French macarons are crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside. The filling is rich and decadent. But it took many attempts to find plant based alternatives to create a delicious vegan macaron. I created this macaron troubleshooting guide that you can use if you may experience a macaron fail. 🙂
Attempt #1 at Vegan Cookie Dough Macarons
As you can see in the photos below, these macarons came out of the oven with holes through their tops! There was a LOT that went wrong with this first attempt. Let's take a closer look and see what caused this monstrous mayhem.
The ratio of cream of tartar to the aquafaba is crucial. Cream of tartar helps stabilize the whipped aquafaba, which is the substitute for the egg whites. As the macarons sit out to dry and then bake in the oven, cream of tartar helps the cookies maintain their shape and rise in the oven. However, it also is acidic. So using too much cream of tartar gave my macarons a weird and unpleasant acidic flavor.
This first batch of macarons rose beautifully in the oven. You can see the "feet" on the bottom of each cookie, meaning they rose quite a bit. But sprinkling chopped chocolate chips on top before baking them was a big no-no. I thought the chocolate would give these pastries a cute aesthetic, but the weight of the chocolate tore holes through the tops of each cookie...
Attempt #2 at Vegan Cookie Dough Macarons
Right off the bat, this second attempt gave me hope that I was on the right track! The color and taste of the macaron cookies was perfect. But the texture was still off, since these came out of the oven as thin as crackers.
I decided after my first attempt to make the macarons chocolate-flavored. I added cocoa powder in this second batch, making them sweet, chocolatey and delicious. This gave a gorgeous color contrast between the macaron cookie shells and the cookie dough filling. It also meant I didn't need to add chocolate pieces on top, preventing holes and cave-ins on my cookies.
And to make sure my macarons didn't taste acidic, I decreased the amount of cream of tartar from 2 teaspoons to ½ teaspoon.
When learning how to make French macarons, it's important to not just look at what went wrong with a macaron fail, but study how to fix it for next time.
I think over-compensated from the first batch to the second with the vegan meringue. I used far too much aquafaba and the meringue batter was too liquid-y. After piping out the batter onto baking sheets, I set them out to dry for nearly a whole day, and they still weren't completely dry! Batter that is too thin and runny, and macarons that sit out too long to dry can result in flat macarons.
When life gives you flat macarons though, you dip them in the vegan cookie dough and make the most out of it.
Attempt #3 at Vegan Cookie Dough Macarons
Voila! Eureka! Success! Sound the alarm! Light off the fireworks! Throw the confetti in the air!
The third batch turned out amazing! The macaron cookies were rich, chocolatey, light and airy. I dare say, these were gone in less than a day, because they were irresistibly decadent! The cookie dough added a creamy luxurious texture to each bite.
Right Flavor and Right Texture
I used the same quantities of dry ingredients (almond flour, cocoa powder, powder sugar, etc.) in the macaron batter as the second batch. But I decreased the amount of aquafaba to prevent them from being too runny and taking too long to dry out. The perfect balance of dry ingredients to the wet and fluffy aquafaba meringue is critical to perfecting your vegan macaron texture.
These third batch of macarons were crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside, with perfect feet. I'm telling you, I almost cried tears of aquafaba when I pulled these out of the oven. The tops were smooth and unblemished. The insides weren't too hollow. The texture was perfect, just like egg-based macarons.
The recipe here is from my third batch of vegan cookie dough macarons, which I am deeming a triumphant success. Let me know if you bake these delicious vegan French macarons! And don't worry, if you end up with a macaron fail, it probably won't be inedible like my first batch. But even if it is, try again, and you'll eventually nail it!
How to Troubleshoot a Macaron Fail
Hopefully this journey through my arduous quest of learning how to go from a disastrous macaron fail to delicious vegan macarons was helpful - or at least entertaining! The key is to never give up!
The egg whites in French macarons provide lift and an airy texture. Aquafaba is the best vegan alternative because it performs the same function when whipped into a vegan meringue. Also, the egg whites don't provide much flavor, and since aquafaba also has a neutral flavor, the replacement makes sense in vegan macarons.
If you're using eggs whites, be careful not to get any egg yolks mixed into your whites. And clean out your bowl and whisk with a paper towel dipped in a little white vinegar. This will help remove any residual fat, since any fat will inhibit your egg whites from whipping up properly.
Other Ingredients & Flavorings
I also recommend taking notes and writing down every quantity of ingredient you use in each batch. This helps you look back at your notes and find what could be adjusted. It also provides a record of your trials, so you can avoid making the same mistake twice.
Above all, have fun! It's a learning experiment that you can eat (hopefully!) Just like when my second batch turned into macaron chips, I didn't toss them in the trash bin. I just dipped them into the cookie dough like dessert-style nachos! Which, is something I'd recreate on purpose.