Macarons are such divas! They do everything you don’t want them to. My first batch emerged from the oven with lopsided feet, rejecting my silent prayers for symmetry. The second batch was even worse. They had magnificently erupted into a cracked volcanic, brittle rocks.
Thankfully, I have gotten more of the hang of things with more practice. Let me share a few tips. But before that…
Macarons are largely dependent on many environmental factors including surrounding heat, humidity, oven temperature, drying time, meringue stage, and almond flour fineness. What works in my kitchen may not work in yours, and no way do I claim to know what really goes on in the world of macarons. I only rejoice when they come out like they’re supposed to.
Now that that is said, let us commence.
Top 5 Macaron Tips
1. It’s not absolutely necessary to age your whites. I detest doing this because somehow leaving dairy products out at room temp just gives me the willies, and I refuse to wait 5 days for them to age in the fridge. Do I look like a patient girl to you? Um, no. The point of this aging step is to loosen the proteins in the whites to make a more stable meringue.
Try this: Stick your finger in a bowl of freshly separated egg whites. Swirl the whites around with your fingers. See how the whites are tighter in some areas than others, and parts of the whites seem to cling together? That is the protein bonding you are trying to weaken by the aging process. Thankfully there’s another way to do this, according to Tartelette. Stick your bowl of separated whites in the microwave for 10 seconds. Now try swirling them with your finger. It should be much looser. If your whites are still clingy, pop them in for about 5 more seconds. Be cautious- you don’t want to actually cook your whites. This microwave zapping can be substituted for aging your egg whites and I’ve had happy macaron feet using fresh whites this way.
2. Pay attention to your meringue. Add a dash of salt and a tsp of lemon juice or cream of tartar towards the beginning to strengthen your egg whites. Keep a close eye on the meringue so that you get it to the stiff peak stage, glossy and shiny. Be careful it doesn’t overwhip and become dry and dull. If you happen to get to this part, please don’t try to revive it- start over. It’s not worth the headache.
3. Use aluminum pans with silapat baking liners. I know, some people prefer baking sheets. I find silicone liners work better for me. And please resist the urge to use the dark colored cookie sheet- you’ll end up with brown feet. Not so pretty.
4. Make sure you really dry the shells before baking. Some say it doesn’t matter, some say 15 minutes. I find it takes about 1- 2 hours to really get the shells nice and dry so you get an even rise and nice feet all around. Again, this could just be me, but from a logical point of view, it just makes sense. If you’re in a hurry, maybe 30 minutes, but I still say that’s pushing it. Please resist the urge to dry them with an electric blow dryer. Not that I would know anything about that, ahem.
5. Stop and sift! After you finely grind the almonds and confectioner’s sugar in the food processor, it’s important to sift them to take out the lumpies. Grind the remaining large kernels that are left behind separately in the food processor one more time. Add to the previous sifted mixture and whisk together.
Pinky Macarons with Bailey’s Buttercream
15 oz ground almond flour
13 1/3 oz confectioner’s sugar
1/8 tsp salt
5 large egg whites, room temperature, microwaved for 10 seconds
pinch cream of tartar
5 tsp granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
few drops red gel food coloring
Pulse together ground almond flour, confectioner’s sugar and salt in a food processor. Set aside.
On medium speed in an electric mixer, whisk the egg whites until it starts to turn into foam. Add the cream of tartar and whisk until soft peaks. Gradually add the sugar, vanilla and food gel coloring. Whip to stiff peaks. Be careful not to overbeat at this point- it should not be dry.
Add the almond sugar ground mixture to the meringue and gently fold until combined. It should take about 50 strokes- the macaronage should flow like molten lava, not too thick or thin. Pipe 1 inch rounds onto a baking sheet lined with parchment or silipat. This recipe will need about 4 baking sheets, or you could reuse two sheets. Rest the macarons at room temperature for 1-2 hours to dry.
Bake at 325F for 16-20 minutes, one tray at a time in the middle of the oven. Use a spatula to remove the macarons and cool them to room temperature. Fill with 1 tsp of Baileys Buttercream (recipe follows) between two macarons shells.The macaron shells will keep at room temperature for 3 days and frozen unfilled shells will keep 3 weeks. Let them come to room temperature before filling.
1/2 cup (100gr) sugar
2 large egg whites
1 1/2 sticks (6 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2-3 tsp Baileys Irish Cream Liquer
Put the sugar and egg whites in a large heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and whisk constantly, keeping the mixture over the heat, until it feels hot to the touch, about 3 minutes. The sugar should be dissolved, and the mixture will look like marshmallow cream. Pour the mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and beat the meringue on medium speed until it cools and forms a thick shiny meringue, about 5 minutes. Switch to the paddle attachment and add the butter, one tablespoon at a time, beating until smooth. Once all the butter is in, beat in the buttercream on medium-high speed until it is thick and very smooth, 6-10 minutes. Add Baileys liquer and beat 1 more minute. Fill a pastry bag with the buttercream and pipe 1 tsp between two shells and sandwich them together.