Christmas Baking, Day 7
We’re getting closer to the Big Day! Yay!
Today’s recipe comes straight from Paris and all of your French afternoon-tea dreams: the macaron. There is a lot talk about how Macarons are one of the hardest cookies to bake, however by following any recipe to a T, you should be able to create the most delightful after-dinner digestif. It is important to follow the recipe exactly for these cookies as everything is so precise, and even the pros sometimes make mistakes!
Macarons have been a favourite of mine since I started watching an American cult favourite TV show about “Manhattan’s Elite”, and decided I HAD to try them. Love at first bite. When I made macarons for the first time, I was trying so hard to impress my Food Tech teacher. I spent my whole lunch time finishing them off and actually got an A! Not too bad for a fourteen-year-old.
For this blog post recipe, I have done hours of reading to find the best tips and tricks to ensure that you have a firm idea of how to properly make macarons (and hopefully avoid total cookie carnage).
I have to say, creating such a delicate bake is a labour of love, but if you enjoy their chewy, yummy goodness then it is worth it.
They’re also gluten free, so perfect if you have gluten-intolerant guests!
For this recipe, I will be using the Italian method of making macarons as it is harder to deflate the meringue and be left with a mess of sugar and almonds. I know, I know… I said French… You are welcome to try the French method. This will give the macarons a crispier texture.
I have added in a minty Christmas twist for the ganache; however, you may wish to change the flavour or use a buttercream instead! It’s totally up to you.
For the Macarons:
- 120 g Egg Whites leave your eggs out for a couple of hours, so they are at room temperature.
- 150 g Finely Ground Almonds
- 150 g Icing Sugar
- 5g Cream of Tartar
- 150 g Caster Sugar
- 37 ml Water
- 5 ml Green or Red Extra Strong Food Colour Gel (NOT LIQUID)
- Sugar thermometer
For the chocolate peppermint ganache filling:
- 300 g Extra Dark Chocolate (70% cocoa solids or more)
- 200 g Double Cream
- 10 ml Peppermint Extract or another flavouring of your choice.
For the decoration:
- Mint Leaves
- Sweets, Candy Canes
- Edible Glitter is also a nice Christmassy option.
Preparation for this recipe is just as important as following it.
- Thoroughly clean all of your equipment that you plan to use. Wipe down your bowl with vinegar to remove any remaining grease. Any traces of grease or dirt could alter the consistency of the meringue.
- Separate your egg whites the day before and put them into one of your bowls. Cover with cling film, make a couple of holes, and leave in the fridge for around 24 hrs. DON’T forget to take them out 30 MINS. BEFORE you start whisking!! They need to be at room temperature for this recipe.
- Make sure you have accurate measuring scales. No using jugs or ‘cups’ for this recipe as this is not accurate enough and won’t produce the results you desire!
- Measure all of your ingredients before you start baking. This makes the process much easier and ensures that everything is correct, and you aren’t rushing. You should also sieve the ground almonds and icing sugar to remove any lumps. Make sure you do this twice! Lumps will alter the texture.
- Pipe the macaron mixture with a simple nozzle. You can print out a template/guide on how to pipe the macaron mixture perfectly! Once piped, you should tap the baking tray onto a hard surface to remove any bubbles inside the macarons. Any bubbles that raise to the top should be popped with a clean, sterile needle to ensure a smooth surface!
- Macarons take practice and a lot of patience. Take it slow with the recipe and make sure you follow every step!
- Cream of Tartar is not essential to the making of macarons, so you can leave it out if you have made meringues before or feel like you will be able to get the correct consistency.
- If you want to freeze the macaron shells, you can wrap each individual cookie in clingfilm and put them in a hard, airtight container. They will freeze well for around 3-4 weeks, after that they won’t be at their best.
How to make these delicious delicate cookies…
- Preheat oven to 150°C/140°C fan oven/Gas Mark 2.
- Take 3 flat baking trays approx. 29cm x 35cm and line with non-stick baking paper.
