French macaron shells that are crisp on the outside with a soft and chewy texture on the inside are filled with Southeast Asian onde onde/klepon-inspired gula Melaka cream and coconut flakes.
Some of you who are frequent visitors to my blogs may notice that I like to use pandan flavor in many of my bread, cakes, kue/kueh, pastries recipes 🙂 This vanilla of Southeast Asia is one of my favorite flavors. Onde onde or what we call klepon in Indonesia, which usually uses pandan flavor, coconut, and gula merah/gula Melaka is also my inspiration for the filling of this French macaron.
Ever since I started learning how to bake French macaron about two years ago, I feel like the journey has taught me a lot about the basics of baking. Baking is truly a science, especially when it comes to this finicky French macaron. I elaborate a lot on how to successfully make French macaron before and so I won’t repeat the same information here.
How to achieve that crisp outer shell and soft and chewy inside
Authentic French macarons have that slightly crisp outer shell and the soft and chewy inside when you take that bite. That’s what people love the most about French macarons. Although many things play important roles in making good French macarons, here are a few things that I feel like affect it the most:
1. The recipe
If you analyze many macaron recipes, you will notice that there are roughly two different kinds of recipes out there. A few years ago I baked macarons with the ratio of egg white to sugar and almond flour to icing sugar is 1:1. While this produced slightly more stable shells, slightly crisp on the outside, but the inside is not as soft and chewy. This was the first version I tried when I first started how to bake French macarons.
Then this year, I tried another “version” where the amount of icing sugar almost doubled the amount of almond flour. The family agrees that this ratio really produces that crisp on the outside and soft and chewy inside. I have to agree with that.
Yes, the second most important thing you have to learn to get right. This technique will improve the more you bake French macarons. You will know what to look for when it comes to macaronage. I used to do macaronage until I could draw a figure 8 on the batter and I realized when I had gone that far, I had overmixed the macaron batter
3. Do not overbake (or underbake)
Overbaking macarons will result in crispy macarons both on the outside and the inside. If you underbake, the shells usually stuck to the parchment or silicone even after cooling down for a long period of time. The macaron shells are also very sticky and stuck to your teeth when you eat them.
Did you make this onde onde/klepon macaron recipe?
I love it when you guys snap a photo and tag to show me what you’ve made 🙂 Simply tag me @WhatToCookToday #WhatToCookToday on Instagram and I’ll be sure to stop by and take a peek for real!
Onde Onde/Klepon French Macaron (French Method)
For the shell: (I do not provide cup measurements as I highly recommend weighing by scales for accuracy)
Things to take note of before you start:
- Some people will age the egg whites in the fridge for 2-3 days before making macarons. I've tried aging and without and I don't see much difference. So, I'm sticking with not aging the egg white. I just bring the egg whites to room temperature, by putting them on the counter for an hour or so. This depends on how warm where you are, it may not even need to be that long. If you are short on time, I have put the bowl of egg white on top of a hot water bath to bring it to room temperature quickly
- Don't use dark-colored baking sheet. My macarons cracked whenever I do this. It didn't work for me. I use high-quality anodized aluminum baking sheet
- If you want to be consistent with the size, use a bottle cap that is about 1.5 inch in diameter or print a macaron template out for 1.5-inch macaron
- Prepare a piping bag fitted with 1/4-inch nozzle. Put this piping bag inside a bowl or cup to support it so it's easier for you to pour the batter in later
- Invert your baking sheet upside down. This will give you a baking sheet without the rim. This is another game-changer for me. The macarons baked evenly without the rim. Line the baking sheet with parchment paper. I don't have a silpat, so I use parchment paper. DO NOT use wax paper. Put the template you make underneath the parchment paper ready for you to pipe the batter later. If you use silpat that already has the macaron template, then you can skip this step
- Make sure your mixing bowl and whisk attachment is squeaky clean. Wipe with some vinegar if necessary to make sure they are grease-free. Your meringue will not whip up well if there is any trace of grease
- Please make sure your oven temperature is accurate. My oven is actually 20 degrees lower than what shows on the display. So I get an oven thermometer to make sure the temperature inside the oven is accurate and I finally get good macarons without overbaking or underbaking
Prepare the almond flour and sugar:
- I don't have a caster sugar (super-fine sugar), so I put granulated sugar in a food processor and pulse it a few times until it's fine, but don't turn it into powder. Set aside to be used to whip the meringue later
- Even though I get a super-fine almond flour, it is still necessary to make them finer and smoother. Put almond flour and icing sugar in a food processor and pulse for 6 seconds about 6 times or so until they are fine, but don't overdo it or the almond flour will turn into a paste because the fat will release from the almond
Prepare the macaron batter:
- Put the egg white in a mixing bowl or the bowl of the stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Start whipping at speed 4 until it turns foamy with small fine bubbles. Add the small pinch of cream of tartar and whip for another minute. Increase the speed to 6 (don't crank up speed higher than this) and add 1/3 of the sugar and whip for another 1-2 minutes before adding the next. Stop halfway to check the consistency. Whip until soft peak, meaning, when you lift the whisk up, the meringue will bent and still soft. Add pandan essence and continue whipping until you reach a really stiff peak.
Check for stiff peak:
- When you lift the whisk up, the meringue has short pointy tips. It may bend a bit on the tip, but it shouldn't move at all. When you invert the bowl upside down, it won't drop or move. You will see the meringue ball up slightly inside the whisk. You want to stop beating at this point. Any further will be overwhipping already
Combine almond flour with meringue:
- Sift in the almond flour mixture (yes, I know..again, lots of sifting here) into the meringue. Use a rubber spatula to do the cut several times and fold over motion as you rotate the bowl to mix the almond flour and meringue until they form a thick batter. Stop mixing once you don't see any more flour mixture
Macaronage: (THE most important stage):
- The purpose of macaronage is to get rid of the large air bubbles and to make the batter smooth and shiny to a flowy pipeable consistency. You want to do macaronage slowly. Do not rush this process. Start by using your spatula to press the batter against the wall of your bowl, spreading it like a flower as you rotate the bowl. This video is a good one to watch on how to do macaronage properly with a spatula.
