Blog Post #2 

Why Are French Macarons Just So Hard to Make? — A Guide

It’s the delicate cookie on a plate next to a cup of tea. It’s the pastel colors sandwiching flavorful cream and a filling. One bite of this majestic cookie can transport you to the heart of France, every newlywed's dream honeymoon destination — Paris.

The French Macaron is a popular cookie that is primarily made up of two ingredients: almond flour and meringue. It’s then sandwiched together with buttercream (or any other cream, for that matter) in the middle.

It’s just two cookies with cream. It shouldn’t be so difficult! But bakers from all over the world testify that the French Macaron is either their least favorite thing to make in the world or something they’ll never even attempt. So what makes it so difficult?

Unfortunately, there is no easy answer — because it’s everything. Yes, you heard me, everything. Here’s a rundown on how to make the cookie and everything that can go wrong at each step.

Step One: Sift the dry ingredients together. Seems simple, but if you actually skip this step, then your cookies have gone to waste. Not in the literal sense, of course, since they’ll still be edible, but they won’t be as pretty. And that’s important for these finicky cookies.

Sifting the dry ingredients not only helps aerate them but also helps to remove any potential lumps in the batter. Sifted flour=smooth batter.

Step Two: Beat the egg whites in a clean bowl. See what I did there? Yeah, I emphasized clean because even the smallest speck of dust from the mixer standing on the counter for too long can ruin your egg whites.

Meringue is made by whipping egg whites to create air bubbles and initiate the proteins in the egg whites to start unraveling. The proteins can then coat the air bubbles to give them stability until you add the sugar to help keep it stable.

See, these protein-covered air bubbles are so delicate that even a dirty bowl can ruin it all. Any oils in the bowl or dust (sometimes in my case, a spider or two — please clean your spider-filled bowls, people!) can disrupt the formation of the proteins and they can loosen.

And your egg white will go liquid. Why does this matter? Good question.

When the meringue isn’t properly beat to stiff peaks, the consistency of your batter at the very end will be too runny and will cause your beautiful one-inch dallops to turn into three-inch dallops as thin as paper.

Step Three: Fold the flour mixture into the meringue. This is where many bakers have the worst luck. Yikes! For French Macarons, it’s all about soft and slow folding to ensure you keep as much air in the batter as possible to give it a nice, lava-flowing consistency.

So instead of beating the living **** out of your batter, follow Paul Hollywood’s suggestions: go around the side and cut through the middle! And again (as we in the baking world cannot stress this enough — be gentle!)

Step Four: Pipe the batter into 1-inch dollops onto a lined cookie sheet. What it’s lined with is honestly up to the baker. There are so many references online that compare the two most popular lining options: parchment paper and silicone baking mats.

Both are great, but one is more likely going to get you that perfect “The Great British Baking Show” look you want and that’s silicone.

It lays flat in the oven, it even comes with printed macaron guidelines on the mat itself, and they’re reusable so you feel better about yourself and that eco-friendly challenge you started at the beginning of 2022.

Whatever you do end up using is up to you! Research ahead of time and you’ll be fine!

As for the tapping (as it’s known that you have to tap, tap, tap the air bubbles away at this stage) there have been so many experiments on whether or not this actually does anything for the macarons. And truth be told, we still don’t know.

Tapping allows any big air bubbles to escape so that they don’t try to come out during the baking process and crack the tops of your cookies open. I mean, if you’re looking to get a beautiful cookie, I’d tap the cookies just to be safe.

Oh, and leaving them to dry for THIRTY minutes? Yeah, do that too. You want a dry skin to form so that they’re more likely to hold their shape while baking.

Step Five: Ready…set…bake! Don’t fret about the baking process…is what I would say if all ovens worked the same and if we were all at the same sea level. But where you live, how hot it is outside, and the kind of oven you have all play a role in the outcome of your macarons.

Too humid and you risk your macarons being too wet. Too dry? They’ll turn into biscuits. And all of this weather talk affects your ovens too.

So what’s the solution?

Well, the easiest way to go about it is to buy an oven thermometer. It’ll tell you just how hot or cold you’re baking and you can adjust from there! And as for your humidity levels, unfortunately, that’s just something you have to take day by day.

Keeping an air conditioner or dehumidifier on during the day could help your little cookies out.

At the end of the day, and after you spend the next two hours cleaning up the absolute mess that comes from baking the awful — sorry — wonderful cookies, you can marvel at the masterpiece on your plate.

Regardless of how they turn out, what color they are, and what filling you decided to fill them with, I’m sure they’ll be delicious either way because you made them. And that’s something to be proud of.

But the next time someone asks for them, send them to the nearest Albertson’s and call it a day.

Diana Still