The haute couture of desserts - French classic macarons


The haute couture of desserts - French classic macarons

Call it a sandwich cookie with meringue, these sweet bites are airy and chewy



Here is a guide to making macarons at home Video Credit: Anas Thacharpadikkal/Gulf News

It is belived that the French introduced macarons to the world. But it was an Italian chef in the French royal court, during 16th century, who first made it. Macarons, unlike their cousins - macaroons (coconut-based fillings) are filled with meringue, which is really the key and "that is what many people don't know how to make or get it wrong", said Chef David Croiser. There is a technique and making macarons requires precision.

During the French revolution, two Benedictine nuns who were seeking asylum, started baking and selling sweet treats made of almond, sugar and eggs for their livelihood. And soon enough, people started calling them as 'the macaron sisters'. 

The meringue-based version was popularised by - Ladurée, a Parisian bakery. They usually served it as an accompaniment with tea. Another upscale Parisian patisserie - Fauchon spun new flavours such as olive oil and rose. The all time classic macarons flavours in the 1990s were vanilla, chocolate and coffee.

  • For the dough mix
  • 300 gms icing sugar
  • 300 gms almond powder/flour
  • 120 gms egg white
  • For the meringue
  • 300 gms sugar (white preferably)
  • 100 ml water
  • 120 gms egg white
  • For the buttercream filling
  • 330 gms sugar
  • 40 gms water
  • 80 gms egg yolk
  • 500 gms butter
  • Food colouring of any choice, preferably gel-based
Macarons
Ingredients to make macarons Image Credit: Stefan Lindeque/Gulf News
Macarons
Ingredients for buttercream filling Image Credit: Stefan Lindeque/Gulf News

Step 1. Mix almond powder and icing sugar in a bowl and add egg white to it.

Macarons
Mix egg whites with the dry ingredients Image Credit: Stefan Lindeque/Gulf News

Step 2: Mix the dry and wet ingredients well to bind them together, whisk them with a spatula, slowly.

Macarons
Whisk the wet and dry ingredients together Image Credit: Stefan Lindeque/Gulf News

Step 3: Mix the ingredients well to form into a thick batter like consistency.

Step 4: In a pan, add sugar and water. Bring them to a boil and when the temperature reaches 110 degree celsius, turn the flame off and remove the pan to a cooler surface. Chef Croiser uses a food thermometer to measure the temperature. Having this tiny gadget is ideal because temperature affects the texture and flavour of baked dishes, especially when it come to macarons.

Making macarons
Bring the water and sugar to a boil Image Credit: Stefan Lindeque/Gulf News

Step 5: Once the boiling temperature reaches 110 degree celsius, remove it from the flame and place onto a cooler surface.

Macarons
Measure the temperature using a food thermometer Image Credit: Stefan Lindeque/Gulf News

Step 6: In an electric whisker/blender add eggs whites. Start the mixer, whisk it for three to four minutes, until the eggs turn white. 

Macarons
Add egg whites in the electric whisk Image Credit: Stefan Lindeque/Gulf News

Step 7: Add the caramelised sugar into the electric whisk, for five to eight minutes. If you do not have an electric blender, you may use a hand-held blender but it would take a little longer, and the speed would be high, which is not recommended. If you have one of those hand blenders in which speed can be controlled, then you are good to go. Whisking the mixture is the key for a perfect meringue. 

Step 8: Check the consistency of the meringue. Whisk it until stiff peaks are formed. They should stand up in place when the beater is lifted, and not fall. The texture should be smooth and glossy and not dry. Chef Croiser said: "Remember not to overbeat the mixture."

Macarons
Check the consistency of the meringue Image Credit: Stefan Lindeque/Gulf News

Step 9: Add the meringue to the almond mixture, one spoon at a time. Mix them well and once the first batch is mixed, add another spoon and mix.

Step 10. Continue mixing the meringue and almond powder mixture. 

Step 11. Remember to mix the meringue and mixture slowly, not in a rushed manner.

Making macarons
The meringue and almond mixture should mix well to form a thick consistency Image Credit: Stefan Lindeque/Gulf News

Step 12: Once the meringue and mixture is completely mixed, the consistency should look thick - semi-solid. 

