This post is subtitled, “Why yes, I am going to obsessively track my macaron progress.”
I was analyzing my recent macaron progress and realized I was having some issues with hollow shells. Based on reading online tutorials, I believe that my problem lies with a too-hot oven or being baked too long. I’ve been using two oven thermometers so unless my oven is possessed (hmmm, possible), I was baking them at the temperature I intended. It was starting to look like tweaking my baking procedure was in order.
I think you can guess where this is heading. I did indeed make another macaron batch today. I decided to stop getting fancy with flavors and really master a basic macaron recipe first. Today, I opted for a 1:1.2:2.35 ratio of egg whites to almond meal to powdered sugar. The level of precision to which I have approached this would make Brian proud! It seems like just yesterday he was wigging out at me for not leveling my cups of flour with a knife. Ah, so young, so inexperienced.
I’m still continuing on with the French meringue method. I thought briefly about using an Italian meringue, but then reminded myself to master one thing at a time. And it’s not that I don’t think my shells as they are currently baking taste unpleasant. It’s just that I know that they could be SO MUCH better!
So I whipped up a batch again. No flavoring, just sugar, almond meal, egg whites and my technique. I suspect I over-folded a bit this time around.
I piped the rounds onto Silpats this time around (yes, I know I said I didn’t like Silpats but I thought I would give them a chance to redeem themselves). I opted for a “high heat, low heat” method. I think the theory is the high heat will puff the shells up initially while the lower heat will allow the insides to cook properly and prevent hollow shells. So I would raise the temperature back up to 350-degrees F, drop it to 300-degrees F, then open the oven door and pop in a tray.
Tray 1: Rest 20 minutes. Double trayed. 12 minute bake. Feet projected outwards rather than up so overall height was low. I immediately removed these from the hot baking tray and let cool on a rack. The bottoms were sticky (a problem I always have with Silpats), so I stuck them in the freezer before removal. Many of them actually had concave bottoms. :( The ones that were flat on the bottom had slight hollow-ness.
Tray 2: Rest 40 minutes. Single trayed. 8 minute bake. These baked the highest. Same issue as before, sticky bottoms. The hollow was a bit more pronounced here and the bottom was thicker. I suspect that the insides collapsed shortly after removing from the oven. A tip I’ve seen to prevent that is to let them cool upside down, but the sticky bottoms prevent that. Now that I think about it, I wonder if immediately turning them upside down while still attached to the Silpat would have fixed that. Ah, perhaps another day.
Tray 3: Rest 55 minutes. Single trayed. 9 minute bake. Smaller foot. Not as tall when baked.
Lessons Learned: Do not double tray Silpats when using your oven! Melanie, have you seriously not learned that yet? A medium rest is best. Also, I think I should have tried double-baking the last tray to compare rest times and number of trays. Eeek, too many variables.
Next Test: I think I’d like to try just baking them for longer at a lower, constant temperature but I do feel like I should test this same method using parchment. I think I will probably do that, but pipe out a few macarons per sheet, so I can better examine the results.
Conclusions: Anyone feel like macarons? Come on over! I’ll even brew a pot of tea, to help wash down the sugar. :)