Saturday, 20 October 2012

How to learn from your Macaron mistakes

Its time for me to showcase my most recent kitchen disaster to you, baking is never all about success and I don’t do enough to emanate what I could have done better. So far it’s been all about how good something tastes and never how I could have improved on some ill-defined quality that really would have benefited in some extra care towards it. So here it is. The ugliest, wrinkles’ ridden macaron that looks exactly like a wart that has been flattened with a PME rolling pin.  I thought I would outline some/ALL of the things that (I think) went wrong here, in bullet points, so that if you’re thinking of making some at home and are now worried that you might produce some warts, you can read this and hopefully turn those unattractive, alright tasting maca-macas into elegant, crunchy and then soft and gooey delights.
Did you think it was a whoopie pie?!
Why don’t my macarons have feet? 
My suspicion is that not enough air was beaten into my macarons, and in addition, when I did the almighty ‘double tap’ to remove air pockets, I actually removed the very last bits of air that my poor macarons were holding onto for dear life. I’ve read that adding a touch of cream of tartar to the egg whites will stabilise them, thus calls for a sturdier meringue, equals better raising agent! Take a look at my first ever attempt at macarons, they're just as ugly but they do have feet. Also, make sure your egg whites are at room temperature, I don’t know why exactly but I do know that mine derived from the fridge straight to the bowl (please look at pictures if you still need convincing). 

Why aren’t my macarons shiny and smooth? 
This is the big one; so many factors will cause your macarons not to have that perfect French finish. Exhibit A: the almonds. If they’re not miraculously fine in texture and sieved once or twice, you will not have a shiny macaron. The recipe I used only specified that I should sieve the icing sugar and ground almonds together so that they’re smooth, later I read that you should always add these to the food processer, and thin the life out of them with the blade setting. This will create a spectacularly smooth batter, and why is this important? If you have a smooth batter, your macarons will form a skin when they are resting - they must rest for at least 20 minutes at room temperature – and when the macarons are baked, that skin will be the sole reason behind why your macarons suddenly have that mirror-shine top, as well as that yummy crunch, followed by gooey middle. 

Why aren’t my macarons all the same size?
The most embarrassing thing of all is that I actually used this really helpful template to make sure each macaron carried excellent uniformity, but as there wasn’t enough air incorporated into my little disasters, all of the macarons spread in an uneven manner all over the baking parchment, causing oblong/rectangular/spherical rounds. In other words, if the macarons baked upwards instead of sidewards, they would have all been perfectly circular with the help of a template (or macaron matt). 
The macarons dont look at disastrous from this angle, aye?
I hope this answers some of your macaron queries, I’m not going to give the recipe on this occasion, I’m going to wait until my macarons look like gods and goddesses so that I can actually justify a recipe post.
Mini macarons (kind of)
Oh, and did I mention I burnt the caramel? 
Love Em xx

23 comments:

  1. I've never made macarons before as I've always been too scared! Thank you for your refreshingly honest post because mistakes do happen and very few of us actually blog them. Fingers crossed they turn out better next time :) I will keep your tips in mind when I feel ready to attempt macarons in the future.

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    1. it is true that not enough of us blog about our mistakes, i have made a promise to myself to make sure i blog every single thing i bake from here on out! think every one should do the same too. i hope i can produce better macs next time, even if it does mean having to attend a class :)

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  2. Oh dear not everything we bake work's out first time. At least you have idea's of where it went wrong, I've not made macarons so can not offer any advice. But I will certainly follow your tips if I ever do.

    Angela

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    1. thank you for wanting to follow my advice, even though i have showed poor attempts at macaron making! it means alot. macarons have proved the most difficult (after pastry) things to bake well for me!

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  3. Awwww, I think they still look cute, even though they don't have the slick Laduree look (I don't know how they do it!!) It's the taste that counts anyway. My main problem when I made macarons was taking them out the oven too soon as they deflated/cracked a bit.

    Macaron advice I've picked up: age your egg whites before using them (leave them sitting out for at least 1/2 hour) don't use fresh eggs, an italian meringue creates a far more stable mixture, the mixture is ready to pipe when it falls from the whisk/spatula in a ribbon trail. Hope some of this helps!

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    1. thank you for your helpful advice jo ! my eggs were old enough as it was so i didnt age them, the meringue also seemed pretty ligit... i think it was all in the almonds. shall head over to your blog and search for your macarons!

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  4. Hey Em, don't worry it took me 3 attempts to get mine right! I wrote all about it in a blog post - it sounds like they might've been runny because you tipped the almond mix into the egg whites, not the other way around?

    Have a little read of my blog post: http://laythetable.com/snacks/chocolate-macaroons-with-cherry-buttercream-filling/

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    1. thank you becs, i'll head straight over and have a look.
      i added the almond mix into the meringue in thirds, and i folded each time! god only knows...

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  5. I think it's great to talk about baking mishaps and mistakes, we're all human after all. Hope your next attempts works out better!

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    1. i know!! making mistakes is the only way you'll ever get good at anything with baking! that goes for everything in life i suppose...

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  6. I've tried so many times and my macaroons always look grainy and unpolished. I'm determined to get them right one day. I think it's good to blog about your mistakes. I wrote about my tarte tatin failing (twice)...I kept burning the caramel :( x

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    1. after my disaster i think the next time i make them i will be grinding the almonds in the processor for about a year...
      its so easy to burn caramel!!! shall pop over and have a look now! x

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  7. I ABSOLUTELY LOVE your blog! Glad you found me so I could find you!!! What a stroke of serendipity for me! Your macaron "mistakes" and "burnt" caramel look perfectly divine and luscious enough to devour! Look forward to more posts!

    With Love & Confection,
    Veronica <3

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    1. thats very sweet of you veronica! im glad i stumbled across your blog, looking forward to more celebration cakes!! x

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  8. I'm thinking they look pretty darn good! I would eat them. ;)

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    1. haha thank you jo! they tasted like a macaron, just without the crunch...

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  9. They look much better than mine! did you see them?! they were a true disaster.
    will you be trying again?

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    1. i will be having a look now! i think i'll reserve the next attempt for a class to be honest...aha will you?!

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  10. I've had another attempt and failed! Going for 3rd time lucky, if it goes wrong I'm going for a class too!

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    1. what happened in your second attempt?! i think its best steph, it just needs to be done aha

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  11. On the second attempt, I didn't whisk the egg white enough ( multi-tasking got the better of me!) and they just spread out in the oven. Have you found any good courses? I see you do them at your work place?
    x

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    1. oh no, did you use an electric whisk? i havent found any worth justifying yet, i might have a go at the one at my work place - the last class was an absolute hit and the teacher was brilliant. the next class is christmas themed as well! do you live far from south east london?

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  12. Hi! you have a lovely blog..
    These photos remind me of my first Macaron adventure..It's like it's part of the recipe to fail in the 1st trial, they just forget to mention it.

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