Five Lessons Learned from the Great 300 Macaron Bake-Off

By 300 Sandwiches

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MATCHAMACSLOE totally smoked me on the 300 macaron bake off. But he cheats! Ok, he doesn’t cheat. He just worked hard. He made six batches before getting the consistency right.

The photo above are E’s latest batch of macarons–green tea macha flavored with matcha buttercream. It really does frustrate me how he is able to do everything in the kitchen better than me. Well, everything except homemade bread. I slay him there.

Our discovery process on the best way to produce light, airy flavorful macarons continues. Though macarons take few ingredients—egg whites, almonds or almond flour, powdered and granulated sugar—the assembly and combination of those is what makes a good macaron from a sad sack of one. We’ve tried several recipes and and debated what pillars of macaron baking worked, and which ones didn’t.

WEIGH THE INGREDIENTS: Many recipes say weigh the ingredients with a food scale to get the exact measurements. E never did this, and still got perfect macarons his last few times.

THOROUGHLY SIFT THE ALMOND FLOUR AND SUGAR. Most say to pulse almonds or almond flour with the sugar in a food processor, to massage out lumps. E worked his dry ingredients through a sieve twice. I did not. Guess who got smooth skinned macarons? Uh huh.

LET MACARONS SIT BEFORE BAKING. This is good advice. After you pipe the shells on a baking sheet, let them settle into their round, smooth shape. E’s got his best results when he let his shells settle for an hour (!) on the baking sheet before cooking them in the oven. I always got impatient and popped mine in the oven after 20 minutes. My shells cracked, even when the recipe I followed told me cooking the macarons immediately would yield perfect results.

DON’T OVERMIX. E broke this rule, too! Once the powdered mix comes together with the egg whites and sugar just so, you’re done. Don’t fold it once more. Somehow, E disregarded this universal step and still got perfect macaron cookies. I’m really starting to resent him.

SET OVEN ON HIGH, THEN REDUCE TEMPERATURE. Some recipes say to start with a hot oven then gradually bring the temperature down. E agrees with this one. He set the oven to 375 degrees, popped the shells in the oven, then lowered the temperature to 325 degrees while they cooked. I followed directions that said to keep the oven at 350 degrees and produced macarons as crunchy as croutons. Some recipes say cook the macarons with the oven door slightly ajar. We haven’t proven that theory yet.

I’m going to keep baking these macarons until I get them right (i.e, make prettier macarons than E does) and then, and only then, will I count these as #273 on the blog. For now, I leave it to the pros to advise you on your macarons.

*E’s favorite recipe is Martha Stewart’s French Macaron one:

*Laudree is the macaron master. Theirs are the gold standard of the sweet treat. They published their recipe in their Sucres recipe book here. You can also find the recipe reprinted here.

*David Lebovitz was another person we consulted on the matter. See his recipe for chocolate macarons.

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