Lemon macarons with lemony white chocolate ganache filling
I've been itching to share news on this for a while.... and I guarantee it will be new to all of you.
Macarons are the most wonderful little almondy meringue cookies with a chewy centre - often recognised in leading patisseries for their little ruffled feet and being displayed in a wide range of often lurid colours. They are notorious for being hard to make (which actually is not true). Macaroons on the other hand are normally little coconut cookie moulds.... which I really must get round to making again soon.
The real problems in making macarons lie in the mixing - mixing too much, not mixing long enough and also in the baking times. I was very lucky and my first ever batch turned out really well. Since then, I've had many successes and a few failed batches which have taught me valuable lessons in baking macarons along the way.
One thing that really irritated me was the fact that I did not have enough oven space to bake an entire batch of macarons at one time. My big bug bear was getting them all exactly the same diameter. The OCD in me (obsessive compulsive disorder) was finding a way to get ALL my macarons exactly the same size !
The accepted way for pastry chefs to do this is by drawing circles out on a piece of baking paper, turning it over and then piping on the reverse. You need to leave about 2" / 50mm between the macarons as once the mix is piped it will spread. It's a darn good idea and most macarons will be near enough the same size once you get the hang of it. However, me being me, I had my digital calipers out measuring every macaron to make sure they were absolutely the same size to within quarter of a mm before pairing them together.
I found that the perfect size for macarons (in my opinion) is 50mm..... but I also like teeny weeny ones too !
Don't worry - I'll share my various macaron recipes very soon.
NOW - WHAT YOU ARE GOING TO SEE IS A NEW DESIGN CONCEPT.
(This product is patented to us and these will be available for sale from early next month.) At the moment, I have the only two in existence and have been using them LOTS with superb results every time.
Dr Tim Kinnaird of Macarons and More has kindly assisted me in initial testings before product development. He'll be getting the very first one available as soon as they arrive, and we'll be launching them at the SPRING FAIR trade show at the NEC in Birmingham next month.
I've designed a DOUBLE SIDED MACARON MAT. The mat is 300mm x 300mm and fits on a standard cookie sheet. Cookie sheets are widely available from all baking shops and most supermarkets at a low price - generally around £2.99 in the UK. If you want to splash out, I can personally recommend the slightly bigger (about 14" square) Bakingenius vegetable roasting tray from Lakeland (as shown below) which is far more robust.
This is what it looks like on a baking tray. What you do is pipe your macaronage (macaron batter) into the centre of each cell until about 3/4 full (leaving a gap of about 5mm right round the mix). The cells have a very tiny marked rim. As the macaronage spreads after piping, it should just get to the edges of each cell and give your macaron a perfect shape and size. It does take a batch or two practise piping and get it perfect every time.
This is what they looked like piped. The little ringed cells mean you can pipe more macarons on one baking sheet. On top of that, it's reusable too !
The large side makes 25 x 50mm / 2" macaron shells. See the picture below for a close up view, before they go in the oven.
THIS IS THE VERY FIRST BATCH OF MACARONS I MADE ON OUR NEW PROTOTYPE MAT !
Here is what they look like baked - ok - a couple of slightly wonky ones, but it WAS my first attempt !
These ones were peppermint and I filled them with white chocolate ganache
I so wanted to share these photos and this recipe at Christmas - but I've had to wait. It's impossible to explain how hard it's been to keep a secret !
As if that is not enough, don't forget, our mats are double sided.
YES ! Flip it over, and you can use the other side to make little mini macs.
The other side lets you make SIXTY FOUR mini macaron shells ! This picture shows the mat on a 12" square cookie sheet.
I've found that one batch of macaron mix lets me make two sheets worth of macarons. Even better - make two batches and flip your sheets over to use the other side too before you bother washing up.
This is what 64 mini shells look like.... almost the same size as a two pence piece.
These were chocolate with dark chocolate orange ganache filling. Oh - and if you spotted an EDIBLE GIFT TAG..... you might have a clue at what else is coming very soon !
The double sided macaron mats will also be available in double size - ie 600 x 300mm (50 shell one side, 128 shell on the other) to suit larger commercial ovens.
All comments and shares are very welcome. I'm really excited about my new product design and will be giving a few away on arrival to some bloggers for product testing and reviews.
Happy Baking !
Sarah-Jane Nash, January 2012