Classic French Macarons

20140321_111629Macarons are definitely taking the world by storm, with it’s sweet chewy shells and even sweeter filling, these cookies are probably the most expensive – and I can understand why after I’ve tried to bake them myself. These cookies are extremely technical, and there are many factors that can cause your cookies to fail – even the world’s best bakers can get anxiety attacks when baking these sweets. You can definitely save quite a few dollars if you make these at home and it will be extremely satisfying when you finally do, but be prepared to practice a few times before you succeed. I succeeded on my third attempt, so please note every tip I write down in this article because it is REALLY REALLY IMPORTANT.

This isn’t my recipe, it’s taken from joyofbaking.com because I’m too noob to create my own macaron recipe just yet. The ingredients you will need are:

  • 100g almond flour/ ground almonds
  • 180g icing sugar
  • 100g egg whites, room temperature
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar (optional)
  • 35g caster sugar

1. Line two cookie sheets with baking paper and set aside.

2. Sift the ground almonds and icing sugar into a medium-sized bowl and set aside.

3. Then in a large, grease-free bowl, pour in the egg whites and cream of tartar (if you’re using it), and whisk until foamy. When it starts to look foamy, slowly add in the caster sugar, and beat on medium-high speed until you get stiff peaks. Don’t overbeat the meringues! If you’re brave enough to do this, you know you have perfect stiff peaks if you can turn the bowl containing the meringue upside down over your head and nothing falls out.

These are soft peaks - a little more beating!

These are soft peaks – a little more beating!

Perfect stiff peaks!

Perfect stiff peaks!

A clearer look - if you hold your whisk upside down, the peaks will remain standing upright. Take about 5 minutes, roughly.

A clearer look – if you hold your whisk upside down, the peaks will remain standing upright. Take about 5 minutes, roughly.

4. Now, here comes the tricky part – the macaronage, which is the folding in of the dry ingredients into the whites. Sift the icing sugar and ground almonds into your meringue mixture in three additions, folding the icing sugar/ almonds after each addition. (Tip: You don’t have to fold the almonds completely into the meringue on the first addition, because this will increase the likelihood of your meringues getting overbeaten, which will cause your macaron shells to lose it’s shape, and look all flat.)

It's alright if it looks a little lumpy on the first addition.

It’s alright if it looks a little lumpy on the first addition.

5. On the final addition, mix just until the meringue mixture falls from your spatula in thick ribbons. It’s NOT going to be runny, nor is it going to be lumpy – a mixture between the two. (Tip: It’s better to be slightly underbeaten, because we’re going to be working the batter as we pipe them out onto a baking sheet anyway.)

This is great.

This is great.

6. Now, pipe the batter out onto the cookie sheets lined with baking paper. (Tip: Once piped, tap the sheets on a hard work surface about 3 times. This will get rid of any air bubbles in the meringue mixture. If you don’t tap the sheets hard enough, the top of your shells will be cracked, and you don’t want that.)

7. Leave the meringue mixture in a dry place for about 30 – 60 minutes, or until the top no longer feels tacky when you touch it gently. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 160°Celsius/ 325 Fahrenheit.

(Tip: The waiting time depends on your environment – if you live in a humid country, it’s going to take longer for your batter to dry out. This step cannot be skipped, because if you don’t let the cookies sit, it won’t be able to form a hard crust that will protect it from cracking in the oven later.Mine took 2 hours!)

Ready to enter the oven!

Ready to enter the oven!

8. Make sure the cookie sheets are on the top and bottom third of your oven, and bake it for about 14-16 minutes, or until the cookies can be barely separated from the baking paper. Make sure to rotate your cookie sheets halfway through to ensure even baking. The tops will be a light golden brown colour. Leave them to cool completely on the cookie sheet placed on a wire rack.

20140321_102355

Now you can make any type of filling for this – I made a chocolate and white chocolate ganache! The ingredients are simple:

  • 50ml of heavy cream
  • 100g chocolate, chopped (whichever you’re using)

1. Pour the heavy cream into a heatproof bowl and heat it until it just comes to a boil. Take it off the heat, and pour it into your chocolate. Let it sit for a minute, then stir to melt the chocolate.

2. Leave the mixture to cool, the cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until it’s ready to be used, so it’s good to do this before you get started on your macaron shells. Then just dollop spoonfuls on the bottom of a cookie, and press another cookie on top to make a petite sandwich.

Make sure to leave a centimetre gap so that the the filling doesn't ooze out.

Make sure to leave a centimetre gap so that the the filling doesn’t ooze out.

Yummy in mah tummy

Yummy in mah tummy

These sweet little treats are extremely fun to make once you get the hang of it – so just keep practicing and you’ll be able to enjoy these without having to make a hole in your wallet. Enjoy! 😀

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