ARTICLE

Masterchef Australia's macarons: bad crunch

Macarons should not be crunchy.

There, I've said it loud.

Every contestant in Masterchef Australia episode 61 had crunchy macarons. (Ok, except Andre, who didn't have macarons at all.) The microphones captured the powdery crunch of their "Masterchef macaroons".

Crunch is a result of dehydration. You achieve it in two ways:

  1. You cook them too far (and hey, the colour quickly tells you it's happening unless you've coloured them strongly).
  2. You leave them to stand for hours before baking (great for reducing product loss cos the shells don't break easily; not so good for retaining the subtleties of texture).

A good shell is crisp and fairly fragile. It should offer resistance to the teeth, but should not make crunchy sounds. In a bag of macarons transported carefully, it's a miracle if some don't break. Fragile. Understand? Not bakery-meringue robust. Not looking good after cutting with knife!

Some professional bakers in Australia should keep that in mind, as I've noted elsewhere before.

Contestants Poh and Chris did well to produce such visually attractive ones first time round. Unfortunately, I wouldn't mind betting that this line in the recipe they used was what led them to overcooking the shells: "cook until macaron is able to be lifted from tray". Ovens vary so much that this instruction is fairly pointless, especially for novices. My home oven would turn macarons to rusks if I had to wait until they lifted off the tray without coaxing.

UPDATE: Scroll down for another piece of silliness, discovered after publishing this earlier today.

macs_july

Australian Gourmet Traveller has a big fat French wank edition this month (some nice recipes, a little food wisdom). The front cover features pink macarons. Behold the following lines in their recipe (French meringue version, by the way):

gourmetmacrubbish

The first highlighted sentence is simply rubbish. The second highlighted sentence will most likely give you a nice, thick, powdery, crunchy shell. Delicious! Ha.

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COMMENTS

25 responses to “Masterchef Australia's macarons: bad crunch”

  1. Ed

    I cringed every time I heard those crunches. Ouch! I've just returned from a Sydney tour were I claimed to the A list of Sydney bloggers that you could give their dear Adriano Zumbo a run for their money on macarons.

    Did I go too far?

  2. Sarah

    RAOW Duncan! Haha I'm glad I'm not watching Masterchef (am I the only person in Melbourne who isn't??) because it would annoy me too much, lol.

    xox Sarah

  3. Zoe

    I was thinking of you watching the episode! A very enjoyable post, this one, to all the twitterers screaming last night "it's macaRON, you idiots!"

  4. Julia @ Mélanger

    So glad someone else was thinking the same thing. I was waiting all day for that Masterchef episode. I was keen to see how well (or not!) they would make the macarons. I think Poh had made them before. But I was so unimpressed by the crunching noises, too! Oh, and I saw that line in GT that you reference. Was a little surprised they suggested so long. After all my own trials, I find 30 minutes the magic number for resting. I couldn't even imagine what would happen after all that resting. I guess your point about dehydration above, huh?!

  5. Maria@TheGourmetChallenge

    Thank goodness I read your site. I was going to attempt the GT macarons as my first go at the little beasts, but I had my reservations about the resting time too. Thankfully you cleared that up. I'll give them a go, but with a MUCH shorter restng time

  6. Jack

    Ha!
    I was waiting for your 'Macaron Guru' feedback on both of these. I will sleep happy tonight.
    Jack

  7. Jon

    Speaking of macarons, has anyone tried the macarons at [EDITED due to spam from the shop mentioned, name now deleted]? I spotted them in the window on the way past but haven't yet found the time to get in and try one.

  8. Ed

    I've had [EDITED due to spam from the shop mentioned, name now deleted] twice this week. Not bad the first time. But a day later and they'd been sitting around too long and were a tad soggy. Baker D Chirico also does them from time to time and they've always been fresh.

  9. Anita

    I'm also glad I read this article and discussion. I too was going to try the GT recipe, but was concerned about the resting time. My last batch of macarons turned out like little meringues instead of macarons, but after a bit more beating and more waiting time, they started getting better. But now I've moved and my oven is way hotter than the dial says… time to get to know my new oven :(

  10. Joshua

    Hey D and Ed,
    I think Zumbo is onto you guys. I just noticed that one of his macaroons was named "Ed knocked me up". As for De Chirico Macs, they were pretty flat last time I had them. I think they are better at dunking and stuffing, e.g. their bomboloni. I think I saw [EDITED due to spam from the shop mentioned, name now deleted] macaroons at teaspoon. They looked nice, but they could have been hollow.
    J.

  11. Cakelaw

    I made the GT version of macarons before reading this, and it turned out fine. I have never made macarons before, and did not see Masterchef, but the shells on mine did not crunch – they were crisp but yielded easily – one of my friends was surprised that the shells looked so sturdy but were so delicate.

  12. Cakelaw

    Hi Duncan, I did leave them stand for the 4 hours – perhaps the fact that I live in a relatively humid place meant that they didn't dry out too much??

