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How to make Macarons - General instructions for making Macarons
The perfect macaron should have a thin crust with a light airy centre which is slightly chewy. This perfection is not always easy to accomplish although for the less fussy, excellent "nearly's" are more easily achieved.
Equipment needed to make Macarons
Accurate Weighing scales
Electric Whisk - Although a hand whisk can be used, better and easier results are achieved by using an electric whisk
Spoon for mixing
Piping Bag with Plain Nozzle
Baking Trays - preferably heavy duty
Parchment or Rice Paper
Basic Macaron Shell Mixture
One of the most tricky parts of the recipe is getting the ratio of ingredients correct: too little or too much ground almonds, sugar or egg whites can completely ruin the finished recipe. For this reason, it is better to weigh the egg white (s) and then calculate how much of the other ingredients will be needed in relation to the amount of egg white being used. Below are the proportions for a basic macaron meringue mix:-
1 part Egg White
0.75 part Caster Sugar
1.25 part Ground Almonds
One medium egg white weighs around 30g and will make 12 x 5cm macaron half shells (6 whole macarons once sandwiched together).
30g/1 medium Egg White
25g/1oz Caster Sugar (rounded up from 22.5g)
37.5g /1½oz Ground Almonds
You can easily double, triple or quadruple the amount of ingredients provided you keep the ratios the same. A manageable quantity is double the above which would make 24 half shells, 12 whole (sandwiched) macarons. Here are the proportions to save you having to work it out:-
60g/approx 2 medium Egg Whites
50g/2oz Caster Sugar
75g/3oz Ground Almonds
100g/4oz Icing Sugar
Preparing Macaron Shell ingredients
All the ingredients must be at room temperature and it is better if the egg whites have not been freshly cracked. Many believe it is best to place them in a small bowl or glass and keep them in the fridge, uncovered for 2-3 days before using to make macarons, however good results can be achieved by leaving the cracked egg whites uncovered at room temperature for as little as 3 hours.
Mixing the Macaron Shell Mixture
There are two methods used to make the biscuit mixture however, as the Italian method can be a little difficult, we will concentrate on the French method here.
1. Mix ground almonds with icing sugar. If using powdered flavouring/flavouring such as cocoa powder, add it now however, it is best not to add too much to the basic mixture as it will alter the ratios. Set aside
3. Add the caster sugar and liquid food colouring/flavouring if using, whisk until well blended then add the almond mixture and stir quite vigorously with a spoon for as short a time as possible, until well combined and smooth.
How large should macarons be?
French macarons can, of course, be as small or as large as you wish however the normal finished size is no larger than 5cm/2-inches in diameter. Mini macarons about 2.5cm/1-inch in diameter are great for parties and larger ones can be served as desserts.
How to pipe the macaron shells?
1. Pour the meringue into a piping bag fitted with a large plain nozzle.
3. If you wish to decorate the tops with items such a poppy seeds, crushed nuts or coconut, do so at this point. Leave to stand, uncovered, for 20-30 minutes so the top forms a skin (croûter). They should feel firm to the touch. This helps the formation of the "feet" (pieds) which is so characteristic of the perfect macaron. Meanwhile, preheat the oven.
|Plain Chocolate||75g||3 oz||½ cup (very small pieces)|
|Cream||120ml||4 fl.oz.||½ cup|
|Liqueurs, rum, brandy (Optional)||15ml||½ fl.oz||1 tbsp|
|Vanilla Extract||5-10ml||1-2 teasp|
Break the chocolate into very small pieces and place in a large mixing bowl. Bring the cream almost to boiling point, stir in any flavourings if using then slowly pour the cream over the chocolate and stir constantly with a wooden spoon or balloon whisk, until the chocolate has completely melted and well blended. Set aside at room temperature for 20 minutes then whip with an electric whisk for a few minutes until pale and soft.
When you are ready, spread or pipe a small amount of filling onto the flat part of one biscuit, then then place another biscuit (flat side down) on top to complete the sandwich. The filling should be visible but not over flowing. Be gentle when handling the biscuits as they can be fragile and break.
Once filled refrigerate for at least 1 - 2 hours before serving.
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