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RuthWells

Macarons: Troubleshooting & Tips

243 posts in this topic

It's nice to know I'm not alone!

I have 15 lbs of almond flour on the way, I will not be beaten :smile:

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It's nice to know I'm not alone!

I have 15 lbs of almond flour on the way, I will not be beaten :smile:

Lironp, I feel your pain! My first macaron experiment was a bust. When I piped the batter into the pan, it spread way out in irregular circles, so no two were the same size and shape (even though I had drawn neat little circles on the parchment to guide my piping). I also had conjoined macarons, of course those were the ones I tossed first. :-(

When I make some other recipe that leaves me with egg whites, I plan to go for attempt number 2.

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It's been a few years since I tried to bake macarons because my last attempts were such failures I refused to try it again. Then, about a month ago I decided to try it again, did a little reading and now love baking them. Last night I sent 20 dozen to an event we were catering (please excuse the quality of the image taken with my phone).

One thing I can't do is pipe the batter. I find it's too loose for me to have good control over it. Instead I use a small ice-cream scoop to get them the same size and basic shape.

2012-06-05 13.01.27.jpg

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For those of you who use food color in your macaron, any tips or preferences between brands, paste, or liquid? When to add? Bake as usual or...? I have an order for a rainbow assortment in a few weeks but have never tried coloring the batter, only au natural or chocolate so far.

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For those of you who use food color in your macaron, any tips or preferences between brands, paste, or liquid?

Can't comment on brands since I live in a different country. Paste is much better than liquid.

When to add?

Add the food color to the tpt together with the albumen, before mixing with the meringue.

Bake as usual or...?

It depends on the food color you are using, but usually nothing changes. The only problem you can face is if you are using really few color (for a light result) and a high oven temperature, in this way you risk to get some brownish shades.

Teo


My pastry blog (in Italian language): http://www.teonzo.com/

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For those of you who use food color in your macaron, any tips or preferences between brands, paste, or liquid? When to add? Bake as usual or...? I have an order for a rainbow assortment in a few weeks but have never tried coloring the batter, only au natural or chocolate so far.

I've been using the same liqui-gel colors that I use to color buttercream/fondant; I am not crazy about the water-based airbrush colors but if it is a small amount, it's been ok. We've been using an Italian Meringue method from Herme's book, and adding the color to the second part of the egg whites, but we've also just added color before folding the batter. It seems to me that if you're going for a dark color, you run the risk of overfolding. We've had good results with Herme's method, and just like Teonzo, I've also found that on pastels, you do have to watch the oven time/temp otherwise a pale pink can have beige on it....

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For those of you who use food color in your macaron, any tips or preferences between brands, paste, or liquid? When to add? Bake as usual or...? I have an order for a rainbow assortment in a few weeks but have never tried coloring the batter, only au natural or chocolate so far.

I use Amerigel colours which seem to maintain a stable colour when baked. They are colour pastes/gels so quite thick. I always use the strongest version they have of whatever colour I'm after so that I use the minimum amount of additional liquid to get my colour. As someone else mentioned, don't go for light/pastel olours as they will brown slightly. I've added the colour at botht he TPT/egg white stage when making a paste and also added the colour to the Italian meringue while it's cooling and haven't had an issue either way.

I have also used powder colourings but they are more expensive and I've never had a problem with the pastes before. But, if you had some powders on hand and not the gels, you could use them.

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mac1.jpg

First attempt at color...bright out of the mixer...

mac2.jpg

...rather muted after baking, but I do usually get some light browning on my non-food colored macaron, so I'll have to try turning the oven down or covering with a sheet pan for brighter colors. The fun part was that I used no almond flour! The green ones were made with graham cracker crumbs instead, I found the cookies too sweet but not bad with lime cream cheese filling. The orange ones were made with fine shred unsweetened coconut and filled with passion fruit curd. Oddly, I've made a few more batches with half coconut and half almond that I haven't been as pleased with (not great feet, texture) but I also had to use a different oven, which may have been a factor. My usual oven got repaired today, so my next batch will be a true test.

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I've made two batches of macarons so far and both times the batter has come out so runny that the macarons can't keep their shape after I pipe them. After some googling I've gathered that the problem might have to do with overmixing the batter.

This is how the process went:

Mixed 212g almond flour and 212g powder sugar

Made a hollow mound, poured in 82g egg whites

Mixed it rather violently with a spatula until the batter had an even texture

Added vanilla seeds, more violent mixing

For the meringue:

Beat 90g of egg whites with pinch of sugar with an electric mixer to soft peaks

Heated 236g sugar with 158g water to 120 C / 248 F.

