making macarons (#4) – (bubble bubble) toil and trouble.

11 Jul 2012 § Leave a comment

After the previous successful attempt, I just HAD to try again to make sure it wasn’t a fluke. After leaving the egg whites to dry in the fridge for 2 days, I decided to make another batch two nights ago.

Everything started off well, numb fingers from pressing the almond powder through the sieve notwithstanding. It was only when I had completed the macaronage and started piping that I realized I had over-mixed the batter. My batter was runny, and the peaks were flattening out too fast. Nevertheless, I continued piping all four trays.

The next thing I noticed were little air bubbles forming at the top of the piped macarons. It’s the first time I’ve actually seen air bubbles on the piped macarons – even when I failed to produce feet during my first and second attempt, the batter was always smooth – and I had to spend a good couple of minutes pricking the bubble with a toothpick.

The batter also took slightly longer to dry and form a skin. After 30 minutes, I was so feeling so impatient that I decided to put the first tray in the oven. Obviously a bad idea. I’d preheated the oven to a temperature of 145 degrees Celsius (which was fine for my previous batch), but the skin had not formed properly on the first tray which led to cracked shells and no feet!

The whole gang decided to visit: cracked shells, footless, sticky bottoms

The second to fourth tray fared better as I reduced the temperature to 140 degrees Celsius and baked it for 18 minutes. However, the feet was really low (at least I HAD feet!), and the bottoms of the macarons were slightly stickier than attempt #3.

Out of the 80 macaron shells that I piped, I only managed to make 20 macarons with smooth domes, 15 macarons with cracked domes (but still edible), while I had to throw away the remaining ones – some were misshapen as I couldn’t control the flow of the batter well, some had really bad cracks, and some got stuck to the baking paper.

I was so tired at the end of the whole process that I even messed up my first batch of chocolate ganache! Halfway thru mixing it, the oil began to separate and I was left with a grainy mixture with oil floating on top. Ugh. It was too late at night by then to find a way to salvage it, so I made a second batch, hurriedly piped the filling onto the macaron shells and called it a night!

Lessons learnt?

1. Do not make macarons at 10pm at night, after work, if you need to wake up early the next day!

2. Keep an eagle eye on your batter during macaronage. It’s better to undermix than overmix.

3. Rest, rest, rest the macarons! From these two attempts, the ideal resting period is definitely 1 hour for a proper skin to form.

On the bright side, I’m quite confident that I’ve figured out the hot and cold spots in my oven now. I may change the configuration of the macarons so that I have less macarons at the side, which is hotter (and therefore, more prone to cracked shells).

So yes. Macaron baking is now strictly reserved for Friday and Saturday nights!

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