Also known as how to make everyone flock to your table at cheetah-like speed.
I was a latecomer to the macaron craze. I had never so much as sniffed a macaron until halfway through my degree when the lovely Emily brought a selection of macarons to a valentines party. Well myself and the macarons had quite the time, and from then on I began researching how one would construct such delights at home.
I have read many a post, book, article about these and have come to one conclusion: Macarons are some pernickity things to try and cook. To really stress my point, I had two trayfuls of macarons with this mix. I left them for the same amount of time before putting them in the oven. However, due to lack of space I decided to use the two ovens- conventional and fan. Well. The conventional oven produced cracked, anaemic looking horrors of things (I suspect despite my adjusting the oven, it was too cool). The fan oven produced surprisingly decent looking and better tasting examples, although the feet weren’t quite right to me, but I shan’t be too upset.
Then, the next batch that materialised went two different trays. The batch I cooked on a (wilton) cookie sheet with non stick baking paper came out well. The batch I cooked on a (wilton) baking tray were stunted! So very very pernickety!
Now, the next confession is that I took a lovely shortcut and used dulce de leche which I then added some maldon salt instead of making caramel from scratch with the butter and shenanigans. It worked a treat. To whomever discovered salt with caramel, I salute you. I salute you so, so much.
Here’s what I made..
The recipe is one that I’ve been working on for a while. The first few batches were too heavy, so reduced the almonds just a tad. I saw the caster sugar added into the meringue in a recipe and it seems to work well for me, seems to stabilise the egg whites a bit.
I make these at least 1-2 days ahead to give everything time to mesh and for the consistency to be right.
Without further ado
100g egg whites (older is better)
30g caster sugar
100g ground almonds
175g icing sugar
15g cocoa powder
Pinch maldon salt
Dulce de leche – 1 tin
about 1 tsp sea salt- maldon, or adjust to taste.
220g chocolate – I use 55%, broken into pieces
- Put about half of your icing sugar and the ground almonds in the food processor and blitz a few times until its quite fine. The icing sugar helps with this process, otherwise the almonds are a bit oily really. Then mix that in with your cocoa (sieved) and the rest of your icing sugar.
- I use a clean metal or glass bowl to whip the egg whites. I rub this with a cut lemon before adding the whites to remove any trace of oil/grease.
- Add your egg whites to the bowl and whip until they form soft peaks. Add in the caster sugar and whip until glossy, and the mixture forms stiff peaks.
- Add in the icing sugar/almond/cocoa mixture in 3-4 parts, folding with a metal spoon until fully incorporated.
- Add the mixture to an icing bag fitted with a large round nozzle.
- Pipe the mixture on a flat tray in small circles. As I said, I found the best results with a wilton baking sheet and non stick baking paper.
- Sprinkle a very small amount of maldon salt on each.
- Give the tray a few taps on the table or solid work surface to get rid of any air bubbles.
- Let sit out in your kitchen until the macarons no longer feel sticky ot tacky to touch. This took ages in my home kitchen, but only about 25 mins in the house I’m living in at the minute, so just keep an eye on them.
- Bake in a preheated oven, 150 degrees (my oven was set to 130 which is usually actually 150 degrees and it worked well, for about 14 minutes. The macaron should come off the paper easily when done, if you find it sticking, it probably needs another minute or two, just be careful not to burn them! (Heartbreaking when that happens)
- Turn out onto wire tray and cool.
Now you can make your delicious filling.
- The dulce de leche – I just added it to a pan, warmed it and added the salt to taste.
I described the ganache recipe here, but basically:
- Heat the cream in a pan until hot but not boiling.
- Pour over your broken chocolate, give it about 30-45 seconds and start stirring.
- The heat of the milk should melt the chocolate.
- Stir in your softened butter.
- Leave to cool until it reaches a thick consistency, but has not fully set. I pipe this so it needs to be pretty pliable.
Putting it all together:
- I match up the macaron shells so that the size matches – I sometimes get a few that aren’t the exact same size.
- On one half I pipe a circle of salted caramel.
- On the other I pipe a decent circle of ganache.
- Sandwich the two together and there you have it.
Now this is the other trick to macarons. They need time to all fuse and for the filling to melt into the shells. Eating them straight after filling is always a disappointment. However eating them the next day is heaven. So leave them for a day and let them settle, and you won’t regret it. Enjoy!
Also, y’all haven’t been introduced to Layla, who we’ve had for over a year now. THIS is Layla and she is adorable.
PS. I’ve been trying to get this blog up and running for ages, but I have been working an insane amount (See here to get an idea of what is happening these days..). I’m hoping to get a few bits and pieces up over next few weeks though.