Macaron help!!

Discussion in 'Cookies' started by PaulC30, Feb 14, 2018.

  1. PaulC30

    PaulC30 New Member

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    Hi! I haven’t ever posted on a forum before but this issue has me going nuts. I have made French macarons several times with varying degrees of success. But lately I have been having this issue (see pic). Can anyone help me out with what I’m doing wrong?

    I’m using Italian meringue.
     

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    PaulC30, Feb 14, 2018
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  2. PaulC30

    Norcalbaker59 Well-Known Member

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    Hello PaulC30, welcome to the forum.


    It looks like you have a few different things going on.

    Spreading and deformed shells are usually caused by too high an oven temperature. Try reducing your temperature by 25°.

    The center cracking upward like a volcano is a sign of under folding and shells being too wet when baked. Controlling the moisture in the batter and allowing the shells to dry sufficiently before baking is critical to preventing cracks. Dry out the shell before baking also produces a shell that rises and forms a foot rather than spread into a blob.

    Here are some tips on making maracons. I’ll include a recipe at the end of this post.

    Measure by weight: I strongly recommend you register by weight. Volume measurement is very in accurate. With macarons it’s all about the meringue. Egg whites vary in weight from egg to egg. some measuring all your ingredients including the egg whites is very important.

    Aged egg whites: Most macaron recipes mention aged egg whites, then in the next sentence dismiss the need of aged egg whites. What these recipes never address is WHY the French macaron is traditionally made with aged egg whites. It about controlling the moisture.

    You want just enough moisture in the batter to evaporate and create steam for rise. If there’s too much moisture in the batter, it will be too heavy and soggy to lift. That’s why you have that upward volcano crack in the center.

    Aging the egg whites allows some of the natural water in the egg white to evaporate. Egg whites are about 88% water and 10% protein. Controlling the moisture in the batter is critical to success of a meringue sturdy enough to withstand the folding and baking.

    Place egg whites in a clean glass bowl and cover with a paper towel or clean tea towel to allow water evaporation. Leave at room 24 to 72 hours before making macarons. Aging egg whites is important if you live in a humid environment.

    Since salmonella is in the embryo (yolk) not the egg white you can leave the egg whites at room temperature. But if you are hesitant to age at room temperature, place egg whites in the refrigerator.

    Tips for properly beaten egg whites

    Be sure all the equipment is clean, free of all oil, and dry.
    • Use aged egg whites, especially if you live in a humid environment .
    • If you age the egg whites in the fridge, bring to room temperature before using.
    • Add 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar to egg whites. Cream of tartar is an acid. It will stabilize egg protein. I do not recommend using lemon juice as juice just reintroduces water into the equation.

    Macaronage: macaronage is folding the batter to deflate it. there’s a lot of emphasis on macaronage. But the beating of the meringue is actually the critical first step in successful macronage. Under and over beaten egg whites will result in over mixed batter as under beaten egg whites will quickly destabilize when you fold the batter.

    Determining when the batter is properly folded takes praxtice. Fold the batter until the mixture falls off the spatula in a thick ribbon and takes about 10 seconds to disappear into the batter in the bowl.


    Resting batter: again many recipes mention resting the piped batter before baking, then in the next sentence and dismiss it as unnecessary. Resting the batter is again about controlling the moisture. The skin that forms as the shell dries out is critical in creating the smooth top and maintaining the proper shape of the shell. Shells baked too wet will crack and spread.


    Rest the piped batter until the shells feel smooth and dry. Your finger should glide over the top of the shell without sticking. It could take anywhere from 30 min - 60 mins. The more humid your environment the longer the rest period.


    But be careful not to over dry either. Begin checking them after 20 minutes of rest.


    Oven temperature: ask 10 bakers the correct temperature for macarons and you’re going to get 10 different answers. The correct temperature is the temperature that works for your recipe and your oven. Since your shells spread and deform, I would start by reducing the oven temperature.


