Sunday, February 20, 2011

The accidental macaron and thoughts.

Salted Butter Caramel Macarons

Macarons with Rose Buttercream

It was all an accident. While making some macarons one day, I couldn't find the low, circular metal stand I use to place the baking sheet on in the oven. So I used a higher stand and guess what? The hollow problem was gone!
All this while, I'd been wondering what the air pocket in my macarons were due to. How could it be after whipping up hundreds of batches, I've never once got a perfect batch? I had sifted, measured and folded everything correctly - surely the mistake couldn't be on my part. It all came down to this: The position of the tray in the oven. Using a higher or lower rack to bake your macarons will definitely have an effect on the macarons. Here are a couple of other tips that helped (for me). I can't comment on every factor out there but if anyone had the same problems like I did, I hope what I'd experienced will be of some help.

(1) I bake my macarons at 150 C for 18 min. Every oven has its own idiosyncracies so you have to find what temperature works for you. A friend of mine used 170 C but for my oven, it burns the macarons after just a few minutes. I cover the above rack with aluminium foil to prevent the colour of the macarons from fading. This is a must for me.

(2) I always do my macarons in an air-conditioned room (living in a tropical clime). I've found that without it, the macarons do not dry and form skins even when placed under a fan. I've had macarons 'drying' for one entire day under a fan and yet they still cracked when placed in the oven, because the humidity in the air affected with the ability to form skins. The drying time is again, individual, but in my case it takes 45 min to an hour before I pop them into the oven with confidence they will not crack. For me, resting for the macarons to dry out is very important - it will ensure crack free macarons.

(3) Lopsided macarons (when they decide to put on sun hats) are due to leaving them to dry out for far too long. I get lopsided macarons when I leave them to crust over for more than 4 hours.

(4) When the feet of your macaron splay out, it is not aesthetically ideal. You have to lower your oven temperature.

(5) If you have any problems with hollows, you may (1) rap the pan sharply on the table a few times after piping the shells to remove air bubbles, then prick them with a pick (2) adjust your temperature or (3) adjust position of pan in the oven. Also, an undercooked macaron will definitely be hollow. I find there is a very fine line between being slightly undercooked and just done.

(5) After being filled, macarons must be rested in the fridge for at least 24 to 48 hours, and then brought to room temperature 2 hours before eating. This is extremely important. Newly filled macarons taste dreadful because they are too crisp. Once the shell absorbs the moisture from the filling - the transformation will make the macaron snap delicately like an egg shell upon bitin,g into a moist and tender interior.

(6) I'm using French meringue because I find it yields a more tender and melt-in-your-mouth macaron. I have not much success with italian meringue (my shells always end up crunchy even after maturation) but I will keep practicing the technique more in future.

Review: The salted butter caramel is incredibly rich and to die for. I much prefer this over say a caramel buttercream because I feel the former has a more decadent flavour and as for the rose, - as I've mentioned before I'm not a big fan of buttercream but somehow this seems to work - the sensous feel of the rose perfumed buttercream absolutely melts in the mouth :)


  1. Hello,
    This post gives me hope! I failed again tonight - 13th attempt, with hollow AND browned macarons :(. I am wondering what kind of oven are you using - electric or convection and where the heat comes from? Mine is an electric with heating coils on the bottom. I have been using the middle rack in the oven - I have five slots for baking trays. I've also been using double trays with silpat lining.

    I get feet and smooth tops but plagued by macarons that are hollow! I've been baking them for 20+ mins to try to get them to cook but that causes them to brown too much on top and bottom.

    Thank you so much for your help!

  2. Hi K, thanks for commenting. for some reason, I cannot enter your blog.
    I'm using an electric oven; the heat comes from both the bottom and the top. I've found for my oven to bake macarons - using the bottom heat only will definitely brown the macarons quickly, whereas if I only use the top - the macarons will not rise. does your oven have an upper heating element? also, what temperature are you using? if you have double-trayed with silpat and the macarons brown very quickly, your temperature is way too high (I do not double tray and i use parchment). Do let me know how it goes :)

  3. Hello
    Thanks for responding. I haven't started my blog yet. I'm hoping my first post would be on my successful macarons. :)

    I have a top and bottom heating element. But after careful inspection yesterday it turns out only the bottom one turns during baking. The top is only for broiling.

    I've been using 310, I have five slots in my oven. I have been using the third slot from the top. How do you place macarons in the oven? Top rack? I'm going to try single tray parchment on the second rack at 300. I need to get an oven thermometer too.

    Thanks :)

  4. bravo on solving your mac problem. I did have problem drying macarons in a tropical environment even under a fan. The power of air conditioning!

  5. K - hmm, I'm not sure how the broiling function would affect the macaron; why not try to bake them using another oven and see if the problem still persists? For more on ovens, I suggest this link: (which really helped). The key is to keep baking a few at a time, all the while adjusting the parameters.

  6. i bet I have made 50 batches of macarons in the last 3 months and they are ALL HOLLOW !! I am going to try raising the rack up higher and hope that is the trick !! Thanks

  7. Mhorn, let me know how it goes. my last 2 recent batches all turned out hollow again despite using the rack in the 'right' position and now I've absolutely no idea what went wrong *sigh*

  8. Aha, no wonder my tops didn't dry properly before baking and they cracked! I have to keep my trays in an air-conditioned room (my kitchen only has a fan). Let me try that this weekend and see I'd there's any success. But how do you get the feet to form, though?? I'm still mystified!

  9. Third batch, great feet, nice shape but brown.......have a badly behaved fan oven. Followed the recipe. Am now at war with my oven.

  10. Oh my goodness I totally get what you mean about the humidity and the crust. I study in Australia and when I make macarons there it takes 30-60 minutes max to get a nice crust to form. Right now I've started a batch in Singapore and it's been 4 HOURS sitting out in the oven and they're still wet to the touch! I've just moved them into my air conditioned room so hopefully they'll work out now haha!