I’m having a macaron moment, I just can’t stop making them. I am determined to perfect my recipe, to make flawless macarons every time.
I’m definitely not at flawless yet but these were definitely progress!
The first challenge of making macarons is the wrinkly feet because without those they would just be colourful biscuits. Thankfully this is a part I seem to have worked out. For macarons to have these prized feet the piped the tops of the shells need to dry out before they are baked, if they haven’t the heat from the oven will cause them to crack on top. Perhaps slightly counter intuitively I use my oven to dry the shells by heating it up and turning it off as soon as they go in – odd yes, but super simple and it works every time.
My next challenge is the air gap in the shell. When making macarons you want the whole shell to be full of mixture and for it not to be hollow, because if it is hollow when you bite into it the top of the shell will crack and fall off making it rather messy to eat. From my experience the air gap is caused by too much air in the mixture, when the meringue hasn’t been fully beaten into the almonds. Although of course you don’t want the piped batter to run across your baking tray the mix does need to be quite fluid; certainly more fluid than I was comfortable with when I first starting making macarons.
As for the ganache, again, it needs to be quite fluid. For the macarons to soften over their day or two of rest they need to absorb moisture from the middle and too firm a filling won’t allow this. When I first starting making macarons I reduced the amount of cream in recipes thinking professionals were only adding the amount they were to stop us mere mortals succeeding – they weren’t – they were right. For this recipe I find leaving the ganache in the fridge for 30 minutes or so enough to thicken it for piping; it is still pretty soft at this stage so I pop the filled shells straight back into the fridge to stop the shells sliding apart.
Now I just wish I had made a larger batch!
Makes 20 macarons
For the macarons
Adapted from Perfecting Patisserie by Tim Kinnaird
100g ground almonds
100g icing sugar
37g egg white
100g caster sugar
37g egg white
Green colouring (preferably gel/ paste)
- Preheat the oven to 140°C
- Blitz the ground almonds in a food processor to make them as fine as possible, being careful not to over blitz and turn them oily.
- Add the icing sugar and first portion of egg whites to the almonds, but do not stir
- Add the caster 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 the meringue has cooled and is thickening. Just before it has reached stiff peaks whisk in the food colouring. Continue whisking until the meringue has formed stiff peaks (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 beat 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. Stop when the mix is just starting to flow evenly, without breaking, off a raised spatula
- Spoon the mixture into a piping bag fitted with a large plain nozzle (1cm) and pipe into 3cm 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). Trap the tray on your work bench to remove any air bubbles
- Pop the trays in your oven and turn it off, leave for 12mins and turn it back on to 140C and bake for another 15mins. 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 oven, slide the baking paper off the tray onto your table and leave to cool for at least 20mins before attempting to peel off the paper (The longer you leave them the easier it will be)
For the pistachio ganache
Adapted from ‘Macaron’ by Pierre Hermé
25g pistachio paste or whole pistachios
150g white chocolate
150ml double cream
- If using whole pistachios blitz these to as fine a powder/paste as you can
- Melt the chocolate in a pan over simmering water
- Warm the cream and pistachios until it just begins to steam and mix into the chocolate
- Pour into a clean dish and leave to cool
- Spoon the ganache into a piping bag with a round nozzle
- Match macaron shells into pairs if they aren’t evenly sized
- Pipe ganache onto the underside of half of the shells
- 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 and the shells soften (I refrigerate them overnight and then leave out of the fridge)