Attempt no. 15 – again with the Italian method

I have to admit that I am starting to get sick of macarons. It’s my fault, because I’m eating the evidence of my failures as quickly as possible, but – ugh. So much sugar.

Nonetheless, I wanted to understand what went wrong with the last batch, so I began doing some research on the Italian method. In doing so, I came across a recipe that is unlike any I have seen before. Ninety grams of egg whites plus 82 more grams of egg white. A combined 418 grams of icing sugar and granulated sugar. It sounds disgusting.

So of course, I’m going to try it, and then eat the results until my teeth ache.

Let’s start with the ingredients:

  • 212 grams almond meal
  • 212 grams confectioner’s sugar
  • 82 plus 90 grams egg whites, room temperature
  • 236 grams “plus a pinch” of granulated sugar
  • 158 grams water

plus the standard ganache ingredients (8 oz. white chocolate in this case, 8 oz. cream, 1 tbsp unsalted butter).

Since I’m making coffee macarons with a white chocolate and coffee ganache, I substituted two tablespoons of instant coffee for two tablespoons of confectioner’s sugar. I also added about two tablespoons of freshly ground coffee to the ganache mixture. (Both of these additions are the result of a quick, not-thorough internet search.) Once I started making the ganache, I realized that the grounds wouldn’t dissolve, but some people like the feeling of grit in their teeth and that would give the ganache a nice little crunch.

One way in which this recipe is different from the previous one is that the extra egg whites get poured into the center of the dry ingredients, the same way they would be if I were making pasta dough. Another difference is that the meringue gets added to the dry ingredient mixture rather than the other way around. I thought this was a great way to ensure the batter was beaten to the right consistency, but when I piped the shells, they still had vestigial tails, for fuck’s sake. I clearly haven’t figured this part out yet.

20150811_smackaron_015 20150811_smackaron_022 20150811_smackaron_023
The dry ingredients with the extra egg whites, the boiling sugar water that gets added to the meringue, and the vestigial tails.

Half an hour of letting the shells dry out, and then into the oven at 325° F, or as close as I can coax my oven to that temperature. And after 19 ½ minutes …

20150811_smackaron_032 20150811_smackaron_035 20150811_smackaron_039

Holy crap. Feet. Intact bottoms and feet. Granted, tails, intact bottoms and feet, but still – intact bottoms and feet. (Actually, I tried baking them for 17 and then 18 minutes, and had problems with some of them sticking to the mat or otherwise hollowing out. In the end, the tally was: first batch, 20/35 good shells; second batch, 30/35; third batch, a stunning 35/35; and fourth batch, an amazing 31/31.)

I took out the ganache and saw that it hadn’t set. Perhaps white chocolate is different than real chocolate, or perhaps the oil from the coffee and the butter together made the mixture too oily, but I have to put it back on the stove and melt in more white chocolate to save it. It comes out a viscous, gelatinous mess, but tasty (and spreadable) enough.

So I fill the shells with viscous, gelatinous mess and put them into the fridge to mature overnight. And in the morning …


Disgusting. The ganache was too fatty, so the shells slid around on top of each other and the ganache dripped out the sides. The shells themselves were overbaked, full of air and drier than dog biscuits. So, back into the fridge to mature even more overnight. And the next morning …


… the awful ones still look like the dog’s breakfast, and there still are air pockets in the shells, but they’ve softened up and almost feel like proper macarons. Given the tails and the air, the victory goes by split decision  to the meringue, and the undercard goes to the ganache.

If you are reading this via Facebook, please click on the “Follow” button on the right side of the page to get direct notifications. Facebook keeps picking the wrong photo to accompany the link, so I may quit posting new Smackarons there.


About cohn17

Photographer and baker of macarons.
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