Monday, June 3, 2013

Macaron Frequently Asked Questions FAQ

While making macarons, many people ask me lots of questions since they know I can make them. Well when I was making them, I figured it out mostly for myself until I took the macaron class. Let's begin, shall we?:)

Q: Is it pronounced macar-oon or macar-ohn? 
A: In French, it is pronounced macar-ohn but with a slight silent N. You can look it up if you want, the French do not pronounce it like "Macaroon". God that word annoys me. LOL. Macaroons are the coconut meringue cookies, not the pretty colorful almond meringue cookies.


Q: Do you use Italian or French Meringue method?
A: I use the Italian method, it produces much better results and is more reliable. However, if French suits you, do what you like.



Q: Do you have to age your egg whites?
A: No, I do not at all. I notice no difference at all if I age them or not. They don't turn out more fluffy, they don't fail if I use new egg whites. I don't need to microwave them to age them. The purpose of "aging" is to make the egg whites more liquidy, easier to beat. But that doesn't mean you have to age them for them to be beaten. If that was true, bakeries would have ridiculous amounts of egg whites laying around the kitchens.

Q: Can I use wax paper?
A: NO, do NOT use wax paper. This is not the same thing as parchment paper. Wax is lined with wax, which is for making things such as chocolate covered strawberries or things that don't stick easily. Macarons are very sticky when baked, so they will definitely stick to the paper. I learned the hard way. Parchment on the other hand is lined with Teflon, the stuff that coats your frying pans.


Q: How do I store macarons?
A: When you first make them, put them in the fridge in an airtight container so that way the shells can absorb the filling and become softer for at least 24 hours. They will stay good for about 3-4 days at most. After that they begin to get crumbly.


Q: Can I freeze macarons?
A: Yes you can, they withstand freezing very well! They taste just as fresh as when you first made them. Just let them defrost for about 20 minutes or so. They will also last about 3 months in the freezer (but I'm sure people will eat them before that).

Q: What are some good fillings for macarons?
A: I love swiss meringue buttercream!! It's the best. Fluffy, light, not too sweet. Ganaches are good too, but I have problems with making them not too sweet. You can also try French Buttercream, which is egg yolks beaten until pale, and a sugar syrup is drizzled into them to be cooked and butter is added (a great way to get rid of yolks).

Q:  Can I use less sugar to make macarons?
A: No, you can't because sugar is the basis and structure for the macaron shells. So unfortunately not...I am planning to do a test batch of powdered sugar substitute made of stevia.


Q: Do you have to rest the macaron shells?
A: YES, you must. At least let them rest enough so that it gets dry and dull, since this creates the "foot" and prevents cracking. Use a fan to speed up the drying process.


Q: Why did my macarons crack?
A: If your macarons cracked from the top, then it is because you didn't rest them long enough. The foot is actually a crack on the bottom of the macaron. So the foot formed on top instead of on the bottom.


Q: Why did my macarons turn hollow?
A: You did not beat enough air out of the macarons, you did not fold correctly, you overmixed the batter, you overbeat the egg whites, the almond meal was too grainy and tore through the meringue, or you underbeat the egg whites.

Q: Can I add flavorings to the shells?
A: Yes you can, as long as it is powder, an extract, or freeze dried fruit that is finely ground in a food processor.

Q: When do you add food coloring?
A: You should add food coloring to the mass as soon as possible so that way you don't accidentally overmix the batter.

Q: Why did the macaron feet start detaching from the shell?
A: I have no idea. I'm still trying to figure that out. Only happens sometimes though.


Q: Parchment or Silpat?
A: SILPAT! Good for the environment because you don't have to throw it away. Also I like how the feet come out on Silpat.

Q: Why did my macarons brown?
A: Your oven temperature was too hot, turn it down a little. Ovens are all different, so 300 degrees F for me might be different for you.

