'm so happy to see that and so excited too.
Once again, thank you and will keep practicing till it is perfect.

Zhu Zhu said...

The recipe does not lie. There are indeed three distinct layers. But would like a thicker cake layer??? Hmm I wonder how

Vincent said...

Aah... Matchs Macarons! Doen't they just smell delicious when baking? ;) Looks good!

KT said...

Congratulations! You did it!

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