Slowly trickled the sugar syrup into the egg whites while stiring at medium speed

Mixed until the meringue had cooled to ~30 C / 86 F

(This meringue turned out excellent, held its shape very well)

Added ~1/3 of the meringue to the batter, mixed with spatula once again rather forcefully until the mixture was even.

At this point the batter turns quite runny, even though both the meringue and the batter individually were stiff and held their shape without moving. I added the rest of the meringue and I also tried piping at various stages with different ammounts of meringue added to the batter, all with the same runny result.

I'm thinking one needs to be more gentle when combining batter and meringue, but how if so, and why? Does the meringue deflate if you combine it too forcefully with the batter? I felt like I had to use a lot of force to get them to mix completely.

I really want to understand the process in depth before I make my next batch. Any advice or suggestions for resources I might check out?

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I compared your formula to the one I use (Pierre Herme recipe) and you have too little dry matter. I'd use 23 grams more of both of icing sugar and almond. Also, you use too much water for your syrup, 59 grams (jsut to make sugar wet) is enough.

"Mixed 212g almond flour and 212g powder sugar

Made a hollow mound, poured in 82g egg whites

Mixed it rather violently with a spatula until the batter had an even texture

Added vanilla seeds, more violent mixing"

This should have texture close to marzipan, I often think I will not be able to get the entire sugar/almond mixture wet with the first half of eggwhite, but it does work in the end , just barely. Yours was probably too wet at this step.

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Did you check these threads already? There is a TON of information in there.

Macarons-The delicate French invention

Macarons - baking

Troubleshooting macarons

Thanks for the links. I did search and browse a few threads before I posted, I'll take some more time to look around for an answer.

I compared your formula to the one I use (Pierre Herme recipe) and you have too little dry matter. I'd use 23 grams more of both of icing sugar and almond. Also, you use too much water for your syrup, 59 grams (jsut to make sugar wet) is enough.

"Mixed 212g almond flour and 212g powder sugar

Made a hollow mound, poured in 82g egg whites

Mixed it rather violently with a spatula until the batter had an even texture

Added vanilla seeds, more violent mixing"

This should have texture close to marzipan, I often think I will not be able to get the entire sugar/almond mixture wet with the first half of eggwhite, but it does work in the end , just barely. Yours was probably too wet at this step.

This is interesting. Would that imply that the way the batter is treated (for example, how hard it's mixed) doesn't matter? I've read that the batter is supposedly quite delicate.

The recipe I used was from Bouchon Bakery by Thomas Keller and Sebastien Rouxel. I find it hard to believe that the recipe would be at fault rather than my implementation of it.

I agree that it's a lot of water for the meringue though and I honestly don't see the point of it.

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How funny, I just ordered Bouchon Bakery today, how do you like it for the rest?

On the macaron note, a lot of things matter I found, treating batter certainly does and can cause what you experienced. Undermixing yoru batter is better than overmixing so you can try that next time. I'd say do all your mixing liberaly but not too energetically until the last meringue addition. That one you start beating until your batter becomes runny to the extent that if you drop a spoonfull of batter in the massa, it disappears in 30 sec.

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This is interesting. Would that imply that the way the batter is treated (for example, how hard it's mixed) doesn't matter? I've read that the batter is supposedly quite delicate.

The way the batter is treated DOES matter a lot, many would agree that a key element of making macarons successfully is the macaronage, i.e. the mixing.

I use a Laduree recipe, which is a French meringue. I use a whisk to mix until all the meringue is incorporated into the dry ingredients, and the paste is homogenous. Once it is completely mixed, I switch to a spatula and start mixing more vigorously, to deflate it. I found that if I used a spatula from the start, it crushed the meringue too much. I could not manage to mix it properly before it got to the "lava" stage, and I had streaks of meringue in the batter. Switching to the whisk solved my problems. Try this method too, see if it will work for you.

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How funny, I just ordered Bouchon Bakery today, how do you like it for the rest?

On the macaron note, a lot of things matter I found, treating batter certainly does and can cause what you experienced. Undermixing yoru batter is better than overmixing so you can try that next time. I'd say do all your mixing liberaly but not too energetically until the last meringue addition. That one you start beating until your batter becomes runny to the extent that if you drop a spoonfull of batter in the massa, it disappears in 30 sec.

