For all the macarons I’ve churned out in the past few years, have you also noticed that there are trendy kitchen gadgets such as a silicone macaron mat in specialised baking shops? When Mum told me my cousin, Julie, made wonderful macarons for a family party (using the book) and that she was using a macaron mat, I thought it was about time to jump on the bandwagon and try one out myself.
So I bought myself a Mastrad macaron mat. This post is not referring to a silicone Silpat mat, but a special macaron mat with circles. (Incidentally, I don’t use a plain Silpat mat as it tends to overcook macarons…)
Although it’s referred to as a small macaron baking sheet, it’s rather a large mat (42cm x 33cm; 17″x13″) and so the small is referring to the size of macarons. In America this may be an extra small size, but in France this is more of the normal size that we find in the pâtisseries in Paris, albeit just a little smaller. The mat produces 56 shells for 28 macarons.
It was great to see so many macarons condensed onto one tray. If you see the photo on the left, however, you will see that my macarons are not quite round. Why? Well, although it may look easy I had to pipe the batter right into the middle of the raised rounds. By the time the batter spread out a little (as they normally do), I realised that some of my piping wasn’t quite directly in the middle. I’m so used to piping quickly free-hand.
Although I missed the centre on some of them, the majority turned out in perfect circles. On the other hand, the mat was too big for my large baking sheet. The result was that the batter moved and produced some oval macarons which were not so pretty. I would, therefore, recommend that you use a baking sheet that is large enough to support the mat, such as this aluminium 18×14 baking sheet.
Baking the macarons using the mat took an extra 4-5 minutes compared to the ones being baked just on baking parchment.
In general, the end result was satisfactory but I really wasn’t happy that the macarons’ feet were much flatter than I normally achieve by piping directly onto baking parchment/paper. I also found that the macarons tended to stick to the mat, creating a shiny surface underneath. I would recommend oiling the mat slightly before piping to avoid this.
Being so used to piping out macarons free hand, I find it much easier to use simple baking parchment (good quality) and pipe out rounds quickly.
After a few batches I stopped using the silicone mat for macarons; it’s too time consuming to relearn how to pipe the batter into the centre of the silicone rounds on the mat. So that my money doesn’t go to waste, I’ve used it for making chocolate mendiants.
I also used the macaron mat for preparing French chouquettes (mini choux buns topped with pearl sugar.) It was interesting to see that they turned out slightly flatter compared to ones piped out onto my Silpat silicone baking mat.
Silicone Macaron Mat: My Verdict
The mat is an extra luxury; you don’t need it, especially if you already enjoy baking and have a few practises with the piping bag. First-time users with a piping bag can find it awkward at first and, although the mat provides extra confidence in piping out uniform rounds, you still need to practise piping out the rounds directly in the middle and just enough so that the batter doesn’t go over the raised rounds. The positive side is that you can fit more macarons on to the one sheet.
If you do prefer using the mat, I would encourage you to ensure you have a baking sheet that is large enough to hold the full mat, so check your sizes first as I recommend above.
I still prefer using good quality baking parchment for the best macaron shell results with a perfect foot.
Have you bought a macaron mat recently? What do you think?
If you’re in Paris, join me or my sweet colleagues for much more macaron talk on a chocolate, pastry and macaron walk with Context Travel! And if you’re wanting a macaron recipe that works, you need Mad About Macarons.
UPDATE! Now you have Teatime in Paris, with not just a chapter on how to make macarons but éclairs, tarts, millefeuilles, and many more French pastry treats…
Note: This is a personal review and not sponsored by anybody: Mastrad did not contact me. As I see them in so many shops and readers ask me if they should buy it, I bought the mat myself, curious to try. All ideas and opinions are my own in the interest of my macaron-making friends. If any company wishes to contact me to convince me otherwise, however, then I am totally open to doing a new review …