One challenge has been overcome… I think. This time, I used three egg whites instead of four and let them age overnight. I aged them in the fridge overnight, then took them out and let them stand at room temperature for a few hours (our suite is chilly; we have electric heat and turn it off at night… night time temperatures outside hovered around -18ºC last night). By this afternoon, I was ready to bake.
I did something a little differently from all the recipes I’ve read so far. I came across an article yesterday that I found fascinating. I’ll link to it in a moment but wanted to quote the part I found interesting.
“The operative word when you make macarons, aside from quality, is slow,” said Auzou as he peered into the bowl. The froth of egg whites and sugar soon became a firm, snowy mass. Chef William Liebaut, who has worked at Auzou for thirty years, removed the bowl from the mixer, inserted a second, empty bowl, and carefully scraped about two-thirds of the softly beaten egg whites into it. He then turned the mixer to low and slowly poured in more sugar and ground almonds. Within moments the mass was at the “soft point” stage, and judged ready. “We don’t make meringue here,” Auzou said. “The mixture has to be soft. If it gets too hard, we’ll mix in some of that reserved egg white and sugar mixture to soften it.”
– from The Macaron Wars by Susan Hermann Loomis
There were a couple of things I found interesting about this section. First, Auzou said, “We don’t make meringue here.” They beat their egg whites to “softly beaten egg whites”. Huh! Second, the icing sugar and almonds were blended into two thirds of the egg whites. That way, if there was too much moisture in the eggs, you wouldn’t be wasting the entire batch. If you needed more egg white, it was there to use as needed. Third, they don’t mix the egg/almond mixture by hand! It’s done at low speed in the mixer.
I wasn’t quite ready to try the last part but I did follow the second part. After my egg whites reached the just stiff peak stage, I scooped out about one third into a clean bowl, then mixed the icing sugar and almond mixture into the egg whites. Because I’d used less egg whites this time, I did need that one third and incorporated it easily. My mixture was the perfect (I think) consistency for piping. It went so much easier this time. As well, they developed a shell well within the 15 minutes to half an hour that most recipes recommend.
As to the second challenge, my oven, we did buy an oven thermometer last night and when I tested my oven today, I was shocked to realize that it runs about 50º hotter than the indicator shows. That means that if I need to bake the macarons between 300º and 350º, I need to set it at about 250ºF. That’s what I did and it went SO much better than my first try.
And you know what else? We have FEET!!
This batch is looking so much better than the first batch. I can barely believe the difference between the two batches. That said, we haven’t tried them yet. I will reserve judgement until we’ve had a chance to fill them, bite into them. We shall be critical.
My recipe, making 1.5″ shells made 70 cookies, or 35 “sandwiches”. I’ll post our thoughts, and pictures, tomorrow.