Wow – ok, first post of 2013! Start of this year has been a bit manic and so I’m a bit behind on writing things up. Hopefully things have calmed down a bit now!
Last week was a friend’s birthday and I wanted to do a few fab things for her. I decided that I hadn’t made macaroons in absolutely ages so fancied giving them a go again. My friend has always loved the apple cakes that I have made in the past so decided to also make a batch of apple and cinnamon cupcakes – recipe and photos to follow in next blog post.
As mentioned, I haven’t made macaroons in months and months. I first made them just over a year ago – fancying a challenge. They are quite fiddly and you do need to be very precise - but they are definitely worth the effort for a special occasion. I did loads of research and ended up going with Brave Tart’s recipe and suggestions – partly because she uses a KitchenAid. She has loads of great suggestions on how to make macaroons – which tips are essential and which are purely myths. Although I have to admit that I do stick with a few things she says aren’t essential – here's my version.
- 115g ground almonds
- 230g icing sugar*
- 144g egg whites (about 4 large eggs), at room temperature
- 72g granulated sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- Small amount paste food colouring
- Trace out 3.5 guide-circles (at least 3cm apart) onto baking parchment and then flip it over, ink side down. I use one of my large piping tips, but a small cookie cutter or large bottle lid could also work.
- Prepare a large piping bag, fitted with a medium round tip.
- Line two baking trays lined with the prepared baking parchment.
- Sieve the icing sugar into a bowl.
- Sieve the ground almonds into the same bowl – discard any bits that don’t go through the sieve (make sure that you have the correct weight in the bowl after sieving).
- Combine the egg whites, sugar and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer.
- Turn the mixer to medium (4 on a Kitchen Aid) and whisk for 3 minutes. The mix will not seem especially foamy at that point.
- Increase the speed to medium-high (7 on a Kitchen Aid) and whisk another 3 minutes, then crank the speed to 8 for go another 3 minutes. You should have a very stiff, dry meringue. If the meringue has not become stiff enough to clump inside the whisk, continue beating for another minute, or until it does so.
- Add in a small amount of the food colouring and whisk for a final minute on the highest speed Don’t worry if it deflates a little at this stage – I find adding the colour can make this happen.
- Remove the bowl from the mixer.
- Add the dry ingredients all at once and fold them in with a rubber spatula. Use both a folding motion (to incorporate the dry ingredients) and a rubbing/smearing motion, to deflate the meringue against the side of the bowl. This is called macaronage - it is about deflating the whites: you want to knock the air out of the meringue.
- Count each fold carefully. After about 25 folds, the mixture will still have a quite lumpy and stiff texture. You probably want to do another 15 or so folds.
- To test when the batter is ready, spoon some of the mix out and dollop it on top. Count to 30 – the dolloped mix should gradually incorporate back into the rest of the mixture. If it doesn’t incorporate, fold again. Keep testing to make sure that you don’t go too far. Overmixed macaroon batter has a runny, pancake batter-like texture. It will ooze continuously. I don’t know of anything to save it at this point so don’t go too far!
- Transfer about half the batter to a piping bag.
- Pipe the batter into the pre-traced circles on the baking parchment lined trays. Stop piping just before the circle of batter reaches the borders of the drawn circle, as the batter will continue to spread just a bit.
- When the piping bag is nearly empty, re-fill with batter and continue to pipe.
- After piping your macaroons, lift the baking tray and bang it hard on your worktop. Turn the tray ninety degrees and bang twice more. This will dislodge any large air bubbles that might cause your macaroons to crack
- Turn the oven on to preheat at 150C
- Leave your piped macaroons to rest on the worktop for at least 20 minutes while the oven heats up.
- Bake for about 18 - 25 minutes. To test if they are baked, gently peel the baking parchment away from a macaroon at the edge of the tray. If, the top comes off, leaving the bottom on the parchment, they need to go back in the oven. The macaroon should gently peel off, but don’t worry if it sticks a little – the macaroons will continue to bake a little and firm up on the tray whilst cooling.
- When the macaroons have baked, remove from the oven and cool thoroughly on the pans, before peeling the cooled macaroons from the parchment.
- Once cool, fill a piping bag with buttercream of your choice and pipe into half of the shells. Add any other fillings then sandwich them with plain halves.
White chocolate and strawberry filling
This is the filling I made for the pictured macaroons. It tasted great straight away as the slightly sharp strawberry puree contrasts well with the very sweet white chocolate buttercream. However, the puree was too runny and spurted out of the back of the macaroons! After a day, this problem resolved as the strawberry puree soaked into the macaroons. However, I then found them too sweet as you lost the sharpness of the fresh strawberry. I think if I were to try them again, I would have a go at sticking a sheet of gelatine in the puree to set it a little.
White chocolate buttercream
- 60g butter, at room temperature
- 250g icing sugar
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tblsp milk
- 3 tblsp double cream
- 100g good quality white chocolate
- Place the white chocolate in a glass bowl and set the bowl over a saucepan of gently simmering water.
- Stir until melted.
- Remove the bowl from the saucepan and set aside to cool slightly.
- Place the butter, vanilla extract, milk and half of the icing sugar in a bowl and whisk (preferably with an electric or stand mixer, although I start with a wooden spoon so that the icing sugar doesn’t form huge clouds!) until smooth and creamy.
- Add the rest of the icing sugar and mix again until smooth.
- Add in the double cream and cooled white chocolate and mix again.
- Place approximately 10 strawberries in a blender and blend until smooth.
This is a really reliable recipe for macaroons - but I'm quite tempted to give another one a go - when I have some time to experiment. Although this recipe does result in a little "foot" and domed, shiny top, they don't rise quite as much as I would like. The pictures on Brave Tart's website suggests that she doesn't get much more rise.
The filling needs refining - I like the idea of strawberry and white chocolate but need to work out how to make it work a little better. I have also made macaroons before with a passionfruit buttercream and they were delicious! As a warning, recipes do suggest that you can flavour the actual macaroon - this has always ended up killing the meringue for me - so I don't bother - the filling provides plenty of flavour!