Two dozen eggs, four packets of almond meal and a kilo of icing sugar later…. I finally made my first successful batch of macarons.
All in all, I tried three methods, six different recipes and read another 20 – and it was a recipe by Frosted Envy that gave me success. That’s not to say the macarons were perfect though – some had cracked tops while others had uneven feet. But it was a great start and gave me pointers on what I had done wrong previously.
While I’m no expert on perfect macarons, I do believe I have a fair idea of what makes awful ones. So here are my top 5 tips to avoid macaron disasters in the kitchen:
1. Age the egg whites. I didn’t do this for my first five batches and they all failed. Aging the egg whites releases moisture and also makes them more stable. I aged mine for 5 days uncovered on the kitchen bench (you can also cover it with a paper towel to stop things flying in).
2. Be organised. That means prepping the almond meal and icing sugar mix, placing your piping bag in a tall glass with the sides turned over and having your sugar ready. If you don’t, you’ll be scrambling at the last minute and you really can’t afford to be.
3. Bend and press – not fold. Most recipes will tell you to ‘fold’ the almond mixture into the meringue. If you fold it in like you would a cake, you will end up with air bubbles in your macaron and it will puff up like a biscuit in the oven. I’ve also tried ‘beating’ the air out of the mixture as seen here on Youtube, but it was too hard to control and my mixture went runny. With my winning batch, I used a push and bend technique which yielded very successful results. Instead of mixing the almond mixture and meringue together, I pushed the two together by pressing on the sides of the bowl. It will start off quite thick at first but the mixture should come together quite nicely soon after. I would count your strokes, anywhere more than 40 strokes and your macarons could collpase in the oven.
4. Invest in a baking mat. The silicon baking mat makes a real difference to the heat distribution of the macarons. I found that on a baking tray, my macarons were slightly burnt on the outside rim but undercooked on the inside. The baking mat fixed this problem. I got mine for $24.95 at Chalet.
5. Leave the macarons out to dry in a warm place. I read that macarons that are left out to dry for 30 minutes to an hour have better feet than ones that don’t. While I did leave previous batches out to dry, I didn’t get the ‘dry to touch’ film on the surface which meant that I got no feet. I left my winning batch out to dry on a stool near the oven (I read that warm places were better). And surely enough, after 20 minutes, a nice film formed on top.
Good luck and I look forward to hearing your success stories!
Basic French Macarons (adapted from Frosted Envy)
65 grams Almond Meal
80 grams Icing Sugar
40 grams Sugar
50 grams Egg White
2 drops of Food Colouring (optional)
1. Heat the oven to 160°C. Line the baking tray with parchment paper.
2. Blend the almond meal and icing sugar in a processesor, making sure the mixture is well blended and fine. Then pass this mixture through a fine sieve, making sure that there are no lumps left.
3. For the egg whites: make sure the bowl you use is extremely clean. The egg whites should be at room temperature, before you start beating, add a few drops of lemon juice or a pinch of salt. Beat on a medium speed, and slowly add the sugar spoon by spoon. Increase the speed after a minute, beating on high speed for 4 minutes or untill strong peaks have formed. Make sure that the eggs hold firm peaks, like a bird’s beak!
4. Sprinkly the dry mixture spoon by spoon over the egg whites and add the food colouring. Blend this mixture very slowly with a spatula, just bend and not beat, else the whites will flop over.
5. While mixing you should be gentle making sure not to overmix, as you’d rather have an undermixed batter than a cakey overmixed batter. Normally, I turn the spatula in 30-40 circular motions depending on the quantity.
6. The best way to know whether the batter is ready, is to look for these signs:
When you started off, the batter was firm and was holding its shape. After mixing for subsquent minutes, when you lift the batter it should fall in ribbons, should be shiny and satiny. You should not be able to see any of the egg white.
7. Fill in this mixture in a piping bag and use a 8-10 mm round tip. Pipe blobs of batter on the circled baking sheet, make sure you are holding the piping back perpendicular to the sheet. Pipe in just about enough to cover the circles you made, or if you were lazy, pipe the size of macaron you would want remember that the batter usually spreads about 1 cm.
8. Leave the piped batter in a dry warm place for minimum 20 minutes so as to develop a thin cover.
9. In the oven, place the tray in the middle, keep another tray below the with the macaron tray.
10. Within 5 minutes the feet will start forming, and at the 7th or 8th minute if the macarons start to brown unevenly, rotate the baking tray. Bake for another 3-4 minutes, however, another trick to check if they are done, is to softly push the macaron, if the feet move a bit. The total time should be 10-11 minutes at 150-160°C
11. Remove the tray from the oven, take off the baking sheet and place on a wet surface for a couple of seconds so as to stop the baking process. You can do so by placing the baking sheet on a wet piece of cloth flattened out.
12. After a couple of minutes, peel the macaron off the sheet and place them upside down on a wire rack. If they do not peel or come off easily, pop them back into the oven for a couple of minutes.
White Chocolate and Rosewater Ganache
150g White Chocolate
100ml Thick Cream
2-3drops Rosewater Essence
1. Heat cream in a small saucepan over medium heat. When it’s close to boiling point, remove from heat and let it rest for 30 seconds or so before pouring over white chocolate.
2. Mix well, making sure the chocolate is melted. Add in the rosewater and stir well.
3. Place mixture in a piping bag, seal and leave it in the fridge for 10 minutes or so to thicken.
4. Pipe a 10 cent blob of ganache onto each macaron shelll and sandwich together.