Store-bought Egg Whites - Italian Macaron Challenge

Store-bought Egg Whites - Italian Macaron Challenge
It can be done, but I wouldn't recommend it.

After the decent results of the French meringue macs using store bought pasteurized egg whites (you can check out the post here) I decided it was time to try the Italian meringue method and see what happened. I used Pierre Herme's Coffee Macarons today, and fillled with mocha ganache. Yum! I also thought it would be good to try a different brand of egg whites. Since I am already a fan of Organic Valley, I thought I'd give their egg whites a try this time around.

I liked the look of these egg whites a bit better than the Abbotsford Farms, they weren't as brown in color, but they seemed to be the same consistency. I hand whipped a little just to check and they seemed to behave like the other brand as well, so I am confident they are relatively equivalent products.

Where the Italian meringue macs differ from French is that you are using a cooked meringue. You start by making a simple syrup, then pouring the hot sugar into your soft beaten egg whites while whisking, to make the Italian meringue.

The store-bought egg whites seemed to take forever to get to soft peaks, and after the addition of the hot syrup, they took longer to set as well. The resulting meringue looks pretty good, but was runnier that the identical meringue made from "aged" egg whites (fresh eggs separated and left to "age" in the fridge at least 24 hours.

Italian meringue made with aged egg whites.

Italian meringue made with store-bought liquid whites.

Mixing the batter was easier than usual, and much runnier. I got to ribbon stage really quickly, these were my runniest macarons yet. I'm sure it's because the Italian meringue wasn't as stiff as usual. Neverless, I piped these babies out.

Then it was time to preheat the oven and wait for them to get their skin before baking my first batch. I put in 2 pans at once, in the middle rack with parchment and the upper rack with a silpat.

Here are the results...

As you can see, the top rack came out okay, the feet are a bit small and ruffled, but the middle rack were crazy ugly with cracks and nearly footless blobs.

Top rack, ruffled feet, smooth tops, not bad.

Middle rack, cracked failures.
My guess is that the wetter batter is more delicate, and the heat from the oven (coming from the bottom) was too strong against them. It gives me two choices, either double the lower pan (helps insulate the bottom) or turn down the oven.  Stupidly, I did neither. I wanted to see what would change if I put my bread stone in the bottom, so I added the stone and put my second batch in exactly as the first.

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice...

As before, top rack ok, middle rack stinks.

Batch 2 top rack
Batch 2 middle rack.
In my defense, the stone did help a little. There are some okay ones in that lower tray, but mostly they are flops.

Time for batches 3 and 4, this time, doubling the lower pan. Both the top and bottom trays were on parchment because I was out of silpats, but the results were looking good. The feet weren't tall, but the cookies were smooth and looked decent.

What I did notice, that concerned me the most, was that as all of the macarons cooled, even the most perfect looking cookies shrunk and caved in, making little macaron cups. I tried taking a photo of a few, but it is difficult to see.

Now, while I care about how my macarons look, my biggest concerns is always with taste and texture. Once I filled with the ganache and ate a few, I was so bummed. The flavor of coffee is crazy delicious for macarons and the ganache matches perfectly, but the texture was all wrong. There were hollows in some, and collapsed, gummy dense shells for others. The whole reason I use the Italian meringue method is because it is more forgiving and consistent than the French method, yet using store-bought whites, I found the exact opposite to be true.

So, after attempt #2 using store bought liquid egg whites, I may try again using French technique, but using the Italian Meringue Method, I WILL NEVER AGAIN USE STORE BOUGHT LIQUID EGG WHITES! I know I just shouted that, but I feel that strongly about it because the texture of the macarons I made today were the worst I've ever made.

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