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Macarons: Troubleshooting & Tips


RuthWells
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Hi folks --

About a week ago I made my first batch of macarons, and beginners luck -- they turned out perfectly: glossy top, nice feet, etc.

Today I tried and here's what I got. Can anyone help with a quick diagnosis? My oven heat can be uneven -- could it have been too hot? I also think there's a chance I undermixed, as the mixture was still quite thick when I piped it...

I reviewed some of the many macaron pages here, and thought undermixing might be the culprit - it would help if someone could just take a look and let me know if that's likely...

Thanks!

Emily

failed macaron.JPG

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more than likely undermixing was not the problem. Infact that should have had the opposite effect. When its undermixed the meringue doesn't level out well and keeps the distinctive piped look.

First, I prefer to cook all kinds of cookies on parchment rather than silpats because the oven ends up cooking the top faster than the bottom on a silpat.

Second, I would assume your sugar quantity and or almond flour quantity is off. Too much sugar, especially if not properly mixed in, could cause the mixture to spread when heated. The sugar melts and flows outward. Same thing happens with chocolate chip cookies, if you get a couple cookies with a high butter/sugar ratio to flour and eggs it likes to spread out like a tuile. Sugar most definitely is whats causing your calamity.

But, theres other possibilities I suppose.

Edited by chiantiglace (log)

Dean Anthony Anderson

"If all you have to eat is an egg, you had better know how to cook it properly" ~ Herve This

Pastry Chef: One If By Land Two If By Sea

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Many thanks to both of you! Chiantiglace -- I think you're right -- I think I may have used slightly less egg whites than I did the last time. My recipe called for 90 grams of egg whites, and I remember using 3 whites last time, and this time being surprised when it seemed to take only two egg whites to weigh the 90 grams. Maybe I mis-weighed them... I'll also be sure to give parchment a try...

Emily

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First, I prefer to cook all kinds of cookies on parchment rather than silpats because the oven ends up cooking the top faster than the bottom on a silpat.

I generally agree with parchment over silpat for cookies, but with macaron I find they spread more evenly and stay rounder on silpat. Parchment seems to wrinkle and buckle while the macaron are resting, giving me mis-shapen cookies.

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  • 2 months later...

Hi all!

First, I just wanted to thank everyone on eGullet for all the excellent advice and tips about making macarons over the various posts. I've read just about all of them! I just completed my ninth batch of plain macarons with chocolate ganace and I'm extremely happy with how they've come out.

Here's the recipe (from SeriousEats.com - http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2007/10/how-to-make-macarons-recipe.html):

Cookies: 225 grams confectioners sugar, 125 grams ground almonds, 110 grams egg whites, 30 grams granulated sugar (yields about 45 cookies 1.5" diameter, 22ish macarons)

Ganache: 230 grams bittersweet chocolate, 250 grams heavy cream, 60 grams unsalted butter

A few things I've learned:

- Egg whites are aged for 2 days. This seems to give me the best cookie - crisp shell, slightly moist interior.

- I prefer to grind my almonds myself... I tried a few almond flours on the market and I just didn't like the way they came out and the almond taste was lacking. I also think I prefer whole almonds - skin an all. It gives the cookie a few specs of color. I basically take 150grams of almonds and put it in the food processor and pulverize it... you should get about 125grams of "flour" from that which then gets added to the icing sugar and sifted again.

- Silpats work better than parchment. The parchment just isn't flat enough and it gives the cookies a weird shape.

- First batch in the oven always takes about a minute longer than the following batches. I think this is because I have to reuse my baking sheet and the first time it has to warm up. (I just slide the silpat on to it.)

- The above Ganache recipe is 2x what is needed.... so either double the macaron recipe or halve the ganache one.

Here's the finished product:

macaron.jpg

Now I'm ready to move on to different flavors. :)

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  • 6 months later...

I finally get why macarons are so maddening to make. Despite weighing everything scrupulously, aging the egg whites, and grinding the nuts as finely as possible in a dedicated coffee mill, I get different results each and every time. The first time, I underground, undermixed, and wound up with lumpy, but otherwise well formed macarons, one or two of which had cracks. The second time, I got lots of cracks, and lost the shiny tops. One time only, they came out damn near perfect, though still a bit chunky, because of my inability to sift.

A couple of days ago, I made a batch of hazelnut macarons that looked like they were going to be the best of the bunch. They had frilly feet and shiny, flat domes. The whole magilla. Except, each and every one of them was completely hollow. The shells shatter into many tiny pieces when you bite into one. I filled them all anyway, and intend to eat them. (I do not throw out Nutella.)

