Many of you will already have seen from my earlier blog post, that I've designed a new double sided macaron mat which should make the art of macarons all the same size that bit easier. It has been quite a big project prototyping and getting it right. I'm very thankful that Dr Tim Kinnaird of MacaronsandMore.com gave me some initial help and suggestions during some trials. It's been a secret up until now whilst my design registration was pending, but these WILL be available for sale in around TEN DAYS time.
The mat has 25 x 2" / 50mm diameter cells on one side and 64 x 30mm cells on the reverse. It will fit on a 300mm / 12" square (or larger) cookie tray and easily go into any standard oven.
Double size mats (600 x 300mm) will also be available for use by bakeries.
Don't get me wrong, I've had quite a number of failed batches due to experimentation along the way. You do need to follow some of the basic rules of making macarons. As an example replacing the water with fruit juice to make the syrup for the italian meringue really does NOT work !
Macarons do have a bit of a learning curve, but once you master your macaronange (macaron batter) and cooking times / temperatures - it is possible to make batch after batch of near identical dainty delicacies. I've been successfully making macarons with both the French meringue and Italian meringue methods. For me, the Italian meringue is the hands-down winner. The shells are a little firmer and easier to handle and I prefer the feel in the mouth when you bite into them. The lemon ones in the other blog post were French meringue method and I'll post the recipe for those soon
Ok, enough chattering and on with the recipe. Note that you WILL need a sugar thermometer for this recipe. A double sided macaron mat is not essential (but having all your macarons the same size is such a pleasure and delight !)
I used two mats and made 50 large shells (25 x 2" macarons) and 26 shells (13 x 30mm macarons) from this recipe
180g icing (powdered) sugar
180g ground almonds
30g cocoa powder
160g of egg whites (split into two batches of 80g)
200g of caster sugar
For the ganache
200g white chocolate
200g double (heavy) cream
3 heaped tablespoons of soft brown sugar
Set your oven to 150deg C fan / 170deg C electric.
Put the ground almonds and icing sugar into a food processor and blitz until superfine. Add the cocoa and cinnamon and blitz again. I use my hand held bamix and grinding mill attachment for this.
Break up any big lumps that have formed and sift into a large mixing bowl. Throw away any bits too large to fit through the seive.
Add one batch of egg whites and mix until a thick paste forms.
Put the caster sugar and water into a saucepan and boil until the sugar thermometer hits 110deg. As soon as temperature reaches 110deg C, whip your egg whites until stiff peaks form. Get the sugar syrup off the heat as soon as temperature hits 118deg C
You know your egg whites are stiff enough when you can hold the bowl upside down above your head and the whites stay put !
Using a hand held or stand mixer, whip the egg whites and add in the sugar syrup in a slow stream. Take care to try and keep the sugar syrup from coming into direct contact with the beaters (or the syrup may crystallise and change the texture). Keep whipping until the italian meringue is cool, stiff and glossy.
Mix about 1/3 of this into your paste of icing sugar, ground almonds, egg whites etc we already made to loosen in.
Fold in the remaining 2 /3rds. Make sure to incorporate it all fully. You want to mix it enough so that a ribbon of macaronage will start to disappear back into the bowl after about 30 seconds. If it doesn't fold another couple of times and try again. I reckon it takes about 25 full strokes (variable)
Once the macaronage is ready, put into a piping bag fitted with a plain tip. I like to use a 5mm nozzle for optimum control. I sometimes use a 10mm (1cm) tip - but the batter can flow a bit too fast, especially if you are using the small side of the mat.
Unfortuantely, I cannot pipe and take photos at the same time. Hopefully, I might have a macaron fanatic blogger friend that is good at photography too and might like to do some photos for me. If that sounds like you - do let me know !
Put the macaron mats on to baking trays.
Pipe the macaronage into the centre of each cell - leaving approx 3 > 4mm space around the outside of the batter to the cell walls to allow for expansion as they relax. You will only need to leave about 2mm on the smaller side. Once you've got the hang of it and made your first batch, you'll know what's right for you. Pipe in too much and it will overflow the cell walls.
If the macaronage is not dead centre, wet your finger and this will allow you to centre it. Handy trick whilst you get the hang of piping them centrally !
Rap the tray once or twice on your worktop to dispel any air bubbles and level the macaronage. Don't worry if not so level - they'll smooth out in the oven.
If you wish to add any edible glitter or sprinkles to the top of your macarons, do so now.
All macaron instructions I've ever seen involved leaving your macarons out for about 30mins to 1hour until a skin forms on the top before baking. Dr Tim Kinnaird was good enough to share a tip with me that I've used ever since.....
Simply pop the baking tray straight into the oven at 150deg C Fan, BUT leave the door open about 6" / 150mm for the first 5 minutes to dry off the tops. After that, shut the door to complete baking.
Baking time can be variable. I find in my oven that 2" / 50mm macarons always take 18mins to cook (excluding the first 5 mins with the door open) and the 30mm macarons take 13mins (excluding the first 5 mins with the door open)
When done, they should look like this when you remove from the oven. Out of this batch of macarons, I had not one with a cracked shell and all matched up size wise beautifully with the others.
Slide the mat from the tray on to a worktop and leave until TOTALLY cool before attempting to remove from the mat.
Macarons will be impossible to remove from the mat (or baking paper etc) if under cooked.
With silicone, general rules of baking as with any non-stick bakeware apply. Where there is a higher or equal sugar to fat content, always grease and flour before use, otherwise, your cake mix is likely to weld itself to any surface ! When making macarons however, you really DON'T want to grease or flour. I've found that every two or three uses, rubbing a tiny bit of cake release or vegetable fat rubbed into the mat seals the pores and makes a massive difference. You don't want it greasy or oily for macarons. You only want the tiniest tiniest bit so that after rubbing in it literally is invisible and totally dry to the touch.
This is a macaron peeled straight off the mat. I was too impatient and these were still a little warm. You will always get a little residue on the mats when they lift off, but this one had a little more than most (see bottom of cell in photo) as was still a touch warm. I left the rest another 5 > 10mins before removing.
For the ganache :
Put the white chocolate in a bowl
Add the cinnamon to the double cream and bring to a boil to scald. Add the sugar and stir to dissolve.
Pour the hot cream mixture over the chocolate and stir until the chocolate fully melts. Allow to cool, and then chill in the refrigerator for around 1 hour until firm enough to pipe between your shells.
For packaging, I rolled two pieces of fancy card around a rolling pin. I let the the first spring out enough in my hand to allow a macaron to slide down the centre of the tube. I then secured with double sided tape. I made a second, just a microscopic amount larger and secured again with double sided tape and some fancy ribbon.
I then made a cello wrap sleeve to go over the first tube. I put the macarons down tube 1, which made an easy job of packaging the macs into the cello wraps and tied at the top. The cello wrap was then small enough to fit inside the pretty outer sleeve. This way, you can make bespoke packaging any size and colour you wish.
More macarons coming soon !
Sarah-Jane Nash, www.siliconemoulds.com - January 2012