Tips I Learned By Deep Googling And Crying For Help: How To Make Macarons

how to make macarons - tips from coco cake land

pretty stack of vibrant macarons and tips on how to make them - coco cake land

I know I’m brutally late to the macaron party. I’ve been aware of their adorable little meringue hamburger-like presence, and have eaten many over the years, and made a few ugly batches right around 2008 when I was nose-deep into my Martha Stewart Baking Handbook. But out of the blue, I got obsessed with these little wispy sweet crispy chewy bastards – french macarons – and I wanted to make them for my mom’s upcoming 70th birthday party. So the deep-googling and the reading began: how to make macarons! I wanted mine to look like the ones I saw in so many beautiful Instagrams. I was feeling determined, and I needed a good distraction – macaron mania was perfectly timed.

pretty stack of vibrant macarons and tips on how to make them - coco cake land

The first thing I sought out was a good recipe. I read through my baking books and then went to the internet for some more goods. I ended up finding the EXTREMEO informative Brave Tart blog and her recipe. I made it once, and they looked terrible. Some with cracked tops and only some with cute little “feet” – that’s what they call the ruffly part of the macaron shell. So I made it again, asked for help online on Instagram and received so many nice tips, sought out video and read some more. I ended up making them four times until I finally got the hang of it.

french macaron tips and tricks - coco cake land

To break it down, here is what worked for me:

1. Make sure to whip the daylights out of the meringue. If it seems like it’s getting so stiff it’s taking on a life of its own, that’s ok: just roll with it – I remember being surprised at the final odd texture. Set the timer for each stage and let ‘er rip. For a Kitchen Aix Mixer, try: speed 4 for 3 mins, speed 7 for 3 mins, speed 8 for 3 mins and speed 10 for 1 min.

2. After measuring my ingredients using a digital scale, I tried both sifting the almond flour and icing sugar, and I also tried throwing it all in the food processor – the food processor worked great!

3. I dumped the almond flour/icing sugar mixture right on top of the beaten meringue. Then I fluffed and folded. It’s best to watch a few videos on how to fold in the flour – or, Dorie Greenspan describes it as “mix and mash” which I found myself saying in my head while I folded. Her description of the process is great, and you can find it here on Food52.

3. I used a circular cookie cutter and quickly made circle stencils on parchment paper so I could easily pipe to the right size. NOTE: make sure to make the stencils on the BACKSIDE of the parchment paper so you don’t bake pencil marks into your macarons. I don’t have a silpat but I would like to get one now – however, I found parchment paper to work fine!

4. I piped holding the bag upright and just blobbing out the batter. I tried piping the “from the side” method and I ended up with some oblong uglies. Top-dogging it seemed to work just fine for me.

5. Smack dat pan: After you pipe the macaron batter onto your parchment paper circles, hold the pan with two hands on either side and drop it down onto a countertop. It is thunderously loud but it helps to minimize air bubbles.

6. I let my macarons sit out after piping in different increments, from 15 to 30 minutes to 2 hours. For me, it made no difference to the final product. What made a difference is FINDING THE HOT SPOTS in my oven and outsmarting them by simply baking ONE SHEET at a time in the middle rack. One sheet to the wind. It takes a little more time to bake them all , sure – but it may save you from crying over cracked macs. (thanks to some of my Instagram followers for that tip!)

7. Find what temperature and time works for your oven and macarons – mine was 325 degrees and baking them for 8-10 minutes, turning the pan halfway through the baking time.

8. I used swiss meringue buttercream for the filling!

blue and pink french macaron by coco cake land

You can get caught up in being supremely anal about whether something is the “right” or “proper” technique or not – but really, we’re just trying to make a lovely little special pal dessert so I think it’s better not to sweat the “that’s not legit or proper” way to make something. Try making them a bunch of times until you get the feel/hang of it, as every oven is different, everyone lives in different climates and the more you practice … YOU GET BETTER!

how to make french macarons - tips from coco cake land

Wonderful and free smack that mac resources: 

Brave Tart’s Macaron Mythbusters post and RECIPE. I followed her recipe, using a scale. I also scraped the contents of a vanilla bean into the batter, and added gel colour for the last minute of beating my meringue.