- Take another sheet of baking paper and cut it to the same size of your baking trays. On this paper draw your templates for the macarons. Each circle should be approx. 4cm in diameter and there should be a gap of approx. 2cm between each circle. Put the template under one of the sheets of the greaseproof paper lining the trays. Alternatively, you could print out a template. A website is listed below for this.
- Split the egg whites into two equal batches. Put 60g of the egg white into a large clean bowl and set both aside.
- Put the ground almonds and icing sugar in a food processor and process until well combined and even in colour. Transfer to a sieve and sieve over one of the batches of egg whites. Add the food colouring of your choice (MUST BE GEL) and mix all until well combined and in a paste.
- Put the remaining 60g of egg whites into the bowl of a freestanding mixer. If you don’t have one, then any electric or hand whisk will do the job just as well!
- In a small pan add the caster sugar and water and heat until it reaches 117°C, measuring the heat with a sugar thermometer. Try not to stir the sugar a lot as this could cause the syrup to crystallise. Avoid getting too much up the sides of the pan.
- Whilst the sugar is heating begin whisking the eggs on a med-high speed until frothy then add the cream of tartar and whisk until it forms stiff peaks.
- Once the sugar has reached the right temperature, put the mixer on high speed and slowly pour the sugar syrup into the whisked eggs whites down the side of the bowl. Try not to let the sugar syrup touch the whisk directly.
- Once all the sugar syrup is in the egg whites, continue whisking at high speed for another two minutes then turn down the speed to medium until the bowl of the mixture is at room temperature. Try not to over-whisk the mixture. The meringue should have a glossy finish.
- Now, gradually combine the meringue with the coloured almond mixture. Do this in three parts. Stir to combine until it is streak free then add the remainder of the meringue. Be careful not to over-mix and knock all of the air out. The consistency you are looking for should be like flowing molten lava. You should be able to form ribbons or a figure of 8 without it dropping instantly.
- Transfer the green macaron mix to a piping bag with the small nozzle and pipe the mixture onto one of your prepared trays with the guide. Once the tray is full, remove the template from underneath. Now tap your tray onto a hard surface 3-4 times to remove any large bubbles and to even out your macarons. Repeat with other baking trays until you have used all of the mixture,
- Leave the macarons out to form a sort of skin; they should be tacky to the touch. Bake one tray of macarons at a time for around 15-20 minutes until the macarons are risen and feel solid to the touch. If the macaron wobbles when you touch it then they need a couple more minutes.
- Once cooked, leave to cool on the baking paper completely before taking them off and setting them aside. Taking them off whilst they are still even slightly warm means you risk your shells being hollow due to the bottom sticking to the paper!
For the filling and putting them together…
- Once your macaron shells are cooling, make the chocolate peppermint ganache by heating the double cream and peppermint extract in a pan until it starts to steam.
- Finely cut the chocolate and put in a glass bowl. Pour over the warmed cream and stir quickly until all of the chocolate has melted. Alternatively, use a similar method to that of the truffle filling in myChristmas Baking, Day 1 recipe.
- Put in the fridge to cool for about 20 minutes, stirring every now and again until the mixture is cold. When cold, whip up the mixture using an electric or hand whisk for a couple of minutes until thick and fluffy in texture.
- Pair up the macaron shells so that they match and then fill with the ganache using a piping bag with a small nozzle. Start in the centre and leave around 0.5cm. Put both halves together and twist slightly to ensure that the filling spreads and the macarons stay together.
- Let the macarons mature in the fridge overnight to bring out all of the flavours.
- Take flat serving platter and assemble your macarons onto it in a circle so it resembles a wreath. You could use a tiny bit of ganache under each one to secure them in place. Decorate with a dusting of cocoa powder, fresh raspberries, mint leaves and candy canes or any other Christmas treats you fancy.
- If preparing the day before the filled macarons will keep in an airtight container overnight in the fridge. They can be frozen, but I think it is best to wrap each shell individually, then freeze.
This is probably going to be the most intricate and longest recipe I will post, but I think it’s totally worth the extra time. If you fail the first time, keep trying because they are very hard to make. This recipe, however, should provide you will a fail-proof way to create these cookies and wow your friends and family!
Bonne chance mes chers!