French Macarons – the temperamental little cookies

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I have always wanted to bake French Macarons. Have been reading many recipes and comments from many experienced bakers. Apparently, this is a dessert that requires careful timing and meticulous observation, though it is made up of only 4 basic ingredients.

Basic recipe

60 g egg white
30 g caster sugar
60 g finely ground almonds/almond flour
90 g icing sugar
Pinch salt
1 or 2 drops of red food coloring

40 g Strawberry jam

Note :

1.Egg Whites– Many bakers suggested ‘aging’ the egg white. But I did not. And so long as you do not contaminate the white with the yolk or grease. Your meringue will be able to work well.

2.Caster sugar/Granulated sugar– Either works. Caster sugar might work slightly better because it’s more refined sugar. But I did not notice much difference.

3.Almond flour– Sift. Blend the almond flour with the powdered sugar in a food processor to thoroughly combine them. So that the texture of the macarons will not be weird.

4.Icing sugar– Sift. Combine with almond flour until finely processed.

The whole work flow can be divided into three important phases. Failing to carry out any of the phase well, might lead to failure in making the macarons.

5. The Golden Ratio – Basically, there is a golden ratio for the amount of egg white, almonds and sugar to be used in baking of the macarons. After some trial-and-error, I found that the  ratio of  0.9 /2.2 grams almonds/sugar for every gram egg white works well for me.

Method

1. In a mixing bowl, add in the egg whites. Do ensure your mixing bowl is free of any trace of grease. Use the electric mixer to beat rigorously until foamy. Then slowly add in caster sugar while beating. Continue to incorporate the air into the egg whites until soft peaks form.

2. At this point add in any colouring and flavouring.  Note that the colour that you use will fade in the oven. Use powdered colour or colour gel .Avoid using liquid food colouring as it will ruin the texture of your macarons.

3. Beat on the highest speed (ten) for one minute to incorporate all the colouring and flavouring. When you take your whisk-head-attachment-thing out, it will hold the shape of a bird’s beak. If there isn’t, keep on beating until there is.

4. When the bowl is inverted, the egg white does not flow and remains in the bowl and the end of peaks stand up straight.

This is called, French meringue.

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3. In another bowl, sift ground almonds/almond flour, icing sugar, and salt. And whisk together.

At this point we are starting “macaronage” , a French word referring to the process of incorporating the dry ingredients with the egg whites to make macarons.

4. Pour the icing sugar mixture into the meringue and fold with a spatula . You need to deflate the egg whites to a certain point. Using both a folding motion to incorporate the dry ingredients, and a pressing motion against the side of the bowl. ‘Scoop’ and ‘Press’, ‘Scoop’ and ‘Press’ are the key moves.

5. Stop folding when the surface of the batter starts to be shiny. And the mixture should drip off the spatula like lava.

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5. Fill a pastry bag fitted with 1 cm pastry tip with the batter. Then line the parchment paper on the baking sheet (I used two sheets) . Then pipe 2.5 cm disks on a parchment paper. Macarons should be at least 1.5 cm apart from each other.

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6. Preheat the oven to 150 degrees C. It is important to know how your oven works. For my convection oven, I used 130 degrees C.

7. Let  macarons  stand at room-temperature until the surface is dried. It takes somewhere between 30 minutes to one hour. Touch with a finger on a macaron to see if it’s dried enough. I am staying in one of the most humid places on earth, so I let my macarons stood in an air-conditioned room for 1 hour. The trick is to switch on the air-con at least 30 mins ahead, as this helps in the dehumidifying of the room.

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8. Bake for 10-15 minutes. Bring them out of oven, let cool on a wire rack. Once cooled, remove macarons carefully off the parchment paper. Well-cooked macarons should not have problems sticking too much to the parchment paper.

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Successfully baked macarons have “feet”. Feet are a layer of bubble-like things at the bottom of a macaron shell.

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This is where Science comes in. The feet are formed when the air that is in the batter is forced down. If the shell is not dry, the air will leave through the top and cracks will form. Result : ‘feetless’ macarons.

If the shell is dry, the air will have trouble escaping from the top and push down, creating the feet.

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9. On the bottom side of a macaron, put a teaspoonful of strawberry jam and make a sandwich with another macaron.

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Maturation or ‘Aging’ of the filled macarons :

This is really important. Judge the quality of your macarons only until they’ve finished maturation. It fixes a whole host of the ‘oops’. Small hollows disappear, dry insides can become moist again, the texture improves and of course the flavor, maturation really makes a difference there.

Generally 1-3 days in a loosely covered container in the refrigerator works well. The more moisture in the filling, the quicker it will mature.

Mascarpone, cream cheese, curd-based and some butter creams will mature first, followed by white chocolate ganache and then chocolate ganache.

Always bring the macarons to room temperature before serving.

If you’re feeling as though your macarons are not turning out “right”, give them a chance to mature and then give them a bite. You might be surprised.

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 Additional Note :

– Characteristics of macaron – The surface looks and feels like egg-shell. And it has two foot, I mean the frilled ruffles on the edges. And inside it has soft and chewy texture.

– You can have it on the day you bake but the taste is the best the next day. With the filling, the

– If you can’t find ground almonds, make your own. Pulse blenched and chopped almonds in a food processor until finely grounded.

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10 Responses to French Macarons – the temperamental little cookies

  1. mydearbakes says:

    Awww, you made very wonderful bakes! =)

  2. jakesprinter says:

    Delicious post my friend 🙂

  3. Yummy treats that makes me smile. And that’s not just the sugar talking!

  4. Pingback: Macarons au Chocolat with Earl Grey Chocolate Ganache Filling | Abusymom's Blog

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