Nearly Losing My Mind Over Macarons

Discussion in 'Cookies' started by Eunice, Mar 2, 2018.

  1. Eunice

    Eunice New Member

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    Hiya Bakers! I'm new here; a non-professional, amateur baker, who simply loves to bake.

    Five years ago, I (surprisingly) had great luck with baking macarons. I recently revisited the lovely world of macarons and I am miserably failing, and I feel like I'm about to lose my mind.

    I've tried 5 different recipes (multiple times), both French and Italian methods, and fresh/aged/powdered egg whites. I've been following recipes to exact (to the gram) measurements, tested oven temperature, piped and let the formed batter sit 15/30/60/90/120 minutes, placed the macarons on different rack levels, and baked between 280-310F.

    To bake these, I'm utilizing the KitchenAid Classic Plus, silicon spatulas, all stainless steel bowls/equipment, organic brown cage-free eggs (at room temp), Bob's Red Mill super fine almond flour, confectioners'/powdered sugar, C&H Baker's ultrafine sugar, cream of tartar.

    The tops consistently come out wrinkly (crinkly?) but, concurrently, the macarons never burn, the bottoms peel off perfectly, the shells are always full and never hollow, and the flavor is good. I cannot, for the life of me, figure out the culprit. Such an oddity since, irrespective of the recipe and methods, the tops end up wrinkled/crinkled. Is it the ingredients, the oven, the mixing,...is it ME?!

    Has anyone experienced anything similar? Please, please, pretty please help a fellow struggling macaron baker out. This is nearly maddening. I would be immensely grateful for any advice/recommendations.

    Thank you so very much, in advance!
     

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    Eunice, Mar 2, 2018
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  2. Eunice

    Norcalbaker59 Well-Known Member

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    Consistency: you’ll never resolve the issue if you keep changing recipes. You have to figure out where the mistake(s) is in the process. Not knowing the mistakes, you just repeat them from one recipe to another.

    When troubleshooting it’s best to pick a recipe and start testing one variable at a time to find the problem.

    Judging from the photos, the shells did not form feet and a crown. Even though the shells are not hollow they did not raise properly. Look at the cross section photograph. See how the shell edges are low and the center high? The edges shouldn’t be lower than the centers. When the shell rises properly it forms frilly feet and a nice smooth crown.

    So troubleshoot for no feet. These are the most common causes of shells not forming feet and a crown.

    Egg whites not aged. It’s important age the egg whites to allow some of the natural water to evaporate. Too much hydration interferes with rise.

    Egg whites under/over beaten. This is probably the number one cause for no feet and crown. And given the shells have very dense interiors and did not rise properly, is an indication it’s an improperly beaten meringue problem.

    For each egg white use a scant 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar. The acid stabilizes the eggs whites and prevents over beating. Below are pics of beaten eggs whites at different stages. For me, I find the firm peak works best. I have seen some recipes especially with the Italian meringue that says to beat to a soft peak. But that is just too weak of a meringue.

    Over mixing the batter deflates the egg whites to the point they collapse in the bake. If the batter spreads thin after piping and/or when baked, that’s usually an indication that it is been over mixed. From the photo I can’t tell how much they spread during the bake.

    Under mixed batter will not spread or form feet. When piped it forms chubby blobs instead of disks. It then bakes into a big blob. But given the look of your big shells I don’t think under mixing is the issue.

    Knowing when the batter is mixed enough just takes experience. To test if it’s deflated properly, scoop up batter with the spatula, then let it flow back into the bowl. The batter should flow off the spatula in a smooth ribbon and pile up in the bowl for a few seconds before sinking in. If the batter breaks into blobs as you pour it off the spatula, then it needs more deflating.

    This is a firm peak—not a stiff peak. Note the curl of the tip
    A2EAB7B2-197B-4B68-9A63-19F9BF010D3C.jpeg


    This is a stiff peak. Note the tip is straight. Stiff peak works best in my opinion
    F7B0E1CB-1879-4A36-A345-54E20DA5C7CA.jpeg



    Stages of beaten egg whites
    429E3792-EB9C-4851-9F26-8CF7CA1757A3.jpeg
     
    Norcalbaker59, Mar 2, 2018
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    Becky Well-Known Member

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    Agreed.

    They look like they have risen then collapsed, creating the wrinkles. Be careful when you're folding everything together - you don't want to lose too much of the air you've created, but you also need it to be liquid enough to pipe. Check out videos on YouTube so that you know what kind of consistency you're looking for.
     
    Becky, Mar 2, 2018
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  4. Eunice

    Eunice New Member

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    Thank you, both, so very much! Norcalbaker59, the images and detailed advice were incredibly kind and helpful. Becky, I will definitely treat the folding process with respect. I've watched so many YouTube videos and I tried so many different things to improve my macarons. It has been a humbling (and frustrating) experience with these.

    I'd tried the same recipe multiple times, with multiple recipes, under/overmixing, resting the shells lightly and a couple hours, and it just didn't show me any love. I finally had a batch that was decent (not crinkly) but far from great--hooray for progress! I believe the culprit was undermixing the meringue and resting the shells too long; however, I will keep practicing and likely be back for more expert advice.

    I sincerely appreciate the love and support on this forum!
     
    Eunice, Mar 3, 2018
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  5. Eunice

    Becky Well-Known Member

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    I'm so pleased to hear you're making progress! Good work :)
     
    Becky, Mar 5, 2018
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