Eat Live Travel Write’s photographic step by steps, and even VIDEOS. I love her macaron making journey because she shows you from the beginning her very first macarons … blast foward to the present, and hers are beautiful and perfect – and she even teaches classes now.

This nice gal of Macaron and Mint‘s Youtube video! I found watching videos helped to see the texture and “flow” of the batter. She also told me this and I followed it to a T: Kitchen Aix Mixer: speed 4 for 3 mins, speed 7 for 3 mins, speed 8 for 3 mins and speed 10 for 1 min. Totally worked for me.

Dorie Greenspan has a wonderful way with words and describing actions: check out her Parisian macarons post here.

The wonderful Indulge With Mimi has so many tips and video tutorials to help us mac amateurs! Here’s her best french macaron recipe!

Practice, practice and practice some more! I’m excited to keep on making macarons and continuing to improve. I hope this post gives some hope to those who have thrown in the macaron towel! If you have some more great resources, let me know in the comments, and show me your macarons – leave me links! Happy baking, everyone! xo Lyndsay 

31 Responses to “Tips I Learned By Deep Googling And Crying For Help: How To Make Macarons”

  1. Michelle @ Hummingbird High

    YES YES YES to all of this. Macarons are one of the things I still haven’t mastered after many years of baking — I think I have some sort of mental block. Will try your tips soon!

    Reply
    1. Lyndsay // Coco Cake Land

      i had a mental block too! but then i decided to bulldoze my block – it was so cry-satisfying to watch the little feet rise n stuff … i know you can do it!!

  2. Cindy

    These are perfection! I went through a macaron phase in 2010-ish and I thought I had it down…then we moved to a totally different climate. I may have to try again though because they are so dang cuuuuute! Also, your colors always make me swoon. LOVE!

    Reply
    1. Lyndsay // Coco Cake Land

      oh yeah crazy how climate plays such a role!! they are so fun … thanks so much cindy! xo

  3. steph

    ahh!!! LOVE this because i swore to myself 2015 was the year i would beat macaron into submission!! you know that after i fail 20 times i’m just going to head over to your place and eat ALL your macaron right?! ;)

    Reply
    1. Lyndsay // Coco Cake Land

      steph!! let’s have a macaron making sesh – we can whack the crap outta the baking pans together and make some fun fillings!! ^__^

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  5. Cecilia Pérez

    I don’t like macarons very much, but I NEED TO PREPARE THEM
    It’s my baking challenge
    Yours are beautiful!!
    As soon as I finish my exams I’ll be doing macarons, I promise!!
    And I will learn from your tricks
    Wish me luck!!
    ♥ ♥ ♥

    Reply
    1. Lyndsay // Coco Cake Land

      cecilia! wishing you super-macarony luck! let me know how it turns out!

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  7. Mardi (eat. live. travel. write.)

    Thanks for linking out to me and I am glad my resources were helpful! It’s all about taking one recipe and making it work for you and figuring it out like you have done with Stella’s recipe (like I did too!). So many people try one and then trying another and then another because none of them “work”. But like anything worth making, macarons take practice. And more practice. I still get nervous, especially when I teach classes (!) that they won’t work out but mine have a 95% success rate I would say with equipment and ovens I am familiar with. Yours are perfect and I love the bright colours you chose!

    Reply
    1. Lyndsay // Coco Cake Land

      Yay Mardi! Such good advice – keep trying at one recipe and tweak it as needed based on one’s own oven. Thanks so much for stopping by – love your blog!

  8. Cecily @ Burnt Butter Bakery

    I am never going to refer to macarons as anything other than “meringue hamburgers” from now on!

