After seeing tons of lovely macaron pictures online, I finally attempted this tricky cookie. This was my 2nd attempt (the first time I tried this, it was under-mixed hence the texture was lumpy. I am quite pleased with the results this time round.
There are 2 main methods of making macarons, the French meringue and Italian meringue methods. The Italian method of making macarons involves boiling a syrup of sugar and water til 240 Farenheit (needs a candy thermometer to monitor this carefully) before pouring into soft stage egg whites. The French method definitely sounded easier since it did not involve the use of boiling syrips and candy thermometers, and I am quite pleased this method worked nicely. Here is the French macaron recipe I used.
Macaron shell recipe from Joy of Baking
- 100 grams ground blanched almonds or almond meal/flour
- 180 grams icing sugar
- 100 grams “aged” egg whites, at room temperature
- 35 grams superfine or castor white sugar
1. Have ready three baking sheets (make sure they have flat bottoms (no warping)) lined with parchment paper.
2. Beat egg whites until foamy. Slowly add in the castor sugar in 3 additions until stiff peaks form.
3. In 3 additions, sift the mixture of ground almond and icing sugar over the meringue. Fold in well after each addition. (Cut through the meringue and then fold over and up, making sure to scrape the bottom and sides of the mixing bowl.) Once the mixture is completely folded, the batter will fall back into the bowl in a thick ribbon. This is called “macaronage” and it is ready to be piped.
4. I set aside a small portion of the batter and added black gel food colouring to pipe the panda’s eyes, ears and tail.
5. In a pastry bag, fit a 1/2 inch (1cm) piping tip. Pipe 3cm rounds evenly on the baking sheets, leaving about 3cm in between. (Tip: hold the piping tip straight up while piping. I didn’t use a template for piping so I counted to 1-2-3 while piping each shell, this helps the piped shells to be of a uniform size). If there are little poimty tips on top of each shell after piping the batter, you may smooth it down with your finger dipped in water.
6. Bang each baking sheet several times on the counter to get rid of air pockets in the shells.
7. Fill the black batter in a small piping bag (I used a ziplock bag with a small tip cut off the corner for piping) and pipe the ears, eyes and nose of the panda. On the shells that would be on the back of the macarons I piped a small black dot for their tail.
8. Let the macaron shells sit at room temperature for between 30 to 60 minutes until it forms a shell and is no longer tacky when you touch it. As it is very humid in Singapore my shells sat for almost 60 minutes before it forms the “skin” and was ready for baking.
9. Preheat the oven to 140 Celsius (my oven runs hot so I bake at 140 degrees, if not you may bake at 150 Celsius). Bake on the bottom third area of the oven to ensure even heat distribution and so that the macaron shells don’t brown. Rotate the baking tray halfway through baking. The macarons are done when you can barely separate the cookies from the baking parchment (do NOT attempt to lift up the cookies while they are hot, they will definitely fall apart). Let cool completely.
You may fill with any filling you desire, but I decided to make lemon curd (and I made it slightly tart as that was how I liked it. If you prefer the lemon curd to be sweeter add about 30 grams more sugar).
Lemon curd filling for macarons (recipe from The Little Teochew)
- 50g unsalted butter
- 200 to 225g sugar (depending how sweet or tart you like it)
- 2 eggs
- 2 egg yolks
- 120ml fresh lemon juice
- 1 tsp grated lemon zest, or more if you like (depending on how strong you want the flavour of lemon)
1. In a large bowl, whisk all the ingredients except the butter. Mix well. Place the bowl over a water bath and stir constantly. The mixture may look curdled, but it will smooth out as it cooks.
2. Once the mixture thickens – it should leave a path on the back of a spoon – turn off the flame and add butter in 2 or 3 additions. If you have not added in your lemon zest, add it in now and stir to mix well.
3. Allow the curd to cool slightly before transferring to a clean jar or bowl. Make sure it is covered to prevent a skin from forming. Chill in the refrigerator. The curd will thicken further as it cools. Covered tightly, it will keep in the refrigerator for a week and in the freezer for 2 months.
Tips for making macarons
- Use “aged” egg whites and not fresh egg whites. Prepare the egg whites at least a day before hand and let the egg whites sit covered in the fridge, this helps to reduce the moisture content while maintaining the protein bonds. It helps to prevent spreading of the macaron shells after piping.
- Sift the almond meal/ ground almonds and icing sugar to get rid of bigger pieces which could cause the macaron shells to crack while baking. Grind up the larger bits that remain in the sieve using a food processor and sift them after grinding. I discarded the bigger bits that remain after this.
- Weigh all ingredients using a digital kitchen scale. The weight of the ingredients must be precise.
- It is better to undermix the batter than to overmix, otherwise the “feet” of the macaron shells will not form during baking. See the picture below for the “feet” of the macarons.
I really enjoyed making this and I have other designs in mind, stay tuned!