Q: How long do you beat the Italian Meringue before you can use it?
A: Until it becomes shiny, thick, and doesn't droop too much when you pull up the whisk. Don't let it get lumpy like this:


Q: Why did my macarons come out with no feet and porous?
A: You did not rest them long enough because the French Meringue method takes FOREVER to dry. Don't do the French method.


Q: How long does it take to make a batch of macarons?
A: Well at first, it took me 5 hours. LOL But now I have more experience and it only takes me about an hour and a half to make the shells and filling.

Q: What brand of almond flour do you use?
A: I don't. I grind my own almonds, it's cheaper. Buy them from trader joes!

Q: I don't have a scale, can you convert the measurements?
A: I really recommend that you get a scale, it's more accurate than cups measurements. Most of the world uses scales anyway. Lol if not, go look up the conversions. GOOGLE, guys.

Q: How do you get your macarons to look so perfect?!
A: Practice makes perfect. Even mine aren't perfect still. :P

Q: How can you get the macarons to be all the same size?
A: Unfortunately, I can't even get all of them to be the same size. It's just human error. However to minimize the risk of different shaped macarons, I suggest you draw circles on a piece of parchment and use that as a guide under your Silpat/parchment.

Q:  Why are my macarons lopsided?
A: You either rested the macarons too long (this would be like 2 hours) or your macarons are hollow and the insides are spewing out of the shell.

Q: Why are the macarons feet ugly and spreading and frilly?
A: You overmixed the batter :(



Q: Can I bake two trays at a time?
A: If your oven is a commercial oven that has even heat, go ahead. If not, I recommend you don't. Macarons need even heat or else they will not turn out right.

Q: Can I have the recipe?!
A: Yes, go look on my blog. I don't mind as long as you remember to credit me :)

Well that's all I have for now, just let me know if you have any more questions that can be added to this list. :)

90 comments:

  1. Where did you buy the food coloring gel? I can only find the liquid ones.

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    1. I bought the Wilton ones at Safeway or Michaels stores, and you can buy Ateco (the one I use) on amazon for $15 for about 12 colors.

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    2. Be careful with certain Ateco gel coloring. I've found that some of their gels are only really meant for icing, so they do not respond well to heat at all. Switched to Americolor recently and that works WAY better.

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  2. Do we HAVE to use a candy thermometer? cause i don't have one, and when i went to the store, they were too expensive. D:

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    1. Yes they are expensive..:( well if you watched my video, you can see when it's 240 Fahrenheit that all of the surface of the sugar syrup is boiling and there are no spots of unboiled sugar. So that is how I can tell if it is 240 Fahrenheit. Try not to go over that though

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    2. If you don't have a candy thermometer, you can do the ice water test. 240 is referred to as "the soft ball stage" when cooking sugar. Take a cup of ice water and drip some of the boiled sugar into the water. It should form a soft ball in the cup. If it needs to be cooked more it'll form a thread. If it's over cooked it'll be a hard ball. You can still use it at the hard ball stage but you risk causing your egg whites to collapse If you pour too quickly. If you use the sugar at the thread stage your meringue Will be grainy.

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  3. Hi! My macarons are either too sticky/chewy or too crispy. Is there anything that I can do to make it right?

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    1. Hi! Hmm either you're baking it too long, underbaking it, overmixing, or undermixing. I'd have to see a picture before I can tell you the answer haha

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    2. My macarons came out looking perfect, great feet and no bubbles or cracks, but the insides are chewy and the outsides are nice and crispy, any idea why they're chewy? I need to present these to a fashion designer...

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    3. They're SUPPOSED to be chewy on the inside! That's what makes them so GOOD!

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    4. Mines are the same! I think they look nice for my very first time but they are chewy...like stick to your teeth chewy...I was thinking maybe too much sugar in comparison to flour? The only reason I say this is because it was taking me forever to seive the mixture and it seemed like I was ending up with all of my cup of almond flour left in the seive so I ended up adding a little more but I don't know if it was still exactly one cup as the recipe called for...I don't think I really needed to seive my flour because it was extra fine...I am also wondering if they baked too long the feet were a little brown and the bottoms...wish I could post a picture

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  4. Would it be okay to double your recipe?

