You may remember my first go at making macarons from a little while back (see the post here). Since then I’ve made them a few more times, in a few different flavours and they’ve mostly turned out pretty well, with a couple exceptions. But over the weekend I tried a different recipe which I had always been a bit scared of trying, as it involves more steps and a thermometer, and generally sounds complicated. But over the weekend I finally faced my fear and gave it a go and was so happy with the results! It turns out that not only was nowhere near as complicated as it sounded but it was also much more reliable too! If you’ve tried the other method and weren’t too happy with the results, or maybe you were but would like to try something different, definitely give this one a go 🙂
The macaron flavours I made were salted caramel and vanilla – yummo!
The big difference with this method is that it does require a thermometer – so you’ll have to go out and buy one if you don’t already own one. But it’s worth it, I promise! I got my candy thermometer for $8.95 from Wheel and Barrow so it’s not an expensive investment.
So here we go. Firstly, prepare all the ingredients you will need for the macaron shells:
2 lots of 40g of egg white – I bought a carton of extra large eggs (the one that had a minimum weight of 700g per carton) and found that one egg white equaled exactly 40g – handy!
100g of sifted almond meal, mixed with 100g of sifted icing sugar – you can also process these before you sift them for an even smoother macaron shell, but I didn’t do this, as I haven’t unpacked my brand new food processor yet!
100g of caster sugar in a pot with 37.5ml of water (hint: 1ml of water = 1 gram)
caramel/brown food colouring (for the caramel macarons only)
0.25 vanilla bean or 0.25 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (for the vanilla macarons only)
And all the equipment you’ll need:
Two mixing bowls (put the icing sugar and almond meal in one of them)
Small pot (for the water and sugar)
Piping bags (I use the disposable ones)
Round tips of preferred size (I used about 10mm for the macarons and 8mm for the fillings)
Flat baking trays
Make sure all the sugar in the pot is covered by the water, mix a little if it’s not. Start heating the pot on a low to medium heat and put the thermometer in. Do not mix! You will notice that after a little while it will start bubbling but it shouldn’t burn (unless your heat is too high).
Meanwhile put one lot of the egg whites into a bowl and beat until they form soft peaks. Monitor the temperature and when it’s nearing 115 deg Celsius (240 deg Farenheit) start beating the egg whites again on high. As soon as the temperature reaches 115 degrees Celsius take the pot off the heat and pour sugar syrup into the egg whites, still beating. Continue beating until you have a glossy meringue and it has cooled down a little bit (5-10 minutes).
Once it’s done, put it aside for a moment and mix the other lot of the egg whites into the icing sugar and almond meal to form a fairly thick paste. For the caramel macarons, this is where you add the food colouring and for the vanilla macarons where you add the vanilla bean – mix either into the paste well.
Now use the spatula to mix about a third of the meringue into the almond paste to loosen it up a little, then mix in the rest until it’s well incorporated. Do not mix it for too long or it will become too runny. The mixture should fall off the spatula in a thick ribbon. When you think it’s done, put a little bit on some baking paper – if the top smooths out the mixture is ready. If not, keep mixing and try again.
Prepare some baking trays with baking paper and pipe small circles (about 4cm in diameter) – these should be a few centimetres apart. Tap the trays a few times to ensure there are no air bubbles and then leave the macarons on the trays until their tops form a hard ‘skin ‘- what this means is that they will not be sticky at all when you gently touch them. This should take between 30 minutes to an hour but could take longer, so be patient, and do not put them into the oven until the ‘skin’ has formed and is not sticky at all to touch.
Meanwhile pre-heat the oven to 150 degrees Celsius (I have quite a strong oven so I baked them at 140 degrees). When the macarons are ready, put them in, one tray at a time and bake for approximately 14 mins. Keep an eye on them for the last few minutes to make sure the tops don’t brown. If they start to, lower the oven temperature.
And ta-da!! You should have a couple of trays of beautiful macarons! Once they’re out of the oven take the baking paper off the tray and place on a slightly damp bench top – this will help the macarons come off once they’ve cooled.
While you’re waiting for the ‘skins’ to form, you can make a start on the delicious fillings. The caramel filling has to be refrigerated for about an hour so I made that one first.
Salted Caramel Butter Cream
37.5 ml water
125g caster sugar
100g salted butter in small cubes
Once again boil the sugar and water in a pot, but this time keep boiling it until it turns a nice brown colour. Pour in the cream slowly, mixing the whole time with a spatula – the cream will bubble and splatter so be careful! I wore an oven mitt while mixing so the splatter didn’t burn me. Once cream is mixed in put the thermometer in and keep heating until the temperature reaches 108 degrees Celsius (226 degrees Farenheit), then take the pot off the heat and mix in the butter a couple of pieces at a time using a whisk. When caramel is completely smooth pour into a container and put in the fridge for an hour to an hour and a half.
Now for the creamy vanilla filling!
Chantilly Cream with Mascarpone
0.25 vanilla bean (or 0.25 teaspoon vanilla bean paste)
30g icing sugar
Mix the icing sugar and vanilla bean into the mascarpone, until smooth. Beat the cream until it starts to thicken, then add and mascarpone mixture and keep beating until you end up with a fairly thick cream. Transfer into a piping bag and store in the fridge until needed.
Now here’s a couple of tips I have learned about filling piping bags. Firstly, use a tall glass or similar container of some sort to stand the piping bag up. Infinitely easier than trying to hold the bag and fill it at the same time! Secondly, to stop whatever you’re filling the bag with from being pushed through the tip straight away, fold a little bit of the bag into the tip like this:
Then when you’re ready to pipe, just pull the tip to straighten the bag out – genius! Made my life easier anyway 🙂
Anyway, back to the macarons – all that needs to be done now is filling the macarons and then EATING THEM! Match up all of the shells so that they’re paired with another shell of the same size (or if you’re really good at piping all your shells will be of exactly the same size!), lay them all out on some baking paper, flat side up, and pipe the corresponding fillings into one half. Then just assemble the macarons with the remaining shells: