Some more baking. Not sure if anyone noticed but I changed the subtitle of my blog to better reflect what I am blogging about. Next week it will be back to bento lunches again 🙂
Sometimes I can get a bit obsessed with something and macarons has been my latest obsession. I just wanted to be able to make them, not for any particular reason, but they look cute, they are ridiculously expensive to buy and of course because I love eating them.
So I googled and read lots about French macarons, Italian macarons, eggs aging, whipping, over-whipping, folding, over or under folding, feet, hollow shells, cracks and ….sigh…it got all very confusing. Lots of websites and bloggers seem to have their own fool-proof recipe but unfortunately lots of them also seem to be contradicting each other…
Anyway, I thought, let’s just give it a try and made some a few months ago…total failure. Never mind, try again… and again failure (luckily the good thing is that even failures taste very nice)…I think the problem, or my problem was, that although I followed a recipe, I didn’t make proper notes of what I did – and consequently of what went wrong (no feet, over-baked, cracking all over).
Last week I had some time off, and dedicated a full day (!) to macaron making. A friend of mine gave me two very useful links (here and here) and her own recipe, and with a few small twists, I managed to make some pretty perfect macarons! There are still a few bumps, some pointy tips and a few cracked shells (obviously I chose the prettiest ones for the photo) but they have feet (!), are nicely risen and evenly sized, and they taste good!
I made three small batches, noting down for each batch the ” what/how/how much/temp” which resulted in those lovely macarons of the photo. The ones with stripes was the first batch which coloured a bit too brown in the oven. For the second batch I added some food colouring to make them light pink and for the third batch a bit more), to make them pink(er).
I can’t promise this recipe works for you (or whether it will work for me next time*), as everyone’s kitchen, equipment and technique will be slightly different, but this is what I did:
- Blitz 60 gr ground Almonds with 115 gr icing sugar in a food processor (use pulse option to avoid overblitzing) and sieve. Repeat this twice. With the last sieve, discard the big lumps.
- In a spotless bowl, whisk (I used the balloon attachment on my hand mixer) 70 gr of egg white (I used pasteurised eggs at room temperature) with 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar for 30 seconds on low speed until frothy. Up the speed to medium high for 2 minutes whilst slowly adding 35 gr castor sugar. If you want to add colouring, add now. Whip for a further 3 or 4 minutes until stiff peaks.
- Add your almond/icing mixture to the egg whites and fold in carefully with a spatula. I added the mixture in 4 batches and used about 10 folds for each batch plus a few more until the batter drops like lava from the spatula. Under mixing is better than overmixing! Read my notes on folding further down.
- Transfer to piping bag with a 1 cm round tip and pipe your macarons on your baking sheet covered with baking parchment. Using a template is recommended, it’s much easier and makes even size shells… I used the one provided here.
- The recipe above makes for 40 shells, so I piped 1 large sheet with 32 and a smaller sheet with 8. (I baked the smaller sheet first, this helped me to check the oven temp and timing).
- RAP/TAP those sheets. Whack the air out of your shells by rapping/tapping your baking sheet against a flat surface. This helps to get rid of air bubbles.
- Rest your macarons. Whilst resting the macarons (until the tops are no longer tacky) I preheated my (fan)oven to 140C.
- I baked the macarons for a total of 15 min, on the lower rack. First I baked them for 8 minutes, then I turned the sheet around and baked for a further 7 min.
- Remove from oven and let them cool down on the baking sheet for 10 min, transfer to a rack for further cooling down.
- Fill with filling of choice…and wait….
- and wait…
- Unfortunately, after all that work, macarons are at their best if you let them mature with the filling for at least 24 hours. (Best to do this in an airtight container in the fridge).
- When you want to eat them, take them out of the fridge and let them get at room temperature.
- I couldn’t seem to get my egg whites whipped until super stiff peaks, mine kept being a bit “droopy”. I read somewhere that this is partly because of using cream of tartar which apparently stops over-whipping. I whipped until the egg white had semi stiff peaks and “clumped” in my balloon whisk;
- Colouring macarons. My first shells coloured slightly brown, so for my second batch I added a heavy baking sheet on the top rack, which seemed to help. Better yet, I added some food colouring paste to my second and third batch. I am happiest with the colour of my third batch, they turned out really pretty. (After baking, I used some raspberry coulis to add some colour stripes to the first batch of shells).
- Folding: I felt this is the trickiest part. Make sure you watch a few videos to see what the consistency should be. I found the description and video of Joy of Baking very helpful.
- Filling: I filled mine with raspberry buttercream. Just make a plain buttercream but instead of using milk to “loosen up”, add some raspberry coulis.
- Maturing and storing: macarons taste best if you let them mature with the filling for at least 24 hours… They keep very well for up to 5 days in an airtight container in the fridge and you can also freeze them.
- I didn’t make many photos during the process but below a few photos of the “peak” and “clumped” stiff egg whites and of the mixture when ready for piping. (I just noticed I made the photos at different batches so the colours don’t match..)
* I actually made 3 more batches after this day, with mixed results. For one batch I doubled the ingredients and I used a non stick liner instead of baking parchment. Both were not a good idea. Firstly, despite doubling the ingredients it made less shells, partly because it was more difficult to handle the fuller piping bag. And non stick liner…perfectly fine for other stuff but my macarons shells stuck! They were still nice (filled with chocolate ganache) but not photo worthy.
The other two batches I made were better, although the Violet food colouring I used faded a bit whilst baking and the shells didn’t want to rise fully, but the pink batch turned out perfectly. I packed some of these in a gift box I made for friend.