Mac’s Macaron Tippies

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Sorry but no, I won’t be sharing with you my recipe for macarons.  There are thousands of recipes in the net, in cookbooks, in TV shows, and you would have to decide which one you want.  I have spent a lot of time browsing, experimenting and finally coming up with a recipe that suits my taste and I plan to share it only with my daughter as part of her “inheritance” when the time comes lol.

So, what am I writing about then?  Well, I wanted to share what I have learned from all those browsing and maybe, help you in your quest to make your own macarons.

The first time I saw macarons, I thought they were exciting.  And they are, with all those colours!  I tried a mango flavoured one from Gloria Jeans and I liked it but sad to say, that was the only one I liked.  The rest of the macarons I had the chance to try were mostly too sweet.  Maybe it’s how they are supposed to be?  I don’t know, but the sweetness (although I do have a sweet tooth), turned me off quite a bit and hence I never tried them again.  Until I saw Nic and Roco in My Kitchen Rules.  Those two young men making macarons during a situation that was time pressured and then making Manu and Pete praise their work to high heavens made me decide to try it out.  I borrowed books and googled hundreds of recipes.  I came up with my own which is not too sweet but just right for my family’s and friends’ taste buds.  But it is a secret recipe 😉 soweeee.

I can however, share what I have learned (so far!)

1.  There are three ways of making macarons: the French method where eggwhites are mixed with the dry ingredients; the Italian Meringue method where the sugar is cooked to a specific temperature before it is mixed with the eggwhites and the dry ingredients; and the Swiss Meringue method where the sugar and the egg whites are cooked in a double boiler to a specific temperature before they are beaten and mixed with the dry ingredients.  Each method has their own proponents — and there are actual debates on which method is the best one.  I go for the Italian Meringue method although the French method is easier and actually they all sort of produce more or less the same result (unless you are one of those who claim to be macaron masters) so I guess it depends on which method you are most comfortable with.

2.  It is best to use a metal or copper bowl for when you are beating your eggwhites because plastic ones might have residual fat from previous use and fat is an enemy of your egg white.

3.  Some claim that it is best to use egg whites that were “aged” — bet you didn’t know that as well huh?  This means they separate the egg whites from the  yolks and refrigerate the white for a couple of days before using them, or they microwave their newly separated egg whites for about 10 seconds prior to use.  They say aging reduces moisture from the egg whites.  I don’t age my eggwhites at all, but feel free to do so — your macarons might come out better, who knows?

4.  Your almond meal and icing sugar should really be fine.  That is why most recipes call not just for sifting them but processing them first in your food processor before sifting them.  I agree with this, but you can just go straight to sifting if you want.

5.  Parchment paper vs wax paper.  Some say parchment paper is better.  I use what I have:  wax paper.

6.  The perfect size for a macaron (see, you even have a perfect size!) is 3.75 cm in diameter for the small one, and 7.5 cm for a large one — this is just based on the size that is being sold by one of the leading macaron shops.  To me, size doesn’t matter.  But of course you would want to make them all the same sizes.  You can make them the size of a 20 cent coin, or the size of the bottom of a champagne flute — it’s up to you.  Best way is to draw your circles on a piece of paper to use as template, place this paper under your wax paper and use it as a guide for piping.

7.  Bumpy tops vs smooth ones.  Of course, the smooth ones look more professional, but I wouldn’t worry about the bumps too much — they just look more homemade I think.  But if you want to make them smooth on top, you can try banging your tray on your countertop after you have done piping to startle them into smoothness, or smoothen each with your metal spatula or back of a spoon.  In some cases, if the texture of your batter is perfect, they just smoothen themselves and hence you would have to practise, practise, practise.  Just remember though, the bumps don’t affect the taste.  Just make sure they don’t look too “nipply” lol.

8.  Colouring is the best part.  Adriano Zumbo colours his macarons by adding the colour to his sugar while its cooking.  Nic and Roco coloured theirs by adding their colour gel to their dry ingredients mixed with unbeaten eggwhites before adding the remaining beaten eggwhites.  I prefer the latter method.  I also use colour gels.  They don’t change the texture and the taste of the batter.

9.  Yes, you have to rest your piped macarons for about half an hour before baking.  They will form a skin that will lift during baking and result to the base or what people call the “feet” of the macarons.  You will have cookies if you don’t rest them.  Guess how I knew this?

10.  Know your oven.  If it is too hot, colouring your macarons would be useless because they will darken or turn brown.  Temperature should not be too hot — 140 dec C to 150 deg C, depending on your oven, would ensure the shells retain the colour you want.  Similar to when you want white or coloured meringues — oven should not be hot in this case.

11.  Macarons are best eaten after 24 – 48 hours.  This waiting time gives the macaron shells a chance to absorb some of the moisture of the filling and make the inside soft.  They are of course good to eat right after baking but you will notice they are crunchy and not have the soft chewiness inside yet.  Also, make sure you take them out of the fridge (they should be stored in an airtight container) until they reach room temperature to soften the filling a bit, before serving.

12.  There are several options for fillings so you can get crazy on this.  Basically macaron shells taste the same — it’s the filling that give them the variety in flavour.  You get the texture from the shell and the flavour from the filling.

There are still soooo many things to learn to making the perfect macarons but to me, they are perfect enough if people like to eat what you have made.  Sometimes the perfect looking ones are not as good as the one you made yourself.  That’s just me.

20130406_171942 20130628_182737 macarons

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  • Posted in: YUM

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