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Thursday, October 7, 2010

I heart Macarons



Welcome to my first blog. What could be a more proper post for my first blog entry than macarons, my latest and biggest obsession. 

I still recalled my first macarons encounter. It was the love at first bite. I was out in The Rocks, Sydney and came across a French patisserie with nice looking pastries. I and S have our quest for the best almond croissant and the place had a lovely looking ones. Something very interesting also caught my eyes. There were trays of scrumptious looking cookies with so much varieties of colours and flavours. I decided to try some and here I was....falling in love with macarons. I still can recalled the flavour...it was passionfruit macarons. It was heavenly. It was crisp and light on the outside and simply just melted in my mouth.

From then on, I've been trying to perfect making macarons. Well, my first experience attempting making macarons was an absolute disaster. I didn't have the right tools and underestimate these little divas. Imagine me using polyester piping bag and baking the macarons on a grease-proof baking paper....(by the way if you don’t know…., grease-proof does not equal non-stick, everyone. And the baking paper is not non-stick unless the packaging says so) The macarons shell just totally stuck on the baking paper and were dry and crunchy. It was a nightmare and had put me off making macarons for another longgggg while…It felt like I would give up making macarons for life!


"My second attempt at making macaron.
The mixture was way undermix and got spread feet"


After I gather my nerves, tools and knowledges. I attempted macarons again. The second time wasn't too bad. It didn't look quite right but it still tasted sublime. My girlfriend even said she would have paid for those! What a good and encouraging friend to have.  


You probably know that macarons are very tempermental (mind you, she’s a little diva, queens of the petit fours) and not the easiest things to make and master. But let me tell you that they are not that hard to make either. If I can do it, you can also do it....at home.

The recipe that I used comes from my research on the Net and my personal experiments. At the first glance, my recipe might not look right comparing to others. But it works...every single time. My recipe also uses less almond meal and icing sugar than others.

Here is the recipes….

Lemon Macarons (make about 25 macarons)

Ingredients
100 g egg whites (about 3 xl eggs) (aged 24-72 hrs and at room temperature)
60 g caster sugar (fine sugar)
110 g almond meal (ground almond)
160 g pure icing sugar  (powder sugar)
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
a good pinch of yellow colouring powder or 7-10 drops of yellow food colouring liquid

METHOD

1. Sift almond meal and icing sugar through fine sieve and set aside.
   


" I use the sieve and pastry scraper to help pushing almond meal and icing sugar through"


     

 2.  Whip the egg white until it become really frothy. While beating the egg white, gradually add caster sugar (fine sugar) one tablespoon by one tablespoon at a time. Continue whipping the egg white until it almost reaches its peak. The egg white should be stiff and glossy. Put the food coloring in and mix just to combine.   



3.      Put the almond meal & icing sugar mixture into the whipped egg white. Stir vigorously for the first 10 stokes or so. Then continue to mix the mixture until fully combined. At this point, you might wonder if you have deflated your meringue. Don't worry, we're not after the air and texture of meringue. It's more important that the batter is totally blend-in and combined. The batter should have the consistency of thick cake batter and have the ribbon-like consistency...or many website described it as "magma-like consistency".



4.    The mixture can be left at this stage for about 10 mins. So, I use this 10 mins to get organise with my trays and piping bag. Line the baking trays (you might need about 2 large trays for this recipe) with silpat or non-stick baking paper.


5.      Spoon the mixture into the piping bag, using 1cm piping tip (plain round tip, size 11). Pipe into 3cm round size. Leave 3 cms space between each shell.


6.      Don’t worry if the piped macarons don’t look flat and smooth. This is actually a good thing. It means you didn’t overmix the batter. You can tap the tray on the bench several times to help flattening macarons.

 


7.      Leave the tray out in the room temp for about 1-2 hrs until you can touch the top of the shell without it sticks to your finger (this can also take 30 mins depending on the temperature and humidity). 


"the bumps on the macarons have gone after the tray were tapped and the they were dry to touch"


8.      Preheat the oven to 160c (convection oven), just before you put the trays in, reduce the temp to 140c (convection) and bake for 15-18 mins. Baking time will depend on the size of macarons and oven. So, I usually keep a close eye on them after 15 mins. The cookie should be dry and crisp but not colour.


