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Macarons: Troubleshooting & Tips

Confections

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#211 Volition

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Posted 30 May 2014 - 05:25 AM

Well you are doing the right things. My understanding of humidity in the process is limited. I do know that humidity plays a massive part in baking and ovens. MC shows this well with wet bulb temperatures. There are bound to be some real eggheads (excuse the pun) on the physics occurring in baking and how that relates to your shells and humidity.

I have an idea. To establish a method to ascertain firstly if humidity is the culprit. Keep your batter exactly the same. And record the humidity every time you bake. You could get a cheap hydrometer( I think that's what they're called) from an electric shop. Like a Tandy or Dick Smith in Australia. They normally are a thermometer as well. Might be interesting to record the temperature as well.

Keep a log of the temp, humidity and the outcome of you shells. You should start to see a correlation hopefully. If your hunch is correct. You might have a few dud shells in the process as you can' taller your recipe to work it out at first. Once you work out what ranges effect what. You can start to try and play with the mix to adapt to the temp/humidity. There should definitely be some resources out there.

Easy for me to talk as you'll be doing the work if you could be bothered. Other options are a more resilient batter. E.g. Tapioca suggestion, or a humidity controlled oven. But from what you describe the dry batter is before it enters the oven.

So if it is dry and not spreading out for the foot. That means you are getting evaporation somewhere or losing moisture at some point in the process. Could the almond be more absorbent. Very interesting. For your hypothesis of humidity to be the problem it means that it has to be low humidity that causes the problem I suspect. To allow for more evaporation. Or higher temperatures in your environment.

Ah well enough rambling, none of this solves your problem. Just gives you more work and more reasons why it happened. Sorry about that.

Personally my macaron shells are pretty consistent, unless I stuff up.

300 g almond meal
300 g pure icing (confectioners') sugar
110 g egg whites, at room temperature
300 g caster (superfine) sugar
75 g water
Food colouring
2 g powdered egg white
110 g egg whites, extra, at room temperature

From adriano zumbo

See how that goes.

#212 Matthew Kirshner

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Posted 20 June 2014 - 03:46 PM

Hi everyone,

 

 I noticed some picture in the past about adding different color effects to the shell, I was wondering how it is done.  I thought it might be extra macaron batter, colored differently and adding to the base shell before setting, but I could be wrong.  Can someone add some input to this matter.  I would like to jazz up the shells a little.

 

Thanks!!



#213 JeanneCake

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Posted 20 June 2014 - 09:25 PM

My assistant was playing around one day when I was doing swirled buttercream for the top of cupcakes and she took two colors of macaron batter; put each color in a separate bag, then put the two into a larger bag with the tip (it was a little messy because the batter is runny and you have to cut the bags before you put it into the larger one) and she made swirled macs that looked very yin/yang.  We use the Herme recipe, and it doubles well, you just divide the batter after you do some initial mixing; add the color and continue the macaronage til it's ready. 



#214 Sarah Tan

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Posted 29 June 2014 - 10:30 AM

Hi all. I am relatively new at macaron making. I have managed to churn out a couple of successful batches with both Italian meringue and French meringue.

However, I found lately that my French meringue macarons are very
chewy and their outer caps can become very wet, which to me seems very unappealing as it won't be as crisp ad it should be. What am I doing wrong?

I figured that I may have overmixed the batter or under baked them. I tried getting it slightly less mixed than I am used to and baked with a low temp baked for a longer time as not to Brown them, but they still end up with the same problem.

This so far only happens with the French meringue recipes. Could it have anything to do with the weather? I live in a high humidity area where it is common to experience 99% humidity. I do make up for it by drying the shells in an air conditioned room prior to baking.

Any help is appreciated and highly needed as my macarons are otherwise perfect so this issue is driving me crazy.

Thanks in advance!

#215 JeanneCake

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Posted 29 June 2014 - 06:34 PM

Sarah, how are you storing them after baking?  When the humidity is high here in New England, I try not to make macaron or at least do it first thing in the morning before the air gets really bad and put the shells away in an airtight container and into the freezer for storage, even if I am going to fill them later on or the next day (my walk in cooler is also somewhat humid).  Even an hour or two out on the speed rack on a very humid day makes for some stickiness/softness after baking.  I'm using the italian meringue method from Herme's book.



#216 Sarah Tan

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Posted 30 June 2014 - 12:34 AM

I let them cool & sit out on the baking sheet while I do other stuff for around 30 mins - 1 hour, then once I fill them, store them in an airtight container and pop them into the fridge. The Fillings I used were chocolate ganache & Mango Jam (Just in case you thought the filling mattered).

