Friday, March 4, 2011

The Secret behind perfect French Macarons

Hey! It's my 101st post!

What the heck?...I missed it. I missed my 100th post.

Bloggers usually celebrate their 100th post, right? ...Ooops.

I made Hearty Italian Minestrone Soup for my 100th. That's celebratory, isn't it?

Happy Birthday, blow out the candles floating in your soup!

Congratulations on your wedding day. Cut the soup!

Wait...what? This is weird.

Crap! I totally wanted to give you something great for my 100th post...but you know what? 101 is just as good as 100. It's exactly 1 digit better.

On this special occasion, I want to share with you something grand. Something that will make you feel empowered. It's a secret, but I was never any good at keeping secrets anyway. Like in high school, when my sister tried to throw my own backpack at me when she was mad, and it was so heavy (full of text books) that when it missed me, it hit the wall instead and put a giant hole in it. We plastered it up before my parents got home ;)

I want to share with you....waaaaiit for to go from flat to chubby.

Huh? Why would you want to be either of those things....?? Awkward.

It's because I'm going to tell you the key to the perfect macaron. It's only right that I share this with all the foodies out there who've wanted to throw their baking trays full of flat, puddly macaron batter at the wall.

I've wanted to do that before. But I hate cleaning more than I hate flat big mess = avoided.
I've read so many terrifying stories about people who've had horrific experiences with making them. Macarons can be stressful and really frustrating. I don't want you to be stressed or frustrated, so let's take a look...

Now, these still look pretty decent right? A little on the flat side, but they've been worse....come on, we've all been there.

Now these look even better. They're all chubby and stuff! I just want to pinch them! But then they'd break ...and I'd be sad, so I wont.

Let's compare them side-by-side.

To get that nice, high, billowy look to your's all about WHEN you add the sugar to the egg whites.

Most recipes enforce how long you mix the batter..."no more than 50 strokes". And while this is true, it's not the most important in my opinion.

It all comes down to science. You need to make sure you start adding the sugar after no longer than 25 seconds of beating the egg whites...just until they get a bit foamy. This will immediately increase the viscosity or thickness of the whites, making it more difficult for air bubbles to form.

It makes it more difficult, but it doesn't make it impossible.

Think of it this way....the thick egg whites are more elastic when all that water-binding sugar is added to them before the proteins get the chance to form a stiff foam, so it's more like a soupy, gooey mess....kinda reminiscent of that green stuff they used to dump on kids' heads on Nickelodeon.

As you beat it with the mixer, the elastic egg whites stretch to allow air bubbles in, but then spring right back very quickly. This allows for very tiny air bubbles to form, which gives the whipped egg whites the texture of thick, shaving cream or whipped cream. That is what you want!

Also, when sugar is added near the beginning of the whipping stage, it gets very selfish. Sugar loves to bind water, so it hogs all of the water in the egg whites, leaving the egg proteins with less of a medium to move around in. This slows them down so that they can't arrange themselves at the interface between air and water as easily to form large air bubbles. So, instead they end up forming very tiny air bubbles, us shaving cream!

This will create a very stable foam that will hold up better to mixing (during macaronage) and piping.

And there you have it. My secret is revealed.

I'll follow up with a recipe in the next post. I think it's best to just let this info marinate for a bit...let it get deep into your brain as you build up the confidence to become a Macaron Master.

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