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I have no problem with measuring ingredients by weight, in fact, I prefer using a scale; it is much easier. After looking at multiple recipe's for macarons, I have not found a single common ratio in all the recipes. If weight is so important, then clearly the recipes are trying to keep something constant, but I can't seem to figure it out. The sugar to almond ratio varies from 1.66 to 2.5(for the same quantity of egg white), which clearly allows a huge margin of error. Sugar content and almond content also vary a lot(+/- 50g) Assuming that all the recipe lead to a successful macaron, is all the precision really that important?

Note: All the recipes I choose use the french method of making meringue and have a very similar preparation method.

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I can tell you that yes, every part of the process, including precise measurement, has really low error tolerance. Do something a bit wrong, and you end up with an edible cookie, which does not resemble a macaron in shape or texture.

My explanation for the different ratios you found is: the really important thing about the ratio is the final moisture content of the batter. Different recipes exist, because there are different ways to reach the same final batter moisture.

  • both sugar and almonds bind moisture from the egg whites. So it isn't enough to look only at the almond:eggwhite ratio. The recipes with more almonds probably use less sugar, if the process is similar.
  • the process itself matters a lot. Making an Italian, French or Swiss meringue will have an influence on the amount of liquid available for the almonds to absorb.
  • almond flour does not have a standard moisture content. If a chef has his almonds cracked daily and processed into flour, they will absorb much less water than if he buys a pack of almond flour at the supermarket.
  • aged eggwhites will behave slightly differently than unaged, some recipes will be written for aged eggwhites and other for fresh ones.
  • finally, not every recipe out there is a good one. It's very possible that a few recipes from your sample will never produce a good macaron.

You are, of course, welcome to try it without the precision. Especially after you have mastered them, you can play around and see if a different recipe gives you a slighlty different texture which you prefer. But if you already have a recipe which is supposed to work, I'd avoid changing anything about it.

  • Thanks for your reply! I have used the most popular recipe online, by how to cook that-easy macaroon recipe. After four iterations of macaroons with no feet, I finally decided to look at a different recipe, which led me to this question. Your comment about the almond flour makes me wonder if that is why I have failed all 4 times. I place my blanched almonds in the fridge and grind them in the blender along with some subtracted powdered sugar. I use this mixture on the same day. Is it possible that they are too wet for the macaroons, leading to feetless cookies? – Jeff Jan 8 '15 at 22:00
  • Interestingly, on the how to cook recipe website, there is an image of an old cookbook containing a recipe for almond puffs or macaroons. The amount of sugar is left unspecified. Like you said, I suppose the process itself makes the difference. – Jeff Jan 8 '15 at 22:05
  • I haven't tried another recipe yet because I can't figure out where I went wrong.(4 times!!! at least one macaron ought to have feet) Any thoughts on readymade almond flour versus home-made? I choose the latter because I don't have access to really fine almond flour. – Jeff Jan 8 '15 at 22:30
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    @Jeff: I've never bothered to make a macaroon in my life (I don't like the things, so why would I?), but it seems to me that your first step ought to be to beg, borrow, or steal an actual nut grinder. If you're using a blender, what you're making is a substance that fails to be either a nut butter or a nut meal ("choosing between two chairs, it ends up on the floor", to translate the applicable Hungarian saying). – Marti Jan 9 '15 at 1:33
  • @Marti Looking at pictures online and a not-so-uniformly ground "almond powder" at the supermarket, I feel like my ground almond is very fine in comparison. The only thing that I can imagine that falls between the two spectrum is if you over-blend the almond and it collects together, forming tiny balls. But, I never take it that far. In any case, I will try to find another brand for the almond flour, coupled with a new recipe. – Jeff Jan 10 '15 at 12:39

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