The Macaron Chronicles Part II

Chocomac 

Macarons can inspire an obsession that cannot be easily shaken. Obviously I am hooked. I developed an interest in these delightful confections after curiously enough, a failed experiment where these little beauties ended up looking like flying saucers :).

Could this have challenged me? This probably did! Right after this debacle, I headed out to San Francisco where I sampled more of these delicacies at Miette and Bouchon. They tasted simply heavenly! I took back with me the memory of a sublimely chewy cookie and its sinful buttercream filling. I think this was precisely when my interest was picked and started to become the inklings of an obsession.

Consequently, I decided to do some research on it. My incessant googling brought me to several blogs whose authors seemed to have also caught the “macaron bug”. It was suggested that apparently, chocolate macarons are the hardest to make. Up until now, I have not quite determined the “why” in my readings. But I suspect that the cocoa and its acidity might be interfering with the egg whites. But I am getting ahead of myself.

I’ve also read that leaving the egg whites out for 48 hours – this idea could elicit an “Eww” reaction from most people – but it does seem that egg whites have natural anti-bacterial properties; besides which I am desperate! So one weekend, I separated around 12 egg whites and let them sit for at least 24 hours. The “Hungry Hubby” (HH) started kidding me that my egg whites would soon crawl off the counter pretty soon.
 

Macathree

TEST I : Almond Macaron recipe with 24 hour aged egg whites

I started with a simple almond macaron recipe. I think I must have made a wrong measurement of the powdered sugar because it turned out extremely thick, almost like that of brownie batter. I wanted to throw out the batter but what the heck; I wanted to see what kind of cookies I could get out of that concoction. As I piped out each circle, I noticed that although it spread out a little, it settled nicely into a really fine round-like shape. After letting it sit for 30 minutes to develop a skin on top, I popped it (Okay, I set it carefully.) into the oven at 310F. I waited. After 5 minutes, I saw the beginnings of the requisite “foot”. I quickly hollered to HH, and started prancing around the kitchen. “They’ve got feet, they’ve got feet!” I enthused merrily. I took the tray out after 11 minutes of baking and I couldn’t be happier with how they looked.

TEST II: Pistachio Macarons with 24 hour-aged egg whites

Empowered, I immediately proceeded with the second recipe, the pistachio macarons from the lovely Tartelette. Jenny from “All things Edible” had great success with it too, so I was eager to try the recipe out. Again, I carefully mixed the dry ingredients to the meringue but the batter run a bit more than my first set of macarons. However, they piped quite easily without that dripping. They also developed feet! Enthralled by two successive baking experiments with two different recipes, I concluded that aside from having great recipes and techniques to work with, it must be the aged egg whites. I made chocolate ganache fillings for both.

TEST III: Chocolate Macarons with 48 hour-aged egg whites

I had some egg whites remaining so I decided to be brave and try the chocolate macarons the next day – it would also mean that I would be aging them for the full 48 hours. I debated on which recipe to use. I saw one at David Lebovitz’ website, but I ended up using Sherry Yard’s recipe in her new book, “Desserts by the Yard”.

I had a bumpy start. I accidentally measured the required almonds twice. It became hard to scoop out enough because I put them directly on top of the powdered sugar. I had the stiffest batter yet; I almost couldn’t pipe them out of a 12 pt tip to 1½ inch circles. My wrists were tired after all that and wondered what results I would be getting. Since they were bigger I left them 2 minutes longer, a total of around 13 minutes. Again, perfect feet, perfect macarons!

Agedmactrays

It looks like no matter what the recipe, the stars were aligned for me specifically to make macarons. This time I decided to fill the chocolate macarons with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Delicious! Initially the chocolate macarons were more like cake inside but the “chewiness” developed the next day.

These same cookies were also easy to remove from the parchment with a flexible spatula.

Sooo … this saw the end of the macaron experiment, right? Wrong!

I wondered what would happen if I used eggs that were aged overnight, or eggs that were freshly separated the morning of baking. Also I would really like to over beat some of the batter just to see what would happen.