  13. Emmelyn

    Hi Duncan!!!
    i followed ur macaron recipe!!!! and come see it in my blog!!! thank you sooooo much, it turned out great, but i still need a lot of practice. However i think they're still a bit flat, so for the last batch I made I added more almond meal about so 70g of almond meal and 67g icing sugar. They're more bumpy (they're the yellow ones in my blog) however takes a about two minutes more to bake. Do you think I did too much macaronning?i hope u can helllpp…n again thanksssssssssss!!!!

    E

  14. Ahmad

    LOL thanks for some closure i will sleep well tonight, the haunting crunching noises have finally gone away haha

    I came across this looking for your sucre cuit recipe again (works well!) and saw this. Masterchef! gah! Baker rage time!!

    Apply for season two so we can show them how its done hahaha. :P

  15. Lisa

    Hi Duncan,

    Well I'm RELIEVED that I came across your blog! Firstly, after seeing Masterchef, I've been beating myself up that my macarons weren't even remotely crunchy, so I've been baking the crap out of my macarons to achieve this 'crunchiness'

    Whew!

    Secondly, I bought that issue of Gourmet Traveller because it featured them, and followed those instructions…

    Thanks for clearing this nightmare up =D

    I'm going to try again soon and hopefully they'll try out great. Fingers crossed

  16. Trissa

    I usually rest my macarons only until a skin forms – which I find to be around 30 minutes in cool weather…

  17. Twinpalates

    Fantastic post Duncan! I didn't get to watch too much masterchef, but thanks for the link and the information. I'm currently on a quest to get my macarons to look like yours – starting with some feet! Advice?

  18. candace

    I totally agree with the statement of " don't be tempted to rush this step, allow between 4 to 5 hours…" is a total lie. I learned this through my very own unfortunate experience. I was baking a batch of macaron that day and then I decided to go get a quick mani & pedi from just across the street, which usually takes no more than 45 minutes frm the moment leaving the house to coming back to the house, but that day, I ended up spending slightly more than 2 hours at the spa because the spa was short handed and I had to wait. When I came back, I still put the macarons inside the oven to bake anyway, but of course, the whole batch turned out to be some crunchy hard cookies instead of the airy and light macarons. So to let the macaron to wait for 4 to 5 hours after being piped is a total lie, mine only waited for more than 2 hours and they were already severy ruined.

  19. Hazel

    Hi Duncan,

    I follow your blog religiously and believe you really know what you are talking about when it comes to macarons. You are very right about the initial crunch. My macarons when bitten into have a very thin egg like shell that leads to a soft slightly chewy interior. This is only achieved when I bake the shells, then transfer them to the fridge for 1 day to achieve the chewiness. I then fill them with ganache or buttercream, then transfer them back in the fridge overnight before I deliver my orders.

    We make our macarons the french way, and to achieve a signature "gloss" it is as simple as having the almond meal as fine as possible, tap the tray on the bench top after piping and let the macarons rest for for about 20 mins. However the resting time always depends on the temperature in the room and outside. So I know my macarons are ready to be baked when I touch the top after 20 – 30 mins and it does not stick to my finger. All ovens are different, and some have hot spots etc. We bake our macarons at 120C for 25 mins. This ensures that they are easy to take of the baking paper but is also perfectly cooked. Another trick on removing macarons from baking paper is slide the macarons on the baking paper along the edge of the tray when placing the macarons on the baking paper on a cooling rack. They come out instantly.

    I have purchased a long list of macaron books, and have been dissappointed every time. I can not belive that books with shocking photos of what a macarons should look like and be baked are published. I really do think that you should look into writing a macaron book. Have a look at a book called "Secrets of Macarons", you should write a book similar to that but I believe you could even make it better!!

    In regards to Adriano Zumbo's macarons, it is interesting that although he makes his macarons the Italian way, his shell tops do not come out smooth enough. In saying that, we do need to bare in mind that because he as hired employees, quality control is dramatically decreased and everyone has a bad day. However, when I tasted his macarons, I was extremely impressed. His feet were horizontal and not vertical and his shell was well made.

  20. Luli

    Hey Duncan!

    I've been referred to your blog because I'm having issues with exactly thick and crunchy crusts and nobody's been able to help me. I have seen plenty of troubleshooting on crunchy SHELLS, but my problem is that the crust of my shells is much thicker than an eggshell, to the point it is hard to bite into.

    Do you think it's related to resting time? I try to never let my trays rest for more than an hour, but between batches sometimes they rest longer than what might be just enough. Or maybe the when they bake in the oven? I have a conventional oven that has its heat source at the bottom, my shells crack unless I bake them in the top rack (I don't have two pans to stack and try that, they are all warped and make my macarons have mutant feet, I'm thinking I should invest in some good ones, I just have no idea what would work best…I've been thinking of insulated pans?).

    Thank you so much for all these awesome blogposts and your help!!

    Luli

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