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How do you make macarons?

How do you make macarons?

How do you make macarons?
How do you make macarons?

 

They may just look like two little meringues, sandwiched and filled with cream, but in high end bakeries macarons are presented as real jewels.

A Bit of History

Their origin is controversial:

Some people think macarons were invented by French nuns, others trace their arrival to France via an Italian pastry chef in the brigade of Catherine de’Medici, around the mid-16th century when she moved there to become queen.

Nobody knows who invented them, but for sure macarons as we know them today were brought to perfection in the 20th century by pastry chef Desfontaines, of the French pâtisserie Ladurée.

Initially they were served with fruit jam, buttercream or chocolate filling.

Today these precious little sweets enjoy worldwide recognition thanks to Pierre Hermè, pâtissier extraordinaire, who has redefined the shape and recipe of many traditional classic desserts with his sober yet great decorations.

Dessert Composition

How do you make macarons?
How do you make macarons?

Macaron shells are made from few ingredients: egg white, sugar, icing sugar and almond flour.

Despite the apparent simplicity of the recipe, many fail to prepare macarons due to some problems that may arise during preparation: the ingredients require very careful and accurate handling.

The Filling

The filling is almost always a dark or white chocolate ganache flavoured with classic pastes or fruit purées.

Some like their macarons with a mascarpone cheese filling, but alas, this does not keep well for long.

The method with buttercream and jam is no longer very popular nowadays.

Preparation of Ingredients

Almond Flour

Almond flour must be made from shelled almonds and it must not contain excessive moisture (if this were the case, dry the almonds in the oven) as this could compromise the final result.

You can either grind almonds with a high-powered blender, (making sure you do not lose the fat part of the almonds), or you can buy ready-made almond flour.

It is advisable to sift the almond flour through a fine-mesh sieve before using it, and to keep only the finest part for this preparation (the remaining coarser part can be used in cakes and biscuits).

Icing Sugar

The icing sugar on the market always contains a small amount of starch that clashes with the hygroscopic quality of sugar.

Ideally, one would use a sugar mill to get a pure final product.

Sugar must always be sieved to avoid lumps or imperfections.

Egg White

To obtain a better consistency it is advisable to use “aging” egg white, i.e. egg white that has been in the fridge for a few days, covered with a plastic wrap.

Pasteurized egg white does not perform as well as fresh egg white, therefore it is not suited for this preparation.

Method

How do you make macarons?
How do you make macarons?

 

There are two main methods to making macarons:

  • With classic meringue
  • With Italian meringue

Although the method with cold meringue takes less time and allows you to make soft macarons, the last baked batch will never equal the first, because over time the mass tends to yield structure and becomes too soft.

In my opinion, the method with pasteurized meringue is the best, because it guarantees you a stable mass from beginning to end.

Recipe

Almond Paste

  • 150 g Almond Flour
  • 150 g Icing Sugar
  • 55 g Egg White (A)

Meringue

  • 150 g Granulated Sugar
  • 50 g Water
  • 15 g Granulated Sugar
  • 55 g Egg White (B)
  • Yellow Food Colouring Powder, Soluble in Water

Sift the almond flour through a fine-mesh sieve and dry it in the oven at 140°C for 7/8 minutes.

Once cool, mix it with the icing sugar (run dry with an immersion blender) and grind the mixture fine. Add food colouring powder (optional).

Add 55 g of liquid egg white (A) to the dry mixture and stir continuously until the almond paste is quite thick.

Beat 55 g of egg white (B) in a stand mixer with 15 g of sugar on medium speed.

Place 150 g of sugar and the water in a saucepan and cook until the syrup registers 116°C, then pour the syrup slowly into the egg whites, making an Italian meringue.

Once the Italian meringue reaches 44-46°C add it to the almond mixture a little at a time (folding gently with a rubber spatula) until soft, but not stiff.

Macaronage:

This folding stage is crucial, because it allows you to get the right “disassembled” mixture; it is not necessary to stir the mixture from the bottom up.

When the mixture falls from the spatula in the classic thick “ribbon” that fades back into the rest of the batter you know your consistency is perfect.

An excessively fluid mixture makes macarons low and warped.
An excessively thick mixture makes macarons too high, and their back not perfectly smooth.

Once baked, the two shells must have a “foot” (even base) of 2 mm.

Dressage:

Transfer the batter to a piping bag fitted with a plain round 10 mm nozzle and form macarons on a baking tray with a silpat or parchment paper.

Croutage:

Allow the cookies to stand until the batter does not stick to your finger when you touch it (approximately 15/30 mins): during this time macarons will form a thin skin (the “croûte”) on top that must neither be excessively dry nor sticky.

Baking:

Once you are sure your croutage is perfectly done, bake the macaron halves for 15 minutes to 143°C (keep the oven damper on).

The Filling:

(Citrus) Fruit Juice
  • 110 g Single Cream 35%
  • 60 g Orange Juice
  • 215 g White Chocolate
  • Orange zest, grated
  • 1 tsp Glucose

Heat the single cream with the glucose and orange zest and bring to a boil.

Pour the mixture over the white chocolate, add the orange juice and blend all with an immersion mixer.

Allow to stand at least 3 hours in the fridge covered with a plastic film wrap.

Fill your macarons with a piping bag using a plain 6 mm nozzle; let them rest a few hours before serving them.

Fruit Puree
  • 90 g Strawberry Puree
  • 110 g Single Ceam 35%
  • 215 g White Chocolate
  • 1 tsp Glucose

Bring the single cream and glucose to a boil.

Pour over the white chocolate and add the fruit puree; blend all with an immersion mixer.

Allow to stand at least 3 hours in the fridge covered with a plastic film wrap.

Fill your macarons with a piping bag using a plain 6 mm nozzle; let them rest a few hours before serving them.

Coffee Ganache
  • 80 g Single Cream 35%
  • 40 g Espresso
  • 240 g White Chocolate
  • 60 g Butter
  • 1 tsp Glucose

Heat the single cream with the glucose and the coffee to 50°C.

Pour all over the white chocolate and blend with an immersion mixer; alternatively follow the 1/3 at a time emulsion technique.

Add soft butter when the mixture is below 27°C.

Allow to stand at least 4-5 hours in the fridge (ideally overnight).

Fill your macarons with a piping bag using a plain 6 mm nozzle; let them rest a few hours before serving them.

 

Chocolate Ganache
  • 150 g Single Cream 35%
  • 110 g 60% Cocoa Dark Chocolate
  • 1 tsp Glucose

Heat the single cream with the glucose to 50°C.

Pour all over the chocolate and blend with an immersion mixer; alternatively follow the 1/3 at a time emulsion technique.

Allow to stand at least 4-5 hours at room temperature, in a cool and dry place.

Fill your macarons with a piping bag using a plain 6 mm nozzle; let them rest a few hours before serving them.

Have a nice dessert!

 

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