    Reply
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  12. Alex

    These are ADORABLE!

    It took me about 7 failed attempts of macarons before I was finally happy with the result! I found a great book called “The Secrets of Macarons” which I highly recommend as they go into so much depth (which I love) and have great info and tips! One of the best tips is to place the macarons on a dampened bench top before trying to remove them from the baking paper – apparently it “shocks” them and they are way easier to remove if you’re not using a special macaron tray!

    You might like a baking blog called “Raspberri Cupcakes” – she makes macarons into loads of different animal shapes!!!

    Sending love from Hobart, Australia!

    Reply
    1. Lyndsay // Coco Cake Land

      hey thanks alex! great tips – i’ll look for that book. oh yes steph from raspberri cupcakes is awesome! ^__^

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  15. Rebecca Wong

    Failed 2 many times to succeed … then failed again to want to succeed. D fun is u see hope every time u start getting those ingredients out of d cupboards … keep baking. It’s a life lesson, u don’t stop at failure right?

    Reply
    1. Lyndsay // Coco Cake Land

      Rebecca! I’ve failed even, since writing this post, LOL! Keep trying – you will get there! And as long as you are enjoying the process, it can’t hurt! :) (plus, “imperfect” macarons are still delicious macarons… :)

  16. Melissa Klotz

    I’ve made macarons twice – the first time was actually pistachio macarons and they turned out just fine for me. I used Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams cookbook which did a fantastic job of laying out exactly how you should make them. My piping wasn’t exactly perfect, but it was definitely fun and “good enough.” http://www.nowyourecook.in/2012/08/08/pistachio-macaron-ice-cream-sandwiches/

    Reply
  17. Lauren

    This did not work! I followed everything step-by-step and they turned out just as they had the past 3 times. So difficult!

    Reply
    1. Lyndsay // Coco Cake Land

      Oh no! Lauren, I feel your pain, I really do. How did they turn out? Cracks? No feet? Have you tried adjusting your oven temperature and baking them one pan at a time in the middle rack? Sorry the tips I’ve gathered didn’t work out for you – the next step could be taking an in-person class, if you’re really intent on macarons!

  18. Jacqueline

    I totally agree that it is different where you live. I live in the dry west, but was taught in Paris at a Macaron Cooking Class we took. I decided to try the French method, as we were taught the Italian method and although they look beautiful, they are hollow. I made these Italian Method Macarons for Christmas, and they were perfect. Still hoping to get the French Method to work as I am teaching a class and I know the students will be intimidated by the Italian Method.http://www.purplechocolathome.com/2015/12/french-macarons-four-ways.html

    Reply
  19. Brittybird

    I really want to make macaroons for Valentine’s Day but it will be my first time doing it. I’m really nervous but I am excited to give it a try. I am not sure I understand the climate thing though. I live 4,600 ft above sea level, but I don’t know what aspect is affected?

    Reply
  20. cora

    why do they come out hollow? i thought aging the egg whites would make a difference but they still come out hollow. also tried lowering the temperature but they’re still coming out hollow. what do i need to do?

    Reply
    1. Lyndsay // Coco Cake Land

      Hi Cora! I’m definitely not the mac expert but I would suggest checking out Mimi’s videos on macarons, sometimes it’s helpful to see it being made: https://www.youtube.com/user/indulgewithmimi

    2. Kathy

      Cora, over whipping the egg whites will cause hollows. Try whipping a bit less and see if that helps!

  21. Gina

    Great post! I am also on a macaron kick. Tried three different recipes, including the one from bravetart.com. Unfortunalty , those looked the worst. The recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction, with the technique explanation from bravetart actually worked the best for me. And throwing the almond flour and powder sugar in the my little Ninja and sifting again. Got almost half of them to look pretty. Oh well, the ugliest taste just as good and kept my mouth busy while I was filling the pretties.

    Reply

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