To keep most parameters the same, I used the same recipe for all of them. I used the following recipe:
 

Basic Macaron Batter

125 grams almond flour
225 grams powdered sugar
3 egg whites
25 grams of sugar

Pinch cream of tartar.

Preheat oven to 300 °F (I used 310°F to compensate for opening and closing the oven door).

Run the almond flour and powdered sugar through a food processor and sift twice.

Add the cream of tartar to the egg whites and beat at medium speed. Slowly add the granulated sugar and continue beating until the whites attain medium-peaks and are glossy.

Add your dry ingredients slowly to the meringue taking about six additions all in all. (See folding requirements below)

Pipe the batter to a diameter of an inch. And let rest for 30 minutes before baking.

Bake for about 11 minutes or until done, turning the sheets halfway through.

Folding requirements:

Test IV: Overnight egg whites on the counter. Beaten to “flows like magma” consistency.

Test V: Overnight egg whites on the counter. Beaten senseless.

Test VI: Morning-of egg whites. Beaten to “flows like magma” consistency

Test VII: Morning-of egg whites. Beaten senseless.

Magmaflow

RESULTS. I noticed that the quality of the macarons weren’t as good as the ones I made with the 24-hour and 48 hour-aged egg whites. For one thing, the tops tended to sink into the “feet”, more so when the batter was over-beaten. When the eggs were fresh (separated on the morning-of) the crust appeared to be thinner and more fragile. It was also obvious that they couldn’t hold their nice circular shapes and tended to get deformed. For mixtures that received more folding, they still formed “feet”, but the feet had bigger holes and the top tended to separate and curved inward like mushroom caps.  

Moremacarontests

Most of the macarons were difficult to remove with a spatula. I noticed that the bottoms were not crusted over (which would actually make them easier to detach). I had to peel the parchment away from the macarons because to exert any force on these little ones would make the top crack.

Overbeatenmac

In summary of what I’ve learned so far (or to spare you from my ramblings above):

 

1.      Make sure to measure and sift your ingredients properly. I’m not yet too fanatical about sifting because I do have problems grinding my nuts to powdered form – but I do make sure clumps of powdered sugar are broken up. I started measuring my ingredients accurately to the last gram after my first test yielded an amount of powdered sugar that was suspect.

2.      Fold in your dry ingredients in at least 4 additions. Do not dump the whole thing into the beaten foam or you might end up with a runny batter.

3.      I used a circle template by drawing them on the reverse side of my parchment paper. Resist to the urge to follow the outline with your tip, just keep your tip positioned about ½ inch above and in the middle of the round guide, the batter is going to spread out more evenly into the circle you want. If you have trouble controlling the flow of your batter and it keeps linking to two mounds together as you move about piping, chances are you’ve got an over-beaten mixture.

4.      Rapping the sheet pan before baking had no effect on your end product. They do get rid of bubbles if this develops in your mixture.

5.      Fresh egg whites develop thinner, more fragile skin which tends to break easily when you try to remove the macarons from the parchment paper. If your macarons stick, peel away the parchment paper rather than force the spatula to lift the macarons out. However, with the 24/48 hour aged-egg whites, the spatula slid easily under the macaron to detach them with no problem at all.

6.      Moisture plays a vital role in macaron making. Whether in the egg whites, or in the air it definitely affects the quality of these French cookies. My initial conclusion as to why the aged-egg whites yielded almost invincible macarons was because they had less moisture content due to evaporation but still have the same amount of protein bonds. That was probably why I have seen macaron recipes that called for some dried egg white powder to be mixed into regular whites.  Meringues have a tendency to weep, so even if you have beaten your batter to the right viscosity, your mixture might still get runny if the protein bonds break down – but if you have less moisture to begin then it would not be a problem. I figured the large holes and sunken caps of macarons from the “deliberately over-beaten batter” were because the protein bonds were not as dense and they were separated by water that would evaporate leaving those gaping holes.

