Macarons

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Overview
These are very moreish. Lots of work, but very tasty. In an ideal world, they are stored in the freezer for a couple of weeks before being eaten – and then, they should be 12-14° C for the perfect experience. I originally learned to make macarons in a class with my bestie… many years ago. I’ve tweaked a bit, mainly out of laziness and confusion, based on much reading and YouTube watching.

There are 3 main methods to make macarons – I prefer the French one, which doesn’t require a cooked meringue.

I use the same recipe for the macarons, regardless of the filling (if I were to make chocolate, I would substitute some cocoa powder for half of the icing sugar, or I would add a little chilli powder… but otherwise I keep the biscuit part the same for every flavour – the flavour comes from the filling, so you want that to be intense).

This recipe makes about 70-80 macarons (about 150 half-shells). My instructors said that halving the recipe results in an inferior product – so often I will mix the batter and transfer half into another bowl for different colouring just before the mixing is complete. It works really well if one is light coloured and then the other can have its colour added, rather than colouring two by hand, IF that makes sense…

Time
Flippin’ hours. Mainly because these are large batches, and who wants only one filling?? Set aside the day, make the fillings ahead of time if you can as some are easier to pipe after they have been refrigerated.

Ingredients
300g egg white, aged (at least a few days old, or older from the freezer)
generous pinch of cream of tartar
300g caster sugar
750g tant pour tant (1:1 almond meal and icing sugar mix), sifted using a drum sifter
75g icing sugar, sifted
5-10 drops of professional quality food dye/s

Equipment
drum sifter, bread scraper, benchtop mixer, piping bags

Method
1 – Weigh eggs directly into the benchtop mixing bowl. Add the cream of tartar and mix on high speed until it is foamy.

2 – Add the caster sugar in 3 batches, then mix on ¾ speed until the whites are stiff.

3 – Add food dye and mix again. If you plan to make 2 different batches, consider leaving the dying until the batter is nearly complete.

4 – Tip the meringue into a large (huge!) bowl. Add half the tant pour tant and half the icing sugar. Fold into the the meringue.

5 – Add the rest of the tant pour tant and the remaining icing sugar. Fold into the the meringue.

6 – At this point, if making 2 different fillings, transfer half of the batter to another bowl and add the dye to both bowls.

7 – Use a bread/bowl scraper to keep folding the batter in on itself – many websites encourage counting to 60-75 folds, but I just keep going until it looks glossy. If unsure, leave the batter and see if it pulls back to smooth over the course of a minute or so. If not, keep folding for a bit longer. If overdone, the macarons won’t cook properly. This is called macaronage, just in case you get the chance to sound snooty in public.

8 – Using a large piping bag, pipe 4-5cm circles onto a tray of Glad Bake. You can add optional extras, such as piping extra colours and using a skewer to make cool designs.

9 – Bang the tray flat onto the bench a few times to smooth out the surfaces. Leave to rest for at least 20 minutes to allow a crust to form before baking.

10 – Place a tray in the oven; preheat the oven to 150° C.

11 – Bake for 14 minutes. If you have 2 trays cooking, remove the top one at 14 minutes, move the other one up and cook for a further minute. Allow to cool on tray.

Assembly
12 – Match pairs of biscuits (same size) and line them up. Pipe the chosen filling onto one of each pair. Close the macaron, pressing lightly and evenly to ensure the filling reaches the edge on all sides.

13 – Store in plastic tubs in the freezer for best results. Cool to room temperature before serving.

Filling: Maple bacon
These are our favourite!! Makes enough for a full batch of batter and have plenty left over for the best toast you’ve ever had.
Ingredients
6 yolks
2 eggs
282g maple syrup
340g softened unsalted butter, in pieces
3 bacon rashers, chopped into tiny squares and cooked up in a little maple syrup

Method
1 – Place the eggs in the benchtop mixer
2 – Pour maple syrup into a saucepan and bring to the boil.
3 – Turn on mixer to high speed and allow to mix until light and fluffy
4 – Wait until the maple syrup reaches 116° C, then slowly pour the syrup into the mixing bowl. Pour onto the edge of the bowl to avoid shocking the eggs.
5 – Wait for the mixture to cool down (finger cool).
6 – Add the butter, one piece at a time. Allow to fully incorporate before adding the next piece.
7 – When done, mix on high speed for 2-3 minutes until it fluffs up and looks like a rich buttercream.

Filling: Curd (Citrus, passionfruit, even raspberry!)
Makes enough for a half batch of batter. We learned this filling in the class I did. It’s a quick curd – if you have the time, make it the “proper” way – but inside a macaron this is fine. This makes enough for a full batch of macaron shells – but leftovers are great on toast!
Ingredients
300g fruit/puree (can use pulp and blitz in the Thermomix)
2 eggs
1 yolk
150g caster sugar (or more if you like)
25g cornflour
80g softened butter

Method
1 – Puree the fruit if needed.
2 – Boil the puree in a small saucepan.
3 – Mix the eggs, sugar and cornflour in a slightly larger saucepan. Whisk.
4 – Pour the boiling fruit puree over the egg mixture while whisking.
5 – Whisk while heating until boiling – boil for 2 minutes.
6 – Let cool a little, then add the butter and whisk until fully amalgamated.
7 – Place in a bowl, cover with Glad Wrap touching the surface and refrigerate, preferably overnight.

Filling: Butterscotch
Makes enough for a full batch of batter. We also learned this filling in the class I did.
Ingredients
300g caster sugar
180g cream (not light cream), heated until scalded- use the microwave
225g softened butter
30g Butterscotch schnapps

Method
1 – Melt the sugar in a small saucepan, adding ⅓ at a time.
2 – When foam appears, slowly add the hot cream while whisking. Take off heat, allow to cool.
3 – Whisk the butter in a benchtop mixer until light in colour.
4 – Add the caramel, a little at a time while mixing.
5 – Whisk on high speed until it looks like buttercream, then add the schnapps and allow to incorporate.
6 – Place in a bowl, cover with Glad Wrap touching the surface and refrigerate, preferably overnight.

Filling: Vanilla buttercream (cheat version)
Makes enough for a half batch of batter. If you want a real buttercream, make one. If you’re exhausted from making macarons all weekend, do this instead!
Ingredients
1½ cups of icing sugar
125g softened butter
2 TB milk
1½ ts vanilla paste or extract

Method
1 – Cream the butter and sugar with a handheld mixer
2 – Add milk, vanilla and colouring (if being used), mix well until light and fluffy.