“God comes to the hungry in the form of food.” – Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948) Preeminent Leader of Indian Nationalism
To my delight and surprise the original macaron was created back in the 1500’s by the ITALIANS! (Of course!) Yet, sandwiching the macarons together with an assortment of mouth- watering fillings was later developed in the early 20th century by the French. Thanks to the iconic, famous Patisserie Chef Pierre Herme and many other well experienced French Patisserie Chef’s the world has gone macaron crazy for these delicious little morsels. With a crisp, crunchy outside and chewy inside meringue the macaron can be filled with endless possibilities ranging from jams, fresh fruits, fruity buttercreams to caramel, chocolate, hazelnut or white chocolate flavoured ganache. You can sandwich them with sorbet’s, ice-cream or flavoured cream cheese fillings. They can be round, heart shaped or made into a large disc and filled with crème patisserie and topped with seasonal fruit. Once you get the hang of a few important principles the rest is up to you and your imagination. Almond Flour (meal) is used but after you gain more confidence you can substitute with Hazelnut Meal and experiment with other nut flours, also I like to add a little fruit powder for extra flavour. Fruit powders are either spray or freeze dried and can be purchased at Essential Ingredient or from the Melbourne Food Ingredient Depot.
There are two main methods in making macarons. There is the French method (which gives more of a shine on top) and the Italian method, (it has a more dull finish on the top). And until recently I discovered another fantastic method by using only pure 100% Albumen Powder (pure egg white powder, absolutely no additives), with great success.
Still the most popular is the Italian method as it allows more room for error than the French method. There are a few important points to ensure your macarons are a success, once you know these essential steps you will have a great result every time. What a great way to spoil family and friends, they will certainly love you for it!
Italian Macaron Ingredients:
120g egg whites, at room temperature
35g caster sugar
150g almond meal
150g PURE icing sugar…(not icing mixture)
¼ tsp cream of tartar
1/8 tsp salt
1g egg white powder (optional)
A desired amount of food colouring GEL PASTE…(better than using liquid food colouring)
150g caster sugar
- Preheat oven to 150 degrees C – make sure you DON’T use a fan-forced setting.
- Put the almond meal and pure icing sugar in a food processor and mix for roughly a minute until the almond meal is fine. Then sift into a large bowl and mix in 60g of the egg white to form a paste, set aside.
- Put sugar and water in a saucepan on medium heat to make the sugar syrup. Insert a thermometer. When the thermometer reaches 110 degrees C, in a separate mixing bowl add the salt and cream of tartar to the remaining egg whites (60g) and optional egg white powder and mix on medium until foamy then add the remaining caster sugar gradually. Do not over mix at this stage.
- Once the sugar syrup has reached 118 degrees C and the egg whites are ready, slowly pour the hot syrup down the side of the mixer while whisking the egg whites on medium speed. Continue to mix for approximately 10 minutes or until the meringue has cooled. (The mixing bowl should feel slightly warm). Add the desired amount of food colouring gel paste.
- Fold the almond mixture into the cooled meringue, (using a pastry scraper). Keep folding till you see the mixture is glossy, shiny and has the consistency of oozy lava.
- Using a pastry bag with a fitted one cm plain nozzle, pipe the macaron batter into even circles on a baking tray lined with baking paper, leaving 5cm between each one. A silicone baking mat is even better if you have one.
- Tap the baking tray on the bench firmly a couple of times to release any air bubbles as the bubbles can cause the macarons to explode.
- Allow them to dry and no longer have a shine as this will help to form the famous “foot” on the macaron. You should be able to gently touch the top of them and it should not be sticky. This takes about 20 to 30 minutes depending on humidity.
- Bake the macarons on the centre shelf in the oven and cook for approximately 12 to 15 minutes checking to see if they are dry, if they are soft and the sides are still wet leave the macarons for a couple of more minutes but making sure they don’t discolour.
- When ready take them out of the oven and allow the macarons to cool on the baking tray and gently remove. If difficult to remove just pop the macarons in the freezer for 10 minutes then carefully peel off from the baking paper.
- You can store the macarons in the freezer until you are ready to fill them. Once you have filled them then keep in the fridge.
- Makes approximately 24 macaron discs. Enjoy!