Whoop(s)ie! This blog needs a new name!

My quest to start a whoopie pie stand of my very own in a Chicago farmers market.

Macsperiment #7

As I mentioned in my last post, this macsperiment can be summed up in one word: slide.

Exhibit A

But I’m getting ahead of myself.  My “new” KitchenAid got its first workout and took it like a champ.

you go, KitchenAid!

There are two different kinds of meringue you can use to make macarons: Italian and French.  So far I’ve been using recipes that all call for French meringue, although they may not say so explicitly.  French meringue is just the process of beating egg whites while slowly adding sugar until they come to stiff peaks.  I’ve seen it called “uncooked meringue” before in contrast to Italian meringue, which could be called “cooked meringue” due to the simple syrup that’s slowly added to beaten egg whites once the syrup reaches 244 degrees F/118 decrees C.  Because you have to heat the syrup to a very precise temperature while your mixer is beating your egg whites, it is almost impossible to make Italian meringue with a hand mixer unless you have two people and let’s be honest, it doesn’t really sound like a super fun activity for two.  So once I got my stand mixer, I knew the first thing I was going to make was Italian meringue.  And what better recipe to try than Pierre Herme‘s?

What I wasn’t prepared for, and which I’m still not positive about, is how Italian meringue looks compared to French.  I was beating and beating and beating my egg whites, waiting for them to get to a stiff peak, light-as-air stage like all of the egg whites I had used before, and they just weren’t getting there.  They were light-ish, had soft peaks, and were very glossy, so I thought, “umm…maybe Italian meringue doesn’t get stiff?” so I stopped and made the macarons with the meringue I had.  When life gives you (what is possibly though not certainly) Italian meringue, make macarons.  Right?

Well…maybe not right.  Because this is what I got:

Disregard those that look like erupting volcanoes; sometimes when you’re waiting for your macarons to dry before baking, your wonderful boyfriend does the dishes and because it’s been a while since the dishes have been done, runs out of space to put drying dishes and may be forced to put them on your counter, swinging dripping wet dishes over your macarons in the process.

Some did come out well, so I’ll pretend like they all did by just showing these completed pics (with strawberry buttercream!  my favorite so far):

strawberry buttercream is magnificent.

so close to looking normal

As for their texture, it was definitely different than the macarons I’ve made with French meringue.  Chewier, maybe a bit denser.  I had one after 2-days aging (the last one!) and it was almost the perfect texture…still a little too hard.  So maybe a 3-day aging process is necessary for these.  But I can definitely see why so many people/bakeries prefer to make them this way.

if macarons could form bands and make albums, this would be their album cover

If anyone who’s made macarons with Italian meringue can tell me a little more about what it should look like/how long it usually takes/how fast you pour the syrup in, I’d be forever grateful!  I think maybe that had something to do with their odd appearance.  I also think I may have under-folded aaaaand I really think my oven/baking sheet are just not suited for this sort of thing.  But I’m not going to complain!  You’re given what you’re given, and I’m going to make it work!

Special thanks has to go to the boyfriend, who not only did the dishes, but also stayed up late to bake these suckers because I was down for the count.  It was past my bedtime.

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15 comments on “Macsperiment #7

  1. movita beaucoup
    October 10, 2011

    Oh, those pink macarons with the strawberry buttercream look amazing! I have yet to try my hand at macarons, and have been researching all things macaron on the net. I’ll have to check back on your progress… thanks for the info!

    • macmaker
      October 11, 2011

      thanks for the comment! I have to say the strawberry buttercream was amazing…and all I did was add pureed defrosted frozen strawberries to some buttercream I had in my freezer. I don’t even remember how many I put in!

  2. Savory Simple
    October 11, 2011

    Very interesting! We used French meringues at school and I never had any issues baking in a convection oven, but I have all kinds of issues at home with my convection oven. I’ve been wondering what would happen if I swapped out the French for Italian meringues.

