My name is Sarah-Jane and I'm addicted to baking macarons.
It's a fairly recent affliction since I received the prototype of my new design macaron mat. It's taken a little practice in cooking times to suit my oven and piping technique, but I can confidently knock out batch after batch of identical looking macarons from my oven.
I recently used a friend's oven to make some macarons and did find the cooking time varied a little in her oven (needed another minute or two) - so you may need to adjust your cooking time and temperature as you find appropriate.
Don't believe me ? Here you are !
50 identical macaron shells ready to come out of the oven. I'm really pleased with how level the tops came out. I managed to stack nine pairs (that's 18 shells) on top of each other (pre filling) before they fell over. It had to be done. Just because.
If you've ever tried stacking macarons before, you'll realise that 4 or 5 pairs is about the limit.
The Revolutionary Double Sided Macaron Mats are now available at the introductory price of £9.99 each until end February
Ingredients - STANDARD Italian Meringue Method and amounts
(for pictorial guide blog post, see here )
(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 shells, I used 1 tsp orange oil extract (Sainsbury's Taste the Difference) added this at the same stage as the food colouring
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, 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)
For the filling, I adapted Astral's mallow recipe and the seville orange curd I made in my last blog post here : http://www.siliconemoulds.blogspot.com/2012/02/seville-orange-curd-and-sugar-top-buns.html
Mallow filling :
1 egg white
100g fine white sugar / caster sugar
1 Tablespoon golden syrup (Astral used much less)
1 tsp vanilla extract
Put all ingredients into a bowl over a pot of boiling water - making sure your bowl doesn't touch the water. Using a hand mixer, whisk at high speed until soft peaks form (about 9 mins). Remove from heat and continue to whisk until almost at firm peak stage.
Put into a piping bag and pipe a ring on top of half of the macaron shells. Put a good dollop of the seville orange curd in the middle of each ring and sandwich with another shell. The mallow wall is great at holding the curd in, so it can take a good amount of filling without squirting out the sides.
Do eat these the same day - they go rather soft by day 2 (even refrigerated), due to the curd filling.