Feels like a coffee table book, like all Kellers books. A lot of history, pretty pictures, but also some good advice about process and an interesting selection of recipes. I've always found his books a bit light on technical explanations, but I can be like a five-year old, always asking why, why, why? :laugh:

I attempted another batch and I think I acheived approximately the texture you describe. After I piped them their surface eventually smoothed out entirely, which I wasn't too pleased with. However, they did turn out very well when I baked them. I folded in the batter very slowly and I stopped as soon as the batter looked even in texture.

This is interesting. Would that imply that the way the batter is treated (for example, how hard it's mixed) doesn't matter? I've read that the batter is supposedly quite delicate.

The way the batter is treated DOES matter a lot, many would agree that a key element of making macarons successfully is the macaronage, i.e. the mixing.

I use a Laduree recipe, which is a French meringue. I use a whisk to mix until all the meringue is incorporated into the dry ingredients, and the paste is homogenous. Once it is completely mixed, I switch to a spatula and start mixing more vigorously, to deflate it. I found that if I used a spatula from the start, it crushed the meringue too much. I could not manage to mix it properly before it got to the "lava" stage, and I had streaks of meringue in the batter. Switching to the whisk solved my problems. Try this method too, see if it will work for you.

I used a spatula in my last batch and what you describe is pretty much what happened, it was loose before it got incorporated. I am a bit confused though, why would you want to deflate the meringue? Is it just too thick otherwise? I feel like it's definitely time for me to learn more about meringues, going to be doing some reading to understand this properly.

Attached a photo of my latest batch. I'm reasonably pleased with how they turned out. Would have been even better if I had proper piping bags and mouthpieces, these were piped with cut-off freezer bags :raz:

macaron.jpg

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Very nice, what flavor and what was the filling?

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Very nice, what flavor and what was the filling?

I try to make things as simple as possible when I'm learning, both to reduce the challenge and to minimize waste if I mess up. The shells were plain with no flavoring and the filling was french buttercream flavored with half a vanilla pod. Great for practice, but not for presentation. This batch turned out pretty good so for my next one I might dare to experiment a bit with flavor and colors.

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I used a spatula in my last batch and what you describe is pretty much what happened, it was loose before it got incorporated. I am a bit confused though, why would you want to deflate the meringue? Is it just too thick otherwise? I feel like it's definitely time for me to learn more about meringues, going to be doing some reading to understand this properly.

Your macarons look very nice!

You want to deflate the meringue in order to obtain that lava-like batter consistency, where it is still viscous, but any peaks sink back into the batter in 20-ish seconds. If the batter is not properly deflated, the macarons will not have feet, or will have peaks after you pipe them on the baking sheet.

Besides the links posted upthread, I would recommend three more good sources for macaron info:

http://www.joyofbaking.com/frenchmacarons/MacaronsRecipe.html

http://bravetart.com/blog/MacaronMyths

http://notsohumblepie.blogspot.ca/search/label/Macarons

The first is a video, it illustrated very nicely the right batter texture.

Happy macaron-ing! :smile:


Edited by DianaM (log)

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Happy macaron-ing! :smile:

Thank you, especially for those links. I see that some people have done very thorough experimentation for me to take advantage of.

In hindsight this query might not have deserved its own thread but I'm very thankful for everyone who contributed with links and advice. My chef has asked me to make macarons for the restaurant so the help I've gotten here has really been incredibly useful. Thanks!

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I have made macarons for years with little problem, but the last two batches of shells have looked like the attached photo. I don't know what I'm doing differently. Looks to me like the meringue has collapsed. Any ideas? I'm using the recipe from Pierre Herme's Macaron book.

photo.JPG

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And they all look kinda tilted to the same side - is it a really powerful convection fan oven?

Weird, no? It's a regular electric oven, not convection. Until these last 2 batches they have baked fine in the same oven and had good feet. I haven't had problems baking anything else in the oven lately. I don't know if you can tell from the photo, but the many of the shells have also taken on more of an oval shape, although they were round when they went into the oven. It kind of looks like the tops of the shells have slid off the feet.

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Same sugar. The only new thing that I can think of is that I changed supplier of parchment paper, but I don't see how that could cause this effect. I checked all of my sheet pans and the oven last night to see if they were level and they are. But then it's not a new oven or new sheet pans. The only thing that I have changed in the way I do things is some modifications of the way that I do the mixing after taking a Macaron class last fall. I'm wondering if I'm over mixing, although in that case I would expect to not get feet at all. It's like the feet melt out after forming. Next batch I'll go back to my old mixing method and see what happens. I can't think of anything else to try.

Meanwhile I cut off all of the melted out feet on this batch of shells and filled the macarons and they taste fine! Just not very pretty.

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