Macarons Test Lab – Here I go again…

Two years ago, I embarked on a journey to try to bake French macarons but got so discouraged and humbled that I swore to never go on this hair-pulling, teeth-grinding, suicide-inducing baking experience ever again.  Alas, I should have known better.  You guessed it, never say never, right?  So here I am again, being drawn into the labyrinth of recipes and techniques, and with sugar-stained hair and wayyyy too much coffee in my vein, I’m doing it again.

Somehow, I faintly suspect that I’m more of a masochist than I care to admit. Oy Vey!!!!!

Anyhow, this time, I decided to put a method to my madness by sticking to one recipe and wrestle the little devil down until I somewhat master it before moving on and up.

Much to my satisfaction, I’ve got some progress!!! Hurray!!! And all the jubilation and elation is owed to the marvelous Not So Humble Pie’s Macaron Troubleshooting with tips and tricks from Joy of Baking and shared passion and tenacity for achievement of Yaya Yayai who tirelessly compared baking notes with me — THANK YOU!!!

The most joyful experience was to watch the long-coveted ‘FOOT’ all of a sudden materialized out of thin air.  Oh! Joy — Now, at least, if I don’t do anything else in life.  This will be enough — I can safely say that this is closure for me. LOL.

So here is the recipe.  I make half the recipe for each batch.  It’s more manageable for me, so I include the measurement also for easy reference:

Not So Humble Macarons v3.0128 – Full Recipe
yields approximately 50 cookies
(Half recipe measurement below)

5 g dehydrated egg white powder*
28 g granulated sugar
225 g confectioners (powdered) sugar
125 g almond meal**
100 g aged egg whites***

Not So Humble Macarons v3.0128 – Half Recipe
yields approximately 50 cookies
(Half recipe measurement below)

3 g dehydrated egg white powder*
14 g granulated sugar
113 g confectioners (powdered) sugar
63 g almond meal**
50 g aged egg whites***

* I used CK Products as recommended by Not-So-Humble-Pie, but I just checked on amazon and it was not available, so one’s got to find another brand.  Just make sure it is dehydrated egg white and not  meringue powder.




** The 5-day aged egg white seemed to work perfectly.

*** I used Honeyville Blanched Almond Flour Super Fine Grind .  I may try Bob’s Red Mill next time, if I can’t find Honeyville

My First Succesful Macarons – Basic Macarons with Lemon Mousse Filling.  The foot formed but the color of the meringue was not white


 


– Prep two half sheet pans with parchment or silicone baking mats.

– Pre-heat your oven to somewhere between 290°F.  My oven heat is not the most consistent in the world and tends to overheat drastically.  That oven thermometer really is a life saver.  So I only use this temperature.

– Start by weighing out your sugar and egg white powder into a small bowl. Mix with a fork until uniform and set aside.

– Sift together your almond meal and powdered sugar.

– Weigh out your egg whites and begin beating them on low speed until foamy. Begin slowly sprinkling in the powdered egg white and sugar mixture as you beat. Then increase the speed to medium and beat until a firm meringue forms. (I sneaked and used medium high speed — about 8 — on my stand mixer and it turned out okay — or so I thought — to speed things up a bit).

– You want firm, glossy peaks in your meringue, you don’t want to beat all the way to stiff peaks. So hold yourself back.

Man, I love that peak.  Won’t be able to do that with my hand mixer though 😛

– Beat in food coloring gel now (I use Buff) and then add 1/3rd of the almond mixture. Folding it in gently. Once combined, add another third of the almond mixture, and so on. For visual reference on how to combine and fold, see this video by Chef Nini. (Note: the batter should be deflated a bit to let the air out).

– Add your batter to a piping bag with a round tip (any size bit under 1cm works fine) and pipe rows of macarons.

I baked on these silicone mats I bought from Costco — super good-valued compared to the original Silpat – much cheaper and they also have templates for piping newbies like me 🙂

 

– Pick up the pan with both hands, and holding it level, tap it firmly onto the counter several times. This will bring up any air bubbles in the cookies. Pop the bubbles with a toothpick if they don’t break while tapping.
– These cookies NEED to rest on the counter. Between 30-60 minutes depending on the humidity.  They will become tacky and opaque and not stick to your finger when touched.  Then they are ready to bake.
– This is where the fun starts.  Each stove and kitchen has its own challenges, mine included.  So it took me one sleepless night to figure it out and crossed referenced with the Not-so-humble pie’s troubleshooting list.  This is my conclusion for my kitchen.  You will have to experiment and come up with your own way –  and then again, you might not have to.
  – After several trials and errors, I baked one tray at the time mine on doubled trays.  Then put another empty tray on the rack above to shield the cookies which browned to much if I didn’t.  Bake the cookies for roughly 15 minutes.
– Once the cookies lift easily from the parchment or silicone baking mat they’re probably done. To be sure, pop a cookie off with an offset spatula and break it open. The insides should be set and not overly moist (wet uncooked meringue is no good). If it is too moist the cookies will collapse when they cool.

 

First Successful Shell – foot wise — But the top browned to much and a bit flat in my opinion.  They are supposed to be plain white.

After my initial success, I felt a bit more confident and more reckless, hence the color purple.  I filled the shells with Lemon Curd Mousse (that’s a story for another time).  The shape and texture were perfect — no hollows but the top was still too brown.  So I had to try to fix.

 

So I thought, perhaps I baked too cool and too long.  So I tried 350 degrees 12 minutes with airing the oven by open and close to let the steam out after 8 and 10 minutes  (a friend share the tip from Pierre Hermês book) — A disaster.  The shells were uncooked and collapsed out of the oven thus creating huge air pockets.

This is the final disaster before I ran out of egg white — In attempt to fix the brown top, I baked on the lower rack (lower third) with an empty tray on the rack above to shield the cookies.  Just like the Troubleshooting list states, because they were cooked on too low of an oven rack, the cookies rose rapidly due to strong heat from the bottom of the oven. Even though, I double stacked the pans, it didn’t help, so I put them back on the middle rack (in the double-stacked pans) and put another rack on the top-third position with an empty tray to shield the cookies.  So, though the cookies are all cracked and hollowed, the color is perfect.

So, I think I figured it out, but didn’t have enough egg white to test this theory. So until the next batch, Bon Appétit.

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