Any macaron fans?

Discussion in 'Pastries & Baking' started by jtbosslady101, Mar 14, 2017.

  1. jtbosslady101

    jtbosslady101

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    What has worked better for you the Italian version or the French version... why or why not? And does aging your eggs really make them come out better? Trying to get these little things perfect! Such a hassle
     
  2. misschief

    misschief

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    I actually did a series of blog posts about my adventures in macaron baking. Here's a link to the start of my "journey": https://inevskitchen.wordpress.com/2017/01/11/up-for-a-challenge-french-macarons/

    Just follow the posts. I've tried aging and I've tried not aging - not much difference at all. I've tried room temperature and straight from the fridge - go with room temperature. I've tried the Italian, French, and Swiss versions (yes, there's a Swiss version). I've cursed my oven (it's 75ºF hotter than the indicator shows), bought an oven thermometer (make sure you have one, trust me!). I've read dozens of websites about macarons. I've even watched French videos about making macarons (and was surprised at how much I understood with long ago high school French). I've made Excel spreadsheets with the formulas. 

    Yes, I was a little obsessed.
     
  3. rpooley

    rpooley

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    There have been many folks on the forum, such as Misschief, who have done great work in the field of macarons physics.  :)

    That said, if I had to pick a couple of things that seem to be most important for me:

    Leaving the egg whites at room temp; you can do this for a couple of days even; I have met several high-power pastry chefs who do this for up

          to 2 weeks

    Getting as fine an almond flour as possible (sifting a couple of times to get big pieces out if necessary)
    The "macaronage", or mixing step, which is hard to translate but you can Google it

    The resting before baking

    Most importantly, I don't think I've ever turned out a homemade filled macaron that people didn't enjoy immensely, so I tell people not to worry about it and just make some.  Homemade is always better.
     
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  4. misschief

    misschief

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    These are the important things. ^^^  I sift my almond flour and icing sugar twice... usually. The "macaronage" is still challenging for me. Every time I read "molten lava", I think.... what the H does molten lava look like? I've never seen a volcano up close and personal. After 10 or more batches, I think I've got it now.

    The resting before baking... I've found that the time is important. Anywhere from 15 minutes to 40 minutes, depending on the humidity, is fine. Longer than that and it affected the way the cookies baked and the outer shell was too thick/hard.

    That last point is, I think, the most important. It doesn't really matter how they look. Perfection is nice but they taste just as good even if they're not perfect. No one else will really care once they taste them.

    And jtbosslady? If it's a hassle, don't do it. I wanted to try them, and perfect them, because I'm a little obsessive. It also made me happy to get them so close to where they should be. I've enjoyed the process, the analyzing, the tasting..............mostly the tasting. ;)
     
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2017
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  5. jtbosslady101

    jtbosslady101

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    I've been obsessed for a while and been researching sooo much I'm getting closer and closer each time .... I want to perfect the french method before I even try the Italian method ! I'm getting the hang of the macaronage stage but goodness trying to get these egg white to get to where I need them ugh such a hassle. I can't seem to get the moisture out of it . I had gotten no feet last time 😿 I will say that I loveeee my non slip mats! Got them from Amazon and they worked perfect
     
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2017
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  6. flipflopgirl

    flipflopgirl

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    Have you tried using parchment?

    I have never had much luck with the mats.

    Maybe (just my thoughts) they prevent evaporation (during the resting stage) while parchment absorbs (noted by the wrinkly paper after baking) or maybe my mats just grab the edges and prevent that initial puff that creates the little feeties (altho per science the crowns should then crack to release the steam).

    Of course if you age the whites in a room with dry air this problem may become moot.

    I may not be the best person to ask as I have become much more open and relaxed re any imperfections in my baking lol.

    Strange how the attitudes change when a customer's opinion no longer matters in the grand scheme of things.

    /img/vbsmilies/smilies/laser.gif

    mimi
     
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2017
  7. misschief

    misschief

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    I have read in a few places that the Silpats may not be the best option but an equal number of people have said either/or. Personally, I don't own them so it's parchment for me. If you're not getting feet, it may be because your batter is too wet/over mixed. Here's a link to a page with a troubleshooting guide: http://misohungrynow.blogspot.ca/2011/01/troubleshooting-macaron.html  (scroll down).

    I think, if I remember correctly, I've only had one or two batches that didn't develop feet. One was because I didn't let them dry out at all (an experiment); the other was my very first batch when I had no idea what I was doing.
     
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  8. misschief

    misschief

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    Oh, just had another thought. One thing I've realized about my oven (apart from overheating and being old) is that the heat is uneven. Now, every time I bake (anything), I put my baking stone on the bottom rack and bring the oven up to the right temperature up to half an hour before I'm ready to bake. It has made a huge difference. (I now leave the baking stone in there for all my baking.)

    Some websites advocate using two baking sheets together, which sandwiches a layer of air between them.  I use cookie sheets that have two layers, with a pocket of air between the layers. That, too, has helped.
     
  9. jtbosslady101

    jtbosslady101

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    Explain cookie sheet with two layers?
     
  10. norcalbaker59

    norcalbaker59 Banned

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    Jtbossylady101

    Don't despair, macarons are persnickety by nature. I live up the road from the famed Thomas Keller's Bouchon Bakery. Tourist buses literally drop off hundreds of people at a time in front of Bouchon. Most come for the macarons. But I can attest to the fact that even the bakers at Bouchon screw up macarons--as in totally hollow shell!

    It not the temperature or aging of egg whites; boiled sugar or not that results in a great macaron. Great macaron are not about the resting.

