I love cupcakes. They will always hold a special place in my heart. But lately I have been feeling a bit unsatisfied. Cupcake baking is fun, but when you have baked all the recipes you can think of and start experimenting with stranger and stranger options, you know that the thrill of a perfect vanilla cupcake is lost to you for good.
Enter the sexy macaron. Its form so delicate and teasing, taunting you to say that you will never get it right! I have loved macarons for so long but with allergies it has become impossible to find a store bought macaron I can eat. So there was only one option left: to bake them myself.
Now I don’t often set out to fail when I bake. But I had read all the literature online. I knew that macarons were hard little buggers to get right. I read about the different recipes you can do and ultimately opted for the simpler one to start off with. I find once you know the easy way to do something, the harder way doesn’t seen so hard.
I followed every step very dutifully and when it came time to mix in my almond mixture I was hesitant, nervous and convinced I was going to overbeat it.
Looking at the picture now it could have probably used a little more mixing.
I had also carefully stencilled circles onto my baking paper. I am shocking with piping and this seemed like the simplest option. It wasn’t perfect but it looked better than it would have if I had have winged it!
Then comes the part that tests your patience: waiting. I read mixed reviews online for waiting. Some said not to do it, others waited as long as 2 hours. I waited a half hour (the average time suggested) and next time I will try waiting an hour.
I also dutifully banged my baking tray on the bench in an attempt to remove any air bubbles. This was not successful, as I had many bubbles left!
I also baked on a sillicone baking mat. It came highly recommended and I think it certainly made a difference… of course, I have nothing to compare this with but the bottoms were nice and delicate.
So did they grow feet? Well… kind of. They were lopsided, and some were more defined than others. They certainly weren’t flat discs though! That said, each of them looked like nipples. Must work on piping skills as the nipples meant they wouldnt lay flat!
Because I was so convinced that these would fail and I had run out of chocolate, I decided to just use the Sweet William Dairy Free Hazelnut Spread as my filling. I think this turned out OK (although I wouldn’t do this on a ‘real’ batch) and as a bonus, I am now sneaking spoonfuls of the chocolate spread when noone is looking.
So there we have it. My first attempt at the elusive Macaron. It wasnt a total success. They look a little funny and have air holes, but they tasted like they should!
Next I will have to attempt some different recipes and flavours.
Basic French Macarons
Recipe via Tasted by Two
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 until strong peaks have formed. Make sure that the eggs hold firm peaks, like a bird’s beak!
4. Sprinkle 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.