Thursday, 8 March 2012

Basic macaron tips

I have a confession. My name is Fiona and I am addicted to macarons.

Its true Iam absolutely and completely in love with these little French delights. The crisp outer shell, the chewy inner and soft centre, whats not to like?

It is, admittedly, an expensive addiction, delve deeper however and you will find you are paying for the effort that goes into them rather than the core ingredients. So it seemed very obvious to me to put the effort in myself and get more of these treats at less of a cost, simple mathematics!

Macarons are known to be notoriously difficult, fact. So armed with the beautiful macaron recipe book I got for Christmas I delved deep into the blog world hoping to find out some tips and what pitfalls I could avoid!

I compiled a list of tips that I thought made sense, and first attempted some plain shells. I figured there was no point getting fancy until I had cracked the technique; as they say, do not run before you can walk.

What I have learnt:

1) Age your egg whites, I must admit I could not bring myself to leave them uncovered but I did put them on the work top for 24 hours.

2) Mix your mixture until it flows off the spatula. Admittedly this can be a little tricky, my book says fold in for 50 turns. However 50 turns for me gives me lumpy shells with little peaks, if I fold for closer to 60 I get a mixture that pipes much better and do not get peaks. Nb You can mix TOO much though and then your macarons will spread too much.

3) Tap the sheet sharply to release any air.
Macarons with no peaks
4) Allow your piped macarons to dry, and form a skin. My book says that this can take 15-60 minutes. However if you live in Scotland in winter you could leave them out forever without a skin forming and so popping them near a radiator for 20-30 minutes is crucial. The macaron should not be tacky if you lighly touch it, and should have formed a dry skin. This is the most crucial of all my tips, without this skin your macaron WILL NOT have FEET.
Baked macarons with feet
5) Line your baking sheet with baking parchment NOT greaseproof paper.

6) Allow to cool completely on the baking sheet and then they should just slide off.

When I follow all these tips I get lovely macaron shells, they have feet and hold together well, do not have lumps or air pockets and most importantly they have a lovely texture, crisp outer shell and soft, oh so slightly chewy centre.

Too be honest I was not expecting them to work so well and so was rather unprepared for the filling! I just sandwiched them together with whatever was in the fridge (jam, caramel, peanut butter, lemon cream cheese).

I will post the actual recipes, in the very near future, once I have made macarons with actual flavours. 

ps. I know the pictures are not the best, I have a kitchen with no window, I could take pictures at 12 noon or midnight and they would all look the same. Thankfully I am soon to move to a kitchen with a window and hopefully picture quality will improve...


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