It’s almost Easter! I have been seeing a barrage of baked goods in the form of bunnies, Easter eggs and chicks on Instagram. For this new Easter macaron, I wanted to blend the latter two together to make one cohesive design. Because really, what came first? The chicken or the egg? Well, I can tell you that for me, the chicken definitely came first because I piped them first lol.
After I posted these onto Instagram, I received a few questions about techniques and even a request for a tutorial. I will post those questions and answers here to make it easier for anyone not tracking my convos with others. As for the tutorial, I would love to have done one but I didn’t get a chance to take any step-by-step photos since my original post theme was to discuss the issue of resting the macaron shell which I did end up making a video for.
If you’ve been having bad luck with macarons, you’ve probably googled up many different kinds of advice which seems conflicting at times. One of those is the procedure of “resting” the macaron shells after baking. “Resting” a macaron shell involves letting it air dry for 30 minutes after piping until the surface loses its glossy sheen and you can lightly touch the shell without any trace of the batter transferring to your fingers. Here, watch this video to see me “petting” these chickies. That’s how dry your shell needs to be:
“Why Should I Rest My Macarons?”
Letting the macaron shell dry out allows the outer surface to harden up so that when it is baked, the air in the batter will escape from the bottom edge (thereby, creating feet) instead of from the top of the macaron which can cause cracks and/or leave you with no feet at all.
“So, Do I Need to Rest My Macarons?”
This is definitely a controversial topic in macaron baking. Some bakers swear that they never rest their macarons and others swear by it. From all the readings I have done both online and in print, it appears that most bakers are in favor of doing this. Specifically, in both the Laduree and Pierre Herme Macaron cookbooks, it instructs to do it in this way:
♥ Laduree: “Set aside uncovered for 10 minutes to allow a crust to form.”
♥ Pierre Herme: “Allow the shells to stand at room temperature for about 30 minutes until a skin forms on the surface. The batter should not stick to your fingers.”
Even in my macaron class, it was advised to wait for about half an hour until a skin develops. The important wording to pay attention to is “waiting until a skin or crust forms”. I don’t think it depends so much on the time as it does on the condition of the shell. I swear, sometimes, I can pipe a tray of shells and the ones I piped first can form a crust within the time it took me to finish piping the last one. It really depends on how wet your batter is and on how dry is the environment you are working in.
“My Shells Won’t Dry Up”
Sometimes your batter just won’t dry up regardless of how long you have been waiting. The two main reasons for that are “Bad Batter” and “Humid Environment”:
• Bad Batter •
You should be gaging the health of your batter during the macaronage stage. If it is very easy for the dry and wet ingredients to become homogenous and the batter runs like pancake batter, you may have a case of bad batter on your hands.
There is really no way to fix a bad batter. I would recommend that you bake your shells anyways to gain experience on seeing how a bad batch develops. Two issues which can prevent a “bad batter” from resting and developing skin are: “wet batter” and “over folding”.
To ensure that your batter is not too wet:
– use aged egg whites
– beat your meringue very firm until stiff peaks
– do not add any liquids to the mixture, use only gel or powder colour
– make meringue in a clean bowl free of oil or traces of yolk or water
To prevent over-folding:
– ensure you are folding with the right techniques to deflate some of the air but not all of it
– use the Figure 8 test to gauge when to stop folding the batter
• Air in the Baking Environment is too Humid •
If you are sure that your techniques are fine and its not a case of bad batter causing your shells to remain wet, you can start on fixing this issue by making changes in your baking environment:
– get a dehumidfier and set it for below 50
– avoid running water for prolonged periods of time in the kitchen
– open all the windows to let moisture escape from your kitchen
– place your shells underneath the rangehood fan to further dry them up. (Do not use an external fan to blow directly on the shells. It will make them lopsided.)
“Can my Shells be too Dry or “Over-Rested?”
Yes, it can. More is definitely not better. If your shells have already developed a skin and lost its glossy sheen, put them in the oven. Shells that have become too dry may become lopsided when baked or the feets may get stuck to the mat and break off.
I like to rest my macaron shells and have had great success with them when I rested them. Having said all of that, I am a firm believer that for macarons, you should do what works best for you in your kitchen and in your oven. I’ve given you some of my insights into this issue and I hope it will help you come to your own conclusions. What do you think? Feel free to share your own experience with other fellow bakers below in the comments.
Thanks for visiting!
Some of my other Macaron Baking Tutorials
October 1st, 2014