Every day I see this “I’ve tried a few macaron recipes and am still getting hollows. Can someone please give me a recipe that works?!”. Why does this bother me? Macarons aren’t the easiest dessert to make. Anyone who’s tried can vouch for that. They take time, technique, and lots of experimenting to get right. The first thing you need to do is to decide if you want to make French or Italian macarons. Yes, there are now tons of other ways to make them, but those are the main two. I see a lot of people choose French because it seems like the easiest and fastest. That’s totally fine. The choice is yours! I make Italian macarons 98% of the time because they have given me the best results. Just don’t dive into making macarons (or anything else) because they look simple. And definitely don’t get into them if you don’t have the time or dedication to make some adjustments. I’ll be honest here, macarons are much more about the technique than the ingredients. With that said, yes, in baking anything you need to have the correct measurements and the ingredients need to work with one another. However, with macarons, so many other things come into play and matter just as much. So, long story short: please pick a recipe and work with it before just hopping from recipe to recipe. Below are 2 videos that will help tons in your macaron journey!
Here are a few macaron tips and troubleshooting to consider when your macarons don’t come out exactly how you wanted.
Cracked shells: This usually happens when you didn’t let the shells form a skin before baking. I know some people bake right away without any issues, but it’s one of those things you just have to try. I have to let mine form a skin or they crack. It never fails.
Lopsided shells: This is one of those things that can be caused by a few things. The main culprit for me is oven hotspots. The right side of my oven tends to be hotter so occasionally a few of the shells on the right side of my pan with be slightly lopsided. I’ve also experienced lopsided shells because I let me shells dry for too long before baking. Another reason I run across often is not piping your shells out evenly. You should be holding your piping bag vertically and piping as even as possible.
Big ruffled/ blown out feet: When this happens to me it’s because my oven hasn’t completely preheated. It can also happen if you’re baking at too high of a temperature. This is the main reason that you should absolutely have an oven thermometer in place anytime you’re baking. Ovens fluctuate and can get crazy. Having the oven thermometer will definitely help no matter what you’re baking!
Hollow shells: Ok, here it is. The big one. I’m sure many of you scrolled past all the others just to get to this one 😉 That’s ok. It seems to be the biggest problem when making macarons. First, I’m going to upset a few people and say that maturing your macarons isn’t how everyone gets a full shell. It’s absolutely possible to bake macarons that are consistently full on the inside right out of the oven. It does take experimenting, but it’s 100% possible. Below are a few more of my BEST macaron tips and troubleshooting to help:
- Macaronage: When you’re folding your batter, work with different consistencies until you find what works best for you. In general, I know most people go to the “figure 8” stage (where the batter flows and you can drop it into a figure 8 pattern). For me, that doesn’t work at all. If I let my batter get that loose I always get hollows. I have to keep my batter pretty thick. Try some different consistencies and see which works best for you!
- Oven temperature: This is huge. The temperature and amount of time you bake your macarons matters so much. I’ve seen recipes that bake at 275F all the way to 350F, and I’ve seen baking times that range from 8 minutes all the way to 28 minutes. It’s very important the you try some different temperatures and times because it will be different for everyone. My sweet spot is 300F for 14 minutes. While my macarons are baking I check my oven thermometer a few times to make sure the temperature is staying as steady as possible. When I bake at a consistent 300F for 14 minutes, I can achieve full shells every time. Here’s a picture I took that shows just how important oven temperature is.
- Meringue stage: This is another thing I kinda go against the grain on, but it’s what works best for me after much experimenting. I only take my meringue to soft peaks (the peak will slightly flop over and won’t hold up or be stiff at all). Because I’ve made my meringue so many times, I know that as soon as my mixing bowl doesn’t feel warm anymore it’s ready. Again, I do make Italian macarons most of the time, so once I’ve poured the sugar syrup in I just place my hand on the side of the bowl every few minutes. Once it’s glossy and the bowl feels room temperature I turn off the mixer and start my macaronage. I used to take the whisk, flip it over, and check every time, but now I know when the bowl feels right, it’s ready. This just takes a lot of practice but you can do it!
To be honest that’s it! Macarons are temperamental and take practice for sure, but they’re worth it! And just for a little insight, the very first time I made macarons they came out perfect. I was so excited! The next 3 batches were utter fails. So my macaron journey started. It’s been over 2 years now and I am consistently baking full shells that I can count on every time. It has taken a lot of time, adjustments, some cussing and tears, but tons of smiles! No matter what, don’t ever give up! Stay creative and most of all, have fun!!