    Brand of almond flour matters. The best shells are produced with finely ground almind flour. If you’re in the US, Mandelin is the best brand. Mandelin produces a smooth bakery quality shell. Unfortunately it is only available through restaurant supply stores or online directly through the company. Its the brand used in commercial bakeries and a lot of culinary programs.

    https://www.mandelininc.com/shop/blanched-almond-flour/


    Sift your dry ingredients at least three times. For some reason bakers really hate to sift dry ingredients. But in macarons this is ABSOLUTELY necessary.


    After piping batter, gently tap the baking sheet on the counter 2 or 3 times to release air bubbles.


    Add flavoring and food color to meringue before adding dry ingredients. I don’t know what those speckles are in your batter but if you’re adding anything other than food coloring and flavoring, for now just don’t. Until you have mastered making the shells it is not advisable to add anything to your batter. Get creative with the filling, but stick with a basic shell until you mastered it.



    =================


    Adapted from Pierre Herme’s Pastries.


    Macaron Shell


    Note: total of 220 grams of aged egg whites. Divided into 110 grams each.


    • 300 g powdered sugar
    • 300 g almond flour, preferably Mandelin brand
    • 110 g egg whites [AGED!]
    • 300 g granulated sugar
    • 75 g water
    • 110 g egg whites [AGED!]
    • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar


    Preheat oven to 160 degrees C/320 degrees F.


    Line a baking sheet with a silpat mat.


    Grind together powdered sugar and almond meal if using a brand other than Mandelin. Then sift through a mesh strainer to loosen and remove any large bits of almonds


    If using Mandelin brand almond flour, sift powdered sugar and almond through a mesh strainer into a large wide bowl.


    If using food color, add color to 110 g of the egg whites and blend to mix.


    Pour 110 g egg whites over the powdered sugar and almond flour mixture.


    Set aside without mixing.


    Place remaining 110 g of egg whites and 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar in a clean mixer bowl. Fit mixer with whip attachment.


    Combine granulated sugar and water in a saucepan. When mixture reaches 104°C/220° F start whipping the egg whites to stiff peak. Begin on med-low, then increase the med-high after a minute.


    Continue cooking sugar syrup to 118°C/244° F.


    Reduce mixer speed to low. With mixer running, pour sugar syrup along inside edge of bowl into egg whites.


    Continue to whip until meringue cools to 40°C/104°F.


    Add 20% of the meringue mixture into the almond meal mixture and mix with a spatula to fully loosen and incorporate the meringue.


    Fold in remaining meringue.


    Continue to fold batter until the mixture falls off the spatula in a thick ribbon and takes about 10 seconds to disappear into the batter in the bowl.


    Transfer batter into a piping bag.


    Pipe onto lined baking sheets.


    Let sit uncovered until surface of each macaron is dry to the touch. Check after 20 minutes. You should be able to rub your finger across the shell without feeling any stickiness or tackiness.


    [NOTE: drying time varies depending on the moisture in your batter and the air humidity]


    Bake for 15 - 18 minutes until done. Shells are done when they easily release from the pan.


    Let cool before removing and filling with ganache. Let filled macarons rest for 24 hours before eating.
     
    Norcalbaker59, Feb 14, 2018
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  3. PaulC30

    Becky Administrator

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    Welcome to the forum! :)

    Very good advice above ^

    Just to add my thoughts, macarons can also crack if they have air bubbles trapped inside (this is because the heat of the oven expands the trapped air). I found I had to really whack the tray on the counter to get rid of bubbles!

    Hope you have better luck with your next attempt, let us know how you get on.
     
    Becky, Feb 14, 2018
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  4. PaulC30

    PaulC30 New Member

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    Thanks everyone for your tips! I can say the second set I made I let stand for an hour before I put them in the oven and they looked great but were still hollow on the inside. I whip the meringue to stiff peaks but this is only the second time I have made them with Italian meringue so maybe I need to whip a little longer to dry it out more. Good note on checking the temp Norcalbaker59 I will make sure it cools to 104.
     
