9 August 2012

My macaron journey so far

Since my first experiment with making macarons about a month ago, I have been making a batch every Saturday afternoon. I'd make more than one batch a week if there were more hours in the day, or maybe more room in my freezer, but since there isn't, I'll just stick to once a week.

After doing some internet research on the making of macarons, trying to work out where I had gone wrong, I decided to try the Italian method of macaron making, which features a cooked sugar syrup poured into whipped egg whites. All the recipes that I have found utilising this method are far more exacting, with ingredients all weighed out. I decided to try a salted caramel macaron recipe that I found on Not Quite Nigella's blog. A little ambitious perhaps, but it sounded great!

Here's how I went with my first 3 batches.

Piped Shells
Batch 1: Salted Caramel Macarons
I used a macro wholefoods almond meal, which gave the finished macarons a speckled appearance. All in all they turned out pretty well. The mixture was a little stiff, which you can see by the peaks on the finished product. I did a few things wrong, and I think it was more luck than anything that they turned out as well as they did! They tasted great though.

Fresh out of the oven
Finished batch of salted caramel macarons
Salted Caramel Filling

Batch 2: Salted Caramel
For my second try, I thought I'd stick with a salted caramel, but wanted a filling that was softer.

Batch 2: Salted Caramel
I used the same recipe for the macaron shells, but with a different almond meal. The recipe for the salted caramel was from call me cupcake. I didn't really take as much care with this batch, and it shows in the finished product. I learnt a lot from this batch.
  1. Don't get lazy with sifting the icing sugar and almond meal. You can see the lumps that I "allowed" to stay in this batch
  2. Don't be afraid to beat the mixture up! This batch was quite stiff which meant that the mixture didn't settle down after it was piped
  3. Piping technique. If I had piped this straight down, there wouldn't be a swirl on the top of each
I must say though, that they were cooked to perfection (I was more aware of overcooking, so managed to get them just right), and the extra moisture from the salted caramel sank into the shells to make them melt in your mouth.

Batch 3: Chocolate - half with chocolate ganache, half with chocolate peanut ganache

Chocolate with chocolate ganache
Chocolate with peanut butter ganache
For my next go, I replaced 10% of the almond meal and of the icing sugar with cocoa. I also decided to use a smaller template. I had been using a template that I made by tracing around a shot glass. I was thinking that they would turn out too small, but they were actually turning out a little large for my liking. So I found a template that I was happier with from this blog: Mmmm, Sugar. 

Fresh out of the oven

As you can see from the tray of shells, I found that the addition of cocoa meant that the macarons were a little harder to handle. They required a lower temperature, but surprisingly, cooked quicker. They did not rise smoothly around the edges, and quite a few of them cracked. Lessons to take to the next chocolate batch:
  1. Use a lower proportion of cocoa (just to see what happens)
  2. Cook at a lower temperature
  3. Make them smaller

For the chocolate ganache I used half dark chocolate and half milk chocolate, and it worked out perfectly. The peanut butter ganache probably needs a little tweaking. It turned out a little dry, so next time, more chocolate, less peanut butter!

Stay tuned for more macaron adventures!

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