I became obsessed with making macarons while watching an episode of MasterChef Australia. But these were techniques I had never used before so I needed to get my nerve up. Shortly after seeing this I was watching an American cooking show where they were making Italian Meringue Buttercream Frosting. This was the first I’d heard of this frosting and it sounded really yummy. Still, I had never been very successful with meringues and had only used them on pies and to make angel food cakes.
So I started by reading blogs about the frostings and then I started my research on the macarons. I read many recipes and many blogs. My favorite is from Not Quite Nigella
because it gives great images and lots of little tips.
Make the Italian meringue by combining water and caster sugar in a saucepan over medium heat and cook till 121°c (250° F). Use a heavy saucepan with a lid and balance your thermometer on the side so that it doesn’t touch the bottom. Place the lid on, leaving a small opening for steam to escape. This will prevent the sugar from crystallizing on the side of the pan.
Begin whipping 55 grams of the egg whites and the powdered egg white to a stiff peak in a standing mixer fitted with the wire whip attachment set to high speed. When the whites are at stiff peak you have a meringue. It’s important to use the powdered egg whites to get your macaron to raise and set properly.
When the sugar reaches temperature slowly add hot sugar syrup to egg white while beating continuously. When pouring, keep your eye on the bowl. Aim for the space between the mixer bowl and the revolving wire whip. To maintain the same rate of pouring, pour slowly and raise the saucepan from your shoulder. Continue whipping until thoroughly combined and shiny and the mixture has cooled.
Sift almond flour, icing sugar and fruit powder together. For a really smooth cookie place the dry ingredients in the food processor and blend until smooth. Add the other 55 grams of egg whites and mix thoroughly.
Mix into Italian meringue, stir until combined. In a folding motion slap the mixture to knock out the air.
Spoon the mixture into a large piping bag fitted with a smooth round tip about 1/2″ in diameter.
On a heavy baking sheet lined with parchment paper pipe the macarons into even circles about 2″ in diameter.
I wet the tip of my finger on some of my macarons and dabbed the little peak. This created a flatter surface and did not affect the finished product.
Leave macarons to air dry until they form a skin on the surface. The surface of the macaron will not be as shiny as originally piped.
I use a heavy professional baking sheet but if you have a thin one place another tray under the macaroon tray (double tray). Once the skin has formed place macarons (on double tray) in a 200°c (400° F) preheated oven and turn off the oven for 6 minutes.
Turn the oven on to 160°c (320° F) and cook until macaron is able to be lifted from tray (macaron should be still soft to touch underneath).
Cool completely before filling.
Source: Adapted from Adriano Zumbo, Masterchef Australia
While the macarons are resting and baking you can make the filling. In a standing mixer fitted with a whisk, mix together sugar and butter. Mix on low speed until well blended and then increase speed to medium and beat for another 3 minutes.
Add fruit powder and cream and continue to beat on medium speed for 1 minute more, adding more cream if needed for spreading consistency.
Sort your cookies by matching sides so they fit into nice even little sandwiches. Fill a piping bag fitted with a round tip and pipe into centers of cookies.
I didn’t fill my cookies right away, I just stored them in an airtight container and kept the buttercream in the refrigerator. These were such a hit with my husband that he would take the containers and sit in front of the TV filling them and eating them endlessly. He says they’re very addicting. My 20-month old granddaughter just likes to eat them without the filling.
I also filled some of my strawberry macarons and put them in the refrigerator since one of the blogs said that the macaron will absorb the flavor and taste better. The problem with that is that the macaron loses it’s crunch and we like the crispness of the cookie. Of course it’s hard to get them from being filled to the refrigerator because Ken will eat them as fast as I fill them.
I filled a couple of my Almond Macarons with salted caramel and found that the flavor of my salted caramel overwhelmed the delicate flavor of the macaron. The chocolate ganache goes very well in the strawberry or almond. You can use any combination of flavors with the fruit powders or you can leave them out and just have almond.
This recipe is best made by using the weight because so many of the ingredients vary when measured in a cup. My recipe uses the metric measurements because the best ones I found to follow come from chef’s in other countries. The dry ingredients can be off based on how they are packed in a cup. Egg whites are different based on the size of the eggs. But beat your egg whites slightly with a whisk to break them up. Otherwise they can be difficult to measure by weight.
Most goods kitchen scale measure in both grams and ounces so it’s not an issue to convert. I do seem to be finding more and more recipes I like in metric and I’ve started weighing the ingredients for the recipes I’m creating with the metric setting.