Macarons with Raspberry Butter Cream
I have been relentless in my pursuit of the perfect macaron. And I am pleased to say that I am getting closer and closer.
Having experimented with various permutations and combinations of baking trays, oven level, temperature and whether the oven door is kept slightly ajar or closed, I think I’ve finally come closer to a recipe that works for me.
I don’t think there’s a “perfect” recipe that’ll give you the cutest, smoothest, light crisp skin and soft chewy meringue macaron shell. I’ve tried four different recipes and have come to the conclusion that it’s not about what goes in as much as it is about technique with these little buggers.
The key thing I learnt (thanks Alya!) was to leave out as much moisture as possible. So instead of using liquid food colouring, I used powdered tint (annoyingly not freely available in your local corner shop) ordered online.
The “magma”-like consistency is also not a myth. Since I doubt most people, like myself, have never really gotten that close to be able to see what magma flows like, I’m gonna re-define this nonsensical comparison as smooth cake-batter-like flow. That’s what I achieved in my 3rd attempt.
After reaching my ideal macaron batter stage, I played about with how long I left the piped macarons to rest before sticking them into the oven on heavy-based baking trays. The ones I left to rest for just over an hour produced thicker outer shells. Unfortunately during this experiment I had the oven temperature at 180C and kept the door closed. This made the macarons puff up very quickly, creating big cracks on the top and no feet.
So for my 4th batch, I let the piped macarons rest for 45 minutes and reduced the oven temperature to 150C, keeping the door closed. AND I GOT FEET!! I GOT FEET!! YEEHAAAAA MAMA! Some of them did crack at the top but I didn’t care as much for them as I was doing my victory dance for my feet.
Come 5th batch, I had them rest for 45 minutes, used a heavy baking tray, dropped the temperature to 145C and kept the door open. And I got some pretty shells :). What a super happy feeling.
The one thing I kept in common with each batch, apart from the batter, was how I went about removing the shells from the baking parchment. They are notoriously stubborn when it comes to coming off the paper. So I sprinkled some warm water onto the baking tray (removing the whole parchment off it first). After having the parchment rest for about 20 seconds on the wet baking tray the macarons peeled off with ease.
So there you go. That’s my recipe. It may or may not work for other people and I doubt anyone gets them right first off. If they did, I will find them and beat them into honesty. Everyone should be struggling with these little rascals because once you get them right that “I GOT FEET!” feeling is totally worth every failed attempt.
Pink Macaron Shell Recipe (adapted from super dessert blog, Tartelette)
3 egg whites, aged over 48 hours on kitchen counter (about 90 gr)
30 gr granulated sugar, for the meringue
200 gr powdered sugar
110 gr ground almonds
1 tbsp red food powder tint
1. Preheat oven to 145C. Using a stand mixer (check out my sexy new KitchenAid – thanks N&D!) or a hand-held electric mixer whisk the egg whites to a foam, gradually adding the granulated sugar until you obtain a glossy meringue. Do not overbeat.
2. Combine the ground almonds and powdered sugar in a food processor or blender and give them a good pulse and stir to mix. Sift them and add a third of it to the meringue with the coloring. Fold it quickly break some of the air and then fold the mass carefully until you obtain a batter that flows like smooth cake batter. Do 15 long folds and test a small amount on a plate: if the tops sinks in on its own you’re done with folding. If it has a stiff peak, do another 15 long folds or so and test again. You may have to do this thrice till you reach the ideal batter consistency.
3. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip with the batter and pipe small rounds (10p coin size – you can even trace around the outline with a pen and flip the parchment over to the non-pen-marked side, just make sure the traced circles are spaced with 1-1.5 inch gaps) onto the parchment paper lined baking sheets. Let the macarons sit out for 45 minutes grow skins and bake for 8-10 minutes with the door kept ajar with a wooden spoon jammed in between.
4. Let cool for 20 seconds. You may have trouble removing them from the parchment so remove the parchment from baking tray, moisten the tray and place the parchment back onto it. Let rest for another 20 seconds and them peel off the macarons. This will be easy peasy now. Don’t let them rest on the wet tray for too long otherwise they’ll start getting soggy. Enjoy perving at the pretty shells!
Raspberry Cream Cheese Buttercream Recipe (Thanks to Bryony for being my trusty kitchen help with the filling)
170g butter at room temperature
150g cream cheese, softened
3 egg whites
100g granulated sugar
two handfuls of raspberries (Bryony has small-ish female hands)
1. Whisk the egg whites until they have soft peaks. In the meantime, put the raspberries and sugar in a heavy saucepan and bring to the boil. Simmer over medium heat till the raspberries are all broken down and a syrup has formed.
2. Slowly add the sugar syrup to the egg whites. Continue to whip until the meringue is completely cooled. This stage is pretty fun cuz the meringue grows to the size of a human head. And tastes mighty good.
3. Slowly add the butter, one tablespoon at a time. Whip till it all comes together. Add the cream cheese the same way until everything is smooth. The filling can also double up as a cupcake frosting.
4. Sandwich between 2 macaron shells.