Everyone has at least one irrational fear. In my case, the list is quite long. Fear of sharks when I swim out so far at the beach that I can’t touch the bottom, fear of the dark (particularly when i’m turning out all the lights before I go to bed at night) and, on a lesser scale, there are quite a few recipes that i’m terrified of trying. One of those recipes is macarons.
The much heralded successor to the cupcake with its delicate outer layer and moist, flavoursome innards has been on my ‘to bake’ list for quite a while. Ive had several unsuccessful attempts and watched others fail dismally which has not helped my confidence. So, this year I thought I would put it on my resolutions list and take small steps throughout the year to achieve it. Last holidays, I went to a small class held by a friend of a friend, I tried the Donna Hay box mix (which were surprisingly good) and I quizzed friends who had been successful in making these fickle treats. Unfortunately, everyone seems to have a different method and a slightly different mix. Everyone seems to swear by contradictory key parts of their recipe which just ends in a sad puddle of confusion and failure for the home cook like me.
So I figured that I would just bite the bullet and begin with the recipe of Adriano Zumbo. Having already tried a different recipe from the book (It Mayo Shock You Cake) and seeing that the macaron recipe had no freaky ingredients and was similarly straightforward, I was quite hopeful. The only thing that this recipe requires that you might not have stocked in your pantry is the powdered egg whites. I bought a big jar of these from The Essential Ingredient in Rozelle a while ago which I think will keep me stocked for many many many batches of macarons.
Other than that all you really need is egg whites, almond meal, icing sugar and a bit of water to make your macarons. In terms of specialty equipment, you really need a stand mixer or a second pair of hands as this recipes uses the italian meringue method which involves pouring the boiling sugar syrup into your egg whites mix while you are mixing. If you have a stand mixer you can do this by yourself but if you are using a hand mixer you will need someone else to help you. A sugar thermometer is also necessary to make sure your syrup is at the right temperature before you add it to the mix.
After you’ve done all your mixing you just need to pipe out your mixture onto baking paper and leave it alone for 30 mins. The little tips left from piping will disappear during this time as the mixture settles and forms a skin on top. You can also give your tray a few good whacks on the counter top to make sure that there are no pesky air bubbles lurking in there.
And once they are cooked they will have smooth tops and cute little feet popping up beneath them. Yay!
I chose to fill my macarons with delicious vanilla bean buttercream using Heilala Vanilla. This vanilla bean paste is amazing as it delivers an intense burst of vanilla flavour. It is quite expensive but it uses much less sugar than the varieties sold in the supermarket and is a much more pure vanilla flavour. You can buy it here for $23.50 for a jar of 100ml that will last you a very long time! It’s the kind of thing that I would LOVE to be given for a birthday or christmas or a ‘just because’ kind of gift.
and sandwich together like so!
and so, I have overcome my fear of making macarons! Hooray!
So tell me, my lovelies, what fears do you have? Is it something totally irrational?
Macaron Recipe – from Zumbo
300g almond meal
300g icing sugar
110g egg whites
300g caster sugar
2g powdered egg whites
110g egg whites
1. Combine almond meal and icing sugar in a large bowl. Sieve the mixture thoroughly at least twice.
2. Put the egg whites into the bowl of an electric mixer with the whisk attachment
3. Put the caster sugar and water into a small saucepan and place over a low heat. Stir until the sugar has dissolved
4. Once the sugar has dissolved, increase the heat until the mixture is boiling and reaches 118 degrees celsius
5. When the sugar syrup is close to the required temperature, place the powdered egg whites into the mixer bowl with the real egg whites and mix until frothy
6. When the sugar syrup is at the required temperature, pour the sugar syrup in a slow and steady stream down the inside of the mixer bowl while the machine is still mixing. Turn the speed up to high and mix for about 8 minutes (or until the mix has gone from very hot to just warm)
7. Stir the extra egg whites into the sieved almond and icing sugar mix
8. Add the meringue mixture to the almond mixture and fold through. Once it is all combined, continue to fold until the mixture has loosened and is more ‘lava like’. You don’t need to be gentle here like you would with a normal meringue, the aim is to soften the mixture rather than to keep all the air in it
9. Pipe 4cm circles of mixture onto a baking tray making sure that there is enough space between each macaron as they will spread slightly
10. Leave the trays for 30 mins to form a skin on the top. This will be how your macarons gain their ‘feet’ as the skin makes sure that they rise evenly and pop those little feet out the bottom (after 10 mins of resting, turn your oven on to 135 degrees celsius)
11. Place trays in the oven for 16 minutes or until they have a firm outer shell. Remove from the oven and set aside for 2 minutes. Carefully remove one macaron shell from the tray to check if the base is cool and dry. If it is still sticky on the bottom, put the tray back in the oven for another couple of minutes. When they are done, cool them on the trays.
Vanilla Bean Buttercream Filling – From Raspberri Cupcakes