    Macarons are persnickety in a large part because we obsess over the wrong aspects of baking macarons. A great macaron is dependent on two things: a properly whipped meringue and macaronage (properly deflating the batter).

    More often than not, baker's either over whip the egg whites and/or under mix the batter. If you are going to obsess about anything in macaron baking, let it be the maringue and macaronage process.

    The only other aspect of macarons that I will obsess about is shell texture, Texture is effected by the fineness of the almond flour. I find brands like Bob's Red Mill way too coarse. I buy online from an almond product company called Mandelin. They serve the trade, but also sell to consumers online. A pastry chef introduced me to this line several years ago. There such a difference in the finished product; I won't use any other brand of almond flour or almond paste.

    If you are still in research mode, look up Stella Parks. She has a website called Brave Tart; she posted very accurate and comprehensive information on macarons. Parks is a pastry chef, food scientist, cookbook author, senior editor for Serious Eats. Her recipes are based on science. She rigorously researches and tests--then retests, her recipes. Don't let the simplicity of her website layout mislead you--Parks is substantive and deep in her knowledge of baking science.

    And as a pastry chef, Parks literally spent thousands of hours making macarons, day in and day out as daily part of her job.

    https://www.mandelininc.com
     
  11. misschief

    misschief

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    My cookie sheets are made with two layers, one on top of the other. That way, there's a layer of air between the layers that heats them more evenly.
     
  12. misschief

    misschief

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    Stella Parks was one of my main reads. She has a lot of great information.
     
  13. jtbosslady101

    jtbosslady101

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    You two are sooooo wonderful!!!!! Like have you been my whole life I thank you all so much for you pinpoint Going to look at one of her books hopefully I can go ahead and read it and apply it to my baking skills
     
  14. norcalbaker59

    norcalbaker59 Banned

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    Misschief
    Good to know others find Stella Parks helpful. After taking an all day, hands-on macaron class, which was excellent, I still found Stella Parks very helpful. I like that she cuts out all the unnecessary steps to focus on the essential elements. The pastry chef who taught me how to make macarons pretty much embraced Stella Parks methods. But she was still a believer in that long rest, convinced the bake would be flawed without it. I just rest for about 5 minutes.
     
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  15. misschief

    misschief

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    I'm just a little envious right now. We have a French bakery here in town and the owner is a customer of mine at the print shop; she offers macaron classes but my husband considers it a waste of time and money. That's why I went on a web search for as much information as I could find about macarons. BraveTart was one site that kept coming up over and over. I think I've read every single post she wrote about macarons. Even the comments were extremely helpful.

    I try not to let mine rest too long.... 15 minutes maximum usually. It will be interesting to try making them again in the summer. Our weather, even though we're near a large lake, can be very dry. After all, we're part of a desert area known as the Thompson Okanagan Plateau..... wine country.
     
  16. jtbosslady101

    jtbosslady101

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    Oh wine country sounds amazing! Sadly we can predict the weather here in TN it snows one day tornado warnings the next
     
  17. norcalbaker59

    norcalbaker59 Banned

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    Misschief,
    I also live in a wine country--Napa Valley in California. I'm surrounded by vineyards; not mine, but why quibble over details when the view is both beautiful and free:)

    I have to commend you for taking on macarons without training. Macarons are not for the faint of heart. I certainly didn't have the confidence to try it on my own. I certainly tip my hat to you.

    Over the years I've taken a number of cooking and baking classes. I have found that in some cases it is a waste of time and money. I've learned to ask myself where my skill level is in a specific area, and then contact the school regarding the approach the class will take. When my skill level is matched to the curriculum, it's well worth the time and money.

    Some aspects of hands on learning are invaluable. In that macaron class the chef emphasized the importance of properly whipping the meringue. As the egg whites were beating, she stopped the mixer at intervals to explain all the differences in the stages between soft peaks to over-whipped. In one mixer, she purposely over-whipped the eggs whites. In all the years I have been baking I did not realize I was over-whipping my egg whites--every time!

    Hearing a detailed explanation and seeing the differences between soft peak stage, stiff peak stage, and over-beaten egg whites really defined the process for me.
     
  18. norcalbaker59

    norcalbaker59 Banned

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    No doubt the view is lovey for sure...but agriculture is loud and dirty! The spring work has just started in the Napa Valley. Dormant pruning; vineyard floor tilling; irrigation. A lot of farming happens at night. My bedroom faces the back vineyard..charming until the tractors roll out at 10 pm to rumble up and down the rows with flood lights glaring. The first night after I moved in, I thought a bunch of teenage boys were running their 4x4's through the vineyard. Turned out to be the farm workers plowing. I had no idea how much farming happens throughout the night! There's so much dust, from spring until the harvest I have to hose down both the front and back decks once a week.
     
  19. misschief

    misschief

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    That was the kind of thing I was wanting to learn about. I think another round of experimentation may be in order soon (once I'm over this stupid cold that has pretty much knocked me flat; it may be common but don't people realize it is THE most contagious illness around?? Stay home if you're sick.... sorry, one of my pet peeves.).

    I can see a few vineyards where I live but they're in the distance, not right outside my back door. Like the Napa Valley, the Okanagan Valley is an amazing place to live. We have a large lake within a 10 minute walk from our home and skiing about an hour's drive from here (not that I ski.... I don't).
     
  20. misschief

    misschief

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    This thread has inspired me to make one more attempt. I'm home sick today but can't just sit still. First tray is in the oven right now. I'll let you know how it goes.
     
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