This series is for those of you who have felt so defeated the little french cookie almost gave you a nervous breakdown!
Please note: in 2018 I updated this recipe. So while the instrcutions may be very similar to the ones given in the video, the ingredient portions may be different. Happy Baking!
150g almond flour
150g powdered sugar
55g egg whites
150g granulated sugar
37g water (yes grams!)
55g liquefied egg whites
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 batch chocolate ganache
Makes 30 cookies
Add the powdered sugar and almond flour into a food processor and pulse 4-5 times or until well combined. Take care not to pulse too many times otherwise you’ll risk releasing the oils in the almonds. Pulsing these two ingredients does two things. It will help get rid of any lumps in the sugar and will help grind the almond meal into smaller pieces. Alternatively, you may sift the two ingredients together. This must be done at least 3 times.
Empty the almond mixture into a large clean glass or metal mixing bowl. Add the first portion of egg whites (55g). Use a spatula to mix everything together until it forms a paste. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside.
To make the sugar syrup add the granulated sugar and water into a small saucepan. Give it a very gentle stir with a teaspoon to get everything well combined. After this point don’t mix the syrup again. Bring to a boil on a medium high heat, then turn down to a simmer. As the syrup bubbles away it will splatter small bubbles of sugared water on the sides of the pot. Use a pastry brush dabbed in a little bit of water to brush those back into the syrup. This will help prevent the syrup from crystallising.
For this recipe you’ll need a candy thermometer to help you measure the temperature of the syrup. When the syrup reaches 115C / 240F, add the second portion of egg whites (55g) to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, and start whisking them on medium/high speed to help break them apart and get them frothy.
When the syrup reaches 118C / 244F, carefully pour the very hot syrup into the egg whites in a slow and steady stream while the mixer is on high speed. Please be careful when doing this part. Number one because the syrup is hot, but also if you add your syrup too quickly you’ll cook the egg whites and they’ll turn to soup. Once the you’ve poured all the sugar syrup into the egg whites, continue whisking on high speed for about 3 minutes before you add the vanilla extract. It’s at this point where you can also add any gel food colours of flavoured essences into the meringue.
Continue whipping for another 4-5 minutes. Once your meringue has become thick and glossy and has cooled down close to room temperature, stop the mixer and gently scrape down the bowl, then whisk on high speed for an extra couple of minutes.
The next part is the mixing stage. Otherwise known as ‘macaronage’, and is super important. It’s where most people go wrong, including me until I took a trip to Paris and was physically shown how to do it by a French pastry chef.
Grab a spatula full of the meringue and fold it into the almond-sugar paste. Mix until well combined. This allows the mixture to thin out a little before you add the rest of the meringue to the sugar paste. Different people mix macaron batter in different ways, some people count the amount of times they mix. I think it’s better to know the consistency to look out for. I like to go around the bowl with my spatula and then through the middle. You want to continue doing that until you reach the ribbon stage. The ribbon stage is when the batter falls off your spatula in a ribbon, without breaking, and then disappears back into the rest of the batter after about 10 seconds. That’s when you know the batter is ready to pipe.
Spoon the batter into a piping bag fitted with a medium round tip.
Pipe rounds of batter about 3cm (1 inch) in diameter, spacing them 2cm apart on (flat) baking trays lined with silicone baking mats or baking paper (not greaseproof paper). If you’re using baking paper add small dabs of the macaron batter on each corner of the tray to help the baking paper stick to the baking tray so it doesn’t fly around in the oven and ruin your macarons.
Gently tap the tray on your work surface. This will help bring out any air bubbles that might be in your uncooked cookies. It’s at this stage that you can add any small sprinkles or freeze dried berries on top.
The next thing you want to do is let your macarons dry out in the open air for about 30-60 minutes. Drying time can depend on the weather that day or how much humidity there is in the air. Drying your macarons helps them form a skin. The skin is super important because it means that when you bake your macarons and the steam escapes from the cookie, it will escape from the bottom forming the iconic ‘feet’ of a macaron. So when you can gently touch your uncooked macarons and they’re not sticky to the touch, then you know they’re ready to bake.
Preheat a fan forced oven to 140C (280F) or 160C (320F) for a conventional oven. Bake each tray one at a time for 12 minutes. If you feel your oven is causing the macarons to brown on one side (usually the side closest to the fan) turn the tray around about half way through baking. Once they’re baked, let them cool completely before you try taking them off the tray.
To finish your macarons, you can fill them with any number of fillings, lemon butter, chocolate ganache or buttercream. The filling options are endless. For a vanilla cookie, I’d recommend chocolate ganache.
PREPARE BEFORE YOU START:
1. Trays (lined with baking paper NOT grease proof paper)
2. Eggs - separate egg whites from the yolks and allow them to sit in the fridge for a couple hours. These must be measured accurately.
3. Sift almond and sugar together (if you don’t have a food processor)
STORAGE: store in an airtight container for up to 3 days (refrigerated or unrefrigerated).
AGEING YOUR EGGS: Egg whites will liquefy if you sit them in the fridge for several days, preferably a week. During that time, the egg whites lose their elasticity, the albumen breaks down and they will be much easier to whisk to soft peaks without turning "grainy".
HALVING THE RECIPE: This recipe can be halved
EQUIPMENT: You will need a candy thermometer for this recipe to know the exact time to take the syrup off the heat. They can be purchased on Amazon or from your local cake supply store.
Whisk attachment (or hand mixer)
Round piping tip (medium size, 1.5cm in width)