Updated: Apr 15, 2020
My macaron journey has been a long one. For such a simple looking biscuit, they are incredibly hard to master. The slightest change in the ingredients or method can have a massive impact on the outcome. There are numerous things that can go wrong – no macaron feet, macarons that are too soft, so they spread, macarons that are too stiff so they don’t settle enough to have smooth tops, lumpy tops or hollow biscuits. I think I have encountered all of these on my macron journey. I have outlined my method below and included all my tips that I have learnt along the way.
I have filled these macarons with fruit curd but there’s a long list of things you can use to fill them. Fruit curds, fruit jams, butter icing, royal icing, chocolate ganache, the list is endless. This lets you get as creative as you like with flavouring your macarons. For these fruit curd macarons I don’t flavour the biscuit, just the filling, but for some flavour combinations you can add flavouring to the biscuit as well, such as flavour essences (such as peppermint essence to a choc mint macaron) or cocoa (to a chocolate flavoured macaron).
For this fruit curd you can pretty much make it with any soft fruit. I have made lemon, lime, blood orange, strawberry and mango curds in the past. Save any of the leftovers to spread on toast. Delicious!
1. I recommend using digital scales to weigh out all ingredients. That way you can make sure your ingredients are exactly correct, which will help you achieve the perfect macaron.
2. Separate the egg whites and yolks at least 24 hours before making your macarons. Weigh out your 100g of egg whites (this should be approximately 3 eggs worth) and place in a bowl covered with clingfilm. Leave them in the fridge overnight to slightly dehydrate. This will help your mixture not be too wet. Pop the egg yolks, covered, in the fridge too. They can be used for your fruit curd later on. Make sure you bring the egg whites to room temperature before using.
3. Sift the dry ingredients 3 times before using. This will help you avoid a lumpy top. Anything that doesn’t go through the sift should be thrown away. Don’t force anything through the sieve, if it doesn’t go through the sieve by tapping or shaking it, it’s too big for the macaron. Some recipes suggest putting the dry ingredients through the food processor, but I have always found that this seems to make the ingredients clumpier, so I avoid that method. Don’t worry that you will end up with less dry ingredients, the measurements take into consideration that some almond meal will not pass through the sieve.
4. Be very careful when adding the food colouring. Liquid can be the death of a meringue, if added at the wrong time the whole meringue can deflate in a couple of seconds. There are 2 times when you can add colouring or any other wet ingredients, such as flavour essence. Liquids can be added either once the egg whites begin to stiffen, but before the sugar is added or as you are adding the dry ingredients to the meringue. I would suggest adding the colour before the sugar and then adding more with the dry ingredient if you feel that the colour needs to be brighter.
5. Use gel colour not liquid colour. I would suggest investing in some professional gel colour, I have used Pro-Gel food colouring, available on Amazon. You want to add as little liquid as possible to the meringue, so you want a colouring that is strong that can give you the desired colour with a few drops.
6. The meringue needs to be STIFF! You will need a kitchen mixer for this recipe. After the sugar is incorporated, I usually keep mixing on the highest setting for an additional 5 minutes. The meringue should be so stiff that it stays inside the whisk when you take it off and you should really have to hit the whisk against the bowl to get it out. If the meringue comes off the whisk easily the meringue is not stiff enough and needs more mixing.
7. Working the mixture. This really is the key to a successful macaron. Once your meringue is ready you need to fold in your dry ingredient. You should add these 1/3 at a time and fold them through the egg mixture with a rubber spatula. You want to run the spatula around the bowl and through the middle of the mixture, folding in the dry ingredient as you go. Once it is incorporated you have to keep folding the mixture until you get the right consistency. Some people say it should look like lava, although I’ve never seen lava so I’m not sure how useful that is. When it’s ready you should be able to draw a figure of 8 with the mixture without it breaking. Most of the issues I’ve had with macarons have been because the mixture has not been mixed enough and is therefore too stiff. When you pipe it out the macarons will not settle properly, and you will end up with little ‘nipples’ on top and you won’t have a beautiful smooth macaron. You want the mixture to start to settle out in the bowl after your figure of 8. If the mixture stays as a clear figure of 8 it still requires more mixing. Once it is creating a figure of 8 that is settling in the bowl you are ready for piping.
Mixture as dry ingredients are being combined
Mixture after being worked
8. To pipe the macarons, you want a 1A piping nozzle, which is a 13mm round nozzle and a piping bag. Before piping the macarons, use a dab of the mixture to hold the baking paper to the tray. You want the biscuits to be about 4 cm in diameter and make sure you leave about 2 – 3 cm between them as they will widen slightly. Hold the piping nozzle perpendicular to the baking paper and finish each piped biscuit with a circular motion.
9. After you have piped them you want to give the tray a serious wack on the bench top. This should settle the macaron and they should have a smooth top. If this hasn’t happened and you still have bumps from the piping the mixture has not been worked enough. I would suggest you scrape the whole lot of mixture back into the bowl and continue to work the mixture until it is settling out smooth.
10. In order to achieve the macaron ‘feet’ you need to sit the mixture before baking to form a crust on the biscuit. This will take between 1 – 3 hours, depending on humidity. You should be able to run your finger over the smooth biscuit when it is ready.
11. When the macarons have finished baking, they should just pop off the baking paper. If they are getting suck, pop them back in the oven for another minute and then check again.
12. The hardest tip to follow is that macarons are actually at their best after a day or 2 in the fridge. They really need that time for the biscuit to soften and the flavours of the filling to infuse the biscuit. Trust me, patience is required to make the perfect macaron!
Makes approximately 20 macarons
100g Egg Whites
150g Almond Meal
130g Icing Sugar
90g Caster Sugar
Professional Grade Gel Food Colour
Fruit Curd Filling
1. Prepare 2 baking trays with baking paper.
2. Sift the almond meal and icing sugar into a bowl through a fine sieve. Repeat this process 2 more times, discarding whatever doesn’t go through the sieve. Set dry ingredients aside.
3. Place the room temperature egg whites in the clean and dry bowl of the kitchen mixer. Beat the egg on a medium speed until the bubbles start to stabilise. Turn the mixer up 1 setting and beat until the soft peaks are foamed.
4. Add the colour gel to the mixture while it continues to whisk.
5. Start to add the sugar slowly, one Tbsp at a time. Allow for a 10 second gap between each spoonful.
6. Once the sugar has been added, turn the mixer up to full speed and beat until the meringue is very stiff.
7. Add the dry ingredients to the meringue, 1/3 at a time, folding the mixture until combined after every addition.
8. Continue to work the mixture until you can draw a figure of 8 without the mixture breaking.
9. Add the mixture to the piping bag and pipe 4 cm rounds onto the prepared baking trays. Leave approx. 2-3 cm between each macaron.
10. Once the biscuits have been piped out, bang the trays hard on the benchtop to release any bubbles and settle the macaron cases.
11. Leave the biscuits for 1 – 3 hours to form a crust.
12. Preheat the oven to 150 C, about 30 mins before cooking.
13. Place the trays in the oven for 7 minutes. Then turn the trays and cook for a further 8 minutes.
14. Check that the macarons are done by trying to pull one off the baking paper. They should come away easily, without leaving any part of the biscuit on the paper. If they do not do this, continue cooking, checking every minute to see if they are ready.
15. Remove macarons from the tray and cool on a wire rack.
16. Once completely cooled, pipe the fruit curd into the middle of the biscuit and sandwich it together with another biscuit.
17. Refrigerate to allow the curd to set.