Monday, 14 November 2011

Macaron Tips

Now I promised to follow up with a post on a compiled list of tips for making macarons. Honestly, tips are helpful but if you're bent on achieving the perfect macarons, you'll have to take these tips into context and try them out in your own environment. Here goes!

  • Eggs - use real eggs and not meringue powder as a substitute for your egg whites.
  • Egg whites - separate the eggs at least 1 day before your scheduled baking and leave them to "dry out". I do this by storing the egg parts in cups with loose-fitted lids in the fridge. Some bakers recommend storing them uncovered in the fridge or covered out in the open. It really depends on your location. Singapore is a humid country with ants galore so I opt for the fridge.
  • Ground almonds - I've never tried drying & grinding my own almonds and why should you? Ground almonds are readily available. But if you do find your ground almonds a tad bit too wet that the lumps are sticking together, you can scatter them on a baking tray and bake on low heat with the oven door cracked open for up to 10mins.
  • Blend/Sieve - The book I use for my macarons says to blend the ground almonds & icing sugar. I find this pointless cos they just get packed below the blades. So I just sieve it all in. It's a slow and painful process, but I know it works. (: Near the end of sieving you'll find about a spoonful of ground almond granules that are too big to go through the sieve; just toss those out.
  • Lumpy - If you notice lumps in the mixture after adding in the dry ingredients, don't worry. Stir a bit more focusing on squashing the lumps. DO NOT over mix and flatten the mixture and DO NOT attempt to sieve the wet mixture in a futile attempt to remove the lumps.
  • Lining paper - ensure that the grease-proof paper lies flat on the baking tray and doesn't curl when left untouched.
  • Circles - if you want to ensure that you've for uniform shells all around, you can trace a round cookie cutter on your paper before piping.
  • Pop - after tapping the trays on the work top to expel any air bubbles, I like to use a toothpick and pop any surface air bubbles. The mixture will fill the hole so the macarons will come out pretty smooth.
  • Feet - this is a crucial step: leave the macarons to dry undisturbed for anything from 15-60 mins. Do not skimp on this step.
  • Timing - this comes with trial and error. I found my macarons are done by 12 mins on 180C. DO NOT open your oven til after 10mins. You will not be able to test if your macarons are done until they have cooled. If done, and cooled, they will peel off the paper cleanly.
  • Middle - the filling is crucial. I haven't mastered it and will have to press on. It has been said that the macarons should be filled a day ahead of serving and left to "mature".
  • O0ps - most importantly, if your macarons fail, don't give up! Just try again - practice makes perfect! (:
Those are my tips.

For the first time, my macarons cracked. :( So I googled to troubleshoot and here's what I gathered:

My macarons cracked
  • Cookies rise rapidly due to strong heat from the bottom of the oven. (Double stack the pans)
  • Cookies were not adequately rested before baking.
  • Cooked on too low of an oven rack
  • Under-beaten meringue (may also be puffy and lack feet)
  • Batter under-mixed (too much air in batter)
Here are some useful links:

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