I have so much to tell you but I better to stick to one thing at a time. I think I was cheating last time when I said I would give you the recipe of macaron as I only got to list the ingredients with some tip-like remarks. I even left you with a little bit of a cliffhanger, so now I can’t just let it slip away again. Here is the story of how it all happened…
Ingredients for Macarons (for revisionary purposes of course)
(It makes about 40-50 macarons – depending on how good you are at mixing and pastry bag handling…)
380 grams (13.4 oz) of almond meal – high quality, finely ground and sifted (no lumps)
240 grams (8.46 oz) of icing sugar – finely ground and sifted (no lumps)
360 grams (12.7 oz) of sugar – recipe calls for high quality but i just simply sed what I had at home
2 times 110 grams (3.88) of egg whites (the older the better – seriously!) You can also freeze egg whites over time and let then thaw before you want to use them.
90 grams (3.175 oz) of water
According to Laurent, this is the basic recipe that you can twist and turn as soon as you become an expert….yeah, right. Wishful thinking!
First of all about the ingredients. I think the trickiest one is the amount of egg whites you need in the mixtures. The first time I was lucky since I had recently made a chocolate cake that needed a LOT of egg yolk in it so I just froze the whites and used them for macarons before New Year’s. The next week when I became obsessed, I needed egg whites “instantly” and though I did not start a raw egg diet, I did eat scrambled eggs every single morning for the sake of gaining as much egg whites as possible before the weekend. Needless to say I experimented the varieties of scrambled eggs not to get bored…lucky, I didn’t get an allergy.
For the second attempt I was more prepared. I was eagerly watching YouTube videos on the different steps of macaron making and actually learnt a lot (i.e. making the meringue and banging the trays onto the table…more on that later) Cool!
Let’s hit it!
For making the macaron you better prepare the tools, the ingredients and most of all yourself – you’ll be kitchenbound for at least 5-6 hours…
About the tools: you need a big (I mean the biggest you can get) bowl for the almond mixture, you’ll need a mixer, a sugar thermometer, a pastry bag with the adequate tip and a spatula. As I have a special connection with ‘coincidences’ my spatula broke a week earlier and of course I forgot to replace it…but I had something else that I could use for mixing. I guess a big wooden spoon can be good too, you just gotta learn the technique of mixing right.
Oh, and you do need a sifter for the almond meal and icing sugar. I must be doing something terribly wrong because it took me almost an hour to sieve all the almond meal and had a very hard time with it. But, I did go through it and I was very proud of myself . Bit of a workout for the arms, though. Then the icing sugar is a piece of cake and a well deserved success after the struggle.
I put out all measured ingredients on the counter so during the process I wouldn’t have to deal with the scale and cups and such. That was a FIRST in my life – never had I done this before but it actually made everything flow smoother, so there must be something in it.
1. I first mixed the almond meal, the icing sugar, 1 portion of egg whites and the cocoa in a big bowl. I got HUGE bowls from my cousin for Christmas so I was happily mixing in it for about ten minutes. It has to be a very nice dense mix – kind of like marzipan.
2. I made the Italian meringue. That is the cooked sugar syrup and the beaten egg whites. You put the sugar and water in a pan, place a sugar thermometer in it and let it cook. NO touching, NO stirring until the temperature rises to 250 F (121 C) – the firm ball temperature! At the class I thought the sugar would burn or get caramelized. Silly me! It cooked perfectly – even at home. (If you don’t have the thermometer you can try the cold spoon test but I stayed on the safe side with my little device.) I even used a drop of lemon because that would prevent the crystallization of the sugar bought in a regular supermarket (not that I knew there was such a difference between sugar and sugar for baking purposes). Anyways, I was determined to do it right this time.
While the sugar was cooking I started beating the other part of the egg whites in another bowl. Slowly and very gradually. I did beat it longer than last time before adding the syrup so it was already turning white now. When the sugar reached the right temperature (don’t you already feel like being in a secret laboratory?! I did.) you very slowly add it to the egg whites while they are still being beaten. The whole meringue is good when it is “hard” enough so when you take out the mixer the meringue will form a little ‘beak’.
3. Now comes the macaroning which is mixing the meringue with the almond mixture. This you have to do thoroughly and for a LONG time so it is all smooth and nice…and there you go, you won’t need to do those push-ups for a week. It IS hard to mix it, Guys, so you might wanna do those push-ups in advance…
4. When ready, take your pastry bag and fill it with your macaron mixture. I love my new big pastry bag but as it turns out it is half as big as I would need it to be for this batch, so having learnt from the first disastrous time, I took it slow and only filled it halfway. This way I had enough material to twist on the bag.
5. Line as many trays as you can with baking paper beforehand so you wouldn’t have to juggle with the pastry bag, scissors and the paper later. (OH! I do hope you read this through before starting the whole process…OK, I’ve gotta get better writing it down as well, right?) …oh yeah, the oven. (Gosh, I really need to learn how to write down recipes, sooorry) Your oven’s gotta be around 300-340 F (150-170 C) depending on what kind of oven you have – yeah, it takes a couple of batches till you figure it out.
6. Here comes the fun part! Take your pastry bag (left hand at the tip for directing, right hand at the top for gradually and slightly squeezing and twisting the bag – other way around for the left-handed, or?) and press little inch wide circles onto the paper. Press a little-stop-instantly tear. It took me a while but eventually I got the hang of it and that’s when I was sorry I didn’t have at least ten trays so I can press all of them at once.
7. When done, BANG the trays to the table so the little bubbles leave from the macarons and the droplets form pretty little circles. Let it sit for about thirty minutes cause that’s when the typical macaron bottom will ‘sink in’.
8. Put the tray in the oven for 20-25 minutes. Wait! And pray! Then you can start preparing the next batches and the filling…
9. You see it is ready when the surface rises and takes the smooth and pretty form. Take the tray out from the oven and let the macarons sit for a while on the tray. The bottom still needs a little more heat. VOILA!
10. After you removed the macarons from the tray and they cooled down you can start filling them with whatever you want. If you are not an expert it’s a good game to find two that match…Friendly tip: Be careful not to crush the tops when pressing together the sandwiches – I wasn’t that cautious…
As for the filling: I did use up my chocolate espresso ganache I made the week before. Then I made some white chocolate-cointreau ganache with a little heavy cream. I thought this was gonna be more than enough. Well I didn’t count that this time all my batches hit the minimum level of usability so I needed more filling. I made an extra chocolate ganache and finally turned to my jams and used some blueberry-blackberry jam…OH, that turned out delicious!
Some more remarks: I tried food coloring for the last batches…well, I do need more practice in that. I finally had some of the macarons that had the typical bottom but not all of them did and I cannot quite figure what the difference was in the batches…
I still need to improve my macaron skills a LOT and exercitatio artem parat but the eyes of my family, friends and colleagues the next day after tasting them told me I was on the right track…
In the beginning I was telling you how excited I am. Well, this little thing is one of the reasons. Can you guess what it is?