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  5. I love your blog! I recently found it and decided to try your version of the macaron. Everything was going well until I noticed that my egg whites and sugar did not stiffen up in the mixer. It was until I added the sugar syrup and it became lumpy and thick... where do you think I made a mistake?

    Thank you!!

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    1. Thank you :) I think you overwhipped the egg whites initially before adding the sugar syrup. To counter this, make sure you put the mixer on low until your sugar syrup is around 200F or so. :D

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  6. Hello, can I ask where I can find those wonderful boxes?
    Thank You~

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  7. Hey Natalie! First off, I absolutely adore your blog and your macaron magic! The last batch I made, the tops turned wrinkled, browned and hollow all at the same time :(. Now I was wondering what might be the causes more specifically of the wrinkled tops?
    Thank you so much! :)

    here's an image for reference:
    http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_cWp5u94NsJI/TQEpUlnsfaI/AAAAAAAAAH4/QFL3YKnOx2M/s1600/IMG_1611.JPG

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    1. Hi Amy! Are you using my recipe first of all?

      Usually wrinkled tops are a sign of overmixing and not drying them out long enough.Are they chewy like laffy taffy? lol

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  8. i have just mastered making the macaron shells but am finding the filling a bit more difficult. I made a tower a couple of weeks ago and used the buttercream with the egg yolk and sugar syrup. Tasted amazing, but the filling just melted and the macarons slipped apart after they had been out of the fridge for a bit. Any ideas what i may have done wrong. Whenever i have purchased macarons from a store i wouldnt be able to pulll them apart without breaking them, mine just slipped apart :-(

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    1. Hmm maybe you should use more butter? I would think the filling is perhaps too liquidy?

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  9. Hey Natalie!
    I was wondering where do you get your flavorings from?

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    1. Hi Cynthia, I either get them online or from my neighborhood grocery store. I prefer the extracts without alcohol besides the vanilla one :)

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  10. Hi Natalie!
    I've tried making macarons for so many times and still having trouble with perfecting them. (Just finished my 12th attempt in just 1 month). My macarons tend to have ruffled feet but no gap between the cap and the feet. The inside of the macarons are not hollow, but they look like bread instead of the cake texture you have in the pictures. Do you have any pointers?

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    1. Hi Vincent! What do you mean by bread texture? does it at least taste good? haha

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    2. If you look at this picture you would understand, the interior looks more like a bread than a cake. This one is pistachio flavor done with Italian meringue. The macarons tasted okay (not the best. :p)

      https://fbcdn-sphotos-a-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-frc1/t1/400607_10203056412030203_1929123421_n.jpg

      The interior is filled, and it tends to dry up and becomes extremely crunchy and not chewy at all. Or it collapse to something like this after a few days. See pic below

      (Also Italian Meringue, chocolate flavor with additional 30g of cacao powder added to it):
      https://fbcdn-sphotos-h-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-ash3/t1/r90/1526556_10202988243766039_1564079990_n.jpg

      Brushing liquid onto the shell before filling it doesn't help moisturize the shells. :( I suspect it's the almond meal that i'm using is not oily enough. (I grind my own almond meal from slivered almonds every time! Maybe it's staled?)

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    3. Ohh I see, it looks like theyre a bit undermixed at the first picture since they're a bit thin. so maybe it collapsed? it probably is dry, maybe try adding a bit of almond oil to your almonds? where do you buy it from?

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  11. the word macaroon shouldn't annoy you. 'cause guess what? both of those cookies in your picture are macaroons. it's the same thing in different languages and it's perfectly fine to translate it. what do you think french people call the cookie on the right? ..exactly.

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    1. I was saying that people calling macarons macaroons annoys me..lol but its not really a big deal.

