Go from Macaron Mess to Macaron Success following these macaron tips for beginners that I’ve learned over my many macaron baking attempts.
Macaron tips for beginners
How to make macarons is a much talked about topic in the world of fine baking. I don’t live in a fine baking world. I live in the world of “see dessert”, “learn to make dessert”, and “eat dessert”.
Can you relate? Do you want to learn how to make macarons at home?
Macaron tips for beginners is a good place to start when you want to achieve homemade lovely macarons. Such a simple idea: two meringue cookies sandwiched with a creamy filling.
I associate macarons with French baking but I’ve learned that the cookie may have an Italian history. This European delight has grown in popularity in the United States and it can be found in many bakeries yet most Americans don’t whip up a batch of macarons in the way we might do so with chocolate chip cookies. Why not?
Well, there is much to be said about the process of making macarons and so many questions create doubt for the home baker. I am THAT home baker– the one wondering if I have half a chance at macaron success. I am also the home baker who would like to master macarons.
I plan to try a few different techniques and recipes then I’ll share what works and what doesn’t. Won’t you bake along with me with these macaron tips for beginners?
What ingredients are in macarons?
- ground almonds,
- confectioners’ sugar,
- egg whites
- and granulated sugar.
Are macarons gluten free?
Macaron shells are naturally gluten free. Often fillings for macarons like lemon curd, pumpkin butter, raspberry jam, buttercream, nutella are also gluten free.
You do need to take caution, though, if you purchase macarons to read the ingredient list because often manufacturers add gluten to their fillings where you wouldn’t expect it. For example, boxed macarons at Costco are not gluten free.
Is making macarons difficult?
The process of making macarons is not difficult but it takes a period of trial and error to grow your confidence and ability. My boys are taking ice skating lessons and the instructor told the kids (loud enough for the parents to get the message too) that you must not be afraid to fall down. It is part of learning.
Baking is the same– there will be batches of burnt cookies, lopsided cakes and cracked macarons on your way to kitchen confidence but keep going!
I made macarons about a year ago without much trouble. Beginners’ luck for sure.
When I recently thought I’d repeat that performance I was greeted by batch of macarons that spread over the entire baking sheet into one, sad-looking blob. I turned to Google to see what might help my next attempt.
Here’s what I found as I’m learning how to make macarons:
History: there are many websites with macaron history but I like this playful list of 10 Beautiful Facts about Macarons from Huff Post UK.
Many chefs have their own ideas about macarons. Stella, author of the blog BraveTart, has an excellent collection of tips, myths, and recipe.
Pinterest: Pinterest has a nearly endless supply of macaron photos, recipes, ideas, colors, and flavors. If you would like to join my Pinterest board for all things macaron send me a request and I’ll add you. I’d love to have a place where we can share ideas and our latest creations! Here is the link to the new board.
Books: Start at your local library or find books like this one on Amazon: Les Petits Macarons
The macarons pictured were made with Stella’s recipe. I felt much better about these sweet macarons than I did about the blob of disaster above and these tips can help you grow in the same confidence. Let’s start with just a few tips so we are not overwhelmed:
- use a kitchen scale to weigh your ingredients
- I was severely under-whipping the egg whites. Don’t be afraid to make a very stiff and dry meringue. This can take more than 10 minutes with a stand mixer
- instead of grinding your own almonds, take the shortcut and begin with almond flour. I use Bob’s Red Mill Super Fine Almond Flour
- for beginners like me, it helps to use a macaron baking sheet. SO HELPFUL! These silicon sheets provide a consistent size and also give a touch of stability to your meringues that parchment paper cannot. Look at the difference between the SAME batter which was piped and baked — one on parchment and one on the macaron baking sheet. I had over mixed the batter but the baking sheet gave me a better chance of success.
- double your baking trays (stack them to create a double thickness) to help the macarons bake more slowly on the bottom.
The one tool that helps me make beautiful macarons: the macaron baking mat
The baking tool I find most helpful when learning how to make macarons is a Macaron Baking Mat. The mat has circular indentations that make crafting identical macarons SO MUCH EASIER. When I’ve experimented with that same batch of macaron batter and made one tray with my molded baking mat and the other tray without the mat, I’ve had much better results with the mat.
The molds give the macarons structure and, for me, are an insurance policy for when I may have under mixed my batter. Instead of spreading all over a regular baking mat, my macarons puff up, develop that signature foot around the edge, and bake beautifully.
How to pipe macarons without a macaron baking mat
Before I found the macaron mat (which honestly is the easiest way to pipe macarons), I would trace circles on my parchment which would guide me in making consistently sized macaron shells. Each time I’d trace around a circle cookie cutter or something else that was about the right size in my kitchen. The method worked but was time consuming.
Here’s a better solution in making uniform macaron shells: a printed template filled with circles. I created exactly this template and share it with you in my Free Printables Library. Access is free to my email subscribers.
If you’d like access to the template, complete the form below to be added to my email list. The password will be emailed to you within minutes.
Let me know if you find success with the printable Macaron Piping Template or with the Macaron Baking Mat. Tag me on instagram at @abakershouse and I’d love to see your macarons!
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Here are some of my favorite variations. What’s your favorite?
Holly Baker started the food blog, A Baker’s House, in 2011. She is the writer, recipe creator, and photographer for the site. Holly loves to bake and shares recipes for gluten free food, canning recipes, as well as traditional desserts too. Her recipes and food photography have been highlighted by BuzzFeed, Reader’s Digest, and She Knows.