"the feet start to appear after 5 mins...and it fill me with joy every single time..well, I must confess...I'm a macaron foot-fetish..lol"

9.      Remove the shells from the oven, leave them cool on tray for few minutes. Gently remove them onto the cooling rack.

"Trick: if you spray water onto the tray under the baking paper, this will tremendously help releasing macarons from the paper. "

10.      Spread or pipe chilled lemon curd (below recipe)  into the shell and sandwich them together.

11.      You can taste the fruit of your labour straight away. But I find that macaron tastes better and achieve its chewy texture after it's been in the fridge for at least 24 hours. Put the macarons in an air-tight container and put them in the fridge. I believe that they keep well in the fridge for about a week. However, my macarons never last that long..lol....so, I can't be 100% sure on that ... but so far, it still tastes good after 4-5 days in the fridge.



Lemon curd recipe (adapted from Stephanie Alexander’s recipe on http://www.cuisine.com.au/)

Ingredients
3 egg yolks (perfect for the leftover egg yolks from the shell)
80 g caster sugar (fine sugar)
60 g unsalted butter
2 tsp grated lemon zest
70 ml lemon juice
1 tablespoon corn flour

METHOD
1. Whisk egg yolks and sugar until well combined but not frothy.


2. Put the egg yolk mixture into a saucepan and add butter, zest, juice and cornflour and whisk to combine.


3. Stirring the mixture constantly, bring to simmering point over a medium-high heat (about five minutes).


4. As soon as bubbles appear, remove from heat, still stirring. Allow to cool.



NOTES:
  • Egg-whites --- most of the recipe ask that they're aged, by leaving them out for at least 3 days, some even says a week. I still don't have the gut to leave my egg white in the room temperature for that long...being it covered or uncovered. What I did was leaving my egg white in the fridge for at least 2 days, and take out of the fridge about few hours before I start making macarons. Egg white needs to be at room temperature.

  • Many recipes also mentioned that we grind (regrind) almond meal together with icing sugar until it become really really fine. I didn't do that. I find that sifting also seems to do as good a job.

  • The macaron feet (the edge at the macaron base) usually happens after 5 mins of the bake. I also turn my baking tray half way through the bake.

  • If I plan making macarons in advance, I like to make ganache or curd a day in advance and let them sit in the fridge overnight. I found that I colud achieve better looking and thicker/fuller filling when the ganache/curd are well-chilled.

  • Many recipes also told to double the baking tray (put one tray on top of each other) for better heat distribution, I suppose. I never do that. Though, I find that the macaron result (those lovely feet) are significantly different when I bake the macarons on commercial graded oven tray. I use Masterclass’s large cooking tray. It got commercial weight and I love them. Below picture shows the different feet achieved from two different baking tray. The top shell was baked on an IKEA cooking sheet and the bottom shell was baked on Masterclass cookie tray.


There you have it…lemon macarons…..


If you feel encouraged and try this at home…. I would love to hear from you how you go and/or see some pics.

If I can do this at home, so do you….you can do it….at home!!!

Until next time, happy bakingJ

Note:
I encourage you to visit my other two blog posts for the basic macarons recipes using French meringue technique and Italian meringue techniques. Links are below:

18 comments:

  1. Thank you for writing such a comprehensive account of how to make macarons. I have been wanting to try making them for a while but keep putting it off, fear of failing I think! You have given me the confidence to have a go, I will be trying them out soon! Your photography is excellent too. Jeannette.
    PS. I found you by reading your comment on The FreshLoaf.

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  2. Thank you, Jeannette. Macarons are not that hard to make. They can be tempermental but once you get the hang of it. It can be a smooth sailing:) Like bread making, your home-made macarons will taste much better than an average store-bought macarons. You'll love it.

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  3. Ever since I had Laduree macarons in Paris I have been hooked! Your directions are so detailed and the tips are so helpful. I will be making some this week! Thanks for the inspiration.

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  4. Have fun with your macaron making, I'm sure they'll taste as nice as Laduree's:)

    I'm still kicking myself nowadays that I didn't try any macarons when I was in Paris. I just had no idea about them then. Now, I'm heading to Tokyo in the next week or so...and will have to acquaint myself with Laduree and Pierre Herme:)

    Sue

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  5. THANK YOU!!! I tried 10 or maybe even more recipes before and yes my macarons used to had frills but they never had those feet! :D They were spreading too much but now they're able to stand still :)

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  6. Great to hear! I understanding that feeling and excitement when you see the feet on your macarons. I usually jump and say 'yaay' and excited about it! Aren't we all a macaron foot-fetish! lol..

