How not to make macarons: an outline of 3 different methods for making macarons and their results.

The first macaron I ate was about 2 years ago at Le Panier in Pike Place. Somehow, I had avoided ever tasting one up until then. I had just started blogging and funny enough when I sat down with my latte and macaron on the one open stool in the packed bakery, I noticed 2 girls obsessively taking pictures of their individual macarons with crazy big lens outfitted cameras.

At the time, I was still using my 5 year old point and shoot and had no idea what could be so interesting about a baked good to spend 15 minutes taking pictures of it instead of shoving it in their mouths instead. As I was leaving, I overheard a sentence of their conversation and the word “blog” and put it all together. Fast forward 2 years and I’d probably fit right in with them at that table now. Although, I would order multiple macarons so I could shove one in my face before taking pictures. Priorities.

Since then, they’ve been unavoidable when you follow far too many food blogs than should be admitted and the thought of attempting to make them myself has slowly grown on me as one of those “must dos” when your life sort of revolves around food. When Lindsay announced this month’s kitchen challenge I took it as a sign and convinced myself this needed to happen.

I’m not a baker. I don’t own a kitchen scale (and refuse to buy one for the sole purpose of weighing macaron ingredients). And my pastry bag & tips consist of a ziplock bag with the tip snipped off.

That might give you a bit of an idea of how this all went…

How not to make macarons
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I followed a recipe I found online from a trusted source exactly. Stella kinda knows her stuff so I figured I might be able to swing these fickle little things after all. I watched the videos that Mardi made based on Stella’s recipe about 3 times before starting and I’ll admit, I was feeling a bit confident in myself.

That feeling lasted up until about minute 6 of beating the egg whites.

Mardi claims that she’s used chilled liquid egg whites with no problem in this recipe and since I’m a cheapo that didn’t want to waste half my organic eggs by using them (because let’s be real, what the hell do you do with the yolks when custard isn’t really something you want to take on that day?), I went that route straight out of the gates. Except by minute 6 when they were barely even foaming as the mixer beat away at them I had a feeling I was already in trouble.

At minute 12 when they looked like nothing more than bubbly egg whites, I had resigned to failure and went upstairs to put store appropriate clothing on so I could run out for more powdered sugar, food dye and eggs for batch #2. I happened to leave the mixer running though and when I came back downstairs at minute 22ish, they actually happened to look somewhat fluffy and whipped. So I threw my bag down on the chair, flipped the speed to 10 on the Kitchen Aid and whipped the shit out of them for another 2 minutes. I figured it was a 50/50 shot at this point and just went with it.

Folding in the dry ingredients actually went much more according to plan than I thought it would and when I put them in the oven (on wax paper instead of parchment by accident) I had hope.

I sat in front of the oven door, praying for those little suckers to puff up and grow feet like an absolute idiot who was literally talking to them at one point.

18 minutes later and this is what I had.

Making macarons

Tiny little feet but almost flat as a pancake. When you bit into them there was hardly any of that chewy middle underneath the eggshell-esque outside.

Oh, and then there was that whole wax paper thing.

How not to make macarons

It’s not non-stick, in case you were wondering.

A mid-day 12 mile bike ride ensued to clear my head a bit and then to the store I went to restock and reattempt.

How not to make macarons

Things were looking good with this batch. When my egg whites looked like this after the 10 minutes or so of whipping, I was thinking “yep, this is the batch”.

macaron batter

I piped them out, stuck ‘em in the oven and was confident those little feet would appear and I’d have conquered the art of macaron making.

Except, that didn’t happen.

How not to make macarons

I got good “puffage” except not even a freakin’ toe, let alone feet.

How not to make macarons

These tasted great though. Good texture inside & out and the silpat vs. the parchment didn’t seem to make a difference either way.

I had a bit of batter left in the bag at this point though so I marched on to attempt #3.

How not to make macarons

After googling things like “why won’t my macarons grow feet”, it seemed like people swore by letting the batter rest after piping before going into the oven (even though Stella said this doesn’t matter). Something about it drying it out and a whole bunch of other baking terms I won’t pretend to understand but figured I’d attempt it as a last ditch effort.

So I sat impatiently, uploading my failures to instagram for the next hour and waited while they “dried”.

How not to make macarons

And….the result.

Probably the worst batch of the day. Completely hollow underneath, no chew factor and obviously no feet considering they more closely resembled amputees from the waist down.

At this point I gave up, showered and got ready for a birthday dinner where I shoved a bacon manhattan and 1lb. of king crab legs down my throat to forget about these bastards of a pastry and the frustrating day.

I will conquer these suckers eventually though. I get obsessive about stuff like this and can’t end on failure. I’m pretty sure success is going to require a kitchen scale and an oven thermometer though so I gotta work on that first.

If nothing else, Ginger enjoyed a few extra snacks for the day and it was a good excuse to play around with a new lens & tripod. I’m in love with the tripod, not so sure about the lens yet.

Got any macaron tips?

