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Macarons: Troubleshooting & Tips


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A few personal observations based on my own successes and failures during my latest round of macaron making:

1. A few times I think I overbeat the whites before adding the syrup, and the meringue never firmed up enough, and I never got a good 'bird beak.' Now I beat them just until they have very soft peaks before adding the syrup.

2. Some of the Italian meringue recipes required a lot of folding and mixing before they took on a shine and reached the right viscosity.

3. At their best, French meringue macarons have (to me) a better texture, while Italian meringue macarons have better appearance. Obviously this is just my personaly opinion and your own mileage will vary.

4. With the French meringue recipes I have tried (and I haven't tried them all!), dehydrating the egg whites for 1-2 days results in smoother surfaces on the macarons.

5. I've made peace with the idea of using colors. With chocolate macarons, browning is a non-issue, but with non-chocolate macarons you have to be careful for browning. You can bake low and long, and risk drying out too much, and you can cook higher and shorter, and risk browning. Colors give you a little insurance so that browning is not so apparent.

Question for the egulleteers:

Inevitably when I grind my TPT, no matter how long I grind, I have a very small bit of almond (maybe 0.5%) that does not want to grind fine enough. I sieve it out as best I can with my kitchen strainer. The problem with my strainer is that it is not fine enough, and some of those small bit get into the mix. Can anyone recommend a fine sieve or strainer or other tool that will help me?

"If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced" - Vincent Van Gogh
 

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Is this remainder all the same size or a variety ?

I usually get about a teaspoon or so about 1-2mm which I just dump or eat.

You can try sharpening your food processor blades, it might help a little.

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Question for the egulleteers:

Inevitably when I grind my TPT, no matter how long I grind, I have a very small bit of almond (maybe 0.5%) that does not want to grind fine enough. I sieve it out as best I can with my kitchen strainer. The problem with my strainer is that it is not fine enough, and some of those small bit get into the mix. Can anyone recommend a fine sieve or strainer or other tool that will help me?

Thanks for taking the time to give us your observations.

This is probably not the answer you're looking for but since you seem to make macarons quite frequently have you considered buying a box from a wholesaler? I just bought a 5 kg box and it's ground very fine and cost half what it does at the grocery store. When I sifted it I only had a few pieces that didn't go through and since the amount was barely a pinch I just threw them out and didn't worry about replacing the weight.

Don't wait for extraordinary opportunities. Seize common occasions and make them great. Orison Swett Marden

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I think I found a solution -- just use my splatter screen, which has a finer mesh. CB, what do you pay for the 5kg? Right now I am paying $12US for 1.1kg blanched slivered almonds. I just did a brief google and found that I am probably paying too much. . .

"If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced" - Vincent Van Gogh
 

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I think I found a solution -- just use my splatter screen, which has a finer mesh. CB, what do you pay for the 5kg? Right now I am paying $12US for 1.1kg blanched slivered almonds. I just did a brief google and found that I am probably paying too much. . .

It was about $45 for 5kg.

Don't wait for extraordinary opportunities. Seize common occasions and make them great. Orison Swett Marden

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  • 6 months later...

I've been making macarons, and they've been turning out pretty well, though the most recent batches have been hollow - they have a crisp, smooth, shiny outer shell and a foot, but between the shell and foot is just empty space. They taste great and seem perfect in every other way.

Any idea why this is happening? This happened across the board, for both the larger and smaller shells that I piped out.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Stephanie Stiavetti

Food blog: http://www.wasabimon.com

Twitter: http://twitter.com/sstiavetti

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  • 2 weeks later...

I've been making macarons, and they've been turning out pretty well, though the most recent batches have been hollow - they have a crisp, smooth, shiny outer shell and a foot, but between the shell and foot is just empty space. They taste great and seem perfect in every other way.

Any idea why this is happening? This happened across the board, for both the larger and smaller shells that I piped out.

I've been finding the same thing too. I use the recipe in Pascal Rigo's American Boulangerie, and I don't have any problems with a shiny outer shell, legs, and so forth. I don't exactly use farm-fresh eggs, but I've never bothered to age my egg whites or add meringue powder. (I've found, though, that I get terrible results if I use a mixer with a stainless steel bowl, so I only use a copper bowl, and I whisk the egg whites by hand.) The result has always been macarons that look perfect from the outside.

But all my macarons have an empty space between the shell and the bottom. I've been tempted to try Pierre Herme's recipes that use an Italian meringue. I'm thinking that it might result in a denser texture, with slightly less egg-white expansion in the oven . Has anyone noticed a difference in this regard?

