Macarons have been on my bucket list since I first established a bucket list. In fact, for a long time macarons were my bucket list. Recently, I bought a silicon macaron mat on impulse and decided to have a go at the recipe in the booklet that came with it. First things first, though. Research. Hours and hours were spent reading blogs and watching videos. I ended up returning frequently to two bloggers in particular – Mardi at eatlivetravelwrite has a wealth of tips to share and some invaluable video tutorials and Stella at bravetart has oodles of great posts on the topic. Do check out their sites if you’re as new to this arcane pursuit as I am.
After two failed batches (hollow domes the first time, severe cracking the second), I made two decisions – to ditch the silicon mat and to enroll in a course. I had learned so much in my research, but I figured that nothing could beat a hands-on tutorial where I could experience the feel of the meringue, the consistency of the batter, the piping etc.
It turned out that our teacher favours the Italian method of boiling sugar and water for making the meringue because he gets more consistent results, so that’s the one I learned. Our class of 12 students made 5 different recipes – chocolate, cheesecake, banana-passionfruit, lime and fleur d’oranger – with varying degrees of success. But I felt confident enough to have another go at home. This recipe is adapted from the chocolate macarons we made – I replaced the cocoa with powdered freeze-dried strawberries.
They’re still far from visually perfect – the feet are nice and high when I take them out of the oven but collapse when they cool, and they’re a bit uneven – but they’re not hollow, they have a crisp shell and a marshmallowy interior and they taste absolutely spectacular!
Makes approx. 30 filled macarons
140g ground almonds
125g confectioner’s (icing/powdered) sugar
15g powdered freeze-dried strawberries
100g egg white, room temperature, divided 50/50
100g granulated (white) sugar
Strawberry white chocolate ganache for filling
75ml heavy cream
3 tablespoons strawberry jam
200g good quality white chocolate
a few drops vanilla extract
Prepare 2 parchment lined baking sheets.
Mix the almonds, confectioner’s sugar and strawberry powder together then grind in a food processor until you have an extra fine texture. Whisk 50g egg whites to a soft mousse and fold into the almond mixture. Set aside.
Beat 50g of the egg whites to stiff peaks.
Meanwhile, put the granulated sugar and water into a small saucepan and heat to 118°C.
While whisking constantly, slowly add the cooked sugar mixture to the beaten egg whites, pouring it down the inside edge of the bowl. Whisk at high speed until the mixture is cool, about 3 minutes. The mixture should increase in volume and become firm (you should get a beak when you lift the whisk) and shiny.
Scrape the meringue onto the almond mixture and incorporate with a rubber or silicone spatula until you have a homogenous batter that runs from the spatula in a thick ribbon and a trail in the batter melts back into itself within 20 seconds.
Transfer the mixture into a piping bag fitted with a 7 – 9mm plain tip (this is best done in two batches, so you don’t overfill the bag). Pipe 60 equally sized rounds, about 3cm, in staggered rows onto the prepared sheets. Hold the piping bag upright with the tip just above the sheet and pipe without pulling upwards or swirling in circles, so the batter comes out in a round blob around the tip, and give a little sideways flick at the end to break the stream.
Tap the baking sheet firmly on the bench several times to release air bubbles and obtain a smooth surface. Leave the tray to rest at room temperature for about 20 minutes until a slight skin forms. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 140°C, fan-forced.
Bake the macarons for 15 minutes. I found that they are less likely to stick to the parchment if they are in the top of the oven, so I bake one sheet at a time now… but my oven is quite temperamental so you may not need to.
Remove from oven and remove the parchment from the tray with the shells still on it and place on a cooling rack for at least 30 minutes, until completely cool, then remove macaron shells carefully to a plate for filling. If they stick, you can spray the underside of the parchment with water, let sit for minute then remove to a rack to dry completely.
For the filling
Chop the chocolate very finely and place in a metal bowl.
Heat the cream and jam together in a small saucepan over medium heat until it comes to a boil. Strain hot cream mixture over chocolate and leave to sit for a few minutes. Whisk until smooth. Add vanilla and whisk occasionally until the ganache comes to room temperature. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until ganache has thickened enough to fill macarons.
Pipe or spoon a generous blob of filling onto the flat side of half the shells, top with the remaining shells and press gently until the filling reaches the edges.
Store in an airtight container in the fridge.