The famed French macaron has almost overtaken the beloved cupcake in the sweet treat popularity stakes. Renowned for creating baking conundrums, perfecting macaron making can be quite the challenge. The key is to start off with no expectations, follow instructions, and relax while making your first batch. The more you bake, the more you will learn tricks to improve your macaron results. There are endless flavour combinations for macarons, but the most popular tastes are rose, chocolate, hazelnut, vanilla and coffee. I have included a delicious rose and citrus macaron recipe in this post.
* Just to clear up the confusion, a macaron is not a macaroon! A macaron is the delicate French almond meringue sandwiched with a decadent filling. The macaroon is an American sweet cookie made with shredded coconut and condensed milk (this is also very delicious).
8 Tips to Baking Macarons
- Rest your egg whites: Leaving your egg whites to rest dehydrates them, resulting in a firmer, more stable meringue. Place your egg whites in a plastic wrap-covered, non-porous bowl, and poke a few holes in the plastic with a fork or skewer. Leave the bowl in the refrigerator for up to three days. Be sure to bring the egg whites back to room temperature before using.
- Use only fresh ingredients: Buy only the freshest ingredients, including almond meal: old almond meal causes a macaron to lose its glossy luster.
- Use finely ground almonds: Your almond meal should be very finely ground, fine enough to pass through a mesh sieve. If you're using packaged almond meal that appears too coarse to sift, give it a good grind in a food processor to break apart any larger pieces.
- Colour with gels: Liquid food coloring can alter the texture of your macarons, making your batter too runny. Use gel colour and add it while whipping the egg whites. Remember that incorporating the almond meal mixture will slightly diminish the potency of the mixture's colour.
- Develop your own technique: Every baker has an opinion about the best way to create the perfect macaron batter, a process known as macaronnage. The idea is to press out just enough air from the batter so that it runs off your spatula thickly, slowly, but consistently. Try gently folding the dry ingredients into the meringue, scooping from the sides, and then "punch" the center of the batter with my spatula. Another method is to press the batter into the side of the bowl. Find what works best for you.
- Rest your piped macarons: If you find that the tops of your macarons are cracking in the oven, allow your piped macarons ample time to dry with the next batch. This can take upwards of 30 minutes to an hour, depending on the humidity of the room. You'll know they are adequately dried when you dab the tops with your finger and nothing sticks.
- Prevent cracking: If you sufficiently dry your piped macarons but find that they still crack while baking, your oven may be trapping too much humidity. Try using a wooden spoon handle to prop open the oven door just a smidge for the first two minutes of baking.
- Practice makes perfect: No one gets it right the first time around. With so many variables, you will need to find the equation that works best for you, your kitchen, and your oven.
- 300g icing sugar
- 300g ground almonds
- 5 eggwhites (from 59g eggs)
- Pinch of cream of tartar
- 1/3 cup (75g) caster sugar
- Red and yellow food colouring
- 250g unsalted butter, softened
- 150g icing sugar, sifted
- 2 tsp finely grated mandarin rind
- 1 tsp orange blossom water
- 1/2 cup raspberries
- 1 tsp rosewater
- Using a fine sieve, sift icing sugar and almonds, pushing through with a wooden spoon. Using an electric mixer, whisk eggwhites until foamy. Add cream of tartar and whisk until soft peaks form. Add sugar, 1 tbs at a time, and whisk until dissolved. Stir meringue into almond mixture (mixture will be stiff), then halve. Tint one half pink, the other half orange.
- Spoon 1 mixture into a piping bag fitted with a 5mm piping nozzle. Pipe (or spoon) 1.5cm rounds on to baking paper-lined oven trays*, then repeat with other mixture. Set meringues aside, uncovered, on trays for 1 hour (this will help minimise cracking).
- Preheat oven to 150°C and bake macaroons, 2 trays at a time, swapping trays halfway through cooking, for 20 minutes or until firm to the touch. Remove from oven and cool on trays. Slide a knife under each macaroon to release from paper, then store in an airtight container until ready to fill.
- For fillings, using an electric mixer, beat butter until pale and fluffy, then gradually beat in icing sugar until combined. Transfer half the mixture from the bowl to another bowl and add mandarin rind and orange blossom water. Stir to combine. Add raspberries and rosewater to remaining mixture in mixing bowl and, using the electric mixer, beat until well combined. Sandwich pink macaroons with raspberry filling and orange macaroons with mandarin filling. Serve.
- * To create a perfectly smooth top on your macaroons, dip a finger into a bowl of water and gently smooth out any peaks.