Macaroon making class This recipe is adapted from two that I found in Nigella Lawson’s ‘How to be a domestic goddess’. I have made revisions to ensure more consistent results. The initial recipes always tasted delicious, however the outcomes varied tremendously in how they looked and usually the macaroon (or macaron) was barefoot ie it had no foot or skirt around the base and assorted different cracks. I cannot tell you how liberating it is to make a recipe my own ie take ownership of it and adapt to suit my way of working. I hope you will do the same. On the back page I have provided three separate sets of ingredients for making chocolate macaroons, pistachio macaroons and then the ingredients for the basic macaroon shell to which you can add your own flavour or colouring. I recommend practising with the almond based plain macaroon shells to start with. These are more consistent than the pistachio nut and chocolate options because they have slightly different ingredients. There are four key areas that will influence the outcome of your macaroons. These are:1. Ingredients 2. Method or technique 3. Tools and equipment 4. Climactic conditions, both in and out of the oven Whilst the actual method does not take very long it is important to allow good preparation time and a lengthy sitting time between the preparation of the macaroons and putting them in the oven. This is to allow a ‘skin’ to form on each macaroon. Once they go into the oven the air in the mixture will expand and rise with the smooth skin sitting on the top. The resulting expansion layer at the base of the macaroon is the ‘foot. I have provided two options for the skin formation time -slot. When I teach, I find that option 2 is more satisfactory and consistent although when I am alone in the room then the first option is fine. (Don’t leave them to sit directly in the cooking area especially if cooking anything else – too much local humidity and this is one of the (many) reasons that cause cracking. The most important ingredient in making macaroons confidence! This will only come with practise and taking ownership of your macaroons. If you have any problems or need further advice after the class, please contact me via email or facebook and I will be happy to help. Caroline Hope METHOD 1. SITTING / COOKING OPTION 1. Preheat the oven for at least 30 minutes to approx 150 degrees centigrade. SITTTING / COOKING OPTION 2. Preheat the oven for at least 30 minutes to approx 90 degrees centigrade. 2. Put all the dry ingredients; icing sugar, nuts and appropriate dry flavouring (NOT the caster sugar) into a food processor/blender and grind until a fine powder.1 3. Sift dry ingredients into a bowl or on to piece of greaseproof paper. 4. Starting on a slow speed, whisk the egg whites2 into soft peaks. Gently add the caster sugar and continue to whisk until you have very stiff peaks and the mixture still look glossy and you are confident enough to turn the bowl upside down above your head – ie the eggs are whisked enough. Keep checking as you go along. If you concentrate whilst whisking, you will feel the mixture thicken as you whisk. You could turn up to higher setting nearer the end. 5. With a metal spoon or spatula, fold about one quarter of the sifted ingredients into the egg whites until combined. Add the remaining dry ingredients. Continue to fold the ingredients until you have a soft thick shiny lava. Do this slowly and carefully so that you conscious of the change in the mixture – this is the ‘macaronage’ . Keep your mind engaged whilst doing this – the invisible thread between brain and hand. You want to see a smooth ribbon effect falling down off the spoon if you hold it up and let it drop back down into the bowl. 6. With this quantity of mixture you will need to cook on two layers in the oven. For optimum results for each shelf use either a baking tray and a silicone baking mat or two identical baking trays together creating one heavy baking tray.3 7. Line your baking tray with siliconised baking paper or bake-o-glide.4 1 If using ground almonds you could just sift the dry ingredients and get good results but if you use pre-ground almonds you do not know how dry they are going to be. The food processor/blender ensures that you will distribute the oil evenly through the sugar. If you are grinding whole nuts such as the pistachios, it is recommended that you use a machine with a powerful motor. Always grind the nuts with the sugar – the sugar absorbs the oil and avoids an oily mess in the food blender. 2 For consistency, try and used aged egg whites. Separate the eggs at least 24 hours in advance or up to 5 days. Keep in the fridge, perhaps covered in cling film with perhaps some holes punched through. Once the egg white is exposed to the air, the proteins in the egg whites start to break down and become easier to whisk plus the water in the egg whites will begin to evaporate. Before you make your macaroons, bring them out of the fridge for 2 – 3 hours to get up to room temperature. You might consider using Two Chicks cartons of egg whites that are available in large supermarkets. It is possible to use fresh egg whites but if you are concerned about getting good results time after time, the aged egg whites will provide more consistent results. If the eggs are very fresh, sometimes the shell of the macaroon is too fragile. 