27 April 2010

Macaron: Quest for Feet - Part 1

I love macarons. Eating them that is. I've never really been game enough to make them. Its probably because I know I suck at desserts that need baking. Cooking.. I enjoy. Baking.. only when it actually turns out right. And for me.. most of the time.. it doesn't.

Then I read this post on Almost Bourdain. I agreed. Why not ? Afterall its only going to take me 3 egg whites, some almond meal and some icing sugar. And if it did fail, I could just vent out my frustration by smashing up the unsuccessful macarons and use them as sprinkles on top of some vanilla ice cream.

So began my macaron saga.. the quest for feet. Yes. The much coveted Feet. The visual sign of a perfect macaron :)

I said visual sign, because this isn't the only element of a perfect macaron. SeriousEats.com sums it up nicely...

"The Mallomar-shaped cookie must have a 'foot,' a crackly ringlet that surrounds the flat side. The outer shell is thinner than an eggshell but has an eggshell-like quality. Poking through the shell gives way to soft, almost-meringue texture."

Roasted Black Sesame Macarons
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 3/4 cup ground almonds (I used almond meal)
  • 1/4 cup finely ground black sesame
  • 3 egg whites (6 tablespoons of egg whites)
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  1. In a food processed mix the ground almond, ground black sesame and icing sugar to make sure there’s no lumps.
  2. Whip the eggs whites with a pinch of salt and slowly adding in the granulated sugar until you get soft peaks. Add the dry ingredients to the egg whites and start folding. To make things easier, add in the dry ingredients half at a time.
  3. Fold until you get a slow moving batter. Aka the flow-like-magma consistency.
  4. Pipe the macaron batter onto baking paper.
  5. Bake at 160C for 12 mins
  6. Remove from oven and let cool. Pair up the macarons of a similar size ready for the filling.

Attempt 1 - Failed

  • Followed the recipe (well... I think I did)
  • I probably tried a bit too hard not to over mix the Egg whites. As a result I think I didn't mix it enough, so ended up with the cracked tops. Whoever said Macarons could smell fear were right... !
  • Oven at 160C
  • 12 mins in the oven
  • Tops started cracking at about 6-7 mins in...
Bleh....Ok.. I kind of expected this. If I succeeded the first time, I would have been really surprised. Ecstatic. But still really surprised.

They still tasted great. The roast black sesame flavour really came through.

Attempt 2 - Semi Failed

I jumped back online and googled what could be the cause of my macarons cracking. I was thinking that maybe its more than just under-mixing. Someone suggested cracking occurs if the oven wasn't hot enough. So thinking that my oven may not be hitting 160C, I cranked it up a notch. And set it on 170C. And you guessed it... they burnt...my macarons went brown.

Nice uncracked tops.. slight feet. But they went brown ! Bleh..

  • In the oven for 11 mins
  • 170C
  • Visual Browning occurred from about 10 mins onwards
  • The base of the 1st batch I pulled out at 10 mins was uncooked and still stuck to the baking paper.
  • Tapping the tray on the kitchen bench a couple of times prior to baking (something I picked up from the last Google search).
  • Tops uncracked. Slight feet.
  • Burnt... but still really edible. Bit more chewy than the previous batch.
In truth, I couldn't really taste the burnt taste. But I'm still marking this one as failed as 1/2 of them had the base still stuck to the baking paper and weren't actually cooked through, even though the tops had browned.

I think I'm going to call it a day for now. Anyone out there have any tips ?


  1. Suspect cracked tops may have something to do with overbeating the eggwhites. My first batch, also from Almost Bourdain, were a success! But second attempt and lack of patience was a fail, although I used the same recipe. Just keep trying, I say, and learn to know your oven =)

  2. I've only made them once, and they worked - I could hardly believe it. I credit this entirely to Trissa's recipe (http://trissalicious.com/2009/09/14/the-macaron-and-the-driving-license/) and flukey luck being on my side.

    I'd also suggest getting an oven thermometer if you don't have one. Mine cost a couple of bucks and gives me a lot more confidence when baking.

    Having said this, your macarons look pretty bloody good, especially for first attempts!!

  3. I am yet to make macarons but check out melanger baking blog for some hints. Julia makes THE most beautiful creations and had a solid macaron base.

  4. Thanks everyone for the tips..!!

    will try and find some spare time to try again this week.. stay tuned for the results .. :)

  5. You could have a look at this site - http://leaveroomfordessert.com/2010/05/pistachio-macarons/ - the macarons look pretty amazing! I have found that Anita gives plenty of hints to perfect recipes, particularly given that most people don't have well stocked kitchens, as in Masterchef, where everything is at hand!!

  6. Hi Isabella,

    thanks for the link ! Those macarons look perfect.. will definitely give Anita's recipe a try the next time I attempt these again. :)


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