Now let me start by saying that I don’t call these Macarons, I call them Little Bastards…. and for good reason….
I have a love hate relationship with Macarons, I love them, and they sometime hate me - it’s like an abusive relationship, where you keep coming back and while most they are nice to you and reward you with perfect shells and no hollows, every so often, as you get cocky, they punish your pride and either fail a batch or on a perfectly baked tray 2 will pop their tops and the rest belong on a cover of a magazine…..
Now, you might be thinking, why should I learn from you, when clearly yours are not perfect either? Well, firstly, I am honest. I won’t tell you everything is sunshine and lollipops when it comes to making Little Bastards, opps I mean Macarons, and I won’t tell you, “Oh they are so easy, I can poop the out on command” etc etc. I want to be realistic. And I want you to have expectations.
But I also want to say, there is almost nothing I enjoy making more than macs (Ok, I am obsessed with Choux and meringues and marshmallows too but they are kinder to me)
There is a science to macarons. An exact science. I often wonder, how the clever person who invented them figured it out!
It’s a combination of the stability in the meringue, heat of the oven, the sudden rise and the help of the sugar to secure and keep that rise - there are processes to follow and 50 million things that can go wrong….plus…. lack of moisture….plus lack of oil…. plus… blah blah blah blah….
I love a classic almond macaron and my preferred recipe is an Italian method. Am sorry but I won’t be sharing this recipe as it’s for the classes I teach and would obviously be unfair to students who have paid to do classes with me, if i give it away. Same goes with my Nutfree Macs, Mixed nuts macs and the all important, egg free macs.
For the CakeFlix live and yourtube video I was using a Swiss Macaron - this was interesting and will explain why - when i first tested this recipe I was happy with the over all look of the shells -smooth, shiney, great frill (foot), firm and had a good 4 day life, but I found them to be a little too hollow for my liking, meaning, there was air on the inside between the mallowing inside to the top of the shell, I mean, it was’t much, like less than a millimetre, but still…. anywho….I froze all the extra shells in twins for a rainy day and forgot about them - when I pulled them out to use for the impromtu Live, they felt fine, we did the live and they sat out in a box over night, the next day hubby and kids attacked them…. hubby turns to me said “What’s wrong with them? They are awesome”…..
Which prompted me to give one a shot…. the shell was full…. no hollow….. wtf?!?! The freezing and unfreezing had led to the maturation of the shell (which maturation of your shells is another entire topic I can spend hours on but won’t as I will loose you here) and whammo, it was now a dam fine shell! Morale of the story? There isn’t really a main one, but more a case of a pleasant surprise.
Ok I need to stop talking and get on with it.
And I lied in the video, I was going to share a french mac, but am upgrading you to the swiss recipe for the macs you saw on the screen… you’re welcome hehehe
Items of importance, I could spend 2 hours typing up oodles of info but most common things to note:
Milling of your drying, almond and sieving - in a nutshell (like what I did there"?” if you want smooth shiny shells, you can’t be lazy, just do it. I can see lazy baking in pics a mile away. Google how to dry your almond but in the oven with the light on, over night does a great job, or your dehydrator - you’re welcome for that tip.
Oil - give all your equipment a good clean down to ensure no residual oil is on anything, this includes beaters, bowls, spoons, piping bags and pipping tips.
Aged eggs - seems weird, but aged eggs do work best and room temp please!!! Google how to - again I can write entire blogs on this but…. I have no time.
Humidity…. is a bitch ….. if you are in a humid are or it’s being raining and you have no choice and have to make macs… crank that air con ad ensure you are set to dehumidify. Trust me, I am not nuts, makes a huge difference
Recipe - stick to it…. don’t get creative the first time you make it…. learn how to first before you start to play… got it?
There are many more but these are the headlines.
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240 grams of aged, room temp egg whites
250 grams of powdered sugar - icing sugar
250 grams of milled and sieved, dried almond meal
1/4 teaspoon of cream of tartar
250 grams caster sugar
A couple drops of high quality gel colour of your choice - colour powder would be better to reduce the moisture.
Place 120 grams of egg whites with the almond, icing sugar and the colour you want your macs into a regular bowl and with a spatula, smoooooze all together until it’s all incorporated into a paste - cover with cling wrap to avoid hardening and set aside.
120 grams egg whites and caster sugar into your mixer mixing bowl and whisk until smooth - so most of the sugar looks dissolved.
Pop the bowl over a bain-marie and keep on whisking until you reach approx 65 degrees C.
Transfer the bowl over to your mixer, whisk attachment, whisk away, add in the cream of tartar and continue to whisk until stiff peaks appear. It’s important they are stiff peaks - no drooping.. (no one likes a drooper… just saying…). Leave the machine to run until the temp returns to room temp - around 22 to 27 degrees for me.
Now, using the law of thirds, add in a 1/3 of the meringue into your almond paste mixer from before. Be gentle (says she) as this stage is important. With the first 3rd, you are breaking up the paste so you will loose most of the meringue “air”. when incorporated you will note the paste has loosened and ready for the next 3rd, this is when you need to be more gently with folding in, remember to scrape down your spatula and scrape up the bottom of the mixing bowl regularly to not miss any bits.
And finally, and in the last 3rd - crucial bit… start to feel your tummy get butterflies at this point….the idea is to incorporate with gently smooth strokes without flatting the meringue - you are looking for it to all be incorporated, so no more white meringue ribbons and stop. And I mean stop mixing… So you are looking for just mixed or just incorporated…. Over mixing will cause issues and you are taking the bubbles out of your meringue. Stop means stop - your mixture will continue to mix are you transfer it to the piping bag and when you pipe!!!! So refrain… have I mentioned this bit enough yet?
Using a 10mm round piping tip in a clean piping bag, fill with your mix, pipe 5cm macs into either a sil mat or baking paper lined baking trays. (which ever you prefer is up to you, I am a baking paper kind of gal).
Now…. this will seem insane, pick up the tray and give it a good rap on the bench, to bump out any large bubbles. Watch some you tube videos on this technique. This will also help get rid of any mac nipples, I mean I love nipples but not on my macs!
Leave to dry for 30 mins for the skin to form. You need the skins, don’t skimp on this bit! Want to speed up this process? You can use a desk fan to form the skins a little more quickly.
Heat your oven to 150 degrees C - I have fan forced - but it’s not a blower. While you wait for the skins to form, the oven to heat up, you clean up the mess you created.
Bake for 20 to 25 mins - I prefer under baked than over - usually aiming for 18 to 21 mins - you are looking for the shell to be just done, not browned - this will come down to trial and error as every oven is different. I will often sacrifice a 1/2 dozen macs on 2 trays to test a new oven first and bake one for 18 mins and the second for 20 to 22 and test them before putting the full trays in - trust me, saves you a heap of heartache.
When they are done, take the tray out of the oven and leave to sit on your mat for a few mins to cool - if they are baked correctly you can practically tip the sill mat or baking sheet over and the shells slide off by themselves. Don’t be violent!
If they are stuck to the tray, soft to the touch or collapse - under cooked, oven too or under mixed.
Browned edges, crispy hollow shell - over baked, oven too high and/or over mixed.
Please leave a comment below and share this around and make me feel good! I need some online love!
Sugar smooches, Monica Cavallaro
Disclaimer…. macs are not fool proof and neither is my recipe - this recipe worked for me, I hope it does for you too. If it doesn’t am sorry but you may need to retry and research why you had troubles - but more importantly, remember, macs are little bastards for a reason, and it’s their fault, not yours!!!