When I was in Canada, I took a macaron making class from the Bonnie Gordon College, the same place where I was doing my cake decorating course, and thought I will share my learnings from that class today. I have seen videos and had read many tutorials before I attempted my first macarons, but to see and feel in person how exactly the macaronage should look was why I took the class and am glad that I did.
I have only once before posted (in passing) about macarons and well another time, if you count my post on my failed attempt at making macarons (both posts were before I took the class). The last few times I have tried my hand at macarons, I have been having a fair amount of success and even though I am still not an expert on it, and hope to practice as much as I can and get better, I thought I will share the recipe, tips, resources and sites that have helped to get me a successful batch of macarons.
As mentioned before since I am still fairly new at making macarons, I still feel I am inexperienced to write a post on successful macaron making and thought I will leave it to the experts to help you out. If you are new at making macarons, or have had trouble I suggest you go through the following two posts that I am sure will be helpful to you.
- Marie from FoodNouveau’s all about macarons page where she links to her step by step tutorial on making macarons and also links to a troubleshooting guide on making macarons.
- Stella from BraveTart’s how-to on making macarons.
These two people have summed up in quite a lot of detail the ins and outs of making macarons at home. Please do check them out before you make your own batch.
While these posts are really insightful, in my experience and if you scroll down to some of the comments on these posts, you will see that what works for somebody might not work for you and the vice versa holds true as well. A case in point- Marie mentions in her post to double the baking sheets when baking macarons- well I did not, and it worked perfectly fine for me. And while my instructor for my macaron class recommended using silpats, and thats what we used in class and they worked perfect, when I tried using silpats at home, my shells always stuck. But with parchment paper, I did not have the problem and that’s what I use. Go figure. Bottom line, don’t give up on macarons just because you followed someone else’s advice to the T and still did not get feet, or had flat broken shells. Our instructor told us that people who make macarons for a living everyday still get a rogue batch, so do not dispair when you fail. If you really want to learn making macarons, you will surely find your own way to get them perfect.
Someone also commented on Stella’s post that she never ages her egg whites and it always works for her, but others swear by it. I asked my instructor about how necessary aging the whites is. The reason for aging, he said, is that the proteins in eggs tend to relax with aging giving a more stronger meringue. Its not necessary to age whites, as many others on the world wide web have pointed out, but it does give a stronger meringue and thus a macaron less likely to fail. To age, after separating the egg whites from the yolk, keep covered in the refrigerator for 5 days. And then use right away or freeze them in ziploc bags or air tight containers. Egg whites can be kept in the freezer for 2-3 months. You can also let them age uncovered overnight on the counter at room temperature. Its not the most hygienic, but our instructor told us thats what french pastry chefs do. And the french do know their macarons.
I have used the french meringue method for making the macarons on this post, which is pretty straight forward but less forgiving than the italian meringue method. If you have trouble with the french meringue, try the the italian meringue method, which involves making a sugar syrup that gets poured into the egg whites to create a very stable meringue and see if it works better for you. Hopefully I will be posting soon about that method too.
For coloring, gel or pastes work best. And coloring the meringue is better than adding it after you have mixed in the nut flour mix. But be careful to not add too much of color since that can affect your macarons to be flat.
Also remember, after filling the macarons do not eat them right away. They taste best the next day after the filling and the shell have kind of integrated- giving them a chewy center and crunchy exterior.
Anyway, here is the recipe that I used to get the macarons you see in the picture. For a troubleshooting guide do refer to the links given above and I wish you a happy and successful macaron baking day!
- 125 gms hazelnut flour
- 175 gms powdered sugar
- 105gms egg whites
- 75g sugar
- pinch of salt
- 2.5 ml hazelnut extract
- 200 gms bittersweet chocolate
- 100 gms milk chocolate
- 200 gms 35 % whipping cream
- 100 gms hazelnut butter or hazelnut praline paste ( You can find it in health food stores, but I made my own in the food processor)
- Place the powdered sugar and ground hazelnut in a food processor and buzz for about a minute, until a very fine powder forms. Sift into a bowl, to make sure there are no lumps and whisk briskly to lighten the mixture. Set aside.
- Place egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. (You can add a pinch of cream of tartar) Beat on high till medium peaks. Slowly add the 75gms sugar and continue to beat until whites are glossy and holding medium stiff peaks. Our instructor told us this is the time you should add your color, but keep in mind that the color would lighten when you add the nut flour-sugar mix, so keep it a shade or two darker than what you would like.
- Add one third of hazelnut flour-sugar mix, salt and fold to combine. Repeat with two more additions. Fold till all the ingredients are incorporated. Add extract and fold it in.
- Place the mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a medium round tip (tips 802-804 would do).
- Pipe 1-2 inch rounds about 1.5 inches apart on parchment or solpat lined baking sheet. Once piped, tap the bottom of the pan a few times to flatten the tops and even out the surface.
- Preheat oven to 300F ( I preheated to 290 and baked a little longer)
- Let trays sit for 20 minutes or more until until the tops of the macarons form a slight skin.
- Place in a preheated oven and bake for 10-12 minutes ( I baked for about 15-18 minutes) or until set (the bottoms should be set enough to just lift from the parchment with a centre that is still slightly moist). I also baked with a wooden spoon in the oven door to keep the door slightly ajar and reduce possible humidity.
- Remove trays from oven and let cool completely before removing. Pair according to similar sized and keep aside.
- Place both types of chocolate in medium sized heat proof bowl and set over a pot of barely simmering water and melt completely. Or, melt in a microwaveable bowl.
- Bring cream to a boil, remove from heat and stir in hazelnut paste.
- Whisk one third of the cream into chocolate, add another third and whisk to smooth, add remaining cream and the salt. Whisk until combined. Set aside and let cool to a nice piping consistency.
- Pipe onto flat side of one macaron and sandwich with another. Repeat with remaining macarons. Seal airtight and chill overnight.
The best and most surprising part of these macarons were that V (the guy who is not a sweets fan) absolutely loved them. He was very upset that I did not keep aside a few for him, and instead kept them all for my friends at coffee to finish. He keeps hinting that I should make more. The only problem is all that yolk. Creme brulee, lemon curd and ice cream are some uses I can think of, would love you to tell me other recipes I can try with the leftover yolks. All suggestions welcome (even the ones that call for using the yolks as a hair conditioner 😉 )!