Thursday, 12 December 2013

Mastering Macaroons

So I have had a few weeks off from blogging which have mainly been taken up with mastering french macaroons. Although they are notoriously finickety I decided to give them a go (and also rather naively to sell them for the big pink bake off!). The internet is full of loads of conflicting information about how to make macaroons, I've made about 150 in the last month so here is my tried and tested way. 

To make 8 medium macaroon shells you will need: 
50g ground almonds 
140g icing sugar
2 large egg whites
1 tbsp caster sugar
1 or 2 drops of food colouring paste (in your desired colour)

you will also need:
baking parchment, vinegar, baking tray, hand whisk and piping bag (and a lot of patience!) 

There are two key things to getting macaroons right, firstly don't try to cut corners (I normally guess with measurements but you have to be really accurate with these) and get everything prepared before you start making them. 

Begin the day before you want to make your macaroons by separating your eggs and keeping the whites in a clean container outside the fridge. If you forget to do this you can blast your egg whites in the microwave for 5 minutes but it is better to be prepared. The egg whites must be at room temperature for the macaroons to work so bring them out of the fridge a few hours early. 

I also prepare my baking paper in advance by drawing 16 circles on a sheet so that my macaroons come out same size (I drew round the bottom of a glass). You can print off a macaroon template but I think you can squeeze more onto a sheet if you draw them yourself - they don't spread whilst baking. 

Next you need to sieve and weigh your ground almonds and icing sugar (normally I wouldn't bother sieving but if you want a good consistency this is a must). I also dip a kitchen towel in a little vinegar and run it over all the equipment that I use as any grease at all will ruin the mixture. It is a good idea to have your piping bag set up and ready before beginning, I find a large circular tip is good (wilton 1A). Twist the end of the piping bag to prevent mixture spilling straight out and also stand the bag in measuring jug so you can easily put the mixture in. 

Now you are ready to begin whisking your egg whites, using an electric whisk on the high setting whisk until the egg whites become bubbly and you begin to see the whisk leaving a trace. Gradually add the tablespoon of accurately measured caster sugar over the next few minutes of whisking. Continue whisking until the egg whites are stiff enough to hold peaks when you lift the whisk out, the  egg whites will look creamy and dense with no bubbles at all. Compare you mixture throughout your whisking to this learn to make macaroons in 5 minutes video to see if it is correct. My general advise is that at this stage it is better to overwhisk than underwhisk. 

Now it is time to very gently fold in the dry ingredients and food colouring in, this is another stage where is is good to watch the learn to make macaroon video clip to get the correct consistency. If you undermix the ingredients then your shells will crack and if you overmix then they will go flat (I think overmixing is the better option!). Once you mixture is complete and the colour is uniform then carefully transfer it into your piping bag. While holding your piping bag vertical pipe straight down until the mixture has filled the circle and then pull up.

Once you have finished piping bang the baking tray on the counter a few times to bring the air bubbles to the surface. Now the macaroons need to be left to rest for about 30-40 minutes (as tempting as it is don't skip this step). You will know they are ready to go in the oven when you can gently touch the top of the shells with no mixture coming off on your finger. Preheat the oven to 180°c and cook your macaroons for ten minutes. If you are really struggling to get them off the greaseproof paper when they come out then give them another minute or two in the oven. 

Hopefully you will end up with macaroon shells that have the illusive foot. Then all you have to do is wait for them to cool, fill them with some delicious strawberry buttercream and try and restrain yourself from eating them all in one sitting. 

Happy baking xxx