Scientifically Sweet: The Secret behind perfect French Macarons

Friday, March 4, 2011

The Secret behind perfect French Macarons

Hey! It's my 101st post!

What the heck?...I missed it. I missed my 100th post.

Bloggers usually celebrate their 100th post, right? ...Ooops.

I made Hearty Italian Minestrone Soup for my 100th. That's celebratory, isn't it?

Happy Birthday, blow out the candles floating in your soup!

Congratulations on your wedding day. Cut the soup!

Wait...what? This is weird.

Crap! I totally wanted to give you something great for my 100th post...but you know what? 101 is just as good as 100. It's exactly 1 digit better.

On this special occasion, I want to share with you something grand. Something that will make you feel empowered. It's a secret, but I was never any good at keeping secrets anyway. Like in high school, when my sister tried to throw my own backpack at me when she was mad, and it was so heavy (full of text books) that when it missed me, it hit the wall instead and put a giant hole in it. We plastered it up before my parents got home ;)

I want to share with you....waaaaiit for to go from flat to chubby.

Huh? Why would you want to be either of those things....?? Awkward.

It's because I'm going to tell you the key to the perfect macaron. It's only right that I share this with all the foodies out there who've wanted to throw their baking trays full of flat, puddly macaron batter at the wall.

I've wanted to do that before. But I hate cleaning more than I hate flat big mess = avoided.
I've read so many terrifying stories about people who've had horrific experiences with making them. Macarons can be stressful and really frustrating. I don't want you to be stressed or frustrated, so let's take a look...

Now, these still look pretty decent right? A little on the flat side, but they've been worse....come on, we've all been there.

Now these look even better. They're all chubby and stuff! I just want to pinch them! But then they'd break ...and I'd be sad, so I wont.

Let's compare them side-by-side.

To get that nice, high, billowy look to your's all about WHEN you add the sugar to the egg whites.

Most recipes enforce how long you mix the batter..."no more than 50 strokes". And while this is true, it's not the most important in my opinion.

It all comes down to science. You need to make sure you start adding the sugar after no longer than 25 seconds of beating the egg whites...just until they get a bit foamy. This will immediately increase the viscosity or thickness of the whites, making it more difficult for air bubbles to form.

It makes it more difficult, but it doesn't make it impossible.

Think of it this way....the thick egg whites are more elastic when all that water-binding sugar is added to them before the proteins get the chance to form a stiff foam, so it's more like a soupy, gooey mess....kinda reminiscent of that green stuff they used to dump on kids' heads on Nickelodeon.

As you beat it with the mixer, the elastic egg whites stretch to allow air bubbles in, but then spring right back very quickly. This allows for very tiny air bubbles to form, which gives the whipped egg whites the texture of thick, shaving cream or whipped cream. That is what you want!

Also, when sugar is added near the beginning of the whipping stage, it gets very selfish. Sugar loves to bind water, so it hogs all of the water in the egg whites, leaving the egg proteins with less of a medium to move around in. This slows them down so that they can't arrange themselves at the interface between air and water as easily to form large air bubbles. So, instead they end up forming very tiny air bubbles, us shaving cream!

This will create a very stable foam that will hold up better to mixing (during macaronage) and piping.

And there you have it. My secret is revealed.

I'll follow up with a recipe in the next post. I think it's best to just let this info marinate for a bit...let it get deep into your brain as you build up the confidence to become a Macaron Master.

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  1. Well congratulations on your 100th post, 101st post and many more to come! They are all fabulous, Christina!
    I have to try making macarons...I never have before!
    These look fabulous & thank you for sharing! Your secret is safe with me! :)

    Have a lovely weekend!


  2. happy 101th post!
    I love macarons and I've been wanting to make them at home for a while but never got round to it.
    One of these days, I'll definitely give them a go. Thank you for sharing your secret. Much appreciated.
    Have a great weekend.

  3. Great tip!!! And gorgeous macarons. I confess I just buy mine because there are so many good ones around these days. I hand it to you for making your own. ;)

  4. Happy 101!!! :)

    Can you believe I've never eaten a macaroon or amde one? I am really wanting to change that. If I could make chubby macs like you then I would totally be loving it! ♥- Katrina

  5. @KatrinaDon't fret! The first macaron I ever ate was the one I made.

  6. I have eggs resting, just waiting to be made into macarons. I've never tried them before, but they are on the docket this week. I hope they come out as nicely as yours!!
    PS... I missed my 100th post too...

  7. Fascinating. Baking is chemistry! The macarons invite me (so much I'd take the flat). Congrats on the 101st post. Had no idea we celebrated 100th post. Uh oh.

  8. The meringue is definitely key. I like the way that Helene at Tartlette describes it. Whip the whites until foamy like bubble bath, then slowly add sugar and whip until as stiff as shaving cream. Nice, easy visual/tactile cues.

  9. @Claudia Oh no, did you forget too? Well congrats anyway!

