Thursday, 6 March 2014

MACARON UPDATES

So for quite some time, I made macarons using the French method, which I've previously written about. A friend of mine asked me for quite a number of macarons and only a small number of flavours. I'm pretty picky about making sure that the macarons of the same flavour are the same colour and you can't just do that when you make multiple batches. I figured, there must be a way of making a huge batch without messing up the batter. That's where I thought about giving the Italian meringue method a shot. It's a bit more work, but the macarons are a bit more forgiving and they have that texture that I've had in macarons from bakeries. Also!!! They're not as hollow as when I use the French meringue method.

I used to use egg whites in a box for my macarons with the French meringue method, but they don't work as well for me with the Italian meringue method. I find that when making the meringue, it deflates and is completely flat and weird at the end of it if I use boxed egg whites. The Italian meringue method really works better with fresh egg whites.

I also purchased silicone mats. Silpats are too big for my baking sheets, so I purchased some from Bed Bath and Beyond by real simple. They fit mine perfectly. I also purchased one silicone mat for half the price by President's Choice. ANYWAY, I finally caved and purchased these since I couldn't deal with using parchment anymore. I also don't burn macarons anymore, lol. My only problem now is a freakin unevenly heated oven! SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO frustrating. I use baking tiles to even out the heat, and also bake my macarons on the highest rack. I had an oven thermometer but I think it's broken because it always tells me that the oven isn't as hot as it should be, but with the way my macarons react, it's hotter than it should be.

AAAAND I also purchased a candy thermometer to ensure that my sugar syrup gets to ~240°C or soft ball stage.

Friday, 27 September 2013

DECORATING MACARONS



I love macarons because they're so pretty and they don't need a lot for that. A plain macaron looks fine the way it is, but there are ways to make it prettier.

* Top your macarons with a main ingredient in your macaron. If you're making pistachio macarons, top them with crushed pistachios; black sesame macarons topped with black sesame seeds; tea macarons topped with tea leaves; sprinkles etc. You just have to make sure that what you're topping the macarons with is dry. You don't want to add excess liquid to the macaron batter, which would affect the macaron during the baking process.



* After filling your macarons, you can roll them in a main ingredient for the macaron, similar to the topping.

*Add swirls of colour in your macaron by painting the food colouring down the pastry bag before you fill it with the batter. I've only done this with one colour just because it looks better in my opinion. It just gets too crazy if you have a multicoloured macaron. You end up with a cool marble effect.



* You can tint your macaron batter different colours as well. I tried this, but it didn't work for me. You have to make sure that your batter is mixed enough, and then split the batter to colour it. You could risk overmixing your batter, which I ended up doing. I haven't tried this more than once.

* You can paint your macarons with food colouring. I think it works best with liquid food colouring mixed with a little water. Use whatever colour you want and paint your macarons after baking with a pastry brush. You'll have to practice a little to get the hang of it and to figure out what looks good on the macaron.


The possibilities are endless! But remember, you don't have to do any of this because macarons are already perfect the way they are :) 

Thursday, 26 September 2013

MACARON MANIA


After much troubleshooting, I have finally found the recipe that works for me.
I tried recipe upon recipe.. I tried volume measurements and now currently use weight.

The recipe I currently use is:
120g almond flour
200g icing sugar
100g egg whites
35g white sugar
1/2tsp - 1tsp of salt
Pinch of cream of tartar
1 tsp of vanilla extract or whatever flavour you're using
Gel or powder food colouring

1. Put almond flour and icing sugar in food processor and let this run for 2 minutes, occasionally scraping the sides.
2. Sift almond flour and icing sugar in a sieve to ensure that any lumps are taken out. (I usually don't put this back into the mixture in case it clogs up my pastry bag when I'm piping them out).
3. In a mixing bowl, whisk egg whites with sugar, salt, and cream of tartar. (I don't add the sugar, salt and cream of tartar until ~30sec of whisking). I whip the egg whites at speeds 2, 4, and 6 for 2 min, and speed 8 for 1min.
4. Add your flavouring and food colouring.
5. Whisk at speed 10 for 1min. Your meringue will be stiff, and that's what you want.
6. Pour in the mixture of almond flour and icing sugar into the meringue. Fold the ingredients together. You initially don't have to be super gentle because you want the meringue to deflate a little bit and for the mixture to mix well. It takes about 40 folds, but I just mix until it flows like "magma". You really don't want to overmix.
7. Once mixed, fill your pastry bags. I use a Wilton tip# 12.
8. Pipe out your macaron batter onto parchment-lined baking sheets. I use a template of 3.5cm circles to ensure that they're close in size.
9. Rap your trays on the counter to ensure any bubbles rise to the top and prevent cracking. I do this 5 times per side.
10. Set aside the trays and let the macarons dry. This step is crucial for me, especially when it's humid. It takes about 30min to 1hr. The macarons will no longer be shiny and they won't stick to your finger when you touch them.
11. Bake the macarons at 280-310°F. The temperature depends on your oven. I bake my macarons for 33min total, turning the tray once.
12. Remove from oven and let cool.
13. Fill macarons with whatever filling you want, like ganache, buttercream, jam, etc.

Notes:
* I haven't figured out a way to cut down the sugar. I've tried, but it just doesn't work out. The only way to tackle the sweetness is to add more salt. The sugar is important.
* I use thicker baking sheets, and I still double them to ensure that the macarons aren't heated too much from the bottom, causing them to burst
* When it's humid, I use a fan in the same room as the macarons. It helps a lot in drying them
* It has helped me a great deal by having a stand mixer. The one I have is a KitchenAid Artisan mixer. It just helps in the meringue process and creating fillings. I used to make them with an electric hand mixer, which worked, but nothing beats a stand mixer ;)
* It takes a lot of patience and practice, so don't give up!!



Happy macaron baking!