Every time I bake macarons, it’s special; but before “special” even figures, the things I go through in the kitchen, with my body, mind and spirit before making them is something only I know. Oh wait, maybe the rest of you who’ve experienced a reasonable number of failures making macarons can empathize with me.
I’ve had consecutive successes the last couple of times – the first being my macarons filled with chocolate pastry cream, with its pointy heads (reminded me of Coneheads) and then my precious gâteau de macaron that I baked for my husband’s birthday. Still, I can’t get overconfident with these babies; they are temperamental little darlings, much like me (not the little darling bit though). But this time, I was a little daring in adding a pinch of ground ginger to my dry ingredients. I wanted my shells to be flavoured too.
So, I’ve tried the French meringue method (the easiest of all), the Italian meringue method and the Swiss meringue method. But for me, the one that has proven to be successful every time is the Italian meringue method. There is a bit of confusion that prevails in the area of Italian meringue method though, which I wish to throw light on.
For some people, pouring hot sugar syrup into beaten egg whites, further beating them into stiff, glossy peaks and folding the meringue into the dry ingredients (almond flour and confectioner’s sugar) constitutes Italian meringue method. The other school of thought believes in adding a part of the egg whites to the base, that is the almond mixture and leave the remaining egg whites to make the meringue, using hot sugar syrup to make it shiny.
I’ve tried both methods, but the latter is the only one that has given me shiny macarons with lovely feet. I think that adding some amount of egg whites to the almond mixture gives macarons stability and allows them to rise beautifully in the oven without cracking.
Before I proceed with the recipe, I’d like to clear the air regarding a few myths concerning macarons and also tell you how some of them are not myths after all. I don’t leave the piped macarons out to rest before I bake them because I believe that the moisture in the air interferes with the final product. I prefer using a silicone mat any day over a parchment paper (but if a parchment paper works for you then stick to it). I don’t add cream of tartar to my egg whites before beating them. I am very careful when I fold the egg whites into the almond mixture – I don’t take more than 20 turns and I prescribe to the “J folding” method (see below).
- 125 g (1 cup packed) ground almond
- 125 g (1/2 cup packed) confectioner’s sugar
- 90 g egg whites (from 3-4 egg whites)
- ½ tsp ground ginger
- 110 g caster sugar
- 2 tbsp water
- 2-3 drops of liquid gel colouring of your choice
For white chocolate ganache
- 113 g white chocolate, chopped
- 6 tbsp cream
Makes 40 shells and 20 sandwiched cookies
- Preheat the oven to 175 C. Line your baking sheet with a silicon mat. Fit a disposable piping bag with ½ inch plain tip.
- In a food processor pulse almond flour and confectioner’s sugar a few times until combined. Now, add ground ginger. Sift them into a parchment sheet. Tip the mixture into a wide bowl. Add 40 g of egg whites to the ground almond mixture and fold using rubber spatula until it becomes a paste. Add your food colouring now and combine to incorporate.
- Now, pour the remaining 50 g egg whites into a clean stainless steel bowl. Beat them into soft peaks on medium speed(2 minutes) using an electric beater. Meanwhile, bring sugar and water to boil in a saucepan set over medium heat. Allow the mixture to simmer, stirring occasionally until your candy thermometer reads 115 C.
- Once it reaches the desired temperature put off the heat. Rest the lip of the saucepan on the steel bowl and trickle down the hot sugar syrup to the side of the bowl, into the meringue while beating it on medium. Beat the egg whites until they stiff and shiny (the bowl should become lukewarm to the touch from outside).
- Add the prepared egg whites into the almond paste. Carefully J fold the batter – draw the spatula through the middle of a batter to form the letter J by bringing the spatula down the middle of the batter, scrapping it up toward the left side of the bowl and lifting the spatula slightly while tilting the bowl to a 90 degree angle. It shouldn’t take you more than 20 turns to incorporate the batter.
- Sit the piping bag into a long glass. Add the batter little at a time into the bag. Pipe the macarons on to the sheet, holding the bag at a 90 degree angle. Bake for 15-20 minutes until the macarons easily come off the sheet.
- Allow the macarons to cool on a wire rack. Store them in an airtight box and refrigerate them for a day or 2 before filling them.
- For the white chocolate ganache, bring the cream to the boil. Add the cream to the chopped chocolate and leave it undisturbed for a few minutes. Allow it to cool (as it will thicken)
- Pipe the ganache over the macarons and sandwich them together.