  10. I want to pop the chubby ones into my mouth! delicious!

  11. Congrats on both your 100th, and your 101st posts! And this is such a great tip, you post had me laughing out loud! Awesome!

  12. Happy #100 and #101. Thanks for explaining the science behind this. I have yet to attempt macarons, but when I do I want them to be chubby not flatty.

  13. This is exactly what I was looking for before attempting macarons for the first time! Thanks and Congrats on the #101 post!

  14. wow... reading your post make me take a step forwards towards making macaroons... thank you :)

  15. congrats on 100 and 101!

    thanks for sharing that wonderful tip. cooking is def a science and thank you for breaking it down for us : j

  16. Congratulations on post 101! I have never made macarons but I have been tempted to try, thanks for the great tip!

  17. Thanks for the great tip...some day I may get around to trying macarons...yours are perfect :)

  18. Son fantastici i macarons..prima o poi mi deciderò a farli..!!:-D
    Complimenti Cara..:-)

  19. Great post! I haven't tried my hand at macarons yet, but saving this for future reference!

  20. These look wonderful! I just made my first macarons this week and failed. Miserably. Whether it was due to using my own oatmeal flour (as we have a nut allergy in the family... which is why I've put off on making these for so long!) or whether it was because I didn't age the egg whites (sigh. I'd read to age them many times, but the particular recipe I used didn't mention it... so I didn't) I don't know!
    Either way, I'll be try them again! And I'll try to make them chubby... just like yours!

    I have a question! Do you have an e-mail subscribe option? I just wiped out all my faves so you're at the top of my bookmarks (so I shouldn't overlook the blog) but I like getting reminders from my fave blogs! If not, that's cool :) but I thought I'd ask in case I missed it :/

  21. @Jenni Hmm...I've never tried macarons with oatmeal flour, but perhaps try again following these instructions. I find a lot of times that the reason for failed macarons is due to an unstable egg-white foam.

    And....I set up an e-mail subscription button on the left sidebar, so subscribe away!

  22. Christina, thank you so much for sharing your insights into macaron making! I'm so gonna remember that!

    Btw, I appreciate the comment you left me the other day, which was long ago. But I've been too busy to visit around. Hey, if you ever visit Malaysia, specifically Kuala Lumpur, please lemme know. K? I'd like to meet up with you and bring you around, if you don't mind this stranger. LOL!

    Same here, I'd like to visit Canada. I love the country for that it embraces cultures from all over the world. =)

  23. @Christina of Form V Artisan

    Thank you! And yes, I will try again with these instructions! They were pretty tasty with the oatmeal :)

  24. Thanks so much for the tip! I have yet to make macarons because I've heard so many mixed things - looking forward to seeing more from you!

  25. These look amazing! I have never had them, but can't wait to will be an interesting challenge in a college house.

  26. beautiful job and step by step pictures fabulous
    I am glad I met another Torontonian too
    keep in touch cheers

  27. Thanks for the tip. I tend to add the sugar towards the end, because it's easier. But then I have never made macarons. Now when I try I will know in advance that I should not be lazy :-)

  28. Woahza is right! LOVE these! Bookmarked - can't wait to try!

    Great blog; happy I found you!

    Mary xo
    Delightful Bitefuls

  29. Wish I had you as a science teacher! I do love to learn things, and this was fascinating!!! Oh, and very delicious to see, wishing I had at least one........

  30. Congrats on your 100th post! I love macarons so am loving the pics.

  31. Interesting concept. Never thought of that before. I always avoid adding sugar too soon because the whites takes longer to beat up. Can't cut corners when making these lil suckers I guess! Jotting down in my note pad. I want to try again, well, after I finish my recent 2 batches of macarons first.

  32. Thanks for the tip--after hours of baking I wanted to cry when my macarons came out flat! The last batch I did was perfect, with great little "feet," but the batter was lumpy, making the tops lumpy. This time I stirred a bit more to get a smoother batter and thought that might be the problem, but now I think I know it was that I added the sugar later than with the last batch. Back to the drawing board!

  33. Great tip, i quite often make macarons in restauant where i work but found it hard to always get the same result, this is the secret iv been looking for!

  34. I guess I'm super late to this shin-dig however I cannot wait to try your tip! I had a bit of "beginner's luck" in which my first two or three batches of macarons came out beautiful and perfect and I gloated to myself "Huh these aren't as hard as everyone says"...NOW THEY'RE ALL HOLLOW! It is by far the most irritating thing I've ever experienced. It's embarrassingly pathetic but it literally keeps me up at night sometimes. I have to make some for my best friend's wedding shower in a week and a half and I have to get them perfect. For some reason I thought I needed to add the sugar later on but I hope (and pray) that this works for me. Thank you!

  35. Just made the second batch of the day...most hollow and some with big air pockets. I don't get it! :( :( :( :( :(

  36. Just found your post, and am super exciting about making chubby macaroons ! I love your writing style and your desserts. SO glad to have found your post!! Thanks!


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