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    2. It annoys me when people call French macaroons "macarons." It's actually incorrect to insist they be called "macarons." That's just the French word for macaron, and the two words mean EXACTLY the same thing. EXACTLY!

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    3. The one on the right is a "coconut macaroon." The one on the left is a "French almond macaroon." It is incorrect to think that a macaroon is a specific kind of cookie; it is not. Macaroon is a class of several cookies using primarily sugar, egg white, and ground oily nuts (or coconut).

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  12. Hi nathalie! I just made a batch today, used your recipe and the italian method way. Im soooo frustrated :( i still get hollow macarons, i really dont know what i did wrong. I lost count on how many times i made this already. Would you be willing to give classes

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  13. .....or could i maybe bake with you so you could point out what am i doin wrong? I really want to learn because i want to make these for my nephew's baptism. Please help? I also live in the bay area

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    1. Hi Kae, did you use my video recipe to help you out? Also I might give a class I'm not sure maybe just for you. haha I don't use Italian method anymore since it's pretty sweet, I use French method posted on here.

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  15. So if Im going to bake in a convection oven, how long shall I bake them for and at what temp? All this information on your page is very helpful! Thank you

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    1. i like 300 degrees F for 15 minutes and thanks :)

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  16. I have simply stumbled upon your blogspot and will certainly try your method this weekend. You make it look sooooo easy!! Thanx

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  17. Please make another video using french method. Wish u can ship to hawaii.

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    1. maybe i will dont really have time :(

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  18. Hi, so if the macaroons come out cracked on top, half hallow and sticky at the bottom- where did i go wrong? is this an oven temperature issue? noting that they crack at about 5 minutes after I put them in the oven.

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  19. Hi Natalie,

    I'm pretty sure I follow your baking account on Instagram! My username is @macaronsbykatherine. I bake macarons using the french meringue method and I've always been very successful. Lately, however, batches have been cracking like crazy on me, even after letting them rest for 2 hours!! Beyond frustrating. So… today I'm going to give your italian method a whirl. I'll let you know how it goes by mentioning you in the photos I post! Fingers crossed that this works for me. I don't have a kitchen scale, so I'm going to try converting grams into cups.

    Thanks! :)

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  20. Hello,
    thank you for your extensive post!

    I have a big problem with air pockets in my macarons.
    I m baking at altitude (1000 meters) in a dry environment.

    I have tried pretty much every temp/time combination from 255F-22 minutes to 300F for 10 minutes, I don t seem to find any difference.

    I m pretty sure my eggwhites are properly beaten and my batter nicely folded...
    Could that come from ratios?

    WHat am I missing?

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  21. Dear Natalie,
    Many thanks for your very helpful posts! Its very kind of you to share your macaron wisdom so freely! In one of your comments you mention a video where you show how to correctly fold in dry ingredients into wet using french meringue method. I am struggling to find that video, could you please point out the link for me.
    Italian method is lovely however macarons end up a little bit too "cakey" texture. I would love to have them a bit more airy. I am hoping french method will help me achieve that.

    Many thanks
    Nina

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  22. Hi Natalie,
    I like your colors. Do you not prefer the French method?

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  23. Can I make the macarons this evening and fill them tomorrow evening?

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  24. hi i love reading your blog and its so helpful. And your bakes are so pretty, love how you are so real in giving feedbacks! I have a question for you regarding my macaroon, tried it twice and it always sticks to my parchment paper after it cooled down may i ask whats wrong :(

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  25. Can meringue powder or liquid egg whites...egg substitutes...be used instead of regular eggs?

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  26. Hi! I read your blog like a prayer and followed all ur instructions & i just made a batch of (italian method) macarons, it turned out ok! Only remark is Its way too sweet & is cakey in texture, it got stuck onto the wax paper but the shell was good (no hollows) I guess its good for a 1st trial!!
    I just wanted to thank you for sharing your expertise with us and helping us all the way through
    Xoxo

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  27. Hi Natalie!