I'm not even really asking for advice, because I'm not sure there is any that will guarantee a successful next attempt. Maybe I should start counting my strokes... :hmmm:

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Anyone use Pierre Herme's chocolate macaron recipe from Chocolate Desserts by PH? I swear I had this one perfected at my last job, but recently I've been having poor results. Dense, essentially no feet, smooth rounded tops and at least several crack on top. Maybe I need a speck more whites? The other kitchen was a lot warmer and I haven't been warming my whites lately, could that be it? My non-cocoa macaron recipe is working out fine in the new kitchen. Same city, sea level, brand of almond flour. Hmmm.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hey Pastrygirl,

I'm not sure why you're encountering these problems (since you've succeeded with his recipe in another kitchen!) but I do know that his recipe is a little off. Well, for me and some other people I know at least. Do you dry your macarons for a long enough period of time? I find it helpful to leave them in front of an air condition unit because they dry really quickly with the circulating air.

I'd also reduce the amount of egg whites used instead of increasing them. If memory serves me correctly, there should be an average of aroung 100grams of egg whites to 300 grams of TPT.

I hope this helps, though I doubt it will. Good luck!

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The macarons from the web site of chef Eddy always turn out 100% for me. I have shared it with many of my friends and they all rave about his technique and recipe. You do have to grind the almond meal very fine so it is important to have a sharp blade on your food processor. What I like about it is that you can work with just cracked fresh egg whites, forget about 2-3 day or one week egg whites... http://www.chefeddy.com/2010/01/gerbet-macaroons-gerbet-macarons/

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Hey Pastrygirl,

I'm not sure why you're encountering these problems (since you've succeeded with his recipe in another kitchen!) but I do know that his recipe is a little off. Well, for me and some other people I know at least. Do you dry your macarons for a long enough period of time? I find it helpful to leave them in front of an air condition unit because they dry really quickly with the circulating air.

I'd also reduce the amount of egg whites used instead of increasing them. If memory serves me correctly, there should be an average of aroung 100grams of egg whites to 300 grams of TPT.

I hope this helps, though I doubt it will. Good luck!

The next time I made sure to dry them longer and they came out fine. But I think I will check the ratio and adjust it. Thanks.

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Italian Meringue is the safest way to go, very important you go to

235-240f, get a good thermometer.

I started using an infrared gun and found out it read about 15f less on bubbling syrup.

I have tried lower like 225-230 and even after they dried to a skin they still blew up and cracked

This will guarantee you get the shell tops and feet, the density depends on how much you fold, too much makes more dense

IMHO choc/cocoa macarons are the easiest to make as the cocoa powder has a good drying effect.

I make coconut macarons using coconut powder intended for make coconut sauces/curry and they don't last long as the coconut make them get sticky and absorb humidity.

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How many people fold the whites into the TPT, and how many fold the almonds into the whites?

I sift the TPT into the whites in the mixing bowl. Just the way I was originally taught.

So do I , but I have an intern who today folded the whites into the bowl of sifted TPT. The macarons turned out fine, just wondering if anyone thinks it makes a difference. I figure success is more about ratio, drying, and mixing to the proper consistency than which goes into which, but you never know.

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How many people fold the whites into the TPT, and how many fold the almonds into the whites?

I sift the TPT into the whites in the mixing bowl. Just the way I was originally taught.

So do I , but I have an intern who today folded the whites into the bowl of sifted TPT. The macarons turned out fine, just wondering if anyone thinks it makes a difference. I figure success is more about ratio, drying, and mixing to the proper consistency than which goes into which, but you never know.

I always found it easier to add the TPT to the whites rather than the other way around

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How many people fold the whites into the TPT, and how many fold the almonds into the whites?

I sift the TPT into the whites in the mixing bowl. Just the way I was originally taught.

So do I , but I have an intern who today folded the whites into the bowl of sifted TPT. The macarons turned out fine, just wondering if anyone thinks it makes a difference. I figure success is more about ratio, drying, and mixing to the proper consistency than which goes into which, but you never know.

I have folded into the TPT before, but I prefer the other way. I've found that how long it's folded and mixed makes the biggest difference. When I first started making them, I never aged whites. We would heat them briefly until about 70 degrees. And I still don't age them that often, usually because I don't think about it beforehand. I have added a tsp dried egg whites and have seen an improvement as well.

These things are just very temperamental. Everyone has a different experience on what they like and what works for them. I've tried the Italian meringue method several times and have had no luck whatsoever. I prefer the texture of the French method anyway.