    PaulC30, Feb 14, 2018
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  5. PaulC30

    Becky Administrator

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    Might be worth watching some videos on YouTube to see what the batter should look like - getting it to the right consistency can be hard, but it's easier once you know what you are looking for :)
     
    Becky, Feb 14, 2018
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  6. PaulC30

    Norcalbaker59 Well-Known Member

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    [QUOTE="PaulC30, post: 35537, member: 2738"h]Thanks everyone for your tips! I can say the second set I made I let stand for an hour before I put them in the oven and they looked great but were still hollow on the inside. I whip the meringue to stiff peaks but this is only the second time I have made them with Italian meringue so maybe I need to whip a little longer to dry it out more. Good note on checking the temp Norcalbaker59 I will make sure it cools to 104.[/QUOTE]


    best blog post on troubleshooting hollow centers is on Stella Parks’ Brave Tart. Parks is an accomplished pastry chef with very deep knowledge base in baking science. She also spent years baking macarons professionally. I do not agree with her position on not aging egg whites. But the issue of aged egg whites is a divide that will always remain in the world of pastry.

    http://bravetart.com/blog/hollowpursuits


    The addition of cream of tartar when beating your egg whites will go a long way to help you stabilize the cake whites. It also helps prevent over beating. Below are some pics of what a stiff peak should look like.


    Frim Peak—Not a Stiff Peak. This may look like a stiff peak, but its is a firm peak. note the curl.

    D90CB373-CD6F-475F-82B0-FA4A6B6A1065.jpeg


    Stiff Peak. Note the egg whites will stand straight up
    EC9555B5-AA5D-46FF-8ADD-85EE05295657.jpeg


    Illustration of whipped egg white stages. This is not my photo. I don’t know who to credit for this photo. It’s an excellent illustration of whipped egg whites.

    4DA895DC-3EDC-4149-BF7D-C271490EA8EB.jpeg

    I transfer my batter into a shallow wide stainless steel bowl for folding. I want the room to properly work the batter.
    9890FF26-E583-4C22-A8B9-74D7E5F69876.jpeg
     
    Norcalbaker59, Feb 14, 2018
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  7. PaulC30

    Becky Administrator

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    That was a very interesting read, I would never think of adding extra oil :)

    I like the look of your folding bowl, that's a great idea! Where did you get yours? I just had a quick look online and I can't find any that are as shallow.
     
    Becky, Feb 15, 2018
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  8. PaulC30

    Norcalbaker59 Well-Known Member

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    Yes I too would have never thought to add a bit of oil to the batter. Stella Parks rocks. I’ve learned a lot reading her blog and Serious Eats where she’s an editor.


    Regarding mixing bowls...I really like the shallow wide mixing bowl for folding batters. I feel the wide space allows me better control whether I’m deflating a macaron batter, or trying not to deflate a chiffon cake batter.


    I just did an online search for stainless steel bowls in the UK. And you’re right the bowls are quite deep. The only bowl I saw that was close was at Nisbests.


    https://www.nisbets.co.uk/search/?text=Stainless+steel+mixing+bowl+


    I purchased my bowls at a local restaurant supply store. They are the standard restaurant mixing bowls, so they’re readily available at all restaurant supply stores in the US. I own a dozen of them in different sizes. They are my favorite mixing bowls.


    I think the manufacture of my bowls is American Metalcrafters.


    Vollrath is another brand that is widely available in the US. But they have distribution in Europe. Vollrath overall quality is higher than most, so their prices tend to be higher.


    I purchase most of my baking equipment at restaurant supply stores since the equipment is designed for heavy duty use. There’s also a greater selection and range of equipment and tools. The prices are comparable or cheaper than retail stores.


    In the US most restaurant and catering supply stores sell to the general public.
     
    Norcalbaker59, Feb 15, 2018
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  9. PaulC30

    Becky Administrator

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    Thanks for the recommendations :) We have a few kitchen supply outlet stores near here, so once I'm up to a shopping trip I'll see what they have. There's one place in particular that tends to have a wide range of more unusual supplies - I managed to get a baking tray there that is the exact width of my oven, it's so useful.

    @PaulC30 I look forward to hearing how your next macaron batch goes!
     
    Becky, Feb 16, 2018
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