  3. macmaker
    October 11, 2011

    yes! I’m wondering if all of my trouble is just coming down to my oven…I wish I knew someone with a convection oven. I’ll probably end up using one when I rent kitchen space before I open shop, but I don’t want to have to wait that long!

  4. bleuelectrc
    October 11, 2011

    You have a macaron blog! Love it Miss

  5. Ginger in the City
    October 11, 2011

    So awesome. Making macaroons is on my list of things I want to do. But I’m pretty freaked out by them! But your blog is great and so funny. I hope all goes well!

    • macmaker
      October 12, 2011

      thanks! my posts might make you overly freaked out. I think my oven just has issues. don’t be afraid to try them though because they always taste delicious even if they look a little wonky!

      • farhanahizani
        October 13, 2011

        Hi, thanks for stopping by my blog! It’s great knowing people who love (and hate) macarons like I do! :p

        Anyway, I’ve been using Italian method for quite some time now and I think I will never go back to the French method, simply because the Italian way produces much more beautiful shells than when I did it the French way.

        Just some tips that have helped me:

        1) Use a hand mixer to beat the egg whites. I learned this from a French chef who told me that the less ‘wires’ you have on your whisks, the better.
        2) Beat the egg whites only until they have turned into very soft peaks, bubble looking (all of them) and then, pour the sugar syrup slowly while beating at high speed.
        3) Usually I would leave my macarons to dry for 40 minutes in an air-conditioned room or until the batter doesn’t stick to your finger at all when you touch them.
        4) If it’s still too hard after 2 days, I think you might want to reduce your baking time.

        I hope these can help. Nevertheless, your macarons look wonderful and I have been dying to get the exact pink color (but have failed several times. The food coloring sold here are not as good I guess 😦 )

        Good luck!

      • macmaker
        October 14, 2011

        thank you so much for the tips! I’m a little sad to hear I should be using a hand mixer on my whites as I just bought a stand mixer that I love to use! so much easier on my arms…haha. So do you beat your egg whites until they are foamy or until they are actually at the soft peak stage? The Pierre Herme recipe I followed for the only Italian meringue I’ve made said to add the syrup almost immediately after starting to beat the whites, so I will have to try adding it later. What does your meringue look like when you’re done? Does it stick inside the bowl if you turn it upside down or is that a French meringue-only thing?

      • farhanahizani
        October 14, 2011

        Woopsie, my name led to my personal blog. I was referring to my macaron blog http://loveandmacaron.wordpress.com

        Sorry about that!

      • farhanahizani
        October 15, 2011

        Don’t be too sad, I’m sure your stand mixer will work just fine – I have been dreaming of getting a Kitchen Aid stand mixer as well, one day maybe 🙂

        My way of working with the meringue is exactly like this;
        1) I boil the sugar syrup until 115˚C, start beating the egg whites until they are foamy but ALMOST forming soft peaks.
        2) stop beating and wait for the sugar syrup to reach 118˚C. Then, (while working quickly to avoid the sugar syrup’s temperature from dropping) I pour the sugar syrup slowly into the foamy egg whites WHILE mixing at highest speed. After 30 seconds or so, I go back to medium speed and keep beating until I get a stiff meringue.

        My meringue does stay in place when I turn the bowl upside down BUT it’s not the usual meringue type, and it definitely won’t be very very stiff. When I lift the whisks, I can see the mixture looks slightly elastic and firm (I really don’t know how to explain, oh God..) and the mixture is shiny. Yeaaah.

        Anyway, just sharing a recipe you might want to try one day, I use steps very similar to hers and a few of my friends were successful when trying this recipe; http://ladymacaron20ten.blogspot.com/2010/08/madame-macaron.html

        *I tend to babble a lot when I talk about macarons. Sorry!* 😦

      • macmaker
        October 17, 2011

        wow! thank you so so much for the tips. I added my syrup after beating the whites for longer than I did last time and I think my meringue set up much better and faster than it did the first time. the macarons not completely killed by my oven turned out really well too.

  6. Pingback: Macsperiment #8: They taste like chocolate chip cookies! | macmaker

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