Thanks for all of your sweet comments last week on my post about Caroline’s rainbow birthday party. I truly appreciate them. Along with the generous compliments, many of you were in favor of a post about the macaron tower and more macaron tips, so here it is! First, some details about the tower. As I mentioned before, the tower itself came from Simple Baker on Etsy and it worked beautifully! I’m sure it will be making an appearance at many future parties here in our home. The tower came with a list indicating how many macs each tier would hold, so I used that as a guide when baking the many shells to make sure I had the right number of each color. For each batch, inevitably there will be at least a handful of shells that crack or explode, so I factored that in when I calculated the number of shells for each color. I can reliably get about 70 intact macaron shells per batch (or 35 assembled macs). The shells were all made with the same base recipe but the fillings were all different flavors: pink – hibiscus, red – raspberry, orange – orange (duh), yellow – lemon, green – mint, blue – vanilla, purple – blackberry. I am in the process of tweaking and retesting the hibiscus one to eventually share here in the future. For the sake of simplicity, the filling for all of the flavors started with whipped vanilla buttercream as the base. Most were flavored with extracts. The raspberry and blackberry were left as vanilla buttercream but had a fresh berry inside. This worked out great, and the variety of flavors was a big hit with our guests.

After making four batches over the course of a few days, I feel like I have an even better handle on macs than I did before. Below is a list of some tips you may find helpful. (Before you get started, be sure you make yourself familiar with my step-by-step post on how to make macarons.)

  • To make multiple colors of macs from a single batch, I find it best to divide the batter into separate bowls after the egg whites have been stirred into the almond mixture but before the whipped egg whites have been folded in. This means you will have to fold the whipped egg whites separately into each bowl for each color, but this helps prevent over mixing of the batter which is likely to explode shells.
  • If you want to get borderline crazy very particular about the number of shells you want of each color, calculate by weight the best way to divide your batter. For example, I knew I needed about 5 pink macs for the top tier. That is about 15% of the 35-ish pairs I would expect from the batch. I then took 15% of the total weight of the almond/egg white mixture (212 + 212 + 82 = 506 grams), which was about 76 grams. I transferred that amount of the mixture to a small mixing bowl, and then folded in whipped egg whites to achieve the correct batter texture.
  • For the most consistent and even sizing, draw circles on the underside of your parchment paper to guide your piping. While this isn’t something I normally do, I think this is a really good idea if you are filling a tower to make sure they all fit the tiers and so that they have a more uniform appearance.
  • To prevent the batter from making a mess while you are filling the piping bag, cover the opening of the pastry tip with a small piece of plastic wrap.
  • Do not reuse a baking pan in the process of making a batch. The residual heat left over in the pan seems to cause any pan that is reused to have many more failures. Since always using a fresh pan that has not recently been heated, my results have been much more consistent with less failures.
  • I already loved Williams Sonoma Gold Touch bakeware, but a reader recently pointed out to me that the baking sheets were great for making macs. I used to use my stainless steel baking sheets but after some comparison, I have to agree with her that the Gold Touch had better results overall with more even baking and far less exploded shells. I’m sold, and have since invested in extra Gold Touch pans so I have enough to use a new pan for each batch into the oven.
  • I’ve tried a lot of different colorings to tint the shells their many different shades, and the Chefmaster liqua-gels are by far my favorites.
  • Macaron shells keep well for quite some time in an airtight container. I have kept them at room temp for a week without issue, and they also freeze well. Once they are filled, the texture will soften over time. This will happen faster with wetter fillings such as jams, but even with buttercream it will happen eventually (days later). For best results, fill just before serving.

Those are most of my helpful tips and strategies that can hopefully make your mac making more successful and less stressful. Feel free to ask any other questions you might have in the comments. Don’t fear these cookies – they are finicky but, they are also just cookies. What have you got to lose?

  • Jacqueline

    Hi Annie, thanks so much for this! One quick question: at what point do you top with sprinkles, before or after baking? Also, if you’re taking comments from the ‘peanut gallery’, I’m so sorry that you seem to have stopped the ‘month in an Instagram’ feature – I miss that!

  • Melissa Brooker

    the tower is so stunning! I’ve only ever had macarons from a bakery that a co-worker gets them from, he always shares when he goes! It’s an aspiration of mine to attempt them, but i’m nervous, i don’t know if my baking skills are up to par for these! One day i will try!

  • For whatever reason, I’ve been avoiding homemade macs, but i have no excuse! Thanks for the great tips.

  • TheMJRawr

    I have a friend who runs a small bakery business, and her specialty is macaroons. I have to throw this flavor combo out there she had me try – lavender blackberry. It was delightful!

  • annieseats

    Love it! I wanted to do lavender for the purple ones, but I wasn’t sure how well the floral flavor would go over and since they were the largest tier/highest number of macs, I played it safe with blackberry :)

  • annieseats

    If you want to add sprinkles, you do that just after piping the shells but before baking. And thanks for the feedback – I honestly wasn’t sure if anyone really enjoyed those posts or would miss them. I do enjoy doing them, so I will bring them back!

  • KristinaAntonietta

    Macaron are on my short list of things to make soon. These tips will surely come in handy.This tower is perfection!

  • I miss those features too! Great way to spotlight older recipes!

  • That tower is still breathtaking. I MIGHT be brave enough to try making my own…maybe (just one flavor…nothing crazy yet!).

