If you read my little space on the internet now and again, you may have noticed my growing love for macaron making. This was especially heightened by the macaron masterclass I went to back in early summer, where I learnt lots of tips and tricks for the much sought after macaron.
I will tell you now I never was a natural baker, my first attempt at brownies is testament to that (99% melted milk, dark and white chocolate and 1% dry ingredients is not advised). However when people now tell me they can't bake, I don't believe them. it's all about having time, patience and loooove guys. Come with me now, let's make macarons.
(Makes 12 medium or 24 mini)
♥ Two egg whites, preferably aged for 1-3 days in the fridge
♥ 75g caster sugar
♥ 90g icing sugar
♥ 75g ground almonds, sieved until fine
♥ Food colouring gel or powder
♥ Your choice of filling, perhaps a flavoured buttercream
Preparation, preparation, preparation...
First off, I don't profess to be any kind of macaron wizard, but if you have preparation on your side then that's one thing right? You will need to:
♥ Sieve your ground almonds, discard any lumpy bits and don't look back. If you're feeling especially thifty, I save these and add them to brownies for a bit of extra texture.
♥ Make sure you have piping bags at the ready.
♥ Have a good spatula at the ready for maximum bowl scraping and excellent figure-of-eight motions.
♥ An electric hand mixer or stand mixer are best for top notch meringue.
♥ Age your eggs. This bit sounds rather odd. However if you separate your egg whites and leave them for a couple of days in the fridge it makes them a better consistency. Then when you're ready to use them, get them out for room temperature.
♥ Have a baking tray lined and ready. You could even draw around a spice jar for circle templates if you fancy. I have a silicone mat which has 24 mini templates on one side and 12 regular on the other.
Making of the macarons...
Step one. Whisk up your eggs whites until they resemble foamy bubbles.
Step two. Slowly add in the caster sugar until it turns white and forms stiff peaks. Hold it over your head to check, if you dare.
Step three. Add in your sieved almonds, icing sugar and food colouring of choice. Gently sieve it in if you like, rather than just a big cloud of dry ingredients.
Step four. Slice through the mixture with a spatula in a figure of eight motion. Do not pat down just keep the spatula slicing through and scraping around the edges.
Step five. The mixture is ready when you can drizzle it like a ribbon from the spatula.
Step six. Now get your piping bag at the ready and fill with the mixture.
Time to pipe...
I had definitely picked up a few bad habits before the macaron class as the chef was not too impressed with my piping style. I felt like the sheepish naughty kid in the class if i'm honest. Af ew things I learnt are:
♥ Push the mixture to the front of the bag and eradicate any bubbles. You can do this by throwing the bag forward (with caution).
♥ Secure with an elastic band or knot.
♥ Cut the bag at 180 degrees straight across - there is no need for a shaped nozzle afterall.
♥ As you pipe, keep the bag upright and close to your eyeline like a telescope.
♥ Use your fingertip behind for support.
♥ Allow the mix to slow come out from the middle like the ripples of a puddle. (ahem, no swirling action like I was doing before).
♥ To finish the macaron just simply make a "dot."
♥ Remember the mix will expand a little so leave room inbetween.
♥ Do as many as possible in a row without bringing your bag upright/coming up for air. Upturning the bag will mean the mixture will drop back again.
♥ As you use more mixture, twist the top of the piping bag to keep it taut.
This is my friend Grace piping perfecto macarons.
Now my next big tip is to allow the macarons to dry out for at least 15 minutes until dry to the touch. This will mean they don't crack when baked.
I usually bake mine for around 15 minutes on 150 degrees, although some people prefer a higher heat, then to turn it down and so on. It is totally up to you so long as it is at least preheated beforehand.
Fill me up buttercup!
Allow to completely cool whilst you prepare the exciting part - the fillings!
I've been told that although all macarons are the same (although there is a French and Italian way to create the little morsels), it is the filling and colour of shell which differentiates them. The shade of the macaron and flavour usually of course matches - unless you want to confuse people into pink pistachio flavour. So really - the choice is yours!
A basic buttercream recipe involves combining roughly 1/3 butter and 2/3 icing sugar, with a dash of milk. Then you can go crazy with the coffee, splash of vanilla, touch of peanut butter or something more exotic. Pipe the filling onto one side of the shell and simple give it a twist to bring the two sides carefully together - rather than pushing down.
Here are a few of my fave flaves...
(although these were pre cookery class - eek!)
(although these were pre cookery class - eek!)
If all else fails, get yourself to a nice macaron shop and pass them off as your own... these tasty treats were from angelina in Paris.
There you have it! I hope you found this useful and not just me waffling on about sieving until your arm drops off, holding bowls above your head and swinging piping bags around your kitchen.
Oh also, I've been told that it's say mac-ah-rons by a French friend, although it sounds silly to say in an English accent. Mac-ah-roooons are in fact of the coconut biscuit variety. Myth = busted.
What are your top macaron tips? What flavour would you make?