 

I have researched this topic in Harold Mc Gee’s book. Though he did not specifically say that egg whites could safely be left at room temperature for a long period of time, he did mention interesting information of its composition. There are three proteins that are deemed effective in maintaining the integrity of the egg white. First is Ovotransferrin, which binds tightly to iron, making it useless to bacteria that thrive on it. Second is Lysozyme, which digests bacterial cell walls, and third is Ovomucin, which inhibits viruses. It’s quite amazing, is it not? What is contained in something as simple as an egg? There’s still the obvious fact that when macarons are baked at a temperature of over 300 F, every type of bacteria is eliminated. 

 

 

Stay tuned for this ongoing saga in The Macaron Chronicles!

UPDATE : Instead of aging the egg whites as stated above, you can refrigerate it covered for 2-3 days in the refrigerator. You can also microwave the egg whites for 10 seconds in the microwave and have the same results.

UPDATE: 12/18/2009 New recipe:

140  grams almonds

 200 grams powdered sugar

   40 grams sugar

100  grams egg white

 

*If your egg whites have too much water content you can add 1 g of egg white powder.

139 thoughts on “The Macaron Chronicles Part II

  1. Hi, after reading your detail chronicle, it seems that the number one factor you were testing was egg white. I wonder if every time you use your own grounded almond flour or do you use store bought one ? If store bought, which brand ?

  2. Hello! I just love reading your blog about macarons. I am on my 4th attempt at making macarons!! The third time yield OK macarons… the “foot” on each macaron made me so happy! But the top was a little less than fluffy. I was wondering, could you convert this basic macaron for me in to cups/tbsp/ and # of egg whites? Greatly appreciated!!

  3. Hi Mei – I ground my own almonds. Choose almonds that are not too oily, if you have valencia almonds they are the best.
    Thanks Danica – weight measurements are important when making macarons.

  4. Hai there! macarons are really tempting me to try for i have much egg whites remaining after making sponge cakes. BUT….1) what d’u think if it’s not the 24-48 hours egg whites? i keep them in the fridge just after making sponge cakes. 2) almond/almond flour isn’t commonly used in my country for its cost. Medium-protein-flour is commonly used. How about that? 3)do i need to open the oven a bit even the temp is low? Thanks so much. Your articles are big help. –rosa

  5. After my first batch ever of macarons, which turned out beautifully thanks to the advice on this site, I decided to move to pistachio macarons. Disaster. They got into the oven looking perfect (better than the previous batch) and started developing feet; then most of them “erupted” in the middle, looking like they got some nasty disease. When I tried to get them off the parchment paper, most of the bottom and inside of the macaron remained stuck, while the top came off. AAARGGHHH. Good thing they still taste nice, but all this work for some unpresentable macarons is quite depressing.

  6. Hi Veronica: I watched your video and I have a question regarding Macronage. You say in the video to add the dry ingredients all at once to the wet, and then you beat slowly then “beat the heck out of it”. In your instructions above, you say to “Fold in your dry ingredients in at least 4 additions. Do not dump the whole thing into the beaten foam or you might end up with a runny batter.” Which should I do? Is it because the size of the recipe matters as to whether you dump all at once vs folding in 4 stages? Thanks for a great video!

  7. I got mine from Trader’s Joe, but they are pretty coarse. Bob’s red mill has it but it’s pricey. I’m thinking of buying a nut grinder to grind it myself. What type or brand’s grinder do you use ?

  8. Hi, am thinking about making first ever macarons, what an inspiring blog! I have a couple of questions, what is the range of your room temperature? Is there an upper/lower limit for leaving egg whites out? Do you leave them covered with clingfilm or open to the air?

  9. i read about your recipe, and it includes crem of tartar. what exactly is that? isit okay to exclude it? and if i want flavoured macarons, can i just add th flavors, for example, cocoa powder.

