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I have a recipe for macarons that works well; it says to use 2 trays while baking to get the raised lip.

I find if I crust the macarons overnight, that the lip comes up because the goo inside explodes like a volcano ripping apart the outer layer crust. My question is though: what are the optimal conditions - should the oven be hotter or warmer? how long is long enough for crusting

Finally, how do people make them in such nice neat shapes? Mine always come out looking misshapen.

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3 Answers

up vote 8 down vote accepted

I was lucky enough to get a macaron session from a Michelin-starred pastry chef before Christmas and he gave me some invaluable tips.

  • Use an Italian meringue recipe. In other words, pour warm sugar syrup on to the egg whites instead of sugar from the cupboard. The eggs will already have been 'cooked' into structure and will not require any crusting. They will retain the same shape that you pipe them out at. You can bake them straight away, or in a couple of hours - they won't be any different.

  • When piping, use a moderate pressure. Don't wring the bag out. Keep the nozzle approx 2cm over the tray and maintain that height while you pipe - let the weight of the batter spread the macaron out evenly. When there is enough mixture in place (about 4cm across?) stop squeezing and flick the nozzle away in a controlled circular motion to avoid creating a 'nipple'.

I wrote about this including his recipe on my blog here.

PS. I just remembered that adding further weight to the Italian meringue technique a very prominent French chef in the UK, Raymond Blanc, said that he always uses this method. On his TV programme this week he said it delivers far more consistent results.

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I've weighed a lot of egg whites. 2 eggs depending on the size will yield 60-65g of egg whites. Isn't that a big difference in the moisture content? Don't know why you wouldn't weigh everything and be spot on every time. –  Megasaur Jan 5 '13 at 8:30
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It's hard to say what to do about your shells without knowing the recipe. I agree with using an Italian meringue. However, if you allow sugar crystals to form in your syrup, either because you heated it up too much, or crystals formed on the edges of your saucepan, then this will also lead to weak shells that will crack.

To get nice shapes is easy. Don't bother guessing. Use a template. Google image search "macaron template" or make one yourself to the desired size. Print this out and when you pipe, place the template under your baking paper/silicon mat. Laminate it so you can reuse it, or just print out a bunch.

You will still need to practice piping. Always pipe from directly overhead into the centre of your circles. Leave about 2-3 mm before the edge since the batter will spread a bit. You can flick your nozzle or do the tiny circular motion, but this does not (in my experience) matter much. If you have the correct consistency, it will flatten out by itself, if it's too thick, you'll get a peak either way.

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I haven't heard about the double tray ,but you obviously must be happy with your recipe. Generally if your batter is of the right consistency and you use a piping bag you can get the right shape. I find that when you have achieved the right size you gently push down and quickly flick up to stop more being released . To achieve crust (the French call croquer) it should really only take about 60mins, but it needs to rest in a dry and warm area. Cooking on 150*C for about 10 mins checking from about 8 mins, ready when crusted on the bottom but no colour on top. If to hot you will lose the chewiness inside. Hope it helps.

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