Macarons, macarons, macarons!!!
Tough to get juuust right but such a sense of achievement when do all turn out uniform, and most importantly with feet (that’s the bubbly area underneath).
They almost sound like little soldiers with little feet, wearing pink uniforms!
In order to get your troops to match the above description, from my repeated experiments and extensive googling I have identified several key things that are important:
- Firm White Glossy Peaks – that is, make sure that the egg whites form firm white glossy peaks, but these also should not be overmixed – as this can result in hollow macaron shells.
- A Good Oven – consistent temperature throughout the oven and the macarons should be on a tray that is level. I mention this as I have made macarons in two different ovens using the exact same method, and had one batch come out lop-sided, but the other was perfect. Unfortunately problems with the oven may not be easily fixed, but at least you can have something concrete to blame that’s not to do with baking ability 😉
- ‘Macaronage’ – this is the fancy term for folding the dry ingredients into the egg white mix. There are lots of videos on this out there – it is important to watch and get an idea of the necessary consistency. Also count – I do somewhere between 30 and 50 folds. Fold too many times and the batter will be too runny and macarons won’t hold their shape so well, fold too few times and the macarons will not have a smooth surface. 2 or 3 too many/too few folds can result in problems, as I have experienced! Macarons are frustratingly sensitive!
- Preparation and Work Quickly – Have everything to hand that you will need. Make sure to first line a baking tray with non stick paper, and it also helps to get uniform macarons if you draw circles on to this (draw on to the reverse otherwise the pencil or ink will transfer onto the macaron) or place a template underneath. There’s nothing worse than finishing folding all the ingredients and then finding out that you still need to sort all this out, meanwhile those precious air bubbles are dwindling and making getting those ‘feet’ a distant dream. Also pipe straight down and not at an angle.
- Rap and Form a Skin – meaning it is important that after piping out the macarons, to bang the baking tray multiple times firmly on the kitchen counter, this gets the excess air bubbles out and prevents the surface cracking during baking. Also don’t bake them straight away, set them aside, uncovered, and allow time (about 20 to 30 minutes, but can be longer due to humidity) for the macarons to form a ‘skin’ so when you gently tap the top it is sticky but holds together. Some recipes skip this step, but I have noticed that when I skip this the macarons end up cracked and/or footless.
- Ingredients – The almond meal needs to be fine, and the ingredients need to be sieved so there are no lumps
Most of all, don’t worry when things go wrong. Macarons are just finnicky like that! One batch may be disaster because one tiny thing went wrong, but the next batch could be perfection. My main frustration has always been the price – almond meal is not cheap!
There are various different recipes for macarons with slight variations, but most recipes fall under the French or Italian method. I’ve only ever made macarons using the French method, I haven’t tried the Italian method (it involves beating the egg white over heat and using a sugar thermometer) but I wonder what the benefits of that is – I’ve heard it may be more full-proof.
Basic recipe for the macarons is from this website (allrecipes.co.uk) – though this recipe does not mention rapping the piped macarons, I have added this step because I think it is important.
Ingredients for the macaron
3 egg whites (approx 115g)
50g caster sugar
200g icing sugar
110g ground almonds
gel food colouring
Ingredients for the chocolate ganache:
150g dark chocolate
45ml heavy cream
Line a baking tray with non-stick parchment paper. Place a template under this to guide when piping macarons later.
Beat egg whites until foamy, then gradually add the caster sugar whilst continuing to beat the egg white until it is glossy and has stiff peaks. At this point add any gel colouring – I added pink colouring. The macarons will bake lighter than the mixture, so go a little darker than the desired result.
Sift icing sugar and ground almonds in a separate bowl and remove any large almond pieces that do not sieve. Fold this into the egg white mixture – this should take between 30 and 50 folds using a rubber spatula. The mixture should form a ribbon when falling off the spatula, and this should disappear into the mixture within 30 seconds.
Spoon the batter into a piping bag with a round nozzle, and pipe on to baking sheet, following template as a a guide.
After piping, rap the baking tray on the kitchen counter, a couple of times on all four sides (you should see some air bubbles popping and the whole hitting the tray on the kitchen surface is very cathartic)
Then leave the macarons out at room temperature for about an hour, until they form a hard skin on top. (Time consuming yes, but this step is important. Meanwhile you can chill and have a cup of tea – or start prepping the ganache filling. Also, start preheating the oven to 140C just before the resting time is up.
Bake macarons for about 10 minutes – they should be set, with nice even feet and not browned.
Let the macarons cool before lifting from parchment (if they stick they may not be baked for long enough)
Sandwich the macarons with the yummy chocolate ganache filling.
How to make the ganache: heat the cream in a saucepan on medium heat – the cream should be hot but not boiling. Add the chopped chocolate and stir until the mixture looks even. Then let the mixture cool until it is thick but still soft, and then beat with a mixer until the chocolate looks soft, fluffy and lighter in colour.