Macarons
The consistency of the mixture should be thick Image Credit: Stefan Lindeque/Gulf News

Step 13: In a pastry bag (piping bag) fitted with a baking nozzle, sized - 1½ inch (3cm) add the mixture, until half full. Once filled, close the piping bag, hold it with your hand to pipe the mix down the nozzle.

Macarons
Add the mixture in the pastry or piping bag Image Credit: Stefan Lindeque/Gulf News
Macarons
Fill the pastry or piping bag until half full Image Credit: Stefan Lindeque/Gulf News

Step14: Close the pastry bag and tap it a couple of time to release any air bubbles.

Macarons
Close the pastry bag Image Credit: Stefan Lindeque/Gulf News

Step 15: Pipe the macarons onto the silpat/parchment sheet, making a three centimeter circle and spacing it one inch apart from each other.

How to make macarons
Pipe the macarons onto the sheet Image Credit: Stefan Lindeque/Gulf News

Step 16: Fill the baking sheet with macarons, spacing it apart to reduce the risk of touching each other, while they are baked. Keep it aside and let it sit for 30 mnutes so the macarons form a skin. 

How to make macarons
The sheet is ready to be placed in the oven Image Credit: Stefan Lindeque/Gulf News

Step 17: Place the sheet on a baking tray, carefully. Tap the tray four to five times to release any air bubbles. Set the oven temperature to 150 degree celsius and bake for 15 minutes. Baking macarons at the right temperature and time is very important, like every baked dessert.

How to make macarons
Place the baking tray in the oven Image Credit: Stefan Lindeque/Gulf News

Step 18: Remove the baking tray from the oven after 15 minutes and let the macarons cool down, before starting to fill it.

Making macarons
Once baked, they will be slightly risen Image Credit: Stefan Lindeque/Gulf News

Making butter cream for the filling: 

Step 1: Add egg yolk into the electric blender/whisk and whisk it. 

Making buttercream filling
Add the egg yolks into the electric whisk Image Credit: Stefan Lindeque/Gulf News

Step 2: While the egg yolk is being whisked, add sugar and water in a pan and bring it to a boil. Using a food thermometer, check the temperature. Once it reaches 121 degree celsius, turn off the heat. 

Making buttercream
Boil water and sugar till 121 degree celsius Image Credit: Stefan Lindeque/Gulf News

Step 3: Add caramalised sugar into the electric whisk. Remember to not turn off the electirc whisk in between, add it while it's still running.

Macarons
Add water and sugar into the electric whisk Image Credit: Stefan Lindeque/Gulf News

Step 4: Touch the vessel and see if it is warm. Then add cubes of butter from the opening, into the whisk.  

Making buttercream for macarons
Add cubes of butter into the electric whisk Image Credit: Stefan Lindeque/Gulf News

Step 5: Now, add three to four drops of mango flavour and 3/4th teaspoon of yellow food colour into the mix. You can use a flavour and colour of your choice but remember not to use a lot. A minimum of two drops is good. While pistachio is a classic macaron flavour, rose remains an absoulte favourite.

Step 6: Mix them well and transfer to a container. 

Step 7: In a piping bag, fitted with a round tip (about two centimeter) add the buttercream and close it. 

Step 8: Arrange the macarons, so that both the upper and lower macrons are of the same size. This is to ensure that the buttercream filling is sandwiched well.

Arranging macarons
Arranging macarons to start filling it with buttercream Image Credit: Stefan Lindeque/Gulf News

Step 9: Fill the macarons with buttercream. Add one dollop of buttcream to one shell.

Fill the macarons with buttercream
Fill the macarons with buttercream Image Credit: Stefan Lindeque/Gulf News

Step 10: Top the filled macaron with another to create a sandwich. Repeat the same with other shells and buttercream filling.

making macarons
Create a sandwich with the macarons Image Credit: Stefan Lindeque/Gulf News

And macarons are ready. Devour it, one airy bite at a time.

Macarons
Macarons are ready Image Credit: Stefan Lindeque/Gulf News

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