20 August 2012

Salted Caramel Macarons

I just learned a few things about my oven. I have been having issues with the timing of cooking my macarons, even after 5 pretty good looking batches. For my latest batch, I thought it was time to put the oven thermometer in and find out what was really happening.

Batch 6: Salted caramel

I hung the thermometer just above the shelf that I use, at the front right of the oven. I was aiming for 160 degrees celsius, which my oven reached when the oven dial was just below 150. This was the hottest that I had to set the oven for all 3 trays. I discovered that the longer the oven is on, the hotter it gets, even when you keep turning the temperature down!

I finished with the oven dial at around 120 - 130 degrees, which kind of explains why my later trays are usually way overcooked and going hollow in the middle, whilst at the same time being cooked for a shorter amount of time (to make up for putting them in on a hot tray). This time however, I found that the macaron shells on the long edges of the trays had lopsided feet. Methinks that my oven has a hot zone around the edges, and that the centre of the oven is a little cooler. I probably should have guessed that, since we paid about $500 for it when our old oven suddenly stopped working a few years ago. Not really top of the line.

Lopsided feet on the left row
I also thought I'd try another trick that I've read about somewhere, to avoid peaks on your macarons if the mixture is a bit stiff. When my peaks had not disappeared after piping my first tray, I realised that I had just this issue. I had read that you can smooth away the peak with a wet finger. Well, this is how mine turned out after trying this. Notice the bubbling in the shell on the right? That's where I had smoothed away the peak.

Bubbling on the macaron at right
Thankfully when I realised that the mixture was stiff, I still had more mixture in the bowl, so gave it a few more folds, and half of the shells have a beautiful smooth top (even if they do have lopsided feet!)

Oh, and I think I might give the brown food colouring a miss next time. I was trying for a caramel colour, and they came out almost pink!

I had a few issues with my salted caramel this time. I thought I would need more caramel than I had made last time, so did a larger batch. Well, it was still really runny after boiling it for twice as long as recommended, and it didn't thicken up in the fridge. I re-boiled it the next day to about 110 degrees, but now it's overdone. The irony is, if I'd just done a normal size batch and had run out, I would have had enough cream to make more. Instead, with only 75ml of cream left, I had to buy more cream.

New caramel made, here's the final result!

Salted caramel macarons. Yum!

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