    I've been having issues with coloring, using the Wilton gel colors. After piping they look great but after baking they lighten and brown significantly, does this happen to you and what do you do about it? If not, any idea why this is happening? I've read elsewhere that you should use powdered food coloring or a brand called Americolor (gel color).

    Thanks!!!

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    1. You should probably lower your baking temperature and add more food coloring. Macarons lighten in color after baking.

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  28. Hi! Love your blog! What do you use to grind the almonds? I tried store bought meal and the grains were to large it was impossible to grind them without making almond paste... Thanks!!!!

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  29. Hi Natalie,
    First of all, thank you for your blogs, it helps me a lot. My questions are the following: Is it ok to fill the macarons on the day you need them or I can do it days before? How do I store them if there's fillings?

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    1. sorry late reply, but yes you can fill the day of but then you should bake them a little less time so theyre not crunchy. and you can fill it days before if you freeze it.

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  30. Omg have u tried making macarons with stevia yet?? If so how did they turn out :D?

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    1. i tried it once but it definitely did not work.lol

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  31. Why When I rest the macaroon, there is like transparent liquid around the macaroon

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    1. i have no idea lol sorry about that

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    2. This is usually to do with the temperature of your egg whites. No need to age them, or sit them out for days, just bring them up to body temperature . A quick trick is to pop them in the microwave on the lowest defrost setting, for 3 to 5 seconds, take out, swirl with your 'clean' finger and you may need to do again for few seconds, until egg whites feel room temp/skin temp, or tepid. If doing French method, add generous pinch of non iodised salt, just prior to starting to beat. Another tip is to place your mixing bowl, if free standing on warm pad or heat pack that has been heated just slightly warmer than egg whites, but never hot. Beat egg whites for 5 to 10 seconds, than add castor sugar (granulated) in 4 to 5 batches over next 30 to 60 seconds, beat mixture for approx 2 minutes, should be able to hold bowl upside down over your head and they wont move. Then go to next stage of incorporating dry ingredients.

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    3. Just a small note of caution with my advice above, do very brief times in microwave on low defrost setting, as very easy to start to cook accidently, if too long.

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  32. HI i tried your salted caramel macaron recipe, it took about 8 mins for the peak to stiffen. After mixing the dry ingredients and deflating the batter, it never thinned out? I never got the ribbon consistency. instead it got thicker I think. Any suggestions?

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    1. hi maybe you overbeat it? never really had that problem. unless your almonds were too dry

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  33. can i replace almond flour with coconut flour for this recipe?

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    1. hmm not too sure. it might be too sticky

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  34. Hi Natalie, I went to France last year and took a 3 or 4 hour intensive macaron class but couldn't seem to duplicate the results when I came home. After at least 15 tries now I am finally finding some success. Much appreciation for your tips and recipes.

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    1. Hi Lorraine, aw glad to see you got more help from my blog than the class! haha :) good luck

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  35. Your Italian Meringue Macaron recipe enabled me to actually make a decent batch of macarons! still working on not having 'nipples' on some but the temperature and measurements are great. One question, my meringue doesn't get past soft peaks. I know there's a bunch of reasons why but it looks glossy and all but not stiff. Should I beat it longer after the sugar syrup is in it? or cool it then beat it again? (by the way kudos to your reader on the microwave version of the sugar syrup. so much easier!)

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  36. I am considering making macaroon as my wedding favor for guests (I see so many cute ideas on Pinterest lol) Will the macaroons keep at room temperature or am i just seeing pretty pictures/bad ideas? I have till Dec. to perfect my skills but I want to make sure this is even a good idea.

    Thank You.

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  37. Did you ever experience lopsided macarons on only half of your cookies? I've finally zero'd in on getting rid of the hollows, but consistently half my batches turn out lopsided. I bought new cookie sheets to see if that would help (my previous ones weren't perfectly flat on the bottom) and I still can't get rid of my partial lopsided problem :(. Thanks!

