Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Macarons, Part Two

I tried another batch of macarons today, nixing the attempt to make them chocolate for two reasons. 1) Chocolate macarons are supposedly more difficult than other kinds; and 2) I couldn't find Dutch-processed cocoa at a reasonable price (it was $12 for a small box, compared to $2.50 for a mix of regular cocoa and Dutch-processed), which could be a problem due to acidity. Best to stick with 'regular' macarons for now.

The recipe I used, other than not having cocoa, differed from the first recipe in the following ways:
  • less granulated sugar
  • the sugar is added to the egg whites at an earlier stage
  • more egg white, but also more powdered sugar and ground almond
  • the piped batter was allowed to sit out for 30 minutes before baking
  • they were baked at a lower temperature, for a shorter time

The egg whites I microwaved for 8 seconds after getting them to room temperature. By sight alone they didn't seem any different, as in, they hadn't gotten opaque and were as translucent as ever, but when whipping them up I could distinctly smell an eggy smell, which I've never experienced before when making meringue (but perhaps I've never had reason to get that close for that long).

They never got glossy. I don't know the reason for this -- whether it was the microwaving or the earlier addition of the granulated sugar, or maybe something else altogether. Yesterday's batch became glossy almost immediately after adding the sugar. This one I whipped and whipped and whipped far beyond my natural inclination (and ultimately, the good of the end result), because I kept waiting for them to get glossy and they never did. I even added a little more granulated sugar at the prescribed stage from yesterday's batch to try and get them to gloss, but just didn't happen. It was frustrating. When they're glossy the texture is almost like nougat. This one never got beyond fluffy egg white.

I finally stopped the machine when the meringue was so thick/fluffy that practically the whole mass of it was stuck in the whisk. Since I'd come this far, I decided to plow on and at least see how this batch would turn out, for the sake of science.

Folding the dry ingredients into the meringue went a lot faster and easier this time than it was yesterday; the end batter wasn't as thick as yesterday's, though it was still slightly thicker than the "flows like magma" description/photos from the macaron sites I've perused.

So how did these meringues turn out?

  • they were VERY puffy, so much so that a layer of air separated the top layer from the bottom layer ... they were so fragile that when you bit into one, it fell apart (unlike yesterday's, which were crunchy and hard)
  • immediately after baking, each one had a nice little foot -- after drying, the tops sunk down so that the feet disappeared
  • the tops of the cookies were consistently uncracked; however the batter wasn't thin enough to keep it from 'beaking,' so the baked cookies had a slight rise in their middles
  • they were still sweeter than I would like

I'll make some more adjustments and try again!

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