Hello everyone! We want to introduce our lovely new guest blogger Jasalyn Thorne from Jasalyn Thorne Photographers! Jasalyn is a super talented, multi-awarded Vancouver-based photographer with a heart for crafting. We’ve always been in awe of her photos – from weddings, to babies and families, even to products! And her down-to-earth and approachable personality completes the package. Enjoy this delicious (and oh-so-very-pretty) post on how to make macarons!
The French macaron has been one of the most challenging things I’ve ever attempted to bake. I’ve been making these tiny delights for almost 2 years now and I still kneel eagerly at the door of my oven, with nose pressed hard against the hot glass, in anticipation of watching the macaron’s signature “foot” rise from the batter and then breathe a sigh of relief, success. The key to a successful macaron is all in the mixing. Too much and they’ll come out flat. Too little and they will be too stiff to form an even dome. These little sweets can frustrate you with their finicky ways but also give you the greatest sense of accomplishment when they come out in perfect form. Here are the tips and tricks which I have learned over the past two years from expert chefs, blog stalking, numerous taste tests of local macarons and trial and error in my own kitchen with HUNDREDS of cookies going into the trash after numerous failed attempts, all in the name of mastering these delicious biscuits.
Here’s what you’ll need:
A. 2 Aluminum baking sheets
B. A kitchen scale
C. Parchment paper
D. 3 large eggs
E. 12-14in piping bag
F. No. 11 plain piping tip
G. Powdered or liquid food colouring
H. Stainless Steel bowl
I. 45g berry sugar (or castor sugar)
J. Fine mesh sifter
K. Silicone spatula
L. 175g. icing sugar
M. 90g Almond flour
Yield: 16 macarons
Preheat oven to 320F for a non-convection. You may have to play with the temperature to get it just right as every oven is different.
Line your baking sheet with the parchment and if needed, use a couple of forks as weights to pin down the edges to prevent it from curling into your macarons. I use a doubled tray to prevent burning on the underside of my macarons.
Use a wand mixer to combine together the icing sugar and almond flour .
Sift the mixture using a fine mesh. If there are any large morsels, use the spatula to press them through the mesh and toss away any which won’t fit. I find this helps to give the macarons very smooth tops.
With room temperature eggs, separate the whites into a clean, dry, grease-free stainless steel bowl. For some reason, I find they whip up better in steel than in a glass bowl. If you get some yolk in there, you may be whipping them for a very long time. Best to start over.
Beat on high with a hand mixer or whisk attachment, until they become frothy, like a bubble bath. When the eggs lose the yellowish tint and it starts to turn white, now is the time to add your sugar, a little at a time until gone.
Continue to whip the eggs until they get glossy and stick firmly to the sides of the bowl when held on an angle and the whites form stiff peaks which curl slightly at the tips. It usually takes anywhere from 2-6 min. On a more humid day, I find it takes longer to get to this point. You’ll have to go by how it looks.
Now is the time to add the colouring. I used a powder colouring but you can use liquid if you add it at the beginning. Adding the powder later will give them a stronger colour.
Mix in the dry ingredients in 3 equal parts, folding the mixture under and over with my silicone spatula until all is incorporated and no dry bits are visible.
Now comes the tricky part, the macaronnage (or mixing). We want to stir out some of the air to make the batter have the consistency of running lava. You have to do it by eye. Mix the batter until you can take a scoop and it runs off the spatula in a ribbon-like manner with little to no breaks in the falling batter. The ribbons should disappear back into the batter in a matter of 10-20 seconds and it becomes smooth again. If you mix it too much you will have flat macarons, too little and they will form uneven domes.
Prep your piping bag with your No.11 plain tip and use a shot glass or small round object to trace circles on the underside of the parchment as a guide when piping the macarons. Remember to pipe a little less than the template outline to allow the batter to spread when it settles on to the parchment.
Pipe the macarons onto the parchment and give the piping tip a quick flick of the wrist at the end to help smooth the surface. Don’t worry if there are slight peaks, if you mixed the batter correctly, by the time they go into the oven they should be smooth and even.
Give the tray a firm tap or two to help the air bubbles rise to the top and burst. You can use a toothpick to coax the larger bubbles to pop. Set the tray of macarons on the counter and leave them to air dry until the tops are dry to the touch. This is what will make the macarons rise and show the signature little ruffle at the base, called the “foot”. Depending on the humidity, this can take as little as 10min or up to 2hrs.
Once they are dry to the touch, place on the middle rack of the oven to bake at 320F for 10 min and then at 285F for 7-8min. If your oven has hot spots, try rotating the try halfway through the first stage of baking to prevent burning. The foot should be visible by the end of 10min. When done, remove the parchment with the macarons from the hot tray and set on the counter to cool. The macarons should lift easily from the parchment. If they are a little sticky, you may need to increase the bake time for the bottoms to cook completely. Some suggest popping the tray of macarons in the freezer and then, using a knife, lift them cleanly from the parchment.
To make the filling, I chose a simple buttercream. It’s roughly a 1:1 ratio of unsalted butter and icing sugar and then a couple tablespoons of Apricot jam. I like mine a little sweeter so I added a little more icing sugar to taste. In a small glass bowl, use a spatula to cream together the icing sugar and butter, then add the jam to taste. Pipe desired amount onto the cooled macarons. Place the completed cookies in an air-tight container and pop them into the fridge for 48hrs. This helps to soften the macarons and allows the flavour of the filling to permeate the entire macaron.
The finished macarons should have a delicate outer shell with a moist, not chewy interior which may look slightly wet. Store in an airtight container in the fridge. You can also freeze them for up to 3 months. Serve at room temperature.