  • Melissa Brooker

    I also like the month in an instagram!

  • Laurel Nippert Miller

    Your tutorials are so thorough and helpful. I am sure it takes you a lot of time to write these kind of posts and I really appreciate your hard work. Thanks to you I am happily making my own pita bread, marshmallow fondant, I love to decorate with royal icing, and I am a confident cake decorator. Thank you!

  • Danita Day

    The tower is perfect. I also vote for the return of the month in an instgram. I’ve tried several of your recommendations. You have such great style.

  • annieseats

    It sounds like you might be thinking of the Things I’m Loving posts since those are more about style. Those haven’t gone anywhere :)

  • annieseats

    Aw, thank you Laurel! Such a sweet comment that means a lot. I do put a lot of effort in so I am very glad to hear it is helpful to you!

  • annieseats

    Hmm, not sure you are thinking of the instagram posts. Those are usually about what our family has been up to each month and don’t usually mention many recipes (though they do on occasion). Are you thinking of maybe seasonal recipe features or something along those lines?

  • noreenhunter

    Hi Annie,
    Your tutorial on the macs is the best! I’ve followed them religiously. I’ve made 5 batches over the course of time, now I’d say I’ve mastered them (not as intimidating as I thought) and i’ve learned a lot in the process. I make my own almond meal and learned that patience is definitely a virtue. I’ve also definitely learned that no two ovens are the same. I have two and for some reason, the bottom one (with the same temp as the top oven) always produce cracked shells, whereas the top produces perfect ones. From then on, I am only using the top oven (maybe until i am bold enough to experiment the correct temp for hte bottom oven). I am now in the process of venturing to different flavors so you combos are helpful. Please know that all your hardwork that you’ve done while sharing your recipe is greatly appreciated! I’ve made so many things that came from your blog and they always turn out to be delicious, yummy and well appreciated by those who tried them.

    Before I forget, do you add flavor to your shells?

  • Ahhh…I was thinking of the feature months you were doing on IG for awhile, like with the ice cream of the day last summer. Reading too fast, sorry!

  • Diane

    I also enjoy the monthly Instagram posts! I think it’s bc it gives us a small view into your world outside of cooking. It makes me feel like I’m getting to know you, even if it’s just through a screen!

  • annieseats

    Good to know, thanks :)

  • annieseats

    Oh yes, I did love those! I wasn’t sure everyone felt the same though. Maybe I’ll bring that back one of these days.

  • Danita Day

    Ah yes, you’re correct. I discovered both around the same time. I’m just a fan of your blog in general :)

  • Peggy May

    What brand of extracts do you use? Some I have used are not very good. I like the intense colors.Thanks for all your work.

  • Meghan Jenson

    Happy Birthday to your little girl. Mine is the same age- just a few months older. What a fun age. Your party posts are some of my favorites! I’ve been working on Macarons. I would like to know a bit more on the cracking of the macaron after it comes out of the oven. You mentioned one tip that over mixing could possibly cause the cracking. Is there anything else that might contribute to it. My whole batch isn’t cracked– I would say 3-4 on every sheet are cracked. Not really complaining because we just eat those ;-) I would also love to see the inside of the raspberry/blackberry macaron. The berries seem so large to fit in them. Thank you again!

  • Sooo perfect and pretty! I’d love this for my birthday :)

  • annieseats

    The thing with macs is that they are so finicky, I don’t really know what causes the failures when they do fail. Overmixing is just one possibility, but honestly I’m never sure. I just keep practicing, and take note when anything seems to make a difference. With the berries, I cut them in half lengthwise and then lay them flat inside the ring of frosting (sometimes I only use one half if the berries are large.)

  • annieseats

    Well thank you very much! I’m so happy to hear it :)

  • annieseats

    I haven’t compared enough brands to tell a major difference and I don’t use extracts other than vanilla (which I make at home) all that often. You could try making your own extracts though for at least some flavorings. Especially for citrus flavors, that would be easy to do and should work well. Also, maybe see what brands are sold at a higher end kitchen store such as Sur La Table. Their products are typically pretty good so if they sell it there, I would bet it is decent.

  • annieseats

    I generally don’t add flavoring to the shells, though I have done it on occasion in the past. I will probably experiment more with that in the future but last time I tried it was a spectacular fail so I’ll have to work on my attitude before another scenarios like that :)

  • Meghan Jenson

    Thank you for taking the time to respond. It’s nice to know despite the fact you’ve made soooooo many that macaron’s are still a bit of an enigma. I’ll keep plugging away. Looking forward to seeing your hibiscus macaron recipe (I have never had a hibiscus flavored anything so I am intrigued).

  • After reading this I want to go bake multiple batches of macs over the course of a few days! Haha. Actually I think my biggest problem is that my oven runs pretty hot and it’s hard to control. I’m working on it!

  • Liz N.

    Your method of making macarons has been flawless. After making batches the last few times, I feel like I have mastered this. The WS baking sheets are a must-have for making macarons. There have been so few cracked macarons this time around. I’ll share pics of my attempt at this soon. Eva instantly wanted this for her birthday. Thank you for always challenging me and taking it higher in my kitchen endeavors! You’re a rock star in our household.

  • annieseats

    So glad to hear that you’ve got macs down! Such a great feeling. And I agree, the WS sheets are essential for less explosions. Way to go Liz!