I have been making French macarons for a few years, but even after making dozens of batches, I still hold my breath hoping they will rise into the perfect shape with “feet” (which is the ruffled edge next to the inside filling) and not turn into hard and inedible cookies. But all that changed once I started using this macaron recipe! The hardest part of this recipe is trying to decide what color I want to make the macarons!
Finding a Recipe
Macarons are not as impossible to make as some people think. With a few helpful tips and a good recipe, they can turn out nearly perfect every time. Before macarons became as popular as they are now, there were few recipes with good instructions. Now that macarons are a staple in bakeries and Instagram posts, recipes are easier to find but many are still difficult to make. This recipe is from Laduree, a French bakery that is a master macaron maker. I find it to be the easiest macaron recipe I have used.
When I first learned to make macarons, I used an indented silicon mat made especially for macarons because I didn’t have the skill to freehand pipe them into even round circles. I have since gained this skill from making macarons for a few years, but I still rely on these mats from time to time. When I’m not using these specialty mats, I use parchment or a nonstick baking mat.
Here are some details on these three different options for baking macarons.
- Use a silicone mat with macaron indentations or cavities. This type of mat has small evenly-spaced cavities that you fill with batter so they are all uniform in size. Do not fill the cavities entirely full or the batter might run over the rims and distort the macaron shapes. It is better to fill them almost full and then take a toothpick and spread out the batter until you gain experience with filling the cavities. The cavities in these mats are all the same size so unfortunately, you have to buy additional mats to make other sizes of macarons. These mats also are made with heart-shaped cavities and other shapes.
- Use parchment paper on a baking sheet. To help guide the size of the macarons, draw circles around a 1 1/2-inch round cup or another object on the parchment paper, making sure to space out the circles for the macrons to spread. Place the parchment paper onto the baking sheet with the drawing side facing down against the baking sheet. You will be able to see the circles through the paper. When piping freehand, you must hold the piping bag perpendicular (straight up and down) to the paper so that the cookie shells come out round. Holding the piping bag at an angle as you pipe the batter will make the shells uneven.
- Use a Silpat-type nonstick baking mat. Some baking mats have circles printed on them for macaron making. This is my favorite way to bake macarons but only after I built some skill piping macarons. For a mat with no printed circles, you have to make sure you leave enough space between macarons so that they have some room to spread out and not run into each other. Again, it is important to hold the piping bag perpendicular to make perfectly round macarons. Not all of my macarons are exactly the same size when I use this type of baking mat so after baking I match similar-sized shells together and fill them with buttercream and no one notices the different sizes.
Folding the Batter
Macarons have whipped egg whites folded into the batter, which means you always have to be careful not to overbeat the batter. Too much folding and the bubbles that form in the whipped eggs will burst and the macaron cookies will be hard. I know this firsthand from experience! This recipe uses an extra 1/2 egg white to help you get the batter mixed. It is a great trick and takes the guesswork out of determining if the batter is ready or not.
I use a medium-size plain round tip and a large piping bag when I make macaron cookies. Here are some tips that have served me well:
- Do not overfill the piping bag or the batter might escape from the top of the bag when you apply pressure to squeeze out the batter.
- Roll down the top of the piping bag and hold it as you pipe. Keep rolling down the top of the bag as you pipe out more batter and the bag empties. This will help keep the batter from squeezing out of the top of the bag when you apply pressure to pipe.
- Hold the piping bag perpendicular or straight up and down to the baking mat. Do not hold the bag at an angle. When the bag is held correctly the cookie circles will be round and uniform.
Resting the Macarons
- After you pipe the macarons, rest them before baking them. Resting allows the macarons to dry out a little so that the tops dry and form a crust.
- Resting times depend on the amount of humidity in the air. I usually allow 30+ minutes of resting time, but they can be ready in as little as 10 minutes. The best way to tell if they are ready is to gently touch a macaron. If the batter sticks to your finger, the macarons are not ready to bake. If the batter doesn’t stick, it is time to bake them.
- Macarons are baked at a low temperature. Always keep an eye on them because you don’t want them to brown and lose their color. Macarons should also have a chewy texture which is achieved with a lower baking temperature.
- After baking, cool the macarons by letting them sit. Once they are cooled, remove the macarons from the baking silicon or parchment paper by pulling the paper or mat away from the macaron. The cookies are fragile, so take your time when you remove them.
- Place the baked shells flat side up on a plate. This way they will be ready for you to pipe frosting on the flat side.
Macarons have a short shelf life and will dry out in just a few days. The best way to keep them fresh is to separate the ones you want to eat right away and freeze all the others. If frozen, they will keep their fresh taste for a few months. without altering the texture either. One of my favorite ways to enjoy a macaron is to eat it partially thawed because it has a very chewy texture which is the hallmark of a delicious macaron!