Macarons can be temperamental. To say the least. In my first post on the subject I advised not even thinking about making them if there was even the threat of rain; that they are a fair weather patisserie.
But what if that needn’t be the case?
Now we are in the depths of winternd the chance of rain an almost daily threat a new way is needed.
And I think I’ve found it.
Before macarons are baked the shells are left to dry slightly, forming a skin on top which lifts up, without cracking, when baked leaving you with a smooth top and wrinkly feet. If the shell is too damp when it enters the oven it will crack- no smooth top, no wrinkly feet.
So what is the rainy day answer?
Use your oven. Genius!
I found this idea in Dr Tim Kinnard’s book Perfecting Patisserie and it’s a dream. Preheat the oven to 150, pop your just piped shells in, turn the oven off, leave for 10mins, turn it back on again and 10mins later, hey presto shinny tops, wrinkly feet. Amazing!
Well almost. However good fan ovens claim to be at dispersing heat they aren’t perfect which will affect the degree to which your shells dry out before being baked again. I used three trays, one on a shelf above the other two- the ones on top were great, the ones directly beneath even better, but those hanging out the sides were a cracked mess.
The solution? I have had a few ideas… I did think about putting the lower layer in first for a couple of minutes before adding they top but the reduction in heat over this time with the door being open and shut risks the oven being too cool to dry out the added top layer and starting with the oven much hotter risks cracking the first ones in. So what do I intend to do? Easy. Swap the layers around, two on top, one on he bottom. As long as no lower layers are left hanging out on their own I should be ok. Oh or just buy two evenly sized oven wide trays. Wouldn’t that be simpler.
The other thing to note; as with all recipes the required temperature will vary slightly depending on your oven. It has to be a little trial and error I’m afraid! And if your oven isn’t fan assisted? I probably would put that lower layer in for a couple of minutes first.
The flavour combination comes from Pierre Hermé and it is the most fantastic grouping. The rose lifts the litchi’s flavour rather than overpowering it and the raspberry centre is a delicious surprise in the centre. After many failed attempts at the litchi and rose ganache that refused to set I have settled on the ratios below which work for me – more chocolate less cream! The recipe calls for tinned litchis which are not only cheaper than their fresh cousins but also have a slightly heightened flavour. As for the raspberry middles the original recipe called for raspberry jelly which I have substituted for raspberry jam in mine- the former took an awfully long time to make and I must say the latter was a more noticeable addition.
Makes 30 macarons
For the macarons
Adapted from Perfecting Patisserie by Tim Kinnaird
150g ground almonds
140g icing sugar
50g egg white
140g granulated sugar
50g egg white
- Preheat the oven to 150°C
- Blitz the ground almonds in a food processor, sieve and weigh out 140g, discarding the larger lumps left over
- Mix the icing sugar and ground almonds and sieve again into another bowl to ensure it is as smooth as possible
- Colour the first batch of egg whites and pour over the almond/ sugar mixture but do not stir
- Add the granulated sugar to a pan with the water and gently heat, stirring carefully (wiping any granules of sugar off the side of the pan with a wet pastry brush) until all the sugar has dissolved. Turn up the heat to high and leave to boil (without stirring) until it reaches 118°C
- Meanwhile, as the sugar is beginning to boil whisk the egg whites to soft peaks
- Once the sugar has reached 118°C pour it in a steady stream onto the whisking (medium speed) egg whites. (You want the sugar to land just to the side of the whisk- try not to land it on the metal as it will form sugar crystals, nor too far up the side of the bowl as it will cool too much before it hits the egg whites)
- Continue whisking these until they have cooled (the bowl will still feel warm but not as hot as it was)- this is your Italian meringue
- Spoon a third of the meringue onto the almond mixture and mix in. Once it is all combined add the remaining meringue a spoonful at a time folding in and gently pressing down to remove some of the air. Do not over mix- it should be the consistency of a thick cake batter and bumps should reduce to almost nothing in 10-15secs – too much mixing though will make it runny and make piping the macarons very difficult.
- Spoon the mixture into a piping bag fitted with a large plain nozzle and pipe into 1inch rounds on baking paper on a metal baking tray. (To help you can draw around a coin, leaving an inch between each circle, turn the paper over and pipe onto this, leaving a little room for mixture to spread out slightly as it settles)
- Pop the trays in your oven and turn it off, leave for 10mins and turn it back on to 150C and bake for another 10mins. To check if they are cooked or not give one a slight push to check it is no longer stuck to the baking paper- if they seem very stuck leave them a minute or two longer
- Remove from the over, slide the baking paper off the tray onto your table and leave to cool before at least 10mins before attempting to peel off the paper
For the lychee and rose ganache
Adapted from ‘Macaron’ by Pierre Hermé
200g white chocolate
100g tinned lychées, pureed and sieved
20ml double cream
- Melt the chocolate over simmering water
- Warm the cream and lychee purée to just below simmering and mix into the chocolate
- Stir in the rosewater, pour into a clean dish and leave to cool
4tbsp raspberry jam
- Spoon the raspberry jam and lychee and rose ganache into separate piping bags
- Match macaron shells into pairs if they aren’t evenly sized
- Pipe a round of ganache around the edge of each shell and fill with raspberry jam
- Carefully press the tops onto the ganached macaron shells
- Store the assembled macarons in the fridge for at least 24 hours, preferably 48 hours so that the flavours can develop