3 Using two trays together or the silicone baking mat on the tray really does even out the temperature in the oven and protects against the cracking. There is a slight vacuum created between the layers that evens out the temperature. You will also get better results with heavier gauge baking trays. 4 If using baking paper ensure that it is siliconised or at very least a heavy parchment. A standard thin baking paper does not have strong enough non-stick qualities and more suited for wrapping sandwiches and food rather than for cooking. 8. Pipe small rounds of the mixture onto your baking tray using a 1cm nozzle. Alternatively use two tea spoons to spoon small blobs onto the tray – you want to try and make 40 - 50. You could draw circles onto a sheet of baking paper and place this underneath the siliconised paper as a guide. Try and get them similar sizes. Different sizes will cook at different speeds. 9. Pick up each tray about 6 inches above the table and drop it two or three times. You will see the big air bubbles come to the surface. This ensures your macaroons will come out with smooth tops and again helps to prevent cracking. 10. SITTING / COOKING OPTION 1. Leave the macaroons to sit 30 – 45 minutes to form a ‘skin’ on top (ie dry to the touch). Place them in the pre-heated oven (150 degrees C5). Bake for 12 - 15 minutes. SITTING / COOKING OPTION 2. Put the trays in the oven for 15 minutes on the low heat (90 degrees C). Turn the oven temperature up to approx 150 degrees C for a further 12 - 15 minutes. If necessary, open and close the oven door during baking to release any steam.6 11. Remove the macaroons from the oven and slide the baking parchment with the macaroons off the baking tray and onto a rack to cool. They should be set but not dried out. 12. Once cool, carefully remove the macaroons from the paper.7 13. Sandwich the macaroons together with the appropriate filling. Leave for couple of hours so the filling can set properly. The macaroons will keep for a few days – the flavour becomes more pronounced the longer you leave them. Some (dependent on the filling) keep longer than others. You may consider freezing the shells and then filling them at a later date. 5 The temperature will vary oven to oven (even same make and model). These temperatures are the ones I use in my Neff fan oven. Please adjust to suit for your oven. As with any baking it is important to know how your own oven performs. 6 7 If the oven is too steamy or there is high humidity in the kitchen your macaroons are more likely to crack. If your macaroons stick to the paper and are difficult to remove, place them in the fridge for about an hour. By chilling they will come off the paper much more easily. Remember to peel the paper from the macaroon and not the macaroon from the paper. INGREDIENTS - To make 20 small sandwiched macaroons / 40 shells, approx 2 – 3 cm diameter. CHOCOLATE MACAROONS: For the shells: 65g ground almonds 15g cocoa powder 100g icing sugar 2 large egg whites (weight approx: 40g each egg) 40g caster sugar Pinch of salt For the ganache 100g plain chocolate, chopped into small pieces 4 tablespoons double cream 2 tablespoons unsalted butter To make the ganache: gently heat the cream until almost boiling either in a saucepan or microwave. Pour this over the broken up chocolate and butter. The cream will melt the chocolate and butter. Set aside to cool and then beat it to make it thick and shiny. Either pipe or spoon ganache onto one shell and gently place another on top. To create a little surprise, you could pipe the ganache around the outside edge of the macaroon and then fill the middle with raspberry jam/marmalade etc. Once the ganache has set the jam is held inside. PISTACHIO MACAROONS For the shells: 80g pistachios 100g icing sugar 2 large egg whites (weight approx: 40g each egg) 40g caster sugar Pinch of salt Butter-cream filling 45g pistachios 200g icing sugar 100g unsalted butter (softened) To make the butter-cream filling: Grind the pistachio nuts with the icing sugar until you have a fine powder. In a mixing bowl beat the butter so nice and soft and then add the sugar dust in 3 or batches until fully combined (you can easily use electric beater or food processor but ensure it is not overbeaten.) Then either pipe or spread the butter-cream onto one shell and gently place another on top to sandwich together. Leave for a couple of hours before eating. BASIC MACAROON For the shells: 80g ground almonds 100g icing sugar 2 large egg whites (weight approx: 40g each egg) 40g caster sugar Pinch of salt