Founder and Writer at Running to the Kitchen | About

Gina Matsoukas is an AP syndicated writer. She is the founder, photographer and recipe developer of Running to the Kitchen — a food website focused on providing healthy, wholesome recipes using fresh and seasonal ingredients. Her work has been featured in numerous media outlets both digital and print, including MSN, Huffington post, Buzzfeed, Women’s Health and Food Network.

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  1. Wow! After reading all of these I guess I am very fortunate. So far I’ve baked them many times at macaron no-no conditions~

    Rainy days
    No rest
    + – 20g differences
    Cold fresh egg whites
    No oven warm up

    Oddly, I actually found that the above conditions actually increase my success chances… Especially, humidity, no rest, and not warming up the oven. I find my self plonking ice cubes into the oven after each batch to cool it down faster. Though, I do tend to turn off the top heat after the feet forms. Cause my oven tends to have bad heat fluctuations so the tops would burn if I leave the top heat on till they are cooked through.

    Personally, I prefer the French method of making them. As the Italian method tends to cause peaks(, burst piping bags, and hand aches), due to the batter being too thick. As to the meringue not fluffing enough just be sure to wash the bowl clean esp if you do a second batch. The almond ground tends to make it super oily. Giving it (the empty bowl not the egg whites) a swirl of hot water helps remove the grease. If you use the french method and want the meringue to be stiffer, hand whip it (the bubbles will come out finer that way hence the stiffness). It really doesn’t take that long.


  2. I am so with you and your frustrations. After two classes (one at a cooking school in France) I am still miserabling failing at home. My family is threating an intervention as I am determined to succeed. Everyday I try another batch, this week however it is my merinque that won’t stilffen.Bah! I will get this one of these days! Interesting informations about eggs, not the aging part but some eggs just arent meant to be whipped! Thinking I have just purchased two dozen of such eggs lol.

  3. Thanks for the good laugh :D I’m going to attempt making these for Valentine’s Day. Good luck on your future macarons, but at least your second try was pretty good!

  4. At least you baked them I made 6 batters before I even tried to bake them! The ting is you just have to use a food processeser! Believe me it is magic when I comes to macaroons!

  5. I have to say, this is the first blog where your results have been similar to mine. My first batch looked almost identical to yours (except the wax paper), my second was pretty good except for a little bit of hollowness inside, then disaster!! Cracking, no feet, just awful. I got a digital oven thermometer and my gas oven will soar up to 330 and drop down to 275 all within one batch. I am going to try getting a pizza stone to put on the bottom rack – I read somewhere that helps even out oven temperatures. The challenge is too great not to triumph. Plus, they are a delicious gluten-free option!

    I’m going to start calling my failures craparons, that is hysterical.

  6. GAH — this was soooooooooo me today. Well, except for the wax paper part. And the going for bike ride part.

    Anyway, deterred by $2/cookie prices but DETERMINED to have these things for my daughter’s birthday party next weekend, I set out to make them … confident (after reading and reading and reading different tutorials) that I would master it.

    I had fragile little, cracked, no-feet monsters. I was so mad.

    Of course, I live in Texas, where humidity stays about 196% all year long AND I have a gas oven, which I just read isn’t ideal for these stinkin’ little cookies.

    Grrrrr ….

  7. Hi Gina!

    This is the first blog I have read about macs going wrong and I totally feel your pain!
    I actually took a course at the Cordon Bleu in Paris on how to make French Macaroons and it was exhilarating! I came back home confidant and felt like I could change the pastry world with this recipe in hand but disaster struck with my first attempt using wax paper and no scale. Three tries later and I went to Walmart and invested in a $7 scale. I finally got a decent batch with my 9th try!!! I (actually my hubby) discovered that my oven is unevenly heated and I have to cover the bottom rack of my oven with two cookie sheets. And I bake my cookie sheet at a time at the top rack.

    I have made many batches (probably grind up more than 3kg of almonds) and 25% of the time they don’t turn out as I over mix my batter and sometimes am too impatient to wait for my egg whites to stiff. I just finished making 4 batches yesterday and today and only one batch came out perfect with the second batch OK, third batch had no feet and fourth batch was sticky and hollow – even my 2 year old toddler did not want to eat them :) Oh and if there is a lot of humidity in the house, you will not be successful – I learned that the hard way! I must say making macaroons keeps me humble! I love to bake and decorate cakes and they always turn out but with macs its another story.

    Good luck with your macs and definitely give it another try – I promise you when you finally get the perfect batch, you will be jumping for joy. I equate it to winning the lottery.


    1. it’s so funny you wrote this yesterday because I actually spent the entire day with a (baker) friend attempting macs for the second time around! I’m happy to say they came out perfectly this time! The scale was definitely a necessity I didn’t have/use the first time and we actually did these the “italian” way by pouring the simple syrup into the egg whites to create a meringue. The macs came out awesome and so so delicious :) Good to know that you still have failures from time to time as I’m sure in future attempts, I’ll have plenty! Here’s a pic of them: I feel like a proud parent, had to share :)