Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Macaron Fails and Troubleshooting

I thought I would share about some of my fails of baking macarons.
I have been making macarons for several years and I can tell you that they are a very picky pastry.
Yes, a pastry - this is no cookie!


Recently on the blog, all you see are my pretty macarons - but let me tell you, it doesn't always turn out as such!
Even from one piped sheet to another, things can change!
One tray will turn out perfectly, the other... who knows what happened! It was from the same batch, after all! 
I do know that frequently my fails have to do with how I folded (aka stirred) the almonds into the meringue. 
I find my first piped batch is often under folded (aka I didn't stir it enough)... so then I stir a few more times and the consistency becomes perfect. 
Below, an example of underfolded macarons - should have stirred more!! Although, under folded macarons can be saved - just use a knife and either pat down or take the tops of and voila! Your macaron is saved!)
At least though they formed feet. Well, some of them.
Here we are, with the same shell recipe, but with everything done right. Folded perfectly, rested perfectly, cooked perfectly. It's nice when they turn out perfectly. Although, the ones above do taste the same as the ones below. They just aren't as pretty!

Here's another fail below. WHERE ARE THE FEET?? Guess what though, these are not massive fails. They still taste the same. Also, don't wet your finger and try to dab the pointy part away. Lesson learned.

Let's assess one of my recent creations that I made this year. I was trying to make a vanilla bean macaron.
Nothing went right.
It was lumpy. I had underfolded it and I knew it. And I kept stirring and stirring and it just didn't want to deflate.
Then it was also bumpy - the little fine particles didn't mix together. Sometimes that happens when you don't sift your ingredients. But I sifted. So I don't know.
Then, look at the bottom shell. The feet developed on one side... but what happened to the other?? Where'd the feet go?

Just when you think, okay, finally, let's get to the filling, I can't screw that up, right? WRONG.

Here I was trying this wonderful vanilla bean white chocolate ganache filling by Pierre Herme.
Vanilla Bean White Chocolate
165g cream
180g white chocolate
3 vanilla bean pods
1. Cut the pods in half and seed them.
2. Bring cream to a boil with the vanilla seeds AND pods in it. Then remove from heat and let rest for 30 minutes.
3. Melt the white chocolate, preferably over a double boiler.
4. Remove pods from cream. Then stir the cream into the white chocolate.
5. Put in the fridge until cool.  

You see, after it's cool... it's supposed to be something that is creamy and pipe-able. Clearly, below, it is too runny. 
I don't know what I did but it is not right.
It tasted ridiculously delicious though. 
But the macarons kept sliding apart when I filled them. That didn't stop me from eating them... but I had to pull them out of the fridge and eat them immediately otherwise they all slide apart.  That's why I'm holding one in my hand - it's because it would slide apart otherwise!


Food Nouveau has a good troubleshooting guide for macarons.

 These pastries are so picky. It can depend on...

perfectly clean bowl for meringue not made of plastic
silpat or parchment paper
age of egg whites (it is said aged egg whites are the best, but I have never had a problem)
temperature of egg whites
consistency of meringue
weight of ingredients
sifted ingredients
type of food coloring used
overfolding/underfolding the almonds into the meringue
resting time
oven temperature
convection bake vs regular bake vs crap oven
and lastly, the humidity. If it's raining outside, just don't make them.

Well, I thought you might enjoy seeing behind-the-scenes that not everything is perfect over here even though I make lots of macarons. 
Yet, even though most recently I had a fail, it won't stop me from trying.
I read in a the Bouchon Bakery book I received for Christmas (thanks guys, you know who you are!) that Thomas Keller states that you should not try to learn a lot of new recipes but instead work on perfecting one.
So that's what I do.
Oh, did I mention they were gluten free? But diabetics beware.

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2 comments:

  1. I have been amazed that you make these. They look hard to create and I bought some once and they were so delicate they each broke on handling. Thanks for sharing at Home Sweet Home!

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    1. Yes they are so delicate. I shipped some to friends for Christmas and found out they all broke! They stated that they still ate every last crumb, but I thought they would've held up a little more!

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