The 2009 October Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to us by Ami S. She chose macarons from Claudia Fleming’s The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern as the challenge recipe.
I only tried my first macaron recently at Adriano Zumbo in Balmain. My sister has been raving about Macarons, especially those from Laduree in Paris. I guess living across the channel from France makes it easier to have the pleasure of trying French macarons. Zumbo’s macaron was a pleasant 1st experience and I was keen to try and make some of these babies at home.
I set aside the first week of my school holidays as ‘cooking week’. I was so excited about having the time to not have to worry about rushing about with work and I could take my time to ‘master the mac’. It was lucky I did have this time because as it turns out macarons are hard to make. It took me 3 attempts before they were half decent. By round 4 I was adding flavouring to them and by round 5 they were both flavoured and coloured. Although the food colouring was supposed to be red so I thought if I used a tiny bit they would be pink. It ended up being orange coloured powder and even though I only used ¼ tsp they turned out bright orange. Haha
I think if I wasn’t part of the Daring Bakers I would have given up after round 1. I am extremely grateful for the time and effort that other bakers spent to give me feedback and tips, especially Audax and Helen.
My Macarons from batch #1 were flat, had no feet and stuck to the baking paper so their insides fell out. They still tasted nice so I have frozen them to use in a future layered dessert.
Batch # 2 were slightly better, but still no feet and they had a few holes and cracks. I filled these babies with Crème Caramel Baileys ganache. I could have eaten this by the spoonful. Cleaning up after this batch was yum.
For batch #3 I decided try a recipe by Syrup & Tang after reading about the success of other bakers. This recipe had more sugar in the meringue, which I think worked a lot better. I finally got feet! I filled these cuties with either an orange buttercream, to please Brett’s jaffa passion, a dark chocolate ganache or a chilli chocolate ganache for a bit of a twist.
For batch #4 I added Twinings Blackcurrant & Apple tea to flavour the macarons. The blackcurrant flavour was amazing. I filled these beauties with either a dark chocolate ganache or a vanilla buttercream.
My final batch #5 was flavoured with strawberry & mango tea and filled with vanilla buttercream. These macarons had the best shape and texture out of the lot, even though they were bright orange. They tasted really nice too.
Making macarons also means you have to learn your oven and experiment with different oven temperatures. After the disappointing result from batch #1 I invested in an oven thermometer. I also added all the extra tips other bakers had given me into the following recipe so I wouldn’t forget them. This recipe worked for me but be prepared to give it a few try’s to work out your oven. Happy baking!
Makes 1 dozen filled macarons
Trace a 20 cent piece onto baking paper in alternate lines. Flip it over and use the back of the paper. Set aside.
Weigh egg white and then scale the recipe appropriately using syrup and tangs formula. For example:
Ingredient Formula Example Almond meal 1.3 x egg white 1.3 x 46 = 60 gm Icing sugar 1.6 x egg white 1.6 x 46 = 74 gm Castor sugar 0.8 x egg white 0.8 x 46 = 37 gm
- Place egg whites in a microwaveable bowl and put them in the microwave for 5 seconds on a medium setting. (This is a quicker alternative to leaving the egg whites overnight).
- Weigh almond meal and icing sugar. Sift twice and process at high speed. (Add powdered colour or flavouring at this step). I added 1 teabag which was 1 ts & ¼ ts red powdered colour.
- Beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Add castor sugar a little at a time until stiff peaks form.
- Add half of the dry mixture and count strokes. (approx 18 strokes for 2 egg whites) Add remaining dry mixture. (Some tips from Audax: The consistency should be like cold thick honey, (inspect closely the look and feel of the batter), check by placing a tablespoon of batter in a line on the remaining mixture and it should disappear into the batter in about 30-60 secs. It better to under mix than to over mix. Take a spoonful out after about 35 strokes and putting it on a plate to see how it flattens out. If the peak doesn’t settle after about 30 seconds, I give it a couple more and try again).
- Spoon the batter into piping bag and pipe onto prepared baking paper on top of 2 stacked baking trays.
- Confidently bang baking trays on counter.
- Leave on bench top to dry for 1 hour.
- Preheat the oven to 175C. My oven thermometer said it was 180.
- Put the shells in the oven and turn the temperature down to 160C. Since my oven is actually hotter than the dial says I turned it to 150C.
- After 6 minutes, swap the top & bottom trays.
- Bake for another 4 mins & check. Total baking time should be 10 -12 mins. (Another tip from Audax: At the 5 minute mark the shells should have lifted and developed ‘feet’. At the 6-7 minute mark they should be starting to colour just slightly. They are probably ready if a shell moves only reluctantly on its foot when you lightly nudge it with a finger).
- Remove from oven and leave on the tray for a minute or two then transfer to a wire rack.
- Make filling
- 80g icing sugar, sifted
- 20g unsalted butter, softened
- 1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
- 1 tablespoons orange juice
To make the orange buttercream, place 1 cup of the icing sugar, the butter, zest and orange juice in a large mixing bowl. Beat with electric beaters until smooth and creamy. Gradually add the remaining icing sugar and beat until the cream is thick.
- 100 ml cream
- 130g Dark chocolate
- 1 Tb Baileys
Boil the cream. Add the Couverture. Add the Baileys and bar mix.
Note: I am posting this late. Oh no! Yes I missed the reveal date by 2 days. Brett and I attended a very boring pre-marriage course the other night and last night I went an my 3rd orienteering run. So much fun! At the moment exercise is taking priority in the lead up to the wedding and I also have to cut back on desserts so unfortunately no more macaron making for me, except maybe for a few Christmas presents. It will be hard to not eat a few though.