Macarons have been on my mind since for a while…. No, not necessarily in the sense of eating them in all possible colors, but also as a challenge. I read – I guess – hundreds of recipes, but felt like I needed more before even taking a breath and entering the kitchen.
Finally, I got there, with all the mysterious equipment listed by the authentic-looking recipes and I was ready to go. I spent half a day with the mission, generated half a ton of dirty dishes and … created a not-so-badly-tasting but, actually, awfully looking bunch of something…
I felt so ashamed that I put aside this issue for a relatively long time and just have got back to it very recently. I gave up on perfection and that not-so-well-understood authenticity, and decided to be a bit theoretical first, then immediately jump into the practical side. Basically, I wanted nicely-looking tiny cookies with delicious taste. To translate it for myself.
One thing, before really jumping into the middle, is that weather does really matter. No, not in a way to drive you towards sweets once it is foggy, humid and cold outside, but quite the opposite. If the level of humidity inside your apartment is higher than 50%, though below 70%, prepare for hard times and a questionable result. If it is above 70%, do not even think about macarons. You had better go and grab a box at your favorite place, instead. So, check the weather-station, and if you see a figure lower than 50, drop everything and go!
200 g sugar powder
110 g almond flour
2 eggs (you will need only the white)
drops of bio food colors
for cheaters :-):
1 drop of lemon juice
1/2 coffee spoon crystal sugar
Everything starts with the almond. At least, in this recipe. If you managed to buy almond flour (finest), you are in a better position, but do not lose your enthusiasm just because only grounded almond was available in your environment. Simply put into the grounder with the sugar and let it do the job for you. The sugar is important here as otherwise you will end up having marzipan instead of a powdery texture. I am not joking.
Once you are done with this step, prepare the baking sheets (I like the silicon covered ones). Prepare means that I draw small circles on the back, in the size of a CHF 2, actually using it as a template. Let ca. 2 cm space between each of them. Use a brush pen for this step, and the circles will be visible on the other side, when it comes to placing the batter on it.
Separate the egg whites and put them into the food processor. If you do not trust yourself enough or want to be sure about the outcome, you can cheat a bit with adding the lemon juice and the crystal sugar. This is also the time to add the coloring. I trust only the liquid ones; powder or gel versions change the overall texture of the batter – to the wrong direction. Chose the quality ones and then you need only small drops to get the desired color.
Beat the eggs until stiff peaks, and if you turn the bowl upside down it does not slip out. You are almost there. You just have to mix the two parts (the beaten egg and the almond with the sugar powder). Do it manually. I like to use the spatula for this step, folding the mass gently by the side of the bowl, until it reaches a homogenous texture. It takes a while, but do not overdo it, otherwise you will release the air from the beaten egg and all your efforts become worthless. The right batter texture is somewhat like marmelade (not jam!). Flowing down from the spatula without being torn or broken. If you use coloring, it may also help you visually.
Put the batter into the piping bag fitted with a round tip. Pipe small portions on the baking sheets, into the circles. When ready, tap the baking tray gently to the table 3-5 times, to release the extra air bubbles from the batter. It is crucial, so do not forget it.
Leave the batter as it is on the table, at room temperature, for 30-60 minutes, until it becomes leather-like, dry-to-touch. This is why the humidity is important in your environment.
While waiting, switch on the oven and pre-heat up to 160 degrees celsius. Once everything is ready and looks fine, put it into the oven and bake it until the “feet” become visible and macarons no longer stick to the baking sheet. It takes ca 15 minutes.
When they are ready, take the macarons out of the oven and let them cool before filling.
An important thing is to keep the cooled macarons out of reach until you fill them because you have a fairly good chance that someone eats them before… They are tasty without the filling, too.
For filling I prefer the butter-free versions, although it is really the question of taste. It is in itself a creative project to find out the colors, tastes and textures which work the best together. Enjoy.
I will come back with some ideas, soon.