This post started out as a blow-by-blow account of the day I learnt to make macaroons. I wanted to give you, dear reader, a little background to my absolute love for the domes of deliciousness but before I knew it I had got lost in our adventures in Paris and so was forced to split the posts. Click here to read about my macaroon-munching journey in that wonderful city. Otherwise, keep reading about my Macaroon Class at La Petite Patisserie.
During my Patisserie Course we spent a day learning to make macaroons which turned out to be my most favourite class of the whole course. Those cute little pastel shells need to be just right so I thought you’d appreciate to hear about my experience in trying to master them.
I started out gathering all of my ingredients – almond flour, castor sugar, icing sugar, room temperature egg whites and my chosen gel colours. After sifting the almond flour and icing sugar twice to ensure there were no lumps (grrr, it takes f.o.r.e.v.e.r to get it all through the sieve), I whisked the egg whites till soft peak before slowly adding the castor sugar in small batches. I then added the whipped egg whites to the almond flour mix and then things got technical. The correct term for this mixing is called Macaronage which involves incorporating the egg whites and the almond so there are no lumpy bits, but not mixing it so hard that the batter becomes too runny. Fine line, I tell you. Fine line!
I decided to do three pastel shades so I divided my batter into three and coloured each bowl with a tiny bit of gel colour – that stuff is strong and in this case – less is more! A useful tip I use it to dip a toothpick in the gel bottle and wipe just a bit of colour into the batter, carefully mix and then add more if necessary.
After that I put the batter into piping bags (fitted with a small round tip) and pipped the batter into the centre of each round on the macaroon mat. Side note – does anyone even know who invented the macaroon mat? Genius I tell you, absolute genius!!! Before this fabulous invention you had to pipe free hand. I know some people still make macaroons this way but I am far more concerned with them all being exactly (exactly!) the same size so it`s macaroon mats only for me!
If you got your Macaronage right, the batter will slowly spread to the rim of each round when you pipe it, and not overflow. The piped batter is then left for 30-60 minutes until a skin is formed and then popped into a preheated 150’C oven. This is where the magic happens – the macaroons rise and their little “feet” are formed – a crackly, puffed second layer. No feet? You likely overmixed your batter… sadness! Round 2?
Once they can be lifted quite easily from the mat, they can be removed from the oven and left to cool. If you listen closely you will hear the faintest crackling noise – that`s the macaroons contracting slightly and pulling away from the rim of the mat. That is good news – you`re more than half-way to macaroon munching heaven.
We made a buttercream filling in class and I also made a quick raspberry jam. The best? Mixing the two – absolutely delish! Once the macaroons are completely cool, I spread a bit of filing on one and sandwiched it together with a perfectly matched second one (thank you for perfection macaroon mat!) Oh, and then I devoured one (or two)
So all in all, I`d call my first attempt at making macaroons a success. There are lots of tips and tricks to read online which help but in my (very limited) experience I`d say that the biggest game changer is good Macaronage. Wax that and you`ll be feasting on your crispy creations in no time.
All the best!