Right so I mentioned in Monday’s post about the Italian meringue method for macarons that I had been having issue with my French meringue macarons recently. Oh they look fine. They look gorgeous even – shiny smooth tops and delicate feet. Like these that I brought to my students at Le Dolci a few weeks ago:
Sadly, they were a hollow. Underneath the domed top the what-should-be-fluffy interior of chewy goodness had fallen to the bottom. So what you were eating was basically a puff of air.
I’d noticed this over the past couple of classes I had taught too. Then students from my classes started to email me with the same issues – pretty macs but hollow. I can only imagine that it must have something to do with the weather since it’s only been since January, with me not changing a single thing of my recipe or technique.
It started driving me mad. I needed to find a fix, both for my own peace of mind and so that I could pass it on to my students. Stuff like that just drives me crazy. Why, why why? After nearly a year of beautiful macarons with no hollow shells does this start to happen?
I figured I would make a couple of small changes to see if they make a difference. Firstly, I tried resting the macarons before I baked them. Though it is something many French meringue macaron recipes call for, it’s not something I have ever had the need to do. My macs have never suffered. I figured that if my batter was correct, they wouldn’t be going anywhere anyway (i.e. spreading). I also cut down the time I whip the egg whites, since it appeared the problem was too much air, I wouldn’t whip as much into them.
Those were enjoyed by my students at Le Dolci last weekend 🙂 Oh yeah. Not only were these perfectly formed and not hollow but EVERY SINGLE macaron shell came out beautifully. Normally I count on a certain area of each tray of macaron shells being cracked due to the oven hotspots. Not this time. Woot!
So, was it the resting that “calmed down” the air pockets? Was it the less beating of the egg white? In retrospect, I should have just done one of the two “fixes” because now I have no way of knowing which was the fix.
I decided to experiment again with a(nother) batch. Ahem. I am having a little bit of macaron fatigue to tell you the truth but once I am on a mission, I cannot be stopped. I am, after all, a Taurus.
So I made another batch of of raspberry macarons last weekend. Same deal – less egg white beating and resting them for 30 minutes before they are baked. Result?
Uh yeah. Pretty proud of these ones. Even more proud that I had saved one of the chocolate ones to do a “cross section” comparison of both (they look a little heavy but it’s because you can only really cut a macaron properly when it’s been in the fridge:
Here, for those of you who would like it, it my macaron recipe, adapted from my macaron cheerleader, Stella (aka Brave Tart) without whom my macarons would still be dire. Over the past nearly year, I have refined this recipe and method (teaching other people helps me see the recipe in different eyes too!)
- 115g ground almonds (store bought or home ground in a spice/coffee grinder and sifted before you weigh)
- 230g icing sugar
- 15g cocoa powder for chocolate macarons or 15g freeze-dried raspberries, ground in a spice grinder
- 144g egg whites, separated, covered in plastic wrap and left at room temperature for a few hours. You can separate them up to 3 days before you use them - just keep them covered in the fridge and bring them to room temperature for a few hours before you use them
- 72g granulated or caster sugar
- (food colouring powder – about 2 teaspoons for this amount of macarons)
- Line two baking trays with parchment paper.
- Prepare a 14” piping bag with a plain tip (I use Ateco 803), twist the bag at the tip end and place inside a tall glass to facilitate filling the bag.
- Combine almond flour, powdered sugar and either the cocoa powder or freeze dried fruit powder in a food processor, pulsing about 10 times for a few seconds, until all ingredients thoroughly incorporated.
- Sift dry ingredients twice using a fine sieve and pressing the mixture through with your hands and set aside.
- Using a stand mixer, beat the egg whites and sugar at a low speed (Kitchen Aid speed four) for 2 minutes, medium speed (Kitchen Aid six) for 2 minutes and a high speed (Kitchen Aid eight) for 2 minutes. The egg whites will be very stiff at this point.
- Add the colouring powder and mix for one minute at the highest speed (Kitchen Aid ten).
- Add the dry ingredients to the egg whites.
- Fold the mixture, pressing it against the sides of the bowl to deflate the mixture. Fold about 40 times (counting single strokes), stopping every couple of strokes after 25 to check the consistency. It should be lava-like, flowing in ribbons off the spatula.
- Transfer half the mixture to the piping bag, sealing the open end with a twist and holding firmly with the hand that will not be actively piping.
- Pipe four tiny dots of mixture under the corners of the parchment paper to make sure it stays put.
- Pipe your macarons, holding the piping tip at an angle to the baking sheet, about 3cm in diameter (they will spread during cooking), and quickly removing the tip when you have finished piping, making a shape like a comma.
- Rap the tray 3-4 times on a hard surface. You'll see air bubbles coming to the surface of the unbaked shells.
- Fill the bag with the rest of the mixture and pipe and rap the second tray.
- REST the trays of macaron shells for 30 minutes before baking. At this point you should heat the oven to 300˚F.
- Place one tray of macarons on an empty baking tray and bake on the middle rack of the oven for 16 minutes at 300˚F, turning the tray from back to front halfway through.
- Remove from oven and let the tray sit for a few minutes.
- Remove the parchment from the tray and allow to sit on a cool surface for at least 30 minutes, then remove macaron shells to a cooling rack.
- Store in an airtight container overnight.
- Pair up like shells to facilitate the filling process.
- Once completely cool, fill with ganache or cream filling of your choice.
- Best enjoyed 24 hours after filling (sorry!)
In any case, I am not taking this for granted and it will be, as anything requiring practice, a work in progress. But this is what is working for me right now. If you’re in Toronto and would like to come to a class, check out my class schedule – I’ll get you on your way to making macarons like this 🙂
For more information of troubleshooting hollows, check out Stella’s fab post over on The Brave Tart.
Don’t forget to check out my “how to” videos and macaron help page with info about where I buy my supplies – ingredients and equipment!)