Saturday, January 19, 2013

Tips for making great macaroons

I'm going slightly off-piste with this post today. I don't generally blog about food and I did say I wasn't going to bleat on about my wedding... BUT as a lot of people have asked me about this I thought I should do a post about it.

We decided a few months back that we wanted to have macaroons at our wedding, but we didn't want to pay the silly prices for them, so instead we set ourselves the task to learn how to make them ourselves! There have been many attempts at home (see below) but when a masterclass came up on Groupon we thought it was the perfect chance to learn from an expert. 

So this week, we headed down to OnCafe in Clapham for a 3 hour class. It was a really helpful session, where we found out a lot of things we were doing wrong or unnecessarily.  It really is a bit of an exact science, so I thought I would share a few of the things that we learnt.

Basic Recipe: 
Egg Whites - 140g
Caster Sugar - 95g
Ground Almond - 170g
Icing Sugar - 260g

First thing to do as preparation, is separate your egg whites 3 days before and put them in the fridge. Then take them out the night before you are making your macaroons to bring them to room temperature. 

Using either a food processor or a electric whisk, whisk your egg whites until they start foaming, roughly doubling in height, then add your caster sugar. Don't add it too quickly or too slowly.  Do it in one go, but relatively slowly, don't just dump it in. Whisk together until you have stiff peaks. It is better to over whisk than to under whisk. So if you're unsure go for a bit longer. 

Sift your ground almonds into a bowl, and then sift over your icing sugar. Do not mix them at this stage. Put your chosen food colouring on your spatula - only use gel, paste or powder food colouring. You can get these in most good baking shops, or online at somewhere like Cakes Cookies and Crafts

Then put your meringue mixture on top of your almonds & icing sugar. The folding of the mixture is a really important stage. Using your spatula to fold the dry ingredients from the outside of the bowl into the middle. Once all the dry ingredients have been folded, then start folding from underneath and over the top. Try and get a good rhythm, so that you are getting plenty of air into the mixture. It is ready when all the ingredients are evenly mixed, you shouldn't have any meringue bits left, and it should be of an even consistency. Do not overfold!! This will make your macaroons go too flat. 

Transfer the mixture into a piping bag with a plain 10mm nozzle. Ideally you should use a macaroon template - something like this - so you will get evenly sized macaroons. Pipe vertically from above and about 0.5cm above the mat. squeeze mixture in the middle until it fills the circle.  We were told to leave the 'peeks' on ours so we could see if we had got the right consistency - but to get rid of the peeks, pipe your circle, stop, then swipe a small semi circle in the middle. Apparently it is harder than it looks!

Leave to set for around 20mins, but it does depend on the temperature conditions in your room, so check by touching them, as a skin should have formed and no mixture should come off on your finger.  A lot of the recipes we used before said to tap your tray on the table to remove air bubbles, but our teacher at the class said this is not necessary for French macaroons - you want to keep the air in them.

Bake at 160C for 10 minutes. But this really depends on your oven. Ideally you should put a thermometer in your oven to make sure you've got the temp. exactly right. It may take a few tries before you work out the exist time, so this is just a guide. 



Leave them to cool. They should hopefully lift off easily from your sheet, but if not you can help them along with a palette knife. If you have any that have cracked - then you did not mix all the meringue in at the folding stage. If you have macaroons that are quite flat, you have overfolded. 

But hopefully you should have a pretty decent macaroon! If you want to have flavoured macaroons, it was suggested to use a good essence, and add this to your filling rather than the shell. You can either use a buttercream filling, or a chocolate ganache. There are lots of options for this, so I suggest you find one to suit you. All that remains is to match up your shells in pairs of the same size (hopefully they are all the same!) But do make sure your shells have cooled completely before adding your filling. 



You can then keep them in the fridge to serve later or the next day! They should keep for a few days in the fridge. I hope this has helped a little! I am by no means an expert, but if you have any questions just leave a comment and I'll try to answer!! 

Happy macaroon making! xxx

All photos: Patchwork Harmony

5 comments:

  1. I love French macaroons. I pretty much spent most of my time in Paris eating them. But I'm well cautious about making them. Might need to practice my meringue making a bit first.

    Thanks for the tips, I am totally bookmarking this.
    x

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  2. I have always wanted to make these. With your tips I feel like I can now give it a ago. Only problem I have with all my baking is I have a Aga so no temperature control. Wish me luck.
    Rosezeeta

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    1. she did say it was trickier in an Aga... maybe try putting the thermometer in the compartment? It'll probably be a bit more trial & error! good luck, let me know how u get on! x

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  3. Thank you for this great post Caroline! I've always admired macarons but I doubt I'll make them because I lack the patience but after seeing these photos I'm really tempted!
    A bakery that basically brought macarons to Bombay sometimes holds masterclasses & though they're a bit pricey I think they'll be worth it.
    Also can I please say that macaroons are this different type of slightly conical, baked cookie. The French ones like these are called macarons. I used to make this mistake a lot too. :)
    http://angesdesucre.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/Macaron-Macaroon.jpg
    I am really enjoying these posts leading up to your wedding, can't wait to see photos from the actual day!

    ♥ Magali
    www.magalic.com

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  4. These look amazing, thank you for the tips. I usually make almond macaroons with the rice paper on the bottom as my husband loves them - but I'd love to make these :)

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