the last time I made macarons, some of them always had huge huge scary things on top. they were just growing on my otherwise perfect macarons, and I assumed that it was because I wasn't being careful when filling my pastry bag with the batter. I was doing it haphazardly so there were tons of air pockets which I thought must be causing these giant swellings.
but then I made a new batch of macarons and made sure to fill the pastry bags carefully so there were no air pockets. but the tumors were still there. and again, not on every macaron, just a few. So i ruled out any issue with mixing the batter, since some were coming out just fine. and so I kept thinking, hmm, what else could be ruining my lovely macarons?
then i saw on the baking sheet, a puddle of water around a macaron that had dripped off my wet fingers when I was pressing down the peaks that form from piping.
my suspicions were confirmed because when that batch of macarons came out, the macaron with the puddle of water around it did not just have a bump on it, the entire thing was a bump! trash. and to make sure that water was the true culprit, I whipped up another batch and did a test.
On the left, the macaron is piped and untouched. You can still see the peak that formed on the top, although the one one underneath has sunk into the batter.
In the middle, I dipped my finger in a glass of water then wiped it slightly on a paper towel, and pressed down lightly on the macaron so the peak would disappear.
And on the right, I wet my finger but did not wipe it down before I pressed the peak away.
Into the oven and 12 minutes later…
On the left, the little peak still exists.
In the middle, nothing! Tada!
On the right, the swelling makes its comeback!
Though I found that if I waited patiently enough, the peaks in the untouched ones eventually disappeared into the batter slowly, as you can see from the bottom left macaron. However, I don’t have that much patience for the peaks to vanish. So now I just make sure my fingers are slightly damp – if they are dripping water, then they are too wet and will ruin the macarons.
I just found it very ironic - in attempting to make a small peak disappear, it backfired and I instead made it worse by creating giant bumps. a good example of 1 step forward, 2 steps backwards.
And remember: ugly macarons still taste good. So don’t trash them, they are equally as delicious as the others! I personally know lots of people who enjoy eating them regardless of what they look like :)