Where do i begin? certainly not the part where macarons have always intrigued me, especially when it took the blogging world by storm. most certainly not where i tasted an impeccable macaron and realized that it is indeed exquisite. i'm not going to dwell on how i scoured the internet poring over countless recipes. and i'm most definitely going to skip the part where i bungled up my first attempt and got ugly, but delicious cracked amarettis (well, they have no feet, so i can't call them macarons). and i'm not even going to get started about how egg whites need to be aged in a dry place and how humidity is the biggest enemy.
Instead, what i will talk about is what worked for me. 'Cos if there is one thing half a dozen eggewhites and and numerous fistfuls of almond meal have taught me, macarons, delicious and exquisite as they may be, they are temperamental and getting the perfect mac is dependent on the ingredients you use, the temperature of your environs & your oven, technique, and most importantly, on you. But, but, but, don't let any of that fool/intimidate you. It is pretty do-able if you get your basics right. sure you need a truck load of patience. and a bit of almond meal and egg whites. However, none of that matters when you see your macs emerge out of the oven with pieds! The sense of satisfaction when you bite into that perfectly formed cookie and get a mouthful of slightly moist/chewy insides and explosion of almond flavor is, to say the least, inspiring, rewarding and a good dose of endorphins. no joke! :)
One fact remains. Read up reliable literature on macarons as much as you can. Bookmark links and study. Read again. In the case of macs, knowledge goes a really long way 'cos we have to start somewhere and for that, we need the theory right. To that end, i will refer you to these links: Not so humble pie, Bravetart and Mactweets. I also had the indomitable Deeba of Passionate about Baking and the brilliant Nisha of Look Who's Cooking Too also help me out with my inane questions amongst other things and they were the epitome of patient listeners. They were nothing short of wonderful and i hope i can return the favor someday. It makes a huge difference when you have a support system to fall back on and to share the happy dance with when you get the 'pied/feet', especially when it is lovely people like Deeba, Nisha, your sister and your pet. Really. That's experience talking.
This being an expensive and tedious hobby (for lack of better words), i decided to start with the basics so that i get my foundation right. and hence, lemon flavored macarons paired with blueberry preserve.
I intend to keep experiementing. However, the rains here are siding with Murphy (of the infamous Murphy's law) SO much, it isn't even believable! I mean, its been raining/overcast here since forever. i got to take a few okay pictures of the lemon macs on a relatively better day when the sun shone through clouds for about half an hour before it decided to go back again. The humidity also wrecks havoc on the macs so once the sun is back out, i'm looking forward to getting adventurous and making variations.
P.S: i tried a batch of chocolate macarons with nutella since, but the mositure content was so overwhelmnng here, i could barely get a skin even after leaving it overnight. They still tasted delish and i got tiny, adorable feet.
Here's to many, many more! (once we are over the relentless and overspilling rains, of course)
Recipe adapted from here
-50 g egg whites (aged for 2 days in room temp)
-100 g icing sugar
-15 g castor sugar
-55 g fine almond meal
-Zest of half a lemon
-Few drops of yellow food coloring (i used wilton)
-Few drops of yellow food coloring (i used wilton)
You will also need clean, clean copper or steel bowls, Silpat to bake on and a Spatula.
-Blitz together the almond meal and icing sugar. Pass through a sieve, add the grated zest and and keep aside.
-Whip egg whites in a clean fat free steel bowl using clean and fat free whisks. Whip till light and foamy and tip in the castor sugar slowly. Beat till stiff, glossy peaks form.
-Preheat oven to 130C.
-Tip in the almond meal, add the gel coloring and wield the mighty spatula, 'cos now starts the folding. Lots have been said about folding in the macronage. Make sure you do not fold it in more than 45 times. Go around the bowl, scoop out from the center and under and bring it up and fold. Repeat till incorporated. You will knock out the air out of the meringue and that is inevitable. Do not fret. It is supposed to be that way. By the end, you are looking to have a thick, flowy, lava like consistency. A test to figure out if it is correct: scoop a teaspoon onto the silpat and check if the peak of the piped mound settles down in 30 seconds. if the peak remains, give the batter a few more folds.
-Pipe onto the silpat in even doses(i inch diameter) and leave uncovered to develop skin for minimum an hour.
-Bake at 130 C, top and bottom coil on. Bake for 15-17 minutes, or till the macs slide off the silpat with the least bit of resistance.
Store the macs in an airtight conatainer in the refrigerator for a day, and then try them. You have to allow them a day to let them mature.
Onto the stuff i have learnt, some the hardway, some through reading up and some through precious tips:
- Double line your baking tray. Place your silpat on a straight (read NOT warped) baking tray/cookie tray and place that on top of another baking tray. Pop that into the oven. This helps distribute the heat evenly.
- You have to, have to make sure the surface you pipe out your macronage is even, straight and plain level. Else, no feet. This is why i use silpat and i have seen brilliant results personally.
- When in the oven, resist the urge to open the oven door to check on it, mine deflated when i did that.