- Then use your spatula to gather the dough back again and you may need to spread it one more time. How many time you want to press the batter against the wall really depends on the stiffness of your meringue. The stiffer it is, the longer you need to do macaronage and vice versa. So, you really need to observe the batter closely
- After that you don’t want to do anymore spreading, start folding. Use your spatula to scoop down, make sure to touch the bottom of the bowl and fold over. Do that 2-3 times and then check the consistency at the same time. In this photo you can see that the batter is still too thick that it doesn’t even drop down. So mix it around once or twice and check again
How to check for macaronage (super important):
- Lift a good amount of the batter up with your spatula and it should flow down very slowly and continuously like thick lava, folding on itself like a staircase. The edge of the ribbon will slowly blend into the batter in about 20-30 seconds. Remember, it needs to flow down SLOWLY and continuously (again, watch this video, she’s a pro!) Stop mixing. If you can write figure "8", you have OVERMIXED! Everyone keeps saying you need to reach figure 8, and I find that quite misleading, at least in my case after baking TONS of macaron for the past two years. Keep in mind that we will transfer this batter into a piping bag and this will “thin” out the batter a bit more. So don’t overmix the batter. If you do, you can be assured to get some hollow shells!
Transfer to a piping bag:
- Scrape this batter down into a piping bag. It will flow like a thick lava. Push out as much air as possible
Pipe the batter:
- Use your dominant hand to hold the top of the piping bag and the other hand to stabilize the bag near the piping tip. Make sure the piping bag is straight, perpendicular to the baking sheet. Don't pipe at an angle. Gently squeeze the batter out and it will slowly spread. Pipe until just about 1/8-inch before the line. The batter will spread to fill up the space later. You may notice some pointy tips (nipple) on the piped macaron, but this will go away when you rap the baking sheets several times later
- Once you are done with piping. Carefully retrieve and pull the template out from underneath the parchment paper. Dab small amounts of macaron batter to seal the 4 corners of the parchment paper so it stays in place
Pop out any air bubbles:
- Pick up the baking sheet and rap it against the counter top 6-8 times (or as many times as it needs) to pop any bubbles. Rap it HARD! Don't be gentle about it! My kids know I'm making macarons when I bang the tray so hard LOL! You will see some bubbles come to the surface. Use a toothpick to gently pop those bubbles
Air-dry the macaron shell:
- Preheat the oven to 325 F (165 C) for a conventional oven. For a convection oven, preheat at 300 F (150 C).
- Let the macaron shells dry. This can take from 30 minutes to 1 hour or longer, depending on humidity. I have a ceiling fan and I put the macaron tray and let them air dry. It helps to speed up the drying process. The ceiling fan is perfect because it's quite far from the macaron, so it's not blowing directly on the macaron. It took about 30 minutes for the shells to dry (humidity was about 40%)
- When you touch the edge, it should be dry. Also check the center. When you gently touch the center, it should be dry too. The shells would look dull and not shiny anymore. This means they are ready to be baked. If you bake them before a skin form, they will crack in the oven
- Place the baking sheet on the 3rd rack from top. Bake for 12-13 minutes. Don't open the oven door during this baking time.
- Once the timer is up, check on the macarons by touching the shell and see if they are still wiggly when you try to move them or soft on top. If they are, continue baking for 1 more minute and check again. I need 13 minutes for 1.5" inch shell
- Remove from the oven and let them cool down on the baking sheet set on a cooling rack for at least 15-30 minutes
- After that you can gently peel the parchment away from the shell. Don't pull the shell from the paper as you may rip the base of the macarons. You can put them in the freezer for 5 minutes (after they are no longer warm) and they will peel right off after that. Some may feel still a tiny bit sticky, you can gently use an offset spatula to help you release. It shouldn't be super sticky, just need a little nudging and it should come off. If it's still very sticky, the shells are apparently, underbaked
Prepare the filling:
- Cream butter and gula Melaka until creamy. Transfer thefilling into a piping bag fitted with a round (Wilton 2A) or open star tip (Wilton 4B). Pair the shells together, try to find ones of similar size
- Start piping the filling starting from the center of one shell and then top with another shell, gently pressing it down so the filling spread to the side to fill up the macaron nicely
- Roll the macaron on its side all around so the desiccated coconut is "glued" to the cream
Age the macaron:
- Macaron doesn't have a good texture if you eat it on the same day you make them. Transfer the macaron sandwich into a container with a tight-fitting lid. They taste the best after you age them in the fridge for at least 24 hours
- Assembled macarons can be kept in the fridge for 3 days. Anything longer and the shells will start to get soggy
Store in the freezer for a longer storage:
- After aging the macarons in the fridge for 24 hours. I transfer them to a baking sheet lined with parchment and put the macarons there to let them freeze for about 30 minutes and then transfer to a container, you can stack them up and kept in the freezer for 1 month
- Simply remove them from the freezer at least 30 minutes before you plan to serve them. Let them thaw at room temperature. Only take out as many as you want to serve and keep the rest frozen until you need them
How to store unfilled macaron shells:
- Unassembled macaron shells can be kept in the freezer for up to 3 months. Simply put them in a container to prevent breakage. When ready to serve them, simply remove from the freezer the day before you plan to serve them, you don't need to thaw and then fill them up with the filling of your choice and age in the fridge for 24 hours