Are you fed up yet of my current obsession with baking macarons ? I found I ADORE making the colourful shiny shells with the pretty ruffled feet. Not etting them all exactly the same size used to annoy me somewhat - so that's why I designed my own DOUBLE SIDED MACARON MAT.
The recipe for the macarons shells is more or less the same as my other macaron recipes and the cooking times I have given are what I've found suit my oven when baking on the mats. Because you are baking on a mat and on top of a tray, cooking time is a little longer than normal. Also, make sure they are totally cooled before peeling them off your mat. These ones could have done with an extra minute. They come off easily when done (and cooled). If you undercook and they are really gooey / sticky, shove them back in the oven for a few minutes to dry out some more. You will need to practice and find out the best cooking time / temperature in your own oven.
Yes - these photos were nothing elaborate - just a pile of coffee beans and a few macarons sat on top of some black fabric...
Ingredients - STANDARD Italian Meringue Method and amounts
(for pictorial guide blog post, see here )
200g icing (powdered) sugar
200g ground almonds
180g of egg whites (split into two batches of 90g)
200g of caster sugar
To flavour and colour the shells, I used 3 TABLESPOONS of Camp Chicory and Coffee Essence. I used the same stuff in this recipe. The macronage looked quite pale in colour, but where food colouring normally lightens during cooking, these to my delight got brighter !
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. 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 sieve. Add one batch of egg whites, gel paste food colouring (about 3 times the amount you think you need !) 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.
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, dampen 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)
Remove from oven and allow to cool fully before attempting to remove from the macaron sheets. Our revolutionary double sided macaron sheets are now also available in a commercial size for bakery ovens.
I used two fillings for my macarons. First of all, I piped some Nutella in a ring on top of the shells and then I put a teaspoon of white chocolate ganache with added vanilla seeds to the centre. Assembled as above on my photo table when I got to work !
For the Ganache :
Heat 75ml of double cream and bring almost to the boil.
Remove from the heat and pour on to 125g of chopped Belgian white chocolate. Add the seeds of 1/2 a vanilla pod. Stir until all the chocolate has melted and then refrigerate until piping or spooning consistency.
I think these shells would work really well with salted caramel filling too.
As Oliver said this morning "Scrummy, yummy in my tummy !"
Sarah-Jane Nash - www.siliconemoulds.com , February 2012