Friday, 5 November 2010

Macaroons



Macaroons are to patisserie what a chanel bag is to fashion. These delightful, small, chewy mouthfuls of heaven are what everyone wants to put their hand on and lick off their fingers.
In terms of baking, they have been my everest. The numerous books and articles i read, the different ingredients and methods i used, the endless attempts to make a perfect macaroon... and nothing. ALL the things that can go wrong, you name it, have happened to me. Discoloration, cracking, lack of a "pied", too dry, not cooked enough... all of them. And im one of the most stubborn people one can ever meet. I do not give up and never surrender to failure or defeat. I was trying, trying to correct my mistakes, but every bloody time something else went wrong. So, after i had wasted enough ingredients, i decided to sign up for a macaroon class.
So today the spell have been broken and i finally succeeded. Under the supervision of a professional patisserie chef but never mind. I made my own, beautiful batch of macaroons.
Im gonna write this recipe as straight forward as i can, although its really not a straight forward recipe and add a little square of tips and tricks at the end that i learnt today.
I'm giving you recipes for 3 different fillings, three different kinds of fillings which you can change around as you wish. 

Macaroon Shells
250g ground almonds
350g icing sugar
215g (7-8) egg whites
150g caster sugar

Fillings:
Salted Butter Caramel filling:
170g caster sugar
150g unsalted butter
140ml double cream
pinch of salt

Vanilla Cream filling:
250ml milk
Vanilla pod
3 egg yolks
30g corn flour
100g caster sugar
100ml double cream

Lemon Buttercream filling:
50g unsalted butter, softened
100g icing sugar, sifted
1/2 lemon, juice and zest


Making the macaroon shell:
1. Preheat the oven to 160C
2. Whisk up the egg whites slightly and add the caster sugar in one go. Keep whisking until you have a stiff and glossy meringue mixture.
3. Mix the icing sugar and ground almonds together and sieve the mixture. Make sure you have a very fine, lump free powder.
4. Incorporate 1/3 of the dry ingredients into the meringue with 5 big movements. Don't press the meringue, fold it in, keeping the meringue mix as airy as possible. Scoop from the bottom and fold.
5. Add the rest and of the dry mix and fold until you end up with a smooth and shiny mixture.

6. Fill a piping bag with the macaroon mix and pipe the macaroon mix onto a baking trey covered with parchment paper. The piping is one of the most important bits of making a good macaroon. Place the nosil on the trey and press out the mix to the size of the macaroon that you want. Stop pressing when you have reached the size but stop pressing while the nosil is still in the mix. Then lift it. Try to make them the same size. Lift one side of the trey slightly and bang it on the table to remove the air. Do the same with the other side.
7. Leave the macaroons out to dry for about 15 min in room temperature until they form a skin. You can check this by touching one of them and if it does not stick to your finger its dried enough.
8. Bake in the preheated oven for 10-12 min. Do not open the oven door before 10 min has passed for them not to collapse.
9. Leave them to cool on the treys.


Adding coloring:
this is an important part where i was making the mistake. Although a lot of books tell you to add liquid coloring, this is what ruins it all. When you add a liquid to the mix it completely changes the consistency. So use POWDER coloring. I only know a couple of places where you can buy it, which is online or in the l'atelier the chefs store on wimpole street, but will continue searching.

Making the filling(s)

Making Salted Butter Caramel

1. Place the sugar in a heavy bottomed pan and allow to melt without stirring. Do NOT put a spoon in as  the sugar will crystalize. Shake the pan if you feel the need to move the sugar around:)
2. Once you have a golden caramel, add the butter, of the heat, a little at the time allowing it to melt before you add the next batch. 
3. Put back on the heat and add the cream. Stir around and cook until it has thickened up a little bit and then remove the mix from the pan into a bowl and allow to cool.

Making Vanilla Cream Filling:
1. Place the milk and the split vanilla pod and the seeds in a saucepan and bring to boil. 
2. Mix the egg yolk, sugar and corn flour in a bowl. 
3. Add 1/2 the warm milk into the egg mix and stir. 
4. Pour it all back into the rest of the milk in the pan and whisking continuously cook on a medium heat for 3-4 min until you end up with a thicker custard consistency.
5. Transfer into a bowl, cover with cling film(make sure the cling film touches the filling) and chill in the fridge.
6. Whip the cream and gently fold into the cooled vanilla cream. 

Making Lemon Buttercream:
1. Place the softened butter, sifted icing sugar and lemon zest and juice into a bowl. Beat together until you have a smooth, thick buttercream.

Once the macaroons shells have cooled down, put the fillings into piping bags and pipe onto one shell and top with another one of the same size.

Qualities a macaroon must have:
A crispy shell with a chewy center
A 'pied', the foot of the macaroon.
No discolorations













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