SOFT MACARON TOPS! HELP!!


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Hello,
So I am an avid macaron maker. I love making them because they're a challenge. Over quarantine, I started to make them frequently and in the beginning, I had really good batches going for a while. This was when I lived with my parents. However, ever since I moved out, I have not been getting consistent batches and they have all been wonky. The one issue im having the absolute most trouble figuring out is soft macaron tops, meaning the skin of the macaron shells are thin and a little fragile. I cannot figure this out for the life of me and I have tried SO many things.
Here are some things to consider about my macaron making technique and my environment
- I wipe down equipment with vinegar
- I dry out almond floor (i used to get oily tops and drying them in the oven seemed to help, so I've been doing this for every batch now)
- I use Kirkland costco brand for my flour (it has worked with me for the most part so I stick with it also because its cheaper too than other brands)
- I use a stand mixer to whip my egg whites consistently (because based on research, thin tops are a result of an inconsistent meringue)
- My oven is an electric conventional oven (no convection setting, no fan, the main heating element is at the bottom of my oven)
- My environment is not humid at all
- I started using egg white powder in my recipe recently because I've heard it strengthens the meringue, so I thought this would solve my issue
- I whip my meringue slowly (I start at level 2 and whip until I'm at level 6 or 8)
- I use Americolor gel food coloring (I ordered a couple powdered food colorings as well cause idk if my food coloring is the issue now)
- I use a scale to measure all my ingredients
- I use the French method (I don't want to learn the Italian method even though I've heard its stronger. I just don't want to get into the whole extra process of making a sugar syrup and using even more egg whites for the almond paste. I will consider Swiss method though)
- I store my almond flour in the pantry and not in the fridge
- I don't age my egg whites because I personally have never found a difference in my macarons between aged and fresh (I leave my fresh whites at room temp before using)
- I use Baketoujours aka Nicole's recipe. We literally have the same equipment and all LOL
(130g each of icing sugar and almond flour, 100g of egg whites, 90g of sugar and 3-4g of egg white powder)
- I've been experimenting with different oven temps (ranging from 275-300°; i even have an oven thermometer to make sure)
- I flip my macs half way through
- I do the same macaronage as Nicole and I stop when it flows slowly like lava (I never overmix)
- I whip my egg whites until stiff (I keep an eye on my meringue the entire process just to make sure I don't overwhip)
- I tap all the air bubbles out after piping and I have a scribe/needle to poke them out afterwards too

I have tried nearly everything for troubleshooting. Using only 1 drop of food coloring in case the gel is messing with the batter, whipping egg whites more consistently, using aged whites/fresh whites, underwhipping egg whites slightly in case my meringue has been too stiff all these times, different oven temps, etc...

Guys.. what am I doing wrong here? I attached two photos: the pink ones I made yesterday. You can see that the skin is quite thin.. they're beautiful but im not proud of them. The white ones I made back at home. Its obvious that the skin in the white macs are much sturdier. I don't care if there a small gap at the top, it usually fills up during maturation. But seriously, would anyone be able to tell what my problem is :( ? This is the most stressed I've ever been because I want to start selling very soon! I currently don't have a job (even though I was supposed to start one not that long ago) so I need some cash coming in, but I don't want to sell something that I'm not proud of yet.
And the thing is: I had had a few good batches at my new place. I dont know what I did right those times but I've had good sturdy batches here. Could it be my oven?? I'm so used to using the convection setting so the fact that my oven doesnt have one is quite frustrating.
Is my almond flour the culprit maybe? I heard that blue diamond is a very consistent brand-its just that Kirkland has always worked for me so for it to just.. suddenly stop working kind of makes no sense. also I have 2 more bags in my pantry so I kinda need to use those.
Another thing I've been noticing with my batches these days is that the feet on my macs look a bit.. fat? They protrude very slightly (pic below from tonight's batch). Is this an indication of anything?

I'm actually desperate for help at this point. Any advice would be appreciated!!!
Thank you
 

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1. Those are not “thin” tops. They are hollow shells.

2. Hollow shells are caused my a number of reasons:
  • not knocking enough air out during macronage
  • not knocking enough air out when you rap the baking sheet on the counter; rap it hard several times
3. Stop using egg power. Egg powder is dehydrated egg white. You are throwing the ratio of you egg whites, fresh egg whites, powdered sugar, and almond flour of by adding in extra egg whites. Bakers have baked billions macaron without egg powder. You don’t need it.

4. Pierre Hermes 1) the arguably the greatest pastry chef in the world; 2) French; 3) famous for his macaron—uses the Italian method. The Italian is the best macaron. Any decent pastry class you take on macrons will teach it. It is the standard for macarons. So if you are scared, just sign up for a class.

5. Stabilize your egg whites with an acid like cream of tartar. Don’t add your sugar too soon, add it slowly. I’ve written a lot on this site about whipping eggs properly. You have to be careful no to over beat.

6. Make sure you understand the difference between stiff and and firm peaks. If I see another idiot turn a mixing bowl upside down as a “test” for peaks, I am going to scream. Whether the meringue stays in the bowl is not how to tell if the difference between a stiff and firm peak.

You can read about how to beat egg properly in this




In this thread I explain the science of why the sugar has to added slowly




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

Fresh Egg Whites Before Beating. Do Not Add Anything. Beat Until Just Frothy
9BB07D2F-1AA2-4949-A874-6657FCE6FC39.jpeg



Frothy, but translucent Now Add Cream of Tartar—BUT DO NOT ADD SUGAR YET! Beat about 1 minute until foamy.
2ACB33E6-95E6-43E7-B2FB-8B3FB12D4CBB.jpeg



Foamy. Now gradually add sugar in a steady stream
B87CA37F-235B-4CBA-BB64-E81C04D0133A.jpeg


FIRM Peak—Correct for macaron. Note the Curl and how the Tip is POINTED!!! A Soft Peak will have a ROUNDED TiP. A Firm Peak will Stand Straight UP. Turning a bowl upside down will not show you any of these characteristics.
33FA81C6-6CEA-44AA-BD3E-E36A6B19781E.jpeg



STIFF Peak WRONG FOR MACRONS! NOTE HOW THE MERINGUE IS SO STIFF IT STANDS STRAIGHT UP. THIS IS BEAT TOO MUCH FOR MACARONS.
08E4F92A-990D-448E-A5F8-FD1A1FDAFA45.jpeg


This is not my photo. I wish I could credit it.
22A785DE-36A2-4096-857D-A0DF3B6CBC40.jpeg
 

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