Friday, March 12, 2010

Macarons au Sucre Cuit & Maca-lols

Blue Maca-lols

I talk about macarons enough maybe I should stop being a tease and let you know technically how it's done.  I was fooled at first by the simplicity of the recipe and techniques, but making macarons is almost like you need to pick an auspicious day upon consulting the almanac, and then praying and performing some paganistic ritual beforehand just so that your macarons will turn out perfect (inline feet, non-sticky bottom, non-hollow body, leveled shells...)

So here it is.  As far as I know, use real eggs - none of that liquid egg whites please.  If you don't know what to do with leftover egg yolks, make a French buttercream filling out of it.

Macarons au Sucre Cuit (Italian method)
adapted from

60g of egg white (about 2 large eggs)
Pinch of salt or dash of lemon juice (optional)

60g of egg white
150g of almond flour
150g of castor (confectioner's) sugar

150g of castor (confectioner's) sugar
50mL of water
Candy thermometer

See for Duncan's ratios on egg whites : almond flour : sugar if you want to double or half the recipe, or if your egg whites amount aren't exactly this.

1. Use a tiny tiny pot to boil the 150g of sugar with 50mL of water to make a syrup.  Give it a thorough stir so all the water have a chance to get into the sugars.  Then you can leave it alone to boil.

2. Boil the sugar-water at medium (mine's a ceramic cook top).  No need to stir, you'll only splash it up the sides and waste stuff if you do.

3. Whip your 60g of egg whites with a pinch of salt or dash of lemon juice if you wish to make it more whippable.

4. Continue whisking until it is at hard peaks form.

5. Once syrup reaches anywhere between 230F-245F, remove it from heat IMMEDIATELY.

6. Slowly stream in the hot syrup into your whipped egg white mix with the mixer of slow slow speed.
    I find it easier to pulse the mixer to avoid splashing or making cotton candy.  Pour, pulse, pour, pulse...

7. Whip the egg whites on high to kingdom come (stiff bird's peak on the whisk) once all the syrup has been added, while cooling it in an ice bath (optional but recommended for a big batch).
If peak is still droopy, keep whipping.  It WILL firm up.

8. Sift the 150g of almond flour and 150g of sugar, then add 60g of egg whites and mix together and any coloring you wish.
     It is very heavy and sticky, I suggest you use a mixer to thoroughly combine this.

9. Once your meringue has cooled, you're now ready to put the two and two together.

10.  Smear the SOB hard for 30 seconds.  You're trying to incorporate as much of the almond mix into the meringue so that it's uniform and kill the big bubbles in the meringue.

11. After 30s of abusive smearing.  Fold the mixture in no more than 50 strokes.  Don't baby this thing.

12. Check for ribbon like/15-30 second re-incorporation after about 30 strokes.  STOP FOLDING if it's doing this, you're done.
     I shall be the first to post a video demonstrating what this actually looks like.  Eventually...

13. Spoon into a 16-inch pastry bag fitted with a Wilton #8 tip (give or take).

14. Pipe 1-inch dollops (2.5cm) onto a silicone baking mat.
     I've used parchment before and it's giving me oval macarons...with Silpats, I don't need meringue dabs to hold the sheet down.

15. Knock the pan on the counter several times to bring up any air bubbles and quickly pop them with a tooth pick.

16. Shake and tilt the pan in all directions to ensure the batter will be resting in a leveled position before baking.

17. Preheat oven to about 320F
     You really would have to play around with your oven as every oven is different.

18. Let macarons rest (crust) for about 15 minutes.

19. You may sprinkle anything you like to decorate the shells at this point so it's baked into it.

20. Bake for about 12 minutes in the oven.
     I tend to sit in front of the oven and stare at it like a crazy person.  "Feet!  Feet!  Show me your feet!"

21. Let cool on a cooling rack for about 5 minutes before trying to pull them off the silicone mat.  It should come off clean.

Turned out just like the tester pieces

Makes about 50 sandwiched macarons (100 shells)
I filled these with orange buttercream.

Orange Buttercream
adapted from

120g egg whites (about 4 eggs)
70g of sugar
60mL of water
30g of castor sugar
340g of softened unsalted butter (about 3/4 cups)
1/4tsp of salt
Orange extract

1. Boil the 70g of sugar with 60mL of water to about 240F.

2. Meanwhile, add the salt to the egg whites and whip to frothy.

3. Stream in the 30g of castor sugar.

5. Whip egg whites to hard glossy peaks.

6. When sugar syrup reaches 240F, remove from heat immediately and stream into egg whites.  Avoid whipping blades.

7. Whip until you get a bird's peak on the whisks.  Now you have meringue.

8. Soften the butter and add it a spoonful at a time to the meringue.  When it has been completely absorbed, add the next spoonful.  At some point, it will look like it's a curdled mess, keep whipping and adding butter, it will sort itself out.

9. Add the flavourings to taste.

10. Fill a piping bag with a plain #8 tip and pipe the fillings onto one shell and sandwich another shell on top.


Lesson learned:
1) use a proper scale;
2) make less macarons;
3) do not pipe the same batch of macarons on separate occassions

This is what happens when I baked the macarons after leaving them in a piping bag for 3 hours.

3) Do a few test pieces to ensure the batter is mixed properly and the oven is at the right temperature.

Nice and leveled, good feet, no cracks, good solid bottoms, no giant air pocket bodies.
Green light go ahead!

There will be more macarons making as I have to ensure my mixer/oven temperature will consistently yield these results.

To make a maca-lol, insert a lollipop stick in the middle after sandwiching your cookies together.

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