Wednesday, December 01, 2010

After my 4 failed trays of macarons (4! FOUR! That's a painful lot of failed macarons...) two nights ago, yesterday afternoon i gritted my teeth and set to work again to find out what went wrong and what i should be doing to achieve nice looking macarons. Notice i say "nice looking", because perfecting the insides is another madcap adventure altogether.

The recent consistent failures really started to sap my reservoir of hope and belief in myself. For every 1-2 pretty macarons you see here on this blog, there were tons more that didn't make it. Tray after tray of wasted ingredients, time, money and energy.
But it was those early successes (Thank You Lord!), without knowing how in the world i did it, that's keeping me driven to keep trying. It was because i managed to make them before that i know it's possible to make macarons at home! It's not just for the professionals. I read up on macaron 101s from credible bloggers (who are equally MacCrazy), made notes and tried to understand the problem behind the failures.

So back to yesterday afternoon.

Inserted my first (rather crowded) tray of macarons into the oven, and as usual, they started their dismaying habit of puffing up and cracking, and not developing any feet... In my desperate attempt to save them, i opened the oven door slightly to reduce the temperature in hope of stopping the impending macaron death. Before, i would have kept the temperature at 150degress (Heat should be set to come from the bottom. But that's just my oven.) because that's what the recipes said.
But this time, i decided to take things into my own hands. (though i did remember some advice out there that mentioned to lower the temperature once you put the macarons in. some people agreed, some disagreed. i didn't think it would work for me, but...)

Strangely, i noticed that some macarons looked smooth. The top wasn't cracked, and to my delight... they started to develop FEET. Even, pretty feet. The pretty ruffled bottoms! I was on the verge of screaming. Hyperventilating. But okay, theatrics aside, all i did was message 2 of my life's dearest people, Jiejie and Gem.

Sure, some of the macarons died because of the uneven heat distribution in the oven. BUT HEY! Some turned out looking REALLY good! I was ecstatic. And i still had one more tray to experiment with.

So, preheated the oven back up again to 150-160degrees (it overshot a little this time) and buanged the 2nd (not so crowded) tray in. I did the same thing, which was to let the temperature settle down to 140degrees thereabout. I had to sit in front of the oven and stare into the window very intently, watching the oven themometer's needle and watching my macarons' reaction to the heat.

Result: Perfectly smooth, feet-ed macarons. I was so pleased. And messaged Jie and Gem that i could now Rest in Peace.
(to which Jie replied: "Dun die so fast leh, u havent made the peppermint ones")
Oh yeah, I had promised to make her those.

I'm not 100% sure if this is the solution to my macaron problems (other than not making them on a humid day). So i'm going to try again soon to replicate the conditions, after i'm done eating/passing out to GP List the ones i just made. The positive thing about seeing the same looking failed macs is that i know i'm doing everything consistently. Which means, there are perhaps only just 1-2 (God forbid more than that) factors that need to be tweaked. Guess it turned out to be the temperature fluctuations.

I'm guessing that the higher temperature first allowed the shells to puff up nicely and harden while the falling temperature ensured that they don't crack right through. 140degrees allows the insides to cook and the macaron to form pretty feet.
The 1st tray. With dead and live macarons.

The beginnings of a discovery...
And here! Pretty macarons! FINALLY! After so many heart breaks.

I've got empty lemon and chocolate shells waiting to be filled... Yummy. :D Shall go look for ideas now. It took so much reading up to get the right tips online! Once I get consistent results with the italian method, i'm going to venture into the french method. Muah hahaha...
Now, if only the same zest for my dissertation would kick in...


wonkyz said...

for every mac tat dies, nvm! u r one step closer to making perfect mac....hohoho, i tink it helps to be systematic, as in, u know write in a log book the different 'condtions' u make them in. why dun u put them in oven 6 min, then take out, change side(since u said left n right side of oven not balanced in heating) n put in for anther 6 min.can or nt? i m a wonky at baking, so i nt sure if this is do-able or nt la.assume u change side super fast. do it while power still on? is this feasible

joline said...

i totally agree about the log book. :) i sort of keep an account of the do's and don'ts... but you knwo what? my computer crashed and i lost everything... all my recipes are gone. some things can be retrieved since i got them online but other stuff that have been collected over the years are gone now.

i'm using lenny, my little netbook now.

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