I don’t know if you’ve noticed but macarons are having a bit of a moment (state the obvious I know) but they have a reputation for being verrry tricky to make. This is my step-by-step guide to turning out your own sugary delicacies with minimal fuss and no tears. It’s actually very easy to do; have a peek inside if you don’t believe me…
You will need:
- 125g icing sugar
- 125g ground almonds
- 90g egg whites
- 2 tbsp water
- 110g caster sugar
- food colouring (optional)
- any other decorations (glitter, sprinkles etc)(also optional)
To begin, weigh out your icing sugar, ground almonds and 40g of egg whites into a large bowl and blend together until it reaches a paste. Use a larger bowl than you think you will need as more will be added later.
If it seems like the there isn’t enough liquid to blend it all together don’t worry – just keep going! (I promise you there is)
Set this aside for a while whilst we deal with the rest of the ingredients.
Into a saucepan, weigh out your 110g caster sugar and two tablespoons of water. I know you all know what a table spoon looks like but just in case you don’t, or you’ve forgotten, this is the one you need to be using.
Into the saucepan with it all
In a separate bowl whisk your remaining egg whites (should be 50g left over) until stiff peaks form when the whisk is removed from the bowl. If you’re feeling brave you can do the ‘over the head’ test. Tip the bowl upside down and hold it over your head, if you have to go wash your hair the eggs weren’t ready yet.
Turn up the heat on the saucepan and get that mixture boiling, you want the mixture to thicken and turn syrupy. There’s no need for a thermometer just swirl it around and notice how the thickness is changing.
Once you’re happy the syrup needs to be poured into the whisked eggs whites whilst whisking some more. The mixture will become even more stiff and nice and shiny. Don’t pour too fast, there’s no rush, just take your time.
At this point if you want to add any flavourings or colours, add them to the whisked whites. I chose to make pretty pink macarons and to get a nice vibrant colour you need a good gel food colouring. The liquid ones will never give you the same ‘pop’. I would advise a very small amount of gel colour even if you want a pale pastel finish as the extra liquid isn’t great for the final product.
Final step! Now add the egg whites to the almond paste from way back in step one. Do it bit by bit, making sure you blend the two evenly at each step.
See how nice and smooth the mixture becomes once you incorporate everything? That’s what you’re aiming for.
Now, lay out a sheet of baking paper on a tray, I put a dollop (technical term) of mixture under each corner to hold it in place and then get piping. You can use any kind of piping bag you like for the macarons, or if you’re really fancy there are molds out there (like this one from Lakeland. I’ll even pretend not to see that they are calling them macaroons) that will give you perfect, matching halves every time.
I find it’s fairly easy if you hold the piping bag vertical and don’t swirl. Keep the tip in the same place and let the shape balloon out from it. Once they’re all lined up like neat little soldiers bang the tray on the work surface a few times to smooth out any tips on the top and then leave to stand for 20-30 minutes until a skin forms.
(Probably one of the reasons these things have a reputation for being fiddly but it it’s not hard, just go get a cup of tea or do your washing up. Or better yet; get a cup of tea and watch someone else do the washing up.)
In these 30 minutes set the oven to start heating at 170 °C (gas mark 3) and once they’re ready to go pop them in the oven with the door slightly ajar.
They should take about 15 mins, test them by feeling to see if they have gone hard and look for the foot around the base where they have risen. Take them out, leave to cool and you’re basically done!
All that’s left is to peel them away from the paper, if they are really done they will have a nice smooth base and won’t stick.
And match them up to their closest twin! I normally use jam as a filling as I like nice fruity flavours to go with all that sugar, but other options are whipped cream (although be careful as it is very wet and turns them soggy if left for too long), chocolate ganache (amazing with pistachio shells) or lemon curd.
Experiment and see what your prefer!
Are you going to try this recipe? Come back and let me know how it went in the comments. What are your favourite flavour combos?