When done right, macarons are some of the most delicious sweet treats you can imagine. That being said, it’s not that easy to get it right! That’s why we asked Camila Hurst, a.k.a. the queen of macarons, to share some of her most valuable tips so that you too, can start making amazing vegan macarons at home. For 12 of her best vegan macaron recipes, click here.
How to Make the Perfect Vegan Macarons
The first thing you should know when making macarons is that there is no such thing as a fool proof recipe or method. Most recipes out there are probably right, and probably do work for the bloggers who have posted them. When making macarons, it’s very important that you find a recipe and a method that work best for you.
You might end up using a recipe from a certain blog, but with a different oven temperature, or incorporating tips you’ve learned on another YouTube channel. Most likely that will be the case once you settle into a magic formula that works for you!
With that in mind, here are some of my personal tips that will certainly help you, regardless of the method or recipe you end up using to make your vegan macarons.
My Top 6 Vegan Macaron Tips
Have an oven thermometer
Home ovens are not reliable at keeping the temperature you set it to. That’s because the oven’s internal thermometer is gauging the temperature of where it’s installed, which is usually on a spot in the back or side of the oven, where it’s subjected to drafts, or hot spots. So even with new ovens, the temperature inside the oven, where your macarons are baking, is probably (and most likely) not the temperature you think it is. Also, ovens cycle on and off in order to keep a stable temperature.
All of this means that the temperature in the oven won’t be accurate or consistent. The only way to really know what is the temperature inside the oven is to have an oven thermometer in there. They are fairly inexpensive and will save you a lot of wasted time and batches trying to figure out what’s going wrong with your macaron baking. Macarons are extremely finicky, and a simple 5 degree difference in temperature can yield in extremely contrasting results!
Which brings me to the next tip.
2- Find what temperature works best for you
This is a very important one. I see people baking the exact same recipe, but using completely different temperatures. That’s because ovens also bake differently. For example, if you have a convection oven, you should lower the temperature by at least 10%. After a while baking macarons you will understand what temperature works best for you.
In order to test this, you can make a batch of macarons, and pipe the same batch between 4 different trays, and bake each tray at a different temperature. Take notes of what the results where. Experiment and learn. For example, for my French method recipe, I always recommend starting at 285ºF, and experimenting with a couple of lower temperatures, and maybe a 300ºF.
Actually on my old oven, using this exact same recipe, I used to be able to bake it at 310ºF. However, if I bake at this temperature with my new oven, my macaron’s feet will explode or crack.
TIP: If you’re not sure what the “feet” of a macaron are or what they should look like, click here to check out my Vegan Macaron Troubleshooting Guide.
3- Stiff meringue
To make vegan macarons, we typically use aquafaba from chickpeas to make the meringue. Some people use potato protein, or the water from different beans. And that’s great if you want to experiment and learn about new ways, and new ingredients. Whichever base you choose for the meringue, make sure it is at stiff peaks.
It’s very hard to over whip aquafaba meringue, and it may take a long time to get it to stiff peaks, but it’s very important to do so. Under-whipped meringue will cause several issues, from cracked macarons, to feet that explode and spread out in the oven.
And speaking of spreading feet, watch out for the macaronage! Macaronage is the act of mixing the sifted dry ingredients (powdered sugar and almond flour) with the stiff meringue. One of the issues I see the most out there is over-mixed batter.
With vegan macarons, it’s very hard to tell when the batter is ready to be piped. That’s because sometimes you keep stirring for a long time and it still doesn’t seem runny enough. I really recommend stirring just until the batter becomes runny, and not too much after that.
Oftentimes, the batter will seem ok and will pipe nicely, however the feet will end up spreading out in the oven, or the macarons will be hollow, and the culprit will be over-mixed batter. My recommendation is to grab a teaspoon and spoon a bit of batter on top of the baking sheet you are using, and watch how the batter behaves for a minute. If it starts to smooth out without maintaining a peak on top of the shell, that means it’s ready to be piped. Only continue to fold if the batter keeps a point on top that won’t smooth out even after tapping the tray gently against the counter.
5- Food Coloring
Only use gel food coloring, and if you are a beginner, refrain from using any. Food coloring adds moisture to the batter, which can cause several issues such as cracked shells, or feet that spread out. Which also makes me want to say: don’t add anything else to your batter such as extracts or flavorings. You can add cocoa powder, or matcha powder for example, but things like cinnamon, turmeric, or oil based flavorings can really affect the structure of the meringue and your cookies will crack.
6- Keep learning
It can be disheartening to lose macaron batch after batch. I get messages all the time from people who are super frustrated and upset because they can’t seem to get it right. My advice is to keep at it.
Besides practicing a lot, also watch YouTube videos, read blog posts, join Facebook groups, share your mistakes and your successes with others. There is a big community of bakers that get together everyday (virtually) and communicate, helping each other and cheering each other on. And this will help you a LOT along the way to learning how to master vegan macarons.
Experiment with different techniques and tips you learn, and follow what feels right. Adapt those tips to your kitchen, to your oven, and keep what works, and modify or get rid of what doesn’t. And understand it’s a journey.
Last but not least, since I receive a lot of questions about macarons on a daily basis, I thought I’d share the responses to the ones I get asked most frequently. Make sure you also check out 12 of my favorite vegan macaron recipes and check out my blog Piesandtacos.com for even more recipes!
Q: Can I flavor the shells?
A: I don’t recommend adding flavoring besides cocoa powder, matcha powder, espresso powder, specially if you are a beginner.
Q: Can I use a countertop toaster oven?
A: I don’t recommend that at all. You need a big oven with thick walls that will be able to hold a somewhat stable and reliable temperature that won’t fluctuate so much like the toaster ovens do.
Q: Can I make nut free macarons?
A: Absolutely, you can use all-purpose flour, pumpkin seed flour, sunflower seed flour, or oat flour. I’ve even heard of someone using ground popcorn to make macaron shells!
Q: Can I freeze macarons?
A: Macarons freeze really well. You can freeze just the shells, or the filled cookies, for 1 to 2 months in an air-tight container. I don’t recommend freezing macarons with jam filling, as they might get soggy.
Q: How to obtain white macarons?
A: I recommend placing a sheet of aluminum foil on top of the macarons after the first 5 minutes baking. You could also add a quarter of a drop of purple food coloring to help offset the yellow/orange.
Q: What can I use instead of chickpea brine?
A: You can use other bean water, or potato protein.
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Text & Photography: Camila Hurst, PiesAndTacos.com.