I thought it would be best to have one 'working document' to answer the most frequently asked questions about macaron recipes and trouble shooting common issues such as no feet, flat shells, grainy shells, blotchy/wrinkled shells, cracked shells, hollow shells...basically every baker's macaron-related nightmares.
The Best Macaron Recipe
The BEST macaron recipe is the one that works for YOU, with your equipment in your particular environment. However annoyingly vague that sounds, it's true. There are plenty of good recipes out there but what works for one famous chef even might not for another. That does not mean they're wrong recipes; you just have to go through some trial-and-error and practise to make the recipe work for you. A good starting point is our own recipe which you can find here. It has been tried and tested by us thousands of times and we still continue to tweak it depending on whether it's a humid day, a very cold day etc.
Common Problems when Making Macarons
There are quite a few things that can go wrong during any stage in a macaron recipe. However, if you can identify the problem eg: no feet, bumpy shells, hollow shells etc you can narrow it down to a few trigger points and identify where you need to pay attention to get better results next time. I will be explaining the most common issues below but if I have missed out any please do drop it in the comments section and I'll update the post with our findings.
No Feet or Frill on Macarons
I have covered this issue in depth here. In summary though, this could be due to any or a combination of the following:
- Under or over-beating the meringue. Solution - Make sure the mixing bowl is completely clean with no grease and whip egg whites on medium speed till soft peaks when adding the sugar syrup and then whip on high speed till you get a stiff glossy beak on the whisk. If using the simpler French meringue method then make sure the meringue is whipped to a stiff and glossy beak on the whisk.
- Under or over boiling the sugar syrup (if using the Italian Meringue Method). Solution - Check your sugar thermometer is calibrated and reading correct temperatures and boil the syrup till 116-118 degrees.
- Not letting the piped batter rest long enough before baking. Solution - Let the piped shells rest 20-30 minutes after piping.
- Baking at too high a temperature. Solution - Try reducing temperature of oven by 5 degrees at a time.
Bumpy Macaron Shells
Bumps on macaron shells happen when there are air pockets in the batter. Make sure to tap the baking tray against the work surface a few times after piping macaron shells to remove excess air pockets before letting them rest.
Grainy Macaron Shells
Grainy macaron shells can occur because of any or a combination of the reasons below:
- Ground almonds not fine enough. Solution - Pulse your ground almonds with icing sugar together till you get a fine powder. Be careful not to overdo it as it may release oils which will lead to another problem (translucent shells).
- Sugar syrup too hot when adding to egg whites. When it's too hot it 'cooks' the egg whites too quickly creating small grainy lumps in the meringue. Solution - Check your sugar thermometer is calibrated and reading correct temperatures and boil the syrup till 116-118 degrees.
Macaron Shells Are Cracked on Top
Macaron shells can get cracked on top for any or a combination of the following:
- Incorrect measurements of ingredients. An annoying reason, but it CAN happen. Solution - Make sure you are taking the correct measurements of each ingredient.
- Under-folded batter. When the macaron batter is under-folded it is too stiff and 'heavy' to rise while baking, which then leads to a lot of pressure building up inside the shell which then leads to cracking after the poor macaron shell can't handle the pressure no more! Solution - Fold the batter JUST until reaching a consistent lava-like consistency where when you drop ribbons from the spatula it takes a few seconds to disappear into the batter.
Hollow Macaron Shells
Macaron shells that may look fine from outside but are hollow inside can be due to any of a combination of the following:
- Over-beaten meringue. Solution - Try adjusting the speed on your mixer a notch lower when beating prior to adding the sugar syrup and once adding in the syrup keep a an eye on beating just till you get a stiff glossy beak.
- Too high oven temperature. When you bake macarons at too high a temperature the batter cooks too quickly, rising too quickly and leaving a large air pocket. Solution - Try reducing temperature of oven by 5 degrees at a time.