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How To: Troubleshooting French Macaroons
French macaroons are said to have originated from Italy and was brought up to France in the early days. At some point of time it was introduced by the French making it one of the well known pastries around the world. Macaroons was made as a delicate cookie due to the precautions taken when preparing it.
Failure to success in macaroon-making
I can't say macaroons are really simple to make be it at home or in a restaurant's kitchen (where you make it in huge batches!). When I first started making it, I did quite a handful of mistakes that nearly brought me into giving up making the popular cookies (however, giving up wasn't an option as macaroons were served as petit fours in the restaurant). I soon searched and ask around for the causes of the unwanted outcome .
Here is the list of possible causes and ways to prevent it.
Faults and ways to prevent it
- Lumpy or having brown dots(almond skin) in the batter:
This could be one of the toughest things to handle especially when you're using a scraper to mix the egg whites and the almond powder together. (your hand will start to feel tired after sometime).
What could be done: Blend the icing sugar and almond powder. You can't blend it for too long as oils from the almond will start to be pressed out. Pour in the icing sugar before the almond powder in the blender. Once you see that the icing sugar starts to mix with the almond powder, STOP! It's ready. Sift it afterwards before you mix it with the egg white.
- Batter too thin or macaroons didn't rise at all (looks like normal meringue cookies):
Sugar syrup for the Italian meringue doesn't reach 118 Degree Celsius or above (approx 245 Fahrenheit). The batter also becomes thin if meringue was folded-in too much.
What could be done: Ensure you only fold in about 20-30 times or till the consistency of 'lava', like it was shown by livelonger in his video here. Check the temperature of sugar syrup when making the Italian meringue.
- Macaroons doesn't have 'legs'
A number of occasions that my friends tried making macaroons and complained that the 'legs' never 'grow'! Reason for that is the macaroons are baked straight away after piping. This will result in having the sweet pastries looking like a normal round meringue cookie.
What could be done: After piping macaroons onto trays, leave them to dry for approximately 30mins to an hour. This will form a crust layer of dry batter. During baking, the batter under the crust (which is still moist) will 'push up' the crust, forming the required 'legs' for the macaroons.
- Macaroons have visible air bubbles or 'nipples'
The 'nipples' appears resulted by the last drop of batter you piped.
What could be done: After piping, knock the tray on the table top to remove any air bubbles as well as smooth-en the surface of the macaroons.
- Macaroons are soft after baking and cooled down
Macaroons should be baked without any humidity or moisture. The existence of any moisture in the oven will result in having a soft cookie.
What could be done: If your oven has a fan, humidity and/or steam function, ensure that it is adjusted to zero.
- It becomes brown after baking
Any item baked in the oven will brown. Anything with sugar, especially with high content, will result in caramelising and darkening the color of the product.
What could be done: This is the tricky part. Different oven has different temperatures in baking products. Normally I bake my macaroons between 150-160 degree celsius (300-320 Fehrenheit). I did a number of trial and error before getting the right temperature for baking the macaroons in my oven (155 degrees). The easiest way for you to get information on what temperature is suitable for your oven is to check the guidebook or website of the manufacturer.
- Macaroons baked sideways (the 'legs' are not even in a single macaroon shell.)
What I meant for this is that, instead of a normal round cookie, you have one that is slanted looking like a beret. This could be the result of your piping angle or you forgot to switch off the fan function in your oven.
What could be done: For macaroons, hold your piping bag straight instead of slanted when piping. A good example could be found here. If it is because of the fan function, switch it off the next time.
Enjoy your macaroons!
Though I must say, when I list all this mistakes and causes, it must have given the impression that making macaroons are extremely hard. It isn't that hard nor it is that easy like making a chocolate chip cookie. Consider the list as a reference to guide you along when you're making macaroons or have already made them.
Do leave your comments or any other outcome of macaroons that I did not write about. Thank you for reading and enjoy your macaroons!
Ever wondered on how to make your own truffle oil or flavored oils from home? Read all about it here!