I am so excited to bring you this post today because it’s been something I’ve been working on for months! I have FINALLY mastered the macaron – well, at least to a point where I am happy to blog about them! You may remember my previous attempt which wasn’t amazing, but since then I have literally made over 20 batches of macarons, tweaking things here and there to get them just right.
There are a lot of things that can affect the outcome of your macarons – the accuracy of your oven, the bumps of your oven tray, or even the humidity outside. I’ve done by best to give you any tips and tricks I have discovered along the way, but it really is a case of trial and error I’m afraid. The hardest part is getting the consistancy of the batter right – try checking out some YouTube videos if you are unsure.
I’ve made many batches for friends and family over the last few months, in all different colours and flavours (my workmates have been exceptionally well looked after). Over the weekend though, I went to a Christmas BBQ for my gym Nexus Personal Training and was asked to bring a plate of food. I decided to attempt some ‘Nexus branded’ macarons – blue macarons with splatters to resemble the splatters of the Nexus logo. I made a batch of blue macarons and dabed each with a little extra blue dye. It may not have been the smartest idea, as it turned all the guests mouths blue, but they looked great and everyone had a good laugh about it. Feel free to skip this step and make plain macarons without the splatters. Otherwise, make sure you go easy on the blue dye!
150g almond meal
150g pure icing sugar
150g caster sugar
1 tsp blue food dye, plus extra
110g egg white, divided in half
- Measure out all your ingredients – it’s important you have everything ready.
- Spray 3 baking trays with oil and line with baking paper. Make sure your baking paper is completely smooth as any lumps and bumps will affect your macarons.
- In a food processor, process almond meal and icing sugar until smooth, about 1 minute. Working with 3 tbsp at a time, sift the mixture into a large bowl. Use the side of your hand to tap the sifter, and scrape the insides with the back of a spoon to make sure all the mixture is gone before adding more. If you don’t do this, you will clog your sifter and need to start again. Also, ensure your sifter is BONE dry before sifting as any drop of water will clog the holes. If your sifter is slightly wet, pop it in warm oven (provided it is metal!) for a couple of minutes to dry off.
- Once your almond meal and icing sugar is sifted, add in half of the egg whites and mix together until you have a smooth paste.
- Place the other half of the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer with a whisk attachment and beat on medium until just frothy.
- Place the caster sugar, water and food dye in a small saucepan. Don’t add too much blue dye otherwise you will turn your guests tongues blue. Using a candy thermometer, bring the sugar to 118C. With the motor running, carefully pour the blue sugar mix into the frothy egg whites. Continue beating for 8 minutes until you have a thick meringue.
- Add a spoonful of the meringue to the almond meal paste and using a spatula, mix well to loosen it up. Don’t worry about being gentle, just make sure it’s well mixed. Add the remaining meringue, and using a spatula, gently fold through until evenly mixed.
- This next step is where a lot of people get it wrong: you need to ensure your mixture is the right consistancy. Scoop a little of the mixture onto your spatula and gently drop it back into the bowl – any folds or bumps should begin to disappear back into the mixture after 10 seconds. If you can still clearly see the folds, give the mixture a few more stirs with the spatula and repeat this process until the consistancy is right.
- Spoon the mixture into a piping bag with a 7mm plain nozzle. Hold the piping bag about 1.5cm above the lined baking tray and pipe straight down to make 4cm rounds, leaving about 3cm between each. As you finish piping each macaron, flick the nozzle from left to right to stop any peaks forming. Don’t worry if you can’t perfect the technique, as the peaks should slowly melt away as they rest. If you are left with a little ‘nipple’, it means your mixture is too thick.
- Once all your macarons are piped, leave the trays in a cool, drafty area for 30-60 minutes to form a skin. This skin is what gives the macarons their ‘feet’ or the little bubbly edges at the base of each shell. Waiting time will depend on the humidity in the room – the more humid it is, the longer you should wait. You can tell if they are ready is they have lossed their glossiness, and if they are no longer sticky to the touch.
- While you are waiting, preheat your oven to 135C. If like me you oven tends to burn things, you may need to reduce the temperature slightly to prevent your macarons browning (I cook mine at 110C but 135C is what Adriano Zumbo recommends). You will need to play around to get the correct temperature – too hot and your macarons will brown, to cool and they won’t form feet.
- After 30 minutes of waiting, dab some kitchen towel with a little extra food dye and gently dab onto macarons. Do this sparingly, as the blue dye will give your guests blue mouths! You can always skip this step if you like. Leave the macarons for at least another 10 minutes or until they have formed their skin.
- When your macarons have formed their skin, bake for 16 minutes until they have a firm outer shell. To test if they are ready, carefully peel off one macaron from the baking paper – it should come away cleanly without sticking. If not, return to the oven for another 2-3 minutes and repeat this process.
- When ready, remove shells from oven and allow to cool for 2 minutes. Gently peel your macaron shells from the baking paper and allow to cool completely before pairing them according to size.
150g thin cream
200g dark chocolate, chopped
60g unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tbsp whisky
1 tbsp instant coffee, dissolved in 1tbsp boiling water
- Place the cream in a saucepan over low heat and bring almost to the boil. Remove from heat and add chocolate. Stir though until melted.
- Add the remaining ingredients and stir until smooth. If you still have lumps, return to the heat for a minute or so until any lumps have melted. Let the mixture cool and thicken (you can place the mixture in the fridge to speed up this process, but make sure you stir it often to prevent lumps).
- Once the ganache is thick enough to hold it’s shape (like thick cream), transfer to a piping bag. Pipe the ganache on the flat side of half the macaron shells until about 8mm from the edge. Top with the remaining shells and carefully press down until the ganache spreads to the edges.
- Place the macarons in the fridge for at least 24-48 hours before serving. You need to give your macarons time to mature, otherwise they will be crispy rather than chewy.
*Depending on how many you loose along the way!
And another picture because I am so proud 😉