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?