The Dreaded Macarons


I have been wanting to make these for weeks. Watching Rocco make them on My Kitchen Rules made it appear easy. Everything I have read since then says that they are anything but easy to make. So I set about collecting the right tools, namely:

  • Silicon baking mat
  • Candy thermometer
  • Piping bag

Even once I had all these it took me a few more weeks to summon the courage to give it a go, fully accepting it would take several attempts. The main issue was that I had never actually tried one. So one day I found myself walking past Adriano Zumbo’s patisserie at Manly and popped my head in to be confronted with several different flavoured rows of macarons. So I ordered a salted caramel and a passionfruit macaron and went home to sample them. Yum!! I know why people make such a fuss about them now. Anyway, I decided to procrastinate no longer. I put aside some egg whites to age for a day and gave it a go.

The first attempt was not so good – this was the recipe My Kitchen Rules published in their 2012 cookbook. I have no idea how Rocco managed to make these in a challenge on the show – they didn’t show him twiddling his thumbs for 30mins whilst he left them to form their skins. Maybe he made his fillings during this time. Anyway – it just didn’t work – they came out dry and over-cooked.

So I decided that if Adriano Zumbo’s macarons were so good, maybe he has a recipe out there. I found a video of him making them at home – but the recipe was vague. I then found that “Not Quite Nigella” had posted a recipe on the back of her Adriano Zumbo class. It also listed ingredients in grams, leaving the size of egg being used as one less variable that could go wrong. That sounded like a best next attempt.

Shells (12 Macarons):

Ingredients:

  • 36 g egg white (for meringue)
  • 83 g caster sugar
  • 25 g water
  • Food colouring
  • 100 g Almond Meal (finest you can find)
  • 100 g icing sugar
  • 33 g egg white (for TPT)

Directions:

  1. Measure everything out first. This recipe needs to be performed quickly!
  2. Pour the water in a saucepan and then add food colouring (at least 5-10 drops if not more – how much is a matter of testing), and then the caster sugar. Mix only briefly if needed and leave to boil. Check the temperature with a candy thermometer (don’t let it touch the bottom of the saucepan though) frequently as you need to use it when it reaches 112º C (soft ball stage).
  3. Meanwhile, beat the egg whites till it reaches soft peaks stage.
  4. When the sugar syrup is ready, add it in a steady but slow stream into the beaten egg whites while beating them. Adriano says to mix until the temperature of the mix gets to 50º C, but I found this happened almost instantly so I continued to beat the mixture till it had a glossy, italian meringue look about it. That would have been an extra 30 seconds.
  5. Now mix the almond meal, icing sugar and remaining unbeaten egg white in a bowl with a wooden spoon till it forms a thick paste. This is called the TPT mixture.
  6. Now with a spatula, pour the meringue mixture into the TPT mixture until velvety smooth and well combined.
  7. This is an important step. Use the spatula to slap the mixture against the side of the mixing bowl to remove the air. When the mixture no longer forms peaks or firm ribbobs you are done. Use the spatula to get the mixture in a piping bag.
  8. Place the baking mat or baking paper on a tray and pipe 3cm – 5cm rounds, flicking your wrist at the end so that a peak doesn’t form (the instructions say that if the piped round is a clock face, to start at 12 and flick to end at 6). Try to make the size as consistent as possible.
  9. Now pick up the tray so that both hands are holding the tray flat underneath the tray. Now throw the tray ever so slightly in the air so it lands with a thump back on your hands. Do this several times until the air bubbles are gone and the tops are uniformly round. Leave to rest for 30mins.
  10. Once 30mins is up, touch one of the macarons  gently with a finger. It should not stick and should come away clean. This means that the skin has formed properly.
  11. Now put in the oven for 18mins. Keep an eye on them after 10mins as you don’t want any colour to form or for the skins to crack. I think I took mine out at about 16mins as I didn’t want to overcook them like the last lot.
  12. They were perfect!! The feet had formed nicely, the tops had not cracked and they had not coloured.
  13. Leave them to cool and within a few minutes you should be able to remove them from the baking mat.

Buttercream:

  • 180 g caster sugar
  • 125 ml water (1/2 cup)
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 300 g unsalted butter, diced

Directions:

  1. Add the sugar and water in a saucepan and boil until it reaches 121º C.
  2. In another bowl using an electric mixer on high, whisk the egg yolks till thick and pale.
  3. Reduce the mixer speed and slowly add the sugar syrup. Whisk for 5 minutes.
  4. Now add the butter, one piece at a time mixing until combined before adding the next.
  5. The buttercream is now ready to be flavoured.

Lemon Curd:

  • 75 g cornflour
  • 220 g caster sugar
  • 125 ml lemon juice (2 lemons – zest them first!)
  • 310 ml water
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 60 g unsalted butter

Directions:

  1. Combine sugar and cornflour in a saucepan over heat and slowly add the lemon juice. Stir until smooth.
  2. Cook for 3-5 minutes until mixture thickens. Remove from heat and mix in lemon zest, egg yolks and butter until mixed. Put aside and cover in cling wrap until cooled.
  3. Add to buttercream, 1 teaspoon at a time until desired flavour reached.

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Posted in Baking, Cooking

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