I have made these today for my trial run of my secret tea room on Sunday. Macarons improve with time as the flavours in the filling permeate the shell and as I have many other dishes to prepare and a house to get ready they are the ideal thing to make ahead of time.
This batch weren’t all perfect – most were but others only rose on one side and others erupted. A complete mix of success and failures all on one baking sheet! They still have me guessing each time I make them – I sit cross-legged looking in through the oven window to see how they are doing. I am sure this story will sound familiar to others?
From reading blogs and posts I know the road to producing the perfect macaron is littered with bakers driven mad with frustration. How hard can it be to master those little innocuous looking almond meringues that only have 3 ingredients? Well its hard and I nearly joined the ranks of the mad. I had to call it a day and decided that attempt 14 would be my last - if they didn’t work then I would never try again.
My obsession – and that’s exactly what it became, had me reading every recipe and blog I could find in search of how to achieve the mythical macaron with its shiny, smooth shell and its little frilly feet. I watched every You Tube clip I could find including those in different languages just so I might see where I was going wrong. So many people seemed to make them with ease but mine always failed.
In the end I did succeed – yes attempt 14 did see me produce a perfectly formed macaron. Through trial and error, exact recording of recipes, oven temperatures and cooking times and concentrated reading of every online troubleshooting guide I could find I finally got there. Madness averted!
For me, and I say for me because I think most people need to find their own way and following this will in no way guarantee success, involves:
- Using the Italian meringue method to make the macaronage
- Using silicon baking paper on a good quality baking tray
- Having my oven at 150 C in a conventional oven
- Only baking one sheet at a time
- Placing my baking sheet half way in the oven with another baking sheet on the shelf below.
- Baking times vary – today my macarons cooked quickly – may be because they stood for an hour and a half to dry due to it being quite humid? But I always bake for 10 minutes and then turn the tray and then check every 5 minutes thereafter. When there is no wobble in the foot and I can lift a macaron clean from the paper I know they are ready.
Here’s my recipe from today
For the macarons:
120g egg whites, divided into 2 equal batches of 60g each
35g granulated sugar
150g finely ground almonds
150g icing sugar
2 Earl Grey tea bags
For the sugar syrup:
150g granulated sugar and 50g water
For the filling:
70g icing sugar
Zest of one lemon
1 and a half tbs of runny honey
Tsp of Earl Grey Tea
Makes about 50 shells – 25 completely filled macarons
Line your baking trays with silicon baking paper.
Break open the teabags and put in a processor to form a powder.
Put a teaspoon of the Earl Grey tea powder (next time I will add much more), the ground almonds and the icing sugar in a food processor for about 2/3 minutes. Sift the blended mixture into a bowl and discard of the big lumps that have been left behind.
Whisk 60g of egg whites and add to the almond/sugar mixture. It doesn’t matter that you knock the air out of the meringue to get the two mixed together. It will form quite a stiff mixture.
Whisk the remaining 60g of the egg whites to soft peaks and then add 35g sugar. Put the sugar and water in a saucepan to make the syrup. Heat until it reaches 118 C. Slowly add the boiling syrup to the egg whites and whisk on medium/high speed for about 10-15 minutes. They meringue will have become shiny and will have cooled.
Add a quarter of the meringue to the almond/sugar mixture. Mix well so that the mixture loosens. Now fold in the remaining meringue a quarter at a time. Mix until the two mixtures are completely combined and it has a little fluidity to it. To test this hold up the spoon and it should fall back in to the bowl slowly. If it runs quickly like a ribbon it will be over mixed.
Fit a piping bag with a plain tip and add the mixture. Pipe the macarons on to the baking sheet. Make them the size you want – I usually do about 5 cm across.
Sprinkle the tops with the tea powder.
Leave to rest so that the macaron forms a skin – when it is touched your finger will not pick up any of the macaronage. This can take anything from 15 mins – 1and a half hours depending on the weather.
Bake at 150 C for 15-25 minutes.
Check to see if macarons are done by grabbing the top of one macaron and trying to shake it. They are done when the top barely slides against the skirt. If they are not done, extend baking time by two minutes intervals, checking after each extension. When ready leave on a cooling rack.
Make the buttercream by whisking all the ingredients together.
Sandwich 2 macaron together with the buttercream. Leave them a day or two (if you can) before eating.