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    1. Can happen if you leave them drying too long on the bench, maybe in an area where one side is getting more heat or the breeze. 30 minutes is usually enough or if your in a hurry, use your hairdryer on low warm setting, hold from above, keep at least 30 tp 40 cm away. Take care, only needs a few minutes, keep touchtesting tthm, keep hairdryer moving around, dont stay on one spot too long, no high fan speed, only low.

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  38. Quick Question: when you do the weighing for the almonds, do you weigh pre food process and sift or weigh after you sift and ground the almonds???? thank you so much

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    1. You could add an extra 3-5%, IE if using 70 grams, add an extra 3.5 grams. If your going to use a food processor, so getting it fine, this is enough, then seive. . Dont get to hung up on this, better to pay attention to how you treat the egg whites and use good quality almond meal or almonds. As I bake and sell them (french method), I genarally jst stick to the recipe, process well at high speed, maybe blitz 3 to 4 times for 10 seconds (starting with almond meal, not whole almonds,), I dont put thru a seive, as makes very little difference if you've processed them enough.

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  39. Thank you so much for sharing your hard work.
    Do you have a chocolate Macaron recipe?

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  40. Hi:) thank you for sharing your hard work.
    Do you have a chocolate Macaron Recipe?

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  41. how many hours does it take to make macarons

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  42. how many hours does it take to make macarons

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  43. how many hours does it take to make macarons

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  44. Hi Natalie, I have tried using your French recipe, I really love the taste! However, 3 times I made and 3 different results. The first one good, but still hollow, the 2nd had some lopsided, the 3rd had 1/2 of the sheed lopsided 😪, can't figure out what I did wrong

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    1. I had a problem with lopsided shells and I was very confused. Finally I realized that I had been piping with a circular motion. Since I went back to piping properly I have never had that problem again. Hope that helps :)

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  45. hi, im looking for some advice on adding flavors to my shells. I've got plain and colored shells down pretty well but have a whole new set of mysteries with adding powdered freeze dried fruit. No matter the ratios I try they always come out wrinkly and some of the tops split. They have nice feet and aren't hallow but they almost seem like they get too fluffy. Not sure how I can fix this. I see lots of recipes that use freeze dried fruit but it just doesn't work for me �� I use the Italian method and I weigh ingredients, dry my almond flour , use a candy thermometer and an oven thermometer, a silpat. I'm definately not over mixing. ive tried leaving my batter thicker than I would normally like with the same results. It seems my only problem is the addition of the dried fruit. any ideas? Thanks!

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  46. They are both called "macaroons." "Macaroon" is the English word, and "macaron" is the French word. I speak English, so I say "macaroon." I distinguish by saying "French macaroon" or "Italian macaroon" or whatever TYPE of macaroon it is.

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  47. I know this blog is old but I was wondering if you can put fresh fruit inside a macaron along with a whipped filling/frosting. I work with cakes more than macarons and I was wondering if that would ruin anything like it does with cakes. Google doesn't seem to have anything towards putting fresh fruit in a macaron.

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  48. Help! My macaron mixture is too dry! I beat my egg whites, sugar, and cream of tartar until stiff peaks form but when I try to fold in my almond and confectioners sugar in it gets very stiff and dry! Idky! I have tried just mixing in half of the amount of dry mix but by the time I grab a piping bag it is all dried up and hard! I'm up north in Oregon, could the weather be causing some problems??

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  49. How can I make my Macaron last longer out of the fridge for commercial(distributing) purpose? Can I add preservative? If yes, which one?

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  50. I let my macarons dry for an hour and 45 minutes, but they still cracked on top. What did I do wrong?

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  51. Hi I recently made macarons and they went really well but how chewy are they meant to be because if I go to a shop they're very soft and I want mine to be like that and not this chewy.

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  52. Thank you. Been trying to perfect this one. I don't like the taste but I like how cute it is so I'm trying to incorporate my favorite flavors to it. :) This really helped.:)

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