  10. JO,

    The cream of tartar is used as an acid to help the meringue hold its shape. You usually only need a pinch before the initial whipping of egg whites. A pinch or 1/8 tsp will do. Hope this helps πŸ™‚

  11. Hi,
    can i know what is the recipe for the chocolate macaron? I have tried adding 30g to the above recipe but the out come of the macaron top is uneven althought it was beautifully in the oven. But when out of the oven , the top started to be uneven. Not sure where went wrong.

  12. Egg whites can be left covered in the refrigerator for 3 days. If your room temperature is not more than 80 F you can leave it covered with holes poked in the saran wrap. I’ve never seen egg whites go bad. I’ve accidentally left some out for two weeks and it has no smell of rotting, but ofcourse I wouldn’t use it. You need to make sure that no trace of egg yolk goes into the whites since this is what makes it go bad.
    christine – try reducing the chocolate by 5 grams at a time. This is the problem with cocoa powder.
    Gail – you can use silpat, no problem.

  13. to Rephrase, you can buy a carton of eggwhites at whole foods. Would it work to age those? Thanks Gail

  14. Gail – I have not used egg whites in cartons except in the Pierre Herme class. We used those straight from the box. You can try that first.

  15. HI, I was wondering if you ever read Fanny @foodbeam.com she is a very young aspiring pastry chef and has a great blog. Thanks for all your help. I am mustering up my courage to attempt my first macaron.

  16. ooops… I realized I didn’t see Kurt’s question. After many batches of macarons made, depending on the size of the batter I prefer to add all at once. When my macarons makes more than 96 shells, I usually do two additions. Usually during the first addition I do not beat too hard, just get the dry ingredients wet and when I add the second time that’s when I start beating hard .

  17. Pingback: Macaron Chronicles VII: And the saga continues | Kitchen Musings

  18. Veron,

    Thank you for sharing your macaron wisdom! I made my second batch this past weekend. Although I had feet in all 3 batches I’ve made, the feet seem “too big.” They protrude, instead of being delicate and the cookies seem flatter than they should. The batter this time was very thick and the cookies turned out less chewy than previously. Should I increase my cooking temp (it was at 300 in a gas oven, for about 9-10 min, using aged eggs) Fold the batter less? Something else?

    Thanks for any ideas! Love to see your creations!

  19. Pingback: Carnivore, Omnivore, Herbivore, Desertivore

  20. Hi,
    i just love your blog and flatted out with its content..
    i will start experminting with macarons as i do love them alot. so this blog is just what i was looking for.
    Thank you for sharing your delightful and insightful knowledge.

  21. Hi, this is a good guide on the egg whites treatment. Can you pass me some of your “macaron luck”? haha it’s been 100% fail rate so far for me =p

    My main issue is developing the skin. I have tried 10 seconds in the microwave for the egg whites, I still did’nt have skins after leaving piped batter out for hours.

    After baking, all I get is bubbles on my shells. I guess if I got the skin, the bubbles will just push the macaron up and make the feet. I also have no feet at all so far, I guess they should be highly correlated to each other.

    I have even tried to use a hair dryer on the piped bater or the two temperatures baking, didn’t help to form the skin. Maybe i should blow it at the egg whites prior to beating?

    (I live in the worse place on Earth to make macarons, Singapore has very nasty humidity, and my kitchen does not have air conditioning.)

    Folding wise, I seem to have got it right. (The tips/lines go away after around 30mins) I am not sure whether I should have a semi-chewy or crunchy core in the shells after 24 hrs in the fridge. I am guessing crunchy since they taste better that way. haha

  22. Hi Veron!
    So I’ve attempted the recipe twice. The first time I over mixed the dry ingredients and ended up with flat discs… the second time… I don’t know what I did wrong. They have a dome… (I didn’t overmix I don’t think!) but there is no pied. My heart sank.. What am I doing wrong?? (I ground my own almonds too!) Thanks for your help!!!

