So, this is my first blog. I wanted to start off with a bang, so what better way than to attempt the deceptively technical Macaron.
Firstly, there is a difference between Coconut Macaroons and Macarons.
These delightful little morsels of sugar and almond have challenged even some of the best cooks. Who doesn’t remember Andriano Zumbo’s devilish Macaron Tower challenge on Masterchef? They are almost the “unicorn” or “Eleanor” of the cooking world, but to look at them you would never guess. They look so innocent with their smooth round shells and cute little feet, but don’t be deceived; these little devils are quite technical and require your full attention when making them.
But in saying all that, don’t be scared off giving them a go. You know what they say; you have to face your fears! So I decided that I would take up the challenge.
Let me set the scene. It is one of my best friend’s birthday (Gaye). I need to make a “cake” to feed up to twenty people. It needs to be spectacular. Of course I immediately thought of a Macaron Tower.
Unfortunately, I didn’t have the foundation structure required to make the tower, so I came up with the Macaroon Bowl…and Gaye gets to keep the bowl as a present.
So here’s the finished product:
These are not perfect, but I was pretty happy with the results…they looked pretty and tasted good too! I would have liked them to be a bit taller and a bit more even in shape, but I was pretty impressed with the results I got first go.
I read lots of recipes and blogs before I made my Macarons…I wanted to make sure (or try to convince myself) that I knew what I was doing. In all my reading I found two basic techniques – Italian meringue or French meringue – I decided to use the Italian Meringue.
Now, I am in no way an expert…I have only ever made Macarons once before (and that was using the French Meringue technique), so if you are inspired to make these, I recommend doing some research and can suggest two great blogs :
So this is just my experience and I can’t guarantee your experience will be the same as mine, but I encourage you to give it a go.
Here are my top tips when making Macarons:
1. Measure, measure, measure! Macarons are so pedantic that they require exact measurements.
2. Sift your almond meal and icing sugar…pulse in a food processor first if you can and then sift.
3. Let them rest…the drying time before cooking is essential if you want your Macarons to have their dainty little feet.
4. Age your egg whites – separate the whites and leave on the bench overnight – you will get a better meringue.
This is the recipe I used:
Vanilla Bean Macarons
(I also used this recipe to make Strawberry Macarons and just added colour and flavour)
200gms Ground Almonds
200gm Icing Sugar
200gm Caster Sugar
160gm Egg Whites – I used 4 Jumbo sized eggs
1/2 Vanilla Bean
Pink Gel Colouring (for pink ones)
1 tbls Strawberry Powder Flavouring (for pink ones)
Combine almonds and icing sugar (and strawberry flavouring) in a food processor and pulse until well combined. Sift mixture into a large bowl.
Dissolve caster sugar in water in a saucepan over low heat. When dissolved, bring to the boil and allow to simmer, without stirring, until the temperature reaches 115 degrees Celsius.
While sugar is simmering, gently beat 80gm egg whites until soft peaks form. When the sugar mixture reaches 105 degrees Celsius, increase speed of mixer.
When sugar mixture reaches 115 degrees, remove from heat and pour the syrup into the egg white mixture in a thin stream while beating. Continue to beat egg white mixture for a further 10 minutes.
In the meantime, combine the remaining egg whites with the almond mixture to make a smooth almond paste. Add the seeds scraped from the vanilla bean. (Add pink colouring if required)
Combine some of the meringue into the almond paste to loosen it and then add the remaining beaten egg whites, working the mixture until it is smooth, consistent in colour and makes thick ribbons in the batter.
Spoon into a piping bag and pipe rounds onto a prepared baking sheet. Tap the sheet to release any air bubbles and place on a level surface to rest for 30 minutes.
Preheat your oven to 150 degrees Celsius and bake Macarons for 14 minutes. Remove from oven and remove the baking paper and Macarons from hot tray onto a damp tea-towel immediately. Allow to cool.
Strawberry & White Chocolate Ganache
400gm White Chocolate Melts
200ml Pouring Cream
1 tbls Strawberry Powder Flavouring
Pink Gel Food Colouring
Place the White Chocolate melts in a bowl.
Put the cream in a saucepan and bring to the boil.
Pour hot cream over chocolate and stir until chocolate melts. Add flavouring and colouring and mix until well combined.
Allow to cool until temperature reaches 40 degrees Celsius, then stir in the chopped butter until melted.
Continue to cool in fridge, stirring frequently, until a thick consistency.
Mascarpone Chantilly Cream
60gm Icing Sugar
1/2 Vanilla Bean
250ml Pouring Cream
Combine the mascarpone, vanilla seeds and icing sugar until smooth.
Whip the pouring cream, half way through gradually add the mascarpone mixture and continue beating until your have a thick creamy consistency.
Pipe filling onto bottom of one shell and join with second shell. Refrigerate in an air tight container for one hour before serving.
So, hopefully, I have inspired you to try Macarons, or maybe, try them again.