How to make macarons
Is it macaron or macaroon? It’s not surprising that these two often get confused but here’s the thing: macaroons are the coconut and almond baked cookies often dipped in chocolate. Macarons are these perfectly Parisian meringue based bites.
1 cup castor sugar
3/4 cup almonds
2 large egg whites, at room temperature
Pinch of cream of tartar
1/4 cup castor sugar (extra)
1 tsp food colouring of your choice
For the strawberry buttercream filling:
1 1/2 cups fresh strawberries, rinsed, hulled and coarsely chopped
4 large egg whites
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons, at room temperature
We used the Mastrad Macaron Making Gift Set from Yuppie chef, which includes a piping bag, six nozzles, a non stick baking sheet with circular ridges to help you make perfect, uniform macarons and a recipe book.
Hand beater or stand mixer
1. Preheat the oven to 150ºC.
2. Pulse the cup of castor sugar and almonds in a food processor until combined.
3. Whisk your egg whites with a mixer on medium speed until foamy. Add cream of tartar and whisk until soft peaks form.
4. Reduce speed setting to low and begin adding extra castor sugar. Now increase speed to high and whisk for about 8 minutes until stiff peaks form.
5. Sift the previously combined almond and castor sugar mixture over your frothy whites. Add in your chosen pigment of food colouring and begin folding the mixture until all is smooth and shiny.
6. Line a baking tray with the macaron mat and set aside.
7. Transfer the batter to the pastry bag fitted with a round tip and pipe rounds of your macaron batter onto the baking sheet, dragging the pastry tip to the side of the rounds rather than forming peaks. Expect the batter to spread a little. Tap the bottom of the sheet on a work surface to release trapped air. Let your perfect rounds of batter stand at room temperature for approximately 15 minutes until a soft skin forms on the tops of the macarons and the shiny surface turns dull.
8. Bake with the door of the oven slightly ajar, rotating the baking sheet half way through. You are aiming for the macarons to be dry and crisp to the touch and this will take approximately 15 minutes.
9. Remove the baking sheet and allow to rest on a wire rack. Allow the macarons to cool completely on the baking sheet. Their tops are easily crushed, so take care when removing the macarons from the sheet. Use immediately or store in an airtight container, refrigerated for up to 2 days or frozen for up to 1 month.
10. Now make your filling. Purée the strawberries in your food processor until completely smooth.
Add the egg whites and sugar to the bowl of your stand mixer, or any heatproof bowl and set it over a pan of simmering water.
Heat, whisking constantly, until the sugar has dissolved – you can test with your fingertips, if the mixture feels grainy, it’s not ready yet.
11. Attach the bowl to your stand mixer (or transfer the mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer if you used a separate bowl) fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on a medium-high speed until stiff peaks form and the mixture has cooled to room temperature, about 10 minutes. (The bowl will be cool to the touch.)
12. Reduce the mixer to medium-low speed and add the butter, 2 tablespoons at a time. Let each addition incorporate before adding the next. The frosting may look soupy or curdled once you add the butter – just keep beating and it will come together. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula, then add the strawberry purée to the bowl. Beat until combined – the mixture will probably look curdled again when you add the strawberries, so keep beating!
13. To fill the macarons, fill a pastry bag with the filling. Turn the macarons so their flat bottoms face upwards. On half of your batch, pipe about 1 teaspoon of filling. Sandwich these with the other half of your batch, flat-side down, pressing slightly to spread the filling to the edges. Refrigerate until firm for about 1 hour.
Piping the perfect macarons takes practice, so be prepared to make a few batches and tweak the recipe as well as oven times as you see fit.
Also, experiment with different colours and fillings.
What you are aiming for is a meringue, soft texture with a crisp crust.