  23. Michael – I do not know what to do with the humidity if you do not have air conditioning, I tried making macarons in the Philippines and they took forever to dry – left it under a ceiling fan too. 😦
    Pookie cookie – How do you grind your almonds? Try breaking them up a little and then add your confectioner’s sugar. They are flat when they are overmixed or not enough dry material to mix with the egg whites. The only time I had a dome with no feet was when I used almond flour.

  24. So I think I figured out what was wrong… I had mismeasured the powdered sugar the first few times.. I think I measured it out at 150 instead of 200g! But now with the correct measurements the batter looks even better! I can’t wait to see it pop out of the oven! I’ll keep you posted! Thanks again for the tips!

  25. SUCCESS!!!!!! YOU ARE AWESOME VERON!!! Do you have any recipes for filling? THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!! I freaked out my cat when I squealed with delight!

  26. Hi there. Your site is pretty -and pretty helpful πŸ™‚ I need an answer about the aging of the egg whites. I hope it won’t sound silly. What do you do EXACTLY to age the eggs? You just leave the eggs (whole) outside the fridge for 24 hrs? Or do you break the eggs, part the egg whites, place them in a bowl and then leave them outside the fridge for 24 hrs? Thank you in advance. Keep up the yummie work. Greetings from Greece.

  27. Hi Veron!
    I had a quick question, i have made about 5 batches now and they all have piedsband are quite nice looking, amd super tasty, but they do very often have wrinkles on the top after coolig a bit. I tend to age my eggs for 24 hrs. What causes the wrinkles? Thy don’t crack. Thanjs for ur help macaron guru!!

  28. Hi Veron..

    I think i’m obsessed with macaons ha2..
    i’ve been tried many times and many recipes, but all came failed, they have no feet and flat.. my problems always come with the piped macarons is hard to get dry, so I leave it too long about 3 hours, it’s very humid here, I live in Jakarta, Indonesia. Is that the reason why my macarons always have no feet and flat?

    and veron about the egg white, we should beat till hard peak or soft peak? and i’m not using fan forced oven, so at what degree I should bake and how long?

    I just found your recipes, and read all through comments, and many of them have successed. so I also wanna give it a try..

    thanks

  29. Lauren – when I baked macarons in the Philippines the tops never dry either. I have no idea why, it may be the eggs but they didn’t crack, I just left them out for an hour. The macarons are flat because you overmixed probably. Do you use almond flour? It might be better if you cannot grind your almonds fine enough.
    The egg whites try beating them to hard peaks, that way even if you have to beat them down more you have whipped out most of the moisture in them. Try baking in 335 if it is not fan-forced.
    Hope this helps.

  30. Hi Veron..

    Just tried u’r recipe but still have no feet on it..
    I followed all your instructions, and I’m quite sure that the batter was not overmixed cause their rise on the oven, I bake on 150C. when it’s done it does taste like macarons but only without feet.. They just shape like round dome..

    I have no idea what did I do wrong.. I think I’m not dried the piped macaron dry enough, I just let them till form a soft skin on surface when I softly touched, they didn’t stick on my finger.. Or I should let them dried to form a hard skin surface on it?

    But I found a way how to dry the macarons, I use hair dryer πŸ™‚

  31. okay, sometimes when you overdry the macarons they do not have feet, this happens frequently with my pistachio and hazelnut but not with the all-almond. I think in humid countries, they never dry very well anyway, so just try putting them in the oven after 30 minutes. If they are domed you did not mix very well. Try checking the faq page to see the picture of a properly beaten down mixture.

  32. Hi just wanted to know what is the inside of a macaroon look like. Mine are hollow and crunchy on the top and slightly chewy by the foot. i don’t think they chewy enough, am i over baking them. They also seem to spread a little after i pipe them onto the sheet, is this meant to happen.

  33. Liza, seems like they were overbeat and the nuts were not ground enough. Do you use almond meal or do you grind your own almonds.

  34. Thanks for response, i think we did overbeat the mixture. But how do we get them glossy? i think my almonds were properly ground. i cant find almond flour, so i use ground almonds, i then grind the almonds further in a coffee grinder.

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