I admit it. I'm a macaron (not macaroon) addict. It's more so the process of making them than eating them to be fair. Saying that, those blueberry and lemon ones and the chocolate and coconut macarons take some beating and are truly delicious.
These were nice. They were minty and creamy and smooth.... and crispy and chewy.... and I didn't want to share them.
Truth be known, it wasn't because I wanted to sit down and eat a whole plate load unlike a few of the others I've previously made. It was just because they were so damn pretty !
I could easily have sat and looked at these and smiled all day long..... that's when you know you're a baking addict.....
They even looked awesome just piped (before baking) on my double sided macaron mat.
The actual macaron recipe was no different from any other macaron shell ingredients.
I used my standard macaron shell recipe and the Italian method as you can find on this earlier blog post, except I used a tsp of peppermint extract instead of orange extract to flavour the shells.
I wanted a candy cane twist effect and it took a little thinking on how to achieve it before I began.
If you have never made macarons before, start with a basic single colour shell and have a go at this once you've got to grips with the basic method.
HOW TO !
You will need some VIOLET / PURPLE and RED gel paste food colourings and a cocktail stick. Note that you need the gel paste types and not liquid. I was looking for a near white macaron shell with really red markings.
Well - if you have made plain macarons before with no colouring, you will be well aware that they will turn out a creamy colour at best - and more likely have slightly darker tinged edges. If you cook macarons of any colour at too high a temperature, the edges will fade or discolour. I've also found that lemon oil extract does that too.
So exactly what did I want Violet / Purple gel paste for ?
Well - the reason is simple. Violet neutralises yellow. That's why old ladies use a purple shampoo to make their hair white.
The almonds have a yellowness to them as do raw egg whites. When you mix up the initial paste for first stage macarons, you will see it's a kind of pale yellow colour. Well - baking that won't make it white will it !
If you add the tiniest tiniest amount of violet gel paste to buttercream icing you can make it white. Don't believe me ? I blogged about it here last summer. It's important only to add a teeny weeny bit at a time, otherwise it gets a greyish hue. That can be counteracted with buttercream by adding a bit more butter.
It's pretty much the same with macarons. Add a tiny tiny bit of violet to the macaron paste and mix it in. Add very very tiny amounts using your cocktail stick at a time and mix each time thoroughly before deciding to add more. Eventually it will just happen. The macaron paste is NOT going to turn white - but it significantly lightens / removes the yellowness by a surprising amount. I'd suggest keeping a 1/2 teaspoon of the original paste aside as a comparison.
When you have colour corrected as much as you dare, continue by making the sugar syrup and then adding this in the normal way to your egg whites - and then folding in to the almond paste. It's going to look pretty much white by this time.
To get the candy cane stripe effect, take a small artists paint brush and liberally paint stripes of red gel paste inside your piping bag. Don't be scared of the food colouring here. About 5 is right - no more than 6. Make sure you keep the bag open and do not let it close - otherwise the stripes will smudge.
Load the piping bag with the macaronage and pipe out your macarons either on to one of our macaron silicone baking mats (which have a different size of macaron cells on either side) or on to some baking parchment.
You will need to pipe directly from above and not from the side to get this effect.
When you get to the end of the piping bag, wash it out and then repeat the steps for the candy cane effect.
To bake set the oven to 160deg C. Put the macs in for 5 minutes, with the door ajar. This step cuts out the need to let them sit for 30mins and let a skin form.
After 5 mins, shut the door and turn temperature DOWN to 120deg C. This is a much lower temperature than normal, but helps preserve the colour. You will need to cook your macs for approx 30 mins.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool totally before attempting to remove from the silicone baking sheet. As long as they are properly cooked and cooled, they can be removed very easily from the mat.
Happy Baking and Happy Easter to all !