    Sue

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  7. so how do you aged the eggs? do you separate the eggs and then just leave it in the bowl overnight? because im planing to make them in a couple days because im craving for them so much.
    thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Hi,

    To age the egg white, you seperate the egg whites and put it in a covered container and keep it in a fridge about 24-48 hours in advance.

    Take those egg white out of the fridge and let it sit at room temperature for few hours before you are making macarons. This is to bring egg white to room temperature.

    In winter, I also put the seperated egg white in a covered container on the kitchen bench for approx 24 hours before making macarons. I wouldn't suggest doing this if egg white will sit at room temp for more than one day.

    Sue

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  9. Hi,
    I'm making some of these tomorrow. I want to make some poppy seed lemon curd ones. I don't have any lemon zest. Do you think I could add a little lemon juice or lemon extract instead? I was also going to add some poppy seeds like you have in your other ones. Also trying some coconut. What about adding coconut extract to the Macarons? If so, how much? Thanks, excited to try it out!! My fillings are already cooling in the frig.:)
    Faith

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  10. Hi Sue,
    Going to try these tomorrow. Lemon macarons,& Coconut macarons. I don't have any lemon zest, do you think I could add lemon extract? What about coconut extract to the macaron? If so, how much do you think (in tsp.)? Didn't know if extract would mess up the formula. My fillings are cooling in the frig!! :)
    Thanks a bunch, excited to try them out! :)
    Faith

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  11. Hey Sue,
    I'm sorry, I think I posted twice! Whoops! Just forget one of those! :)
    Thanks again, sorry about that!
    Faith

    ReplyDelete
  12. Hi Faith,

    The lemon zest in macaron shell is optional. The flavour from lemon curd would also be sufficient for macaron.

    If you want to add lemon in the shell, be very very easy with lemon essence, as you wouldn't want to introduce too much liquid/moisture to the macaron batch. I'd say go for 4-5 drops of lemon extract/essence.

    The same with coconut extract, be easy with them int shell, you don't want to have too moist a macaron shell. You can also include ground descicated coconut in the shell, may be around 20% of almond meal, and reduce the amount of almond meal by the same amount of descicated coconuts.

    Good luck with the macarons. If you do use cooking/candy thermometer, I'd suggest you try Italian meringue method. I also got a post walking through the process, it should be on top of the most popular post.

    Cheers, Sue

    ReplyDelete
  13. Hi Sue, just came across this info on a new book about Macarons...video too :^)

    http://www.lovenbake.com/blog/?p=1276#more-1276
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4K1Vl4LzYx4&feature=youtu.be

    Thought I would send the links to you, in case you might like them!

    :^) from breadsong

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  14. Thank you, Breadsong.That's very nice of you.

    That video is great:) Nice to see friends from TFL stopping by.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Hi may I know why my macarons turned out like flat cookies with no feet? :/ Pls help :(

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  16. Try whipping egg white a bit more until its very stiff and dry.

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  17. Hi Sue. Came across your blog last night and it's very inspiring. Your macarons look and sound wonderful!

    I've tried making them a couple of days ago n they don't have frilly feet! I think cos my meringue isn't right bcos i'm so afraid of overbeating them. I'm planning to try again today.

    Do you add colouring n continue mixing with the mixer or by hand? And where can I find the masterclass trays in Melbourne. What is the price range?

    TIA!

    Emmeline

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  18. Hi Emma,

    I'm glad you find the blog inspiring:)

    Sorry for late late reply. Been really busy with Xmas and NY.

    No feet - try beating egg white a bit longer until it is very very stiff. I find dry meringue gives better raised-feet.

    Colouring - I use the mixer to mix colouring in at a low speed.

    Masterclass tray - I saw some at Chef Hat in South Melbourne, Essential Ingredients in Prahran. I bought mine from PetersOfKensington website (www.petersofkensington.com.au). I bought few stuffs from Peters. It offers good bargains and reasonably freight charges. Masterclass trays at Peter is around $14.

    PS: if you happen to shop at Peters of Kensington, might as well get the thermometer and try Italian Meringue method. You'll love the method and might be a convert like myself.

    ReplyDelete