I must admit, I don’t know whether to love or hate macarons. They’re overrated, overpriced and a complete bitch to make yet they deliver such an oh-so-joyous melt-in-your-mouth crunch.
I’m not going to lie and say they’re easy to make. They’re not, but they’re not that difficult either, just fiddly and time-consuming. I had to set aside most of my Sunday to make these for our office Christmas party. Talk about trying to impress!
For this recipe, you will need a quick French lesson, a candy thermometer (I got mine for under $10), a large-ish round piping tip, at least one baking tray, preferably a good stand mixer and the ability to read a lengthy instructions. I did not age my eggs or added any stabilising agents. I did however used roughly 5 eggs and a shocking amount of sugar.
MACARONS WITH RASPBERRY GANACHE
Tant pour tant
250g triple-sifted almond meal
250g sifted icing sugar
Tant pour tant
87g egg white
Few drops of food colouring
95g egg white
250g caster sugar
80g of water
* all ingredients are at room temperature
1. PREPARE THE TANT-POUR-TANT. For me, this is the most tedious part. Prepare what is known as the tant pour tant (half and half) which is your sifted almond meal and icing sugar blend. Some suggest to process the icing sugar and almond meal until super fine prior to sifting at least twice. I don’t have a processor so I skipped this step. Instead, double-sifted my almond meal and icing sugar before combing them in a big bowl and further sifting them two to three more times. Large clumps of almond will result in clumpy macarons.
2. MAKE THE ALMOND PASTE. Add the egg whites into your tant pour tant. Stir vigorously until mixture is thick and sticky. No need to be prissy and gentle with the mixture at this stage. Add food colouring of choice and stir until combined. I used a good squeeze of Americolor’s Soft Pink. With macarons, you want to aim 2-3 shades darker as they will pale slightly after baking.
3. PREPARE THE SUGAR SYRUP FOR THE ITALIAN MERINGUE. In a saucepan over medium heat, add water and sugar. Heat the syrup until it is 117°C which is known as ‘ball stage’. When your syrup reaches around 100°C, it’s time to whip the egg whites.
4. WHIP THE EGG WHITES. Place the egg whites (absolutely no trace of yolk) in a clean mixer bowl with a clean wire attachment. Whip the egg whites on medium speed (Speed 6 on a Kitchenaid) until soft peak stage. As soon as the syrup reaches 117°C, remove the saucepan from heat and pour the syrup in a thin, steady stream into the whipping egg whites. It’s important to pour the syrup slowly as you do not want to cook the egg whites. Beat until you have a glossy, thick meringue that sits in between soft and stiff peaks. Semi-stiff I guess?
5. MACARONNAGE. Add a dollop or two of meringue into the almond paste mixture. Gently swirl the meringue with a spatula to ‘loosen’ the thick almond paste. Carefully fold in remaining meringue in 1/3 additions until incorporated. Keep folding the mixture until you reach the ‘perfect macaron batter’ consistency. Most people will tell you this is the hardest bit of macaron-making. What you’re looking for is a smooth, glossy batter that is thick and oozy at the same time. To check, lift and drop the batter back on itself, wait for about 30 seconds and see if the ridges slowly ooze back into the batter. If it does, the batter is perfect. If it is too runny, add more tant pour tant. If the batter is still clumpy, fold a little more. It’s generally a good idea to under-fold than over-fold. What I do is, when I know I’m nearly there, I’ll stop and check the batter every 2-3 folds.
Under-folding = rough, lumpy macarons
Over-folding = flat, footless macarons
6. PIPE THE SHELLS. I don’t have a large round piping tip so I used my #10 Wilton tip and make 3 small swirls until I get a circle. Otherwise, use a 1cm round piping tip. Fill a large piping bag with batter. Carefully pipe batter onto baking tray over a piece of parchment paper. As a guide, I drew evenly-spaced circles on the back of my parchment paper with a tea light candle. Once you have piped all of your shells, tap or in my case, bang, the baking tray a good few times to release any air bubbles and smooth out the macarons. Allow to air-dry for 20-30 minutes to allow the macarons to form a smooth, glossy crust. Skipping this step may result in cracked macarons.
7. BAKE. Preheat oven to 150°C. When your macarons are ready, bake for 12-20 minutes. During this time, keep a close eye of your macarons and watch the magic happens (or fail :S). Personally, getting the oven temperature right is the trickiest bit. If the oven is too hot, you can leave the door ajar for a bit. Baking time can vary quite a bit from 12 to nearly 20 minutes. Your macarons should not change colour during baking. Once they’re ready, remove from oven and allow to cool for a few minutes in the baking tray. They should come off easily. If not, it’s usually a sign the macarons are under-baked. When the macarons have been removed from the tray, allow to further cool on a wire rack.
Raspberry white chocolate ganache filling
200g white chocolate, chopped into small pieces
100ml double cream
6 tsp raspberry jam
1. You can prepare your ganache well ahead. Combine chocolate and cream in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Stir with a spatula or metal spoon until smooth. It’s important to keep stirring as you do not want to burn the chocolate. Remove bowl from heat.
2. Set aside to cool before refrigerating for at least an hour. I tend to leave my ganache to set overnight. Stir in raspberry jam.
3. Fill a zip lock bag or piping bag with your ganache. Cut a small hole at the end of the bag and pipe away.
4. I keep my macarons in an air tight container, layered with parchment paper unrefrigerated for a day and a bit. If you plan to keep your macarons for a bit longer, it’s best to refrigerate due to the double cream present in the ganache. They can also be frozen and later slowly defrosted in a fridge overnight.