Macarons

I really enjoy making macarons but I also used to find that it would be quite a fraught process, as I seemed to throw as many away as I had made. I bought a very technical book on how to make Macarons, which helped, but then I discovered there were varying methods of making them, including the dreaded packet mix (no, I didn’t try it, and never will).

But then a friend bought me this book, and in here are a wide range of macaron recipes all using the Italian Meringue method, and for me that is now my go to recipe.

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I know other bakers have success with other methods, and that’s the beauty of baking, there is often more than one process to get an outcome, but this is the one that works best for me and I hope it works for you too!

INGREDIENTS to make 72 macaron shells

200g ground almonds

200g icing sugar

50ml water

175g granulated sugar

150g egg whites (about 5 whites or buy a carton of egg whites, which is what I usually do, as the remainder can be frozen, and you have no yolks to waste)

You will also need a sugar thermometer, stand mixer, food processor, pastry bag, three baking trays lined with baking parchment and a heavy gauge saucepan.

METHOD

1. Pre heat the oven to 170C/GM4. At this stage I also check I have my paper circle template to place under the baking parchment so that when I pipe all my macarons they come out the same size and shape. You can also draw around a pastry cutter but make sure your pencil marks go on the reverse of the paper. I tend to make my circles about 4cm wide.

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2. Pour the icing sugar and ground almonds into the food processor and process for 30 seconds until it forms a fine powder.  Sift this powder into a bowl.

3. Weigh half the egg whites and place in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment

4. Pour the water and granulated sugar into a heavy saucepan, and place on a medium heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved.

5. Bring to the boil, brushing down the sides of the pan with with a moistened pastry brush to reduce crystals. Place the thermometer in the syrup, making sure it doesn’t touch the bottom of the pan. As you are cooking the sugar, begin whisking the egg whites at a medium speed until they hold a soft peak.

6. When the sugar reaches 118 – 119C,carefully pour the sugar syrup down the side of the bowl into the egg whites and whip until the Italian meringue cools to room temperature, about 10 minutes.

7. Pour the remaining egg whites into the almond/icing sugar mixture, and beat with a wooden spoon, it should form a thick paste.

8. Check the meringue – it should be shiny, thick and hold a peak that bends over slightly when the whisk is lifted. Check the temperature, it should feel slightly warm on your fingertip. Add one third of the meringue to the almond paste mixture, and beat it in with a spatula to lighten the paste.

9. Gently fold in half of the remaining meringue with the spatula, making sure all the mixture at the bottom is incorporated. Fold in the remaining meringue until the mixture is smooth and pourable.

10. Spoon the macaron batter into a piping bag and cut a nozzle about 1.5cm wide. Using your circles as templates, pipe your mounds onto the baking trays. Tap the bottom of the baking trays palm of your hand to smooth the surface of the macarons. Leave them to ‘sit’ for about 30 minute so that a skin forms over the top.

11. Bake one sheet at a time for 10 to 12 minutes, rotating the baking tray halfway through. The macarons should have the characteristic collar all around the edge. Let them cool completely on the baking tray before sandwiching pairs of them together with filling.

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