04 May 2009

a macaron only the maker could love

peak01there are peaks… and then there are what I call tumors.

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.

peak02my 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…

peak03 Confirmed 100%. Water was the bad guy.

On the left, the little peak still exists.

In the middle, nothing! Tada!

On the right, the swelling makes its comeback!

peak04 So there you have it. How to fix your macarons if they are coming out with huge bumps. Or if you want huge bumps, how to get them.

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 :)


Ciao Chow Linda said...

great discovery. one of these days i will try baking these.

Tartelette said...

The moment I saw your pciture I said "water bumps"! I think it's safe to say we all did that mistake at one point or another with smaller or bigger results :)
You should hear my bang bang as I rap the sheets against the countertop after I pipe. Hubby knows what I am doing, that's for sure!
Good thing is even with water bumps, they are still quite edible :)

The Cooking Photographer said...

Hi Cathy,
I figured it was water from looking at it, but had no idea how it got there! I'm really glad you posted this. I learn so much when others post what they've learned.

Jayme Duke said...

A-HA! Thank you for this post! I have this problems too sometimes, though usually not quite as tumorous (lol nice description of the problem btw!). Now I know why!!

I will definitely be more careful in the future of how wet my fingers are when smoothing out peaks.

Steph said...

Thanks for sharing!! I'm still too scared to try making macarons.

parlezvouskiwi said...

I actually laughed out loud at your cute little diagrams pointing to the macarons - love your style.

And they look YUMMY!

Bria said...

Wow thanks for sharing! I love finding out interesting stuff like this. I always pat the peaks down with a slightly damp finger but luckily I mustn't have been using too much water. Next time I am going to try Tartelette's suggestion of banging the baking tray on the table! I thought this would cause the egg whites to deflate?

Nicisme said...

That's interesting, I'll watch out for water next time I make them.

An Carol said...

looking are so delicious i want to eating :D ....

Lizzie Chen said...

I want to try some! I like how you are serious about baking and treat it like science!

cathy said...

thank you everybody!! :)

Fifi Flowers said...

oooooooooh macarons... I NEED to find a place that makes them CLOSE by... maybe I could talk local bakery into making them... hmmm... or I could break down and have my kids bake them... hmmmm
Bon week-end!

cathy said...

@fifi: i hope macarons invade america! and i think making your kids bake them is a wonderful idea, anything to keep people baking!

di Palermo Body said...

this is sooooooo helpful thank you so much!

di Palermo Body said...

thank you this is soooo helpful