For my virgin macaron attempt I used the Italian meringue method as it’s supposed to be more stable and had a smaller proportion of sugar compared to other versions. The recipe was quartered to reduce waste keeping in mind the high failure rate of macarons.
Unfortunately, the sugar syrup was too shallow for an accurate temperature reading and it caramelized. I threw it away and started a new batch – not. I was so impatient that I proceeded with the caramel sugar anyway. It was by no means a complete disaster. The macarons had smooth, tops and perfect feet. Despite the toasted tops and crunchy chewy texture, they were delicious filled with salted butter caramel cream and bittersweet chocolate ganache.
Macarons are at their best 24-78 hours after being assembled, and what’s left of today’s batch are now undergoing maturation. They’re supposed to mellow out and become more tender as the shells absorb the flavors and moisture from the fillings, so hopefully there will be an improvement.
Here are the details:
Egg whites (82g): Aged 2 days, uncovered, room temperature
Sugar syrup: Cooked to light amber color, at least 154°C. Correct temperature 118°C.
Almond powder and icing sugar: Processed and sifted a week before, sifted again today.
Oven details: 160°C, 11 minutes
Macarons, italian meringue method
Original recipe from Syrup and Tang
Ingredient weights (In ratio):
Icing sugar : almond powder : egg whites : caster sugar : water = 1.35 : 1.35 : 1 : 1.35 : 0.33
115g icing sugar
115g almond powder
82g aged egg whites
115g caster sugar
Line a dark colored baking tray with silpat and parchment paper on top of everything, as couldn’t be arsed to purchase aluminium baking sheets. Enlist hapless little brother to trace 3cm diameter circles, spaced 3cm apart, on parchment paper.
Placed the sugar and water in a pan entirely too wide for tiny amount. Frown at it but assure self it will be ok because sugar syrup will bubble a lot when heated.
Divide total egg white into two equal amounts in anal manner with spoon and digital weighing scale. Place one half in a small container and the other half in a bowl big enough to whip in. Whip in. Whip in.
Process the almond meal and icing sugar at high speed to achieve a fine powder. Sift twice and set aside. Throw in the last 2 tablespoons of coarser powder leftover, it’s alright.
Place the saucepan for the syrup over low heat and bring to a simmer, swirling to help dissolve the sugar. Use a wet pastry brush to brush down the sides of the pan. The brush sizzles. Fret as the 0.5cm depth of syrup proves impossible read on candy thermometer. Tilt the pan so measurable depth of liquid increases and hope for the best.
Beat the egg white with an electric mixer until it makes soft peaks.
Stare at candy thermometer which has now been stuck at 100°C for an unnaturally long time. Press tip of thermometer to the bottom of the pan and watch temperature jump to 115°C.
Continue staring at thermometer, which is now stuck at 115°C. Panic as sugar syrup begins turning light amber, rush to turn off flame. Whip egg whites to firm peaks and pour hot syrup down the sides in a thin stream, hoping for the best.
Beat at maximum speed for a few minutes until the sugar-egg mixture cools, and rejoice at the stiff, white, satiny meringue. Allow feeling of hope to trickle in.
Pour the remaining amount of egg white onto the dry ingredients. Scoop the meringue on top of that. Fold the mixture, pressing down on batter occasionally, and marvel at its unnaturally sticky consistency. Stop when a ribbon of batter dropped from the spatula disappears into the remaining batter disappears in 30 seconds, or when fear of over mixing caramelized macaron batter (which should be stickier than normal) becomes impossible to ignore.
Dab a little macaron batter under each corner of the parchment paper on the tray to anchor it. Answer little brother’s question: “Is this glue?”
Spoon the batter into a piping bag with a 10 mm plain nozzle and pipe evenly onto the baking paper, finishing with a comma shaped flick towards the edge. Lift the tray a few inches off the table and drop it with a sudden bang, making little brother twitch. This will help the spread and flatten the peaks.
Place the tray in the oven. At the 5 minute mark the shells should have lifted and developed ‘feet’. Smile at oven out of sheer joy and relief. Look around in vain for someone to share said joy. At the 6-7 minute mark they should be starting to colour just slightly, rotate the tray. Watch in disbelief as macaron tops start turning a previously unseen toasty brown. Take them out at 11 minutes, or when a shell moves only reluctantly on its foot when lightly nudged with a finger.
Remove from the oven and leave on the tray for a minute or two. Excitedly pull off a shell and stare at the mound of macaron innards remaining stuck on the parchment paper. Hold the parchment paper with macaron shells vertically and swing it around, marveling at their staying power. Place a damp rag on top of the hot silpat and baking tray and replace the parchment, making a steam sandwich. Wait for 20 seconds. Transfer macaron studded paper onto cooling rack. After 10 seconds, gently peel the paper off the macarons, far earlier than suggested in the recipe.
Leave the shells to cool on a wire rack, face up. Eat a few with a little brother. They are crunchy and very chewy. In the meantime, fill piping bags with filling. Eat some of that too.
When cool, match similarly sized macarons. Eat the odd one out. Fill one half of macaron shell with a generous amount of filling. Smoosh the other side on to make the filling bulge. Enjoy immediately or store in the fridge for up to 4 days, (they get better after 24 hours), letting it come to room temperature before eating, or gobble straight from the fridge.