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Demystifying the Macaron

The oven dings, and you anxiously open the oven door with eager anticipation, only to find that your macarons are cracked, brown and never developed their lacy little bottoms, better known as “feet.”

Dainty, delicate and colorful, macarons may be a treat, but they can also stress even a skilled pastry chef or baker.

So many things can go awry in the process. From humidity to the meringue and macronage, sometimes these tricky little cookies just don’t cooperate.

Hopefully, armed with a few tips, a little information and just a pinch of good old fashioned luck, your next batch (and all after that) will have smooth tops, vibrant color and lacy little feet.

The Finer Things in Life

If you’ve ever had lumpy, bumpy macarons, it can be easily remedied. Before starting anything else, make sure that the powdered sugar and almond flour are well sifted and no coarse pieces of almond remain. Process briefly in a food processor and then sift no less than 3 times through a fine mesh strainer/sifter.

That’s a Rap!

If those pesky little cookies crack, it could be a sign that there was too much air in the batter. Rapping the pans on the counter a few times, should solve the problem. Use a toothpick to pop stubborn air bubbles.

Cracked shells could also mean that the oven temp was too high. Invest in some oven thermometers before attempting to make your first batch of macarons. It will save a lot of frustration later.

Oh Foot

The tell-tale sign of a well baked macaron is that delicate little ruffle or “foot” on the bottom. If the foot doesn’t develop properly, the batter might contain too much moisture. Try to avoid using liquid coloring in your shells. Instead, opt for gel or powdered food coloring.

More likely, the foot didn’t develop as it should because the macarons didn’t form a skin before baking. While it may seem like a small thing, this step is important, so don’t skip it. Let the piped cookies stand at room temp until they no longer feel wet or tacky. This process could take anywhere between 15-30 minutes depending on the humidity in the kitchen. The skin is necessary to prevent spreading and give it a shiny top.

Hollow Existence

If your shells are hollow, it may mean that your egg whites were not whipped to the correct peak. They should be whipped until stiff before starting the macronage.

Too Much Spread

Even if your macarons form a skin, they can still spread too much when piped. This is caused by either not having a stiff enough peak or over-mixing the batter during the macronage process.

Are They Done Yet?

Your macarons are done when their tops no longer move when gently touch. If they are browning, the oven temp is too high.

Good Things Come…

After your gorgeous little cookies are assembled let them hang out in the fridge, covered, for 24 hours. During that time, they will soften, the flavors will meld and your patience will finally be rewarded!

Jill Meredith
Jill Meredith
Jill Meredith is a pastry chef, food writer and culinary instructor. She is passionate about all things sweet and loves sharing that passion and knowledge with others. She lives in Oklahoma with her husband, daughter and 3 cats.