…Good to Knows…
Good to Knows are kitchen notes I've collected over the years. If you have any other questions, insight or would like to share your own tips, please drop me a message. I would love to chat more about macarons with you!
…SET YOUR PARAMETERS…
- Let me be real here. Macarons are not easy. They take practice. Lots and lots of practice. I have been on this mission for 10+years now, so don’t give up if it doesn't work the first, second or the tenth time.
- Start a kitchen journal. Take notes for every bake and write down as much information about that day as possible. ie: time of day, weather, temperature, ingredient brands, measurements, resting times, baking times, cooking times, etc. No detail is too small. This will allow you to see what works best in your space.
- Be adventurous and explore around with recipes, baking times and oven temperatures. I spent a good year landing on the recipe I use today. Although it’s what's best for me, it might not be the end-all, be-all for you, which is 100% okay! These are only four ingredients and there are hundreds of variations of this recipe.
- Start with one shell base. Most of my shells are vanilla. I then change the colors while relying on the filling to pack the punch of flavor. I find this to be the best way to control the shells' outcome by omitting additional variables. This is especially key for beginners as it’s more important to focus on technique than trying to be clever with flavor.
…KITCHEN SCALE…KITCHEN SCALE…
- Yes it's that important. If you don't have one, then you need need to purchase one right now — here's a great one! Macarons (and baking in general) is an exact science. You can't get to that exact science without grams. Macarons are some of, if not the most, temperamental baked goods out there. Grams are by far the most accurate way for baking because it’s giving you exact amounts of ingredients and is again eliminating variables. I’ll never convert any macaron recipes into cup conversions because I personally believe that is setting you up for failure.
…SET YOUR SPACE…
- Invest in an oven thermometer! It was a huge moment for me when I realized my oven baked 20 degrees hotter than what was displayed. Temperature is a major player, so get an oven thermometer and become one with your oven's quirks. Here's a great one!
- I prefer parchment paper over silpats. Here’s why: I feel (and have read) that the darker the cooking surface, the more heat it will absorb. Silpats being traditionally a tan color tend to burn the bottoms of my macarons far more than when I’m using a white parchment paper.
- Double up your sheet pans, one stacked on top of the other, creating a layer between your macaron pan and the oven rack. This allows for better disruption of heat and it helps prevent the bottoms from browning before the centers have had their time to rise properly.
-1. Heat one sheet pan in the oven while you are preheating.
-2. Use this preheated pan as your second (bottom) sheet pan.
- Macrons that hollow. I've narrowed this down to the fact that I am usually over whipping the meringue. This is my first go-to when locating what went wrong. Watch tons of Youtube videos on how meringues should be to get a visual. Take mental notes or take pictures of your meringue each time so you can reference its appearance and check your notes in your kitchen journal.
- If after fully cooked and cooled completely, your macarons stick to the parchment (or silpat), you can toss them into the freezer for 5-10 minutes, and they (usually) peel right off! This tip comes from a pastry chef friend of Erin’s.
- When they're not perfectly circular like you wanted them to be, it is often because of too much banging of the pans to help them settle. Too much of a good thing! I found that giving the batter just a few extra turns meant that less banging was required, and therefore less chance of oval macarons!
- Over-baking. It's a fine-line between perfect and burnt with these delicate suckers. Erin taught me this easy trick. Choose one as your testers and very gently press on the top of the shell. If the foot stays stable and doesn't bounce up and down, then you know it is done (or seconds from being done). If it does have a little bounce, add just a minute to your timer. Checking every minute is critical at this stage. 60 seconds can be all you need for perfection!
- Not all almond flours are the same. I've had a long-time suspicious about this, and then came Heritage Macarons. They shared a lot of information on their insta-story regarding moisture levels of Bob's Red Mill's almond flour vs other brands. They mentioned (as I have always suspected) that it's extremely moist/oily compared to other available options—my preferred brand is Trader Joe's, and although this quality is great for other recipes, it's not ideal for macarons. They found that even after drying Bob's Red Mill in the oven it still hinders your success when the oils mix with the meringue, dry time and clumping, resulting in less than ideal tops. Please check out their insta-story highlights 'almond flour' for a more in-depth breakdown of their findings.
…Last Update 05/31/2018…