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Hey everyone, the whole discussion on tpt into egg white or the other way round is rather intriguing! Personally, I've always tipped my tpt into my egg whites because it requires a lot less muscle to mix everything up. Also, I use italian meringue and the tpt+egg white mixture is usually very stiff. Gives me a good work out though.

RWood, what went wrong with your italian meringue macarons? I find both French and Italian methods unstable, Macarons are just like that I suppose. Some days they come out perfect, other days they flop. But I've experienced a lot more success with italian meringue. It's also easier to make a couple of different flavours with one batch of IM, instead of having to make multiple batches of FM. (IM shells also look smoother, albeit slightly drier in texture than their French meringue counterparts)

Here is a photo of some of my macarons made using the sucre cuit method.

Macarons Assorted 2.png

Edited by AmritaBala (log)
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Hey everyone, the whole discussion on tpt into egg white or the other way round is rather intriguing! Personally, I've always tipped my tpt into my egg whites because it requires a lot less muscle to mix everything up. Also, I use italian meringue and the tpt+egg white mixture is usually very stiff. Gives me a good work out though.

RWood, what went wrong with your italian meringue macarons? I find both French and Italian methods unstable, Macarons are just like that I suppose. Some days they come out perfect, other days they flop. But I've experienced a lot more success with italian meringue. It's also easier to make a couple of different flavours with one batch of IM, instead of having to make multiple batches of FM. (IM shells also look smoother, albeit slightly drier in texture than their French meringue counterparts)

Here is a photo of some of my macarons made using the sucre cuit method.

Macarons Assorted 2.png

Italian meringue always explode and never make feet. I read in an earlier post about temperature, but I've tried several different temps and always the same result. And I think they have a harder shell, which I don't like. That method just doesn't like me :hmmm:

But, the French method is totally fine, with the occasional flop. Usually from over folding. I had to make 2500 of these things (took three days) back when I worked for a caterer and only had one sheet pan go bad, so I had the French method down. I just don't make them as much now, and I think I get out of practice. Down the line I hope to add them to my website as well. But that will be a while.

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Hey everyone, the whole discussion on tpt into egg white or the other way round is rather intriguing! Personally, I've always tipped my tpt into my egg whites because it requires a lot less muscle to mix everything up. Also, I use italian meringue and the tpt+egg white mixture is usually very stiff. Gives me a good work out though.

RWood, what went wrong with your italian meringue macarons? I find both French and Italian methods unstable, Macarons are just like that I suppose. Some days they come out perfect, other days they flop. But I've experienced a lot more success with italian meringue. It's also easier to make a couple of different flavours with one batch of IM, instead of having to make multiple batches of FM. (IM shells also look smoother, albeit slightly drier in texture than their French meringue counterparts)

Here is a photo of some of my macarons made using the sucre cuit method.

Macarons Assorted 2.png

Italian meringue always explode and never make feet. I read in an earlier post about temperature, but I've tried several different temps and always the same result. And I think they have a harder shell, which I don't like. That method just doesn't like me :hmmm:

But, the French method is totally fine, with the occasional flop. Usually from over folding. I had to make 2500 of these things (took three days) back when I worked for a caterer and only had one sheet pan go bad, so I had the French method down. I just don't make them as much now, and I think I get out of practice. Down the line I hope to add them to my website as well. But that will be a while.

I used to experience "exploding feet" when I cooked my syrup to either 112 Celsius, 118 or 121 Celsius. The only temperature which seems to work for me is 110, which technically is NOT soft ball stage, but it seems to work best for me. Feet exploding could also be due to drying the macarons too long. Italian method produces batter which dries faster than French macaron batter, in my opinion.

2500 macarons sounds like one hell of a feat! I probably would have dropped dead halfway if I had to make that many. But I wish you luck in adding them to your site sometime soon =o) I'm sure they'll be fantastic once you overcome the nitty gritty details!

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  • 4 months later...

Hah! Success! Well, the feet were a little uneven on some of them, and I think I could have given the batter a couple more folds, but overall I'm super happy, especially since every macaron I've made prior to this batch has been an utter, utter failure. These are italian meringue method, with the whites aged overnight on the counter, and the filling is rhubarb buttercream. I baked them at 305 for 18 minutes in a convection oven, after letting them sit on the counter for about an hour to dry out. It's super dry out today. Hooray! Now I want to make more...

rhubarb macaron.jpg

If you ate pasta and antipasto, would you still be hungry? ~Author Unknown

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  • 10 months later...
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