Learning the art of Macarons

The fabulous online baking group I am in has challenges that you can choose to par take in every month.  For the month of January my personal challenge within the actual challenge was to learn how to make Macarons.  I had never even eaten one so it was definitely something very foreign to me.  Right after I had decided that I was going to learn the art of Macarons I stumbled across a book by Jose Marechal 'Secrets of Macarons', Perfect I thought and quickly bought it.  After spending some time reading about them and all the technical processes that go into making a perfect Macaron I was quite overwhelmed and didn't have a huge amount of confidence when attempting my first batch. A month on, I am in love with them, I enjoy making them as much as I enjoy eating them and they have quickly become something I can whip up, well whip them up might be going a little over board as these beauties do take time to create.  Here is the basic recipe for plain Macarons I used from 'Secrets of Macarons' to get my head around this baking art form.

What you need...
  • 200 grams Almond Meal
  • 200 gram Icing Sugar
  • 75ml water
  • 200 grams Caster Sugar
  • 2 x 80 grams of Egg Whites
  • Vanilla
How you do it...
  • Sift the almond meal and icing sugar together once done this is called the tant pour tant
  • In a saucepan bring water and caster sugar to boil, do not stir at all and do not let the syrup go over 115 degrees C
  • Beat 80 grams for the eggs white gently on a medium speed to get soft peaks
  • When the syrup reaches 115 degrees remove the saucepan from the heat and pour into the egg whites, continue to beat for 10 minutes to allow the Italian meringue to cool. 
  • Combine the tant pour tant with the remanding unbeaten 80 grams of egg white, making a smooth almond paste.
  • add some vanilla paste, here is were you add in your desired colour.
  • using a flexible spatula add in a third of your Italian meringue into the almond paste to relax the mixture, then add in the rest mixing with the spatula carefully.
  •  Fill your piping bag with the macaron batter, on a baking tray covered in baking paper pipe out small , regular, well spaced rounds about the size of a 20 cent piece. Lightly tap the bottom of the tray and let the macarons rest for at least 30 mins. You need the time so the macarons form a crust on the top, this is so they don't crack while in the oven.  You want to be able to touch the top of the macaron without it sticking.
  • While the macarons are resting pre heat your oven to 150 degrees
  • Bake the macarons for 12 to 14 minutes.  When you take them out, carefully place the baking paper onto a damp tea-towle on you bench top, this make it easier to remove your shells
Filling - Almond Butter Cream

What you need...
  • 250 grams Soften Butter
  • 140 grams Icing Sugar
  • 160 grams Almond Meal
How you do it...
  • Beat the Butter on high for 5 mins to get it light and creaming
  • Add in icing sugar and beat some more.
  • Mix in the almond meal and give it a quick beat to aerate it.
Putting it to all together is the simple part, fill you piping bag with the butter cream and pipe a nice big dollop on to half of the macarons and place the lid on.

Store them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.

I have found that they are even taster the next day, as the almond flavour comes through more making the sweetness less over powering.  This recipe does make a lot of macarons, so after doing a few big batches I decided to try and half it, it worked beautifully. All I did was measured everything out in half quantities, and did the process exactly the same.

Scary at first, but once you know what you're doing, they aren't too bad.
Happy Baking

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