I'm getting obsessed with the texture of my macarons. I made some macarons with mango and lychee mousse filling for the Mactweets challenge and they were quite soft. Basically my macarons used to be pretty chewy and I was trying to figure out how to get them more moist and soft and now they're TOO soft and almost falls apart when you bite into them. For the life of me, I can't figure out the changes I did other than always trying to lower the sugar content, changing ovens (since I moved), or maybe it's just English eggs!
Ok, let's take them one by one. I think the most consistent thing I've been trying to do is to lower the sugar content. I started baking using the basic recipe at Syrup and Tang though I can't remember which one but I think the ratio of egg white : almond : castor sugar : icing sugar was 1: 1.25 : 2.3 : 0.3. This meant that the total sugar content was 2.6x of the egg whites. I found that too sweet and now I use a basic recipe which is 1 : 1.3 : 1.7 : 0.5 which is a total sugar content of 2.2x. So is sugar the main determinant of how chewy or moist the macaron is? Since a macaron shell is basically a meringue with ground almonds, i.e. a meringue with less sugar will result in a less stable and softer meringue as opposed to one with more sugar. With less sugar content in my macarons, I was weakening my meringue structure, resulting in a softer shell. Does the type of sugar and the proportion matter? Perhaps I should be using more castor sugar in whipping the meringue and reduce the icing sugar, thereby keeping overall sugar content the same but with a stronger meringue for a harder finished product.
However, there are a couple of other observations I made - when they come out of the oven and are still fresh, the shells are chewy. Even after a day in the fridge (plain shells sans filling) they are still chewy (too chewy in fact). It is only after I fill them, stick them in the fridge to rest, take them out and bring to room temperature that they start softening. Now what does this mean? Perhaps it is the moisture in the filling that is the main cause of the softening of the shells? But then again, previously I did the same (fill them and let them rest) and they were chewy.
Or could it be the oven temperature and cooking time? According to Syrup and Tang, a too chewy macaron is the result of overbaking (too long or too hot), which means I might be underbaking my macarons currently (@135C/convection or 150C/convention for 14 min). Or it could be just the macaronage (mixing method), or too little almond meal. The variations are endless!
This is why I'm obsessed and going nuts. If anyone knows why macarons are chewy/moist, let me know. I'm going to have to experiment much more but it's so much effort making multiple batches! Going macaloon-y!