With Easter coming nearer, I thought you might enjoy my macaron recipe.. they make such a bright and happy spot on every Easter table.
The ingredients for making macarons are simple, the key is to mix them in the exact proportion, and to bake them for the exact time.
Egg whites do not come in standard sizes (they usually vary between 33g and 36g per egg), which is why I developed my recipe with the weight of the egg whites as starting point, from where I then calculate the rest of the ingredients.
Egg whites: two make about 14 macarons. This time, they weighed 69g (2.42 oz) in total. The other ingredients are therefore as follows:
Ground almond (almond powder): Total weight of egg whites multiplied by 1.26 = 87g (3.07 oz)
Icing sugar (confectioners' sugar): Total weight of egg whites multiplied by 2.07 = 143g (5.04 oz)
Caster sugar (regular white sugar):Total weight of egg whites divided by 3.6 = 19g (0.67 oz)
The first thing to prepare is the 'tant pour tant', which is nothing other than sifting icing (confectioners') sugar and ground almonds together through a fine sieve, to obtain a fine powder (because of the oil in the almond powder it is not sufficient to just stir them together). A quick and easy alternative is to whizz them together in a food processor. It takes a fraction of the time and effort, and works equally well (at least for me).
Tant pour tant mix
Then, beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Continue to beat while adding the caster sugar. Once the sugar has dissolved completely, add a drop of food coloring and beat until the color has evenly mixed through.
With the help of spatula, fold the 'tant pour tant' (one third of it at a time) into the stiff egg white mixture. Work swiftly but gently until you have a smooth paste.
Fill the paste into a pastry bag/piping bag fitted with a 8 mm (size 8) tip
Cover a baking tray with a sheet of baking parchment, and squeeze out small dollops (approx. 4 cm /1.5" diameter) of the mixture, leaving at least 4 cm (1.5") distance between them.
The picture below is a good illustration of the desired consistency of the mixture. It should not be too liquid (it must not run out of the piping bag like thick liquid) and not be too solid either (when squirted onto the parchment, it should still be liquid enough to spread itself out a bit, and not like a solid blob with little peaks on top). Weather conditions (humidity) and the oil content of the almond powder can influence the delicate balance of the ingredients, but you can always correct these by adding more/less of the 'tant pour tant' to the stiff egg white mix.
Leave the uncooked shells for half an hour to dry before putting them into a preheated oven (120˚C/F250˚).
Bake for a minimum of 8 minutes, and then start to watch them closely. The baking time can be anywhere from 9-14 minutes, and depends on the size and height of the dollops you've made. Take also into account that each oven behaves differently. The first sign of them being ready, is when the kitchen starts filling with a heavenly scent. If the color gets a hint of brown, or small cracks appear on the surface, they have been in too long. Usually, the color change or cracking happens to just one of them at first, which is a sure sign that all of them are ready. Often, I wait for this moment... having one mishap macaron in the batch is a small sacrifice for knowing that the rest will be perfect. Taking them out too early means they will still be liquid inside, even though they might already look good from the outside.
Combine 100g (3.52 oz) raspberries or strawberries (fresh or frozen), 55 g (5.2 oz) jam sugar and 1/2 tsp of lemon juice in a saucepan. Bring to the boil, while stirring continuously. Continue to stir and boil for 5 minutes.
An alternative with green food coloring.... if you look closely at the bottom left picture, you can see that this batch has been a little bit too long in the oven: in the first and third row, you can see two macarons with cracks on their surfaces (they still tasted delicious!)
Coffee macarons are the personal favorites of DH and DS...
For these I prefer coarse ground almond powder, which results in a slightly speckled look of the shells. Instead of food coloring, I use liquid coffee extract, or 1 tsp of strong espresso (you can also dissolve 1 tsp Nescafé with a little boiling water instead) Any hot coffee needs to cool down before adding it to the stiff egg whites. The coarser almond powder seems to absorb the extra liquid, and there is usually no need to add more of the 'tant pour tant' mix to compensate for the coffee.
60g soft unsalted butter (2.1 oz)
35g icing (confectioners') sugar (1.2 oz)
40g almond powder (1.4 oz)
coffee extract or espresso (Nescafé) to taste
Beat the butter until creamy and fluffy, then add the icing sugar and continue to beat until well incorporated. Add the almond powder while still beating. Then, add the coffee or coffee extract. Refrigerate the coffee mousse for at least two hours. Assemble the macarons in the same way as described in the fruit version above.
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