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I've heard good things about the Italian meringue technique, though I'm really hoping to master the French method first. I have Herme's book, but sadly I don't read French.

I'm wondering if maybe I'm not whipping the egg whites enough, before mixing in the almond/sugar, and that's causing the hollow insides? I'd also like to see them foot a little more, but they are footing almost perfectly.

And how long do you bake yours for, and at what temp? I'm at 300°F for 12 minutes, and I think I need to leave them in a little longer. Been experimenting with leaving a wooden spoon in the door, and that seems to prevent them from sticking so badly.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Stephanie Stiavetti

Food blog: http://www.wasabimon.com

Twitter: http://twitter.com/sstiavetti

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Herme's book is great and Google Translate is very good at translating the recipes.

http://translate.google.com/#fr|en|

I use the Herme proportions for Italian without any issues. This is another recipe for Italian which I haven't tried, the egg whites for the meringue are a lot less than I would use but I think the picture of the cut macaron (last/bottom picture) speaks for itself

http://www.eddyvandammeusa.com/2010/01/gerbet-macaroons-gerbet-macarons/

I'm keen to try this recipe at some stage

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Take a look at the photo about a quarter of the way down this page: http://www.syrupandtang.com/200712/la-macaronicite-3-the-more-reliable-macaron-recipe-and-a-few-tips/

An oven temperature of 300F (149 celsius), which is around what I've been using, may be too low, according to this website. I'm going to try a slightly higher oven as recommended--maybe 165 c (330F or so)--and see what happens. My macarons did puff up enormously in the lower oven, more in fact than I would have liked. (The assembled macarons were too tall, although they were nicely domed.) I was concerned about having them brown too quickly, but I think that putting them in the middle of the oven and covering the upper grill with foil may prevent that from happening.

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A couple of things that has helped me is double sheet pans, starting the macarons at 350 F for 5 mins., then propping the oven door open with a wooden spoon for about 10 more mins.

When I used to make hundreds of these things at a caterer, we used a convection oven. We would put sheet pans on the top and bottom shelves, start them at 325 F for 5 mins., then drop the temp to 300 with the door propped open. Same thing basically, but home and convection ovens are different.

I think the higher heat to start helps give the foot the boost they need.

Morphone, I have the I Love Macarons book, but haven't tried anything from it. I really didn't like the way her macs look in the book. I haven't looked at the recipes that closely to see how it differs from the one I use.

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I think because of the significant variability in ovens, there's a need to preface most macaron instructions (in fact, anything wherein rising/falling/browning is tricky business) with exactly what you're using.

1. Heating element bottom w/w/o fan

2. Heating element top w/w/o fan

3. Heating element behind w/w/o fan (does w/o fan exist?)

4. Heating element top and bottom w/w/o fan

Someday we may need to have proper names for all these and maybe there'll be no more confusion :)

Mark

The Gastronomer's Bookshelf - Collaborative book reviews about food and food culture. Submit a review today! :)

No Special Effects - my reader-friendly blog about food and life.

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Take a look at the photo about a quarter of the way down this page: http://www.syrupandtang.com/200712/la-macaronicite-3-the-more-reliable-macaron-recipe-and-a-few-tips/

An oven temperature of 300F (149 celsius), which is around what I've been using, may be too low, according to this website. I'm going to try a slightly higher oven as recommended--maybe 165 c (330F or so)--and see what happens. My macarons did puff up enormously in the lower oven, more in fact than I would have liked. (The assembled macarons were too tall, although they were nicely domed.) I was concerned about having them brown too quickly, but I think that putting them in the middle of the oven and covering the upper grill with foil may prevent that from happening.

In Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Herme he preheats to 425F, puts them in, drops the temp to 350F and props door with wooden spoon. Bakes for 8 - 10 minutes.

Don't wait for extraordinary opportunities. Seize common occasions and make them great. Orison Swett Marden

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ts "just" the broyage (tpt, almond flour/conf. sugar mixture) that we use. since we get a special broyage just made for making macarons (atlas 50/50 parisienne) we havent had a single problem they turn out perfect every time with shiny top and everything....

I didn't even know that such a product was available, so will try to source it. Thank you!

Make it Happen

Valerie: A Canadian Foodie

Email me

http://www.acanadianfoodie.com

I love my Thermomix!

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We probably need Chufi for this , but, how do these compare to Dutch Bitter Koekjes (kookies??), other than there is a filling between two layers??? The dutch cookies are almond paste folded into beaten egg whites with a strong Almond extract taste from the almond paste..My Dutch grandmother used to make em for us 60+ years ago...Just curious...

Bud

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