 

I am thinking if it could be because I switched icing sugar brands, and if so, how would the corn starch content affect this? Would the starch help develop a more solid shell or is it the other way around? The Corn Starch content isn't indicated on the packaging of my icing sugar. The brand I previously used had 2% corn starch and 98% Sugar.

 

Any Ideas?



#217 pquinene

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Posted 30 June 2014 - 02:35 AM

I let them cool & sit out on the baking sheet while I do other stuff for around 30 mins - 1 hour, then once I fill them, store them in an airtight container and pop them into the fridge. The Fillings I used were chocolate ganache & Mango Jam (Just in case you thought the filling mattered).

 

I am thinking if it could be because I switched icing sugar brands, and if so, how would the corn starch content affect this? Would the starch help develop a more solid shell or is it the other way around? The Corn Starch content isn't indicated on the packaging of my icing sugar. The brand I previously used had 2% corn starch and 98% Sugar.

 

Any Ideas?

Sarah, the sticky shells sounds like it could be similar to a glass of ice water sitting on the counter in a warm room. Or, it could be your new brand of powdered sugar. To find out for sure, try a batch with your old brand right now and see what happens. I have always used the name-brand powdered sugar -- Dominos 10x -- and it has a bit of cornstarch. Perhaps your new brand doesn't have any cornstarch or enough cornstarch. Starch does help dry out the batter. I do know that when I first take the empty or filled shells out of my freezer, they are a tad sticky until they come to room temperature. Once at room temp, that bit of moisture on the surface dries out.

 

I had lots of problems when I first started making macarons with French meringue. After countless trials in my electric oven, I finalized a recipe that has worked perfectly and have never had a bad batch. I actually found that adding tapioca starch -- yes, tapioca starch -- with the caster sugar and cream of tartar to make the meringue, I've had perfect shells using French meringue. I use 0.5 oz. of tapioca starch to 1.5 oz. caster sugar to 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar to 4 oz. of aged egg whites to 8 oz. powdered sugar to 5 oz. finely ground almond flour. The ratio of each ingredient is specific to all the steps I took in making a very reliable recipe. Instead of rewriting my procedures, here's a link.

 

Since your macarons are somewhat soft after cooling, flip them over so the bottom sides are up and bake in a 180-degree-Fahrenheit oven for 30 minutes. This should make them very crispy and dry without darkening them. Once you fill and age your macarons in the freezer or fridge, the cookies will absorb moisture from the filling and soften up to chewy/creamy deliciousness. Hope this helps!


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#218 Sarah Tan

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Posted 10 July 2014 - 05:38 PM

Sarah, the sticky shells sounds like it could be similar to a glass of ice water sitting on the counter in a warm room. Or, it could be your new brand of powdered sugar. To find out for sure, try a batch with your old brand right now and see what happens. I have always used the name-brand powdered sugar -- Dominos 10x -- and it has a bit of cornstarch. Perhaps your new brand doesn't have any cornstarch or enough cornstarch. Starch does help dry out the batter. I do know that when I first take the empty or filled shells out of my freezer, they are a tad sticky until they come to room temperature. Once at room temp, that bit of moisture on the surface dries out.
 
I had lots of problems when I first started making macarons with French meringue. After countless trials in my electric oven, I finalized a recipe that has worked perfectly and have never had a bad batch. I actually found that adding tapioca starch -- yes, tapioca starch -- with the caster sugar and cream of tartar to make the meringue, I've had perfect shells using French meringue. I use 0.5 oz. of tapioca starch to 1.5 oz. caster sugar to 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar to 4 oz. of aged egg whites to 8 oz. powdered sugar to 5 oz. finely ground almond flour. The ratio of each ingredient is specific to all the steps I took in making a very reliable recipe. Instead of rewriting my procedures, here's a link.
 
Since your macarons are somewhat soft after cooling, flip them over so the bottom sides are up and bake in a 180-degree-Fahrenheit oven for 30 minutes. This should make them very crispy and dry without darkening them. Once you fill and age your macarons in the freezer or fridge, the cookies will absorb moisture from the filling and soften up to chewy/creamy deliciousness. Hope this helps!


Thanks for the tips Paula!! I have to try out your recipe. It's a really good and clear video. Fingers crossed. Hope it works for me!

#219 eing6888

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Posted 09 August 2014 - 10:55 AM

I've been experimenting with confectioner's sugar and granulated sugar ratio in macaron recipes and wondering how both sugar may affect the final product?

Why can't I use 100% granulated sugar or 100% confectioner's sugar?

Does the anti caking agent such as tapioca starch or corn starch in the confectioner's sugar affect the final product?

Is the reason for mixing confectioner's sugar and almond flour is just to prevent almond four from clumping? 

I've been looking for the answer for this questions in many cookbooks and blogs, but I couldn't seem to find it.

I know it's a lot of questions, but thank you for answering.



#220 macaronsdontlikeme

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Posted 10 August 2014 - 12:37 AM

I have tried producing numerous batches of macarons for my school folio using french meringue with the almond meal and confectioners sugar but they all turn out really flat (4-5mm) with no feet and are chewy and tough in centre.

Ive spent hours looking at other recipes, videos and tips but I've been following what they mention and keep getting same results.

If anyone could give me some suggestions it would help greatly! :)

#221 pastrygirl

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Posted 10 August 2014 - 01:07 AM

How long do you let them dry?  Do they form a skin that you can touch?  Does the batter almost hold a peak, or is it pretty runny?



#222 pastrygirl

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Posted 10 August 2014 - 01:22 AM

Powdered sugar does seem to dry things.  Think of how a powdered sugar glaze on a cake sets up.  Would macaron form a skin without powdered sugar?  I don't know whether that is because of the starch, or something to do with particle size or shape, but powdered sugar does seem necessary.  You definitely want to keep the almond flour from clumping.  Also, almond flour has fairly high fat, and fat deflates meringue, so mixing with powdered sugar may absorb surface oil so it won't interfere.  Just my theories, I'm curious to know more. 



#223 macaronsdontlikeme

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Posted 10 August 2014 - 02:20 AM

Thanks for your reply I let them rest for 20 minutes and they hadn't quite formed a skin. I was careful not to over beat the mixture and they sort of held their shape when piped but was on the runnier side. They flattened out heaps when hit on bench and left to rest.

#224 Ashley Waters

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Posted 10 August 2014 - 05:58 AM

You really need to let them form a skin before you put them in the oven.  What was your oven temp at?  



#225 Shelby

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Posted 10 August 2014 - 07:29 AM

This thread

 

http://forums.egulle...vention/page-15

 

 

is a great thread.  Lots of ideas and troubleshooting going on.



#226 HQAntithesis

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Posted 10 August 2014 - 10:21 AM

My understanding of it is that you're really just after a homogenous mass by the time you get to the piping stage.  I checked my recipes and:

- in an Italian meringue method, the only mention of non-icing sugar is in the syrup that gets boiled and added to the egg whites, while

- in a French meringue method, the only mention of non-icing sugar is in the egg whites (where they should technically dissolve completely or enough to be very small anyway).

 

I don't think the small amount of starch in the icing sugar is enough to make a difference.  If anything, I believe it would add a slight bit of body/sponginess to the macaron.

 

I think you're right about the icing sugar being mixed into the meal to prevent clumping - it just makes everything easier to mix and means less mixing overall to get a uniform mass.

 

As a guess, if you had large enough sugar crystals in the mixture before baking:

- on the shell: it may colour faster, be quicker to absorb moisture, dissolve and form small 'dimples' on the shell

- on the inside: I have no idea - I don't imagine there would be a noticeable difference.



#227 pastrygirl

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Posted 10 August 2014 - 10:23 AM

Like Ashley said, you really need to let them form a skin.  Then when you put them in the oven the soft batter underneath will expand and push the skin up as an intact layer, forming macaron feet at the bottom.  How long it takes depends on your kitchen conditions, drying will take more time when humidity is higher.  It sounds like the consistency of the batter is ok, just try letting them rest longer.



#228 macaronsdontlikeme

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Posted 11 August 2014 - 05:30 AM

I ground up the almond meal and the confectioners sugar more fine, beat the egg so it was slightly thicker and let them sit for 50 mins as it took that long to form a skin.

When I took them out of the oven they had risen perfectly with no cracks and had feet. Thanks heaps for all your help!
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#229 pastrygirl

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Posted 11 August 2014 - 11:06 AM

I ground up the almond meal and the confectioners sugar more fine, beat the egg so it was slightly thicker and let them sit for 50 mins as it took that long to form a skin.

When I took them out of the oven they had risen perfectly with no cracks and had feet. Thanks heaps for all your help!

 

 Yay!  Happy we could help!



#230 jaroj

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Posted 11 August 2014 - 07:24 PM

These cookies are very delicate and 3 key factors are very important: temperature, moisture and viscosity. Any single one of them or combined can affect the final outcome.

 

What I usually do is the following,

 

A..Sieve my almond meal (flour) 2 times and throw out any large piece (this makes a smooth nice texture).

B. Mix the almond meal and powdered sugar  (which are my dry ingredients).

C. I beat the merengue using the French method until I obtain stiff peaks, simply beating for 6 minutes total divided into 3 steps of 2 minutes each. In the first 2 minutes at regular speed (depending on the beater, usually number 1 or 2) I add the granulated sugar after 1 minute and continue beating, then I put more power in beating at medium speed for another 2 minutes and lastly another 2 minutes at high speed.

C.Once the merengue is ready I add the color if any and beat another minute and combine with my dry ingredients and start folding giving the first three or four times quite hard whacks then fold gently until perfectly combined and the mixture has a consistency like lava flowing. (not very thick or thin)

D. Pipe onto parchment paper or silicone mat and let sit to dry usually between 20 minutes  to 1 hour depending on the humidity at your location.

 

Although I'm no expert and at the beginning I made more than 12 batches that went to the garbage, I highly recommend to do 2 things.

 

1. Take note of every step you take in every batch (weight, temperature, etc, etc) that way you know what to correct in the next batch

2. Read the following blog which I found extremely useful  and is probably the best on the web http://bravetart.com...TenCommandments .

 

 

Best of luck and don't be discouraged

 

 

jaroj


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#231 rosik929

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Posted 30 August 2014 - 04:20 PM

When your macaron batter is a bit runny when piping it, this usually is a sign that the batter was not beaten enough; did a clump form in the middle of the mixer attachment (the beater, whisk attachment, etc.) towards the end?  Sifting the almond flour and confectioners' sugar may also help (some recommend sifting for 3 minutes nonstop) a great deal; using a kitchen scale to measure out the exact amounts of almond flour and confectioners' sugar makes a HUGE difference as well.  Leaving the egg whites out at room temperature for 3 days (in a cool, dry place) can also help.  Here is a very detailed, very exact recipe with step-by-step instructions for vanilla almond macarons with raspberry filling at http://thymetobake.com/?p=125



#232 Alleguede

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Posted 30 August 2014 - 06:35 PM

Hi HQ pointed out many of the reasons,

Sucrose has issues dissolving in multiple circumstances.
And the inside temperature of a macaron does not arrive to the liquefying level of sugar.
It also allows you to have a smooth mixture.

#233 pastrygirl

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Posted 15 November 2014 - 12:54 PM

Does anyone have a recommendation for a brand of food color that is best for macaron?  I've tried gel color, but it doesn"t stay bright.  Is powder color more stable?



#234 RWood

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Posted 15 November 2014 - 05:44 PM

Does anyone have a recommendation for a brand of food color that is best for macaron?  I've tried gel color, but it doesn"t stay bright.  Is powder color more stable?


I've used Americolor and it seems to work fine. They lighten as they bake, so you need to add more than you think. You need to also make sure that they are heat stable. Wilton colors say "icing" colors, and they also will make the macarons brown instead of holding the color.
I've used powdered colors before, but they seem to need a lot more to get a deep color if that is what you are looking for. The ones I've used are Crystal Colors, and they are not cheap. I used half a container to get a deeper color, and at $5 a pop, that's not worth it.
There are some European color brands that I've heard work well, but I don't have the names in front of me at the moment.

#235 pastrygirl

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Posted 16 November 2014 - 10:48 AM

I've used Americolor and it seems to work fine. They lighten as they bake, so you need to add more than you think. You need to also make sure that they are heat stable. Wilton colors say "icing" colors, and they also will make the macarons brown instead of holding the color.
I've used powdered colors before, but they seem to need a lot more to get a deep color if that is what you are looking for. The ones I've used are Crystal Colors, and they are not cheap. I used half a container to get a deeper color, and at $5 a pop, that's not worth it.
There are some European color brands that I've heard work well, but I don't have the names in front of me at the moment.

 

Thanks, I don't use a lot of food color, but when I do, I want it to be worth it! 

Looks like Global Sugar Art carries the Americolor, I'll have to see if I can add a few colors on to my candy mold order.


Edited by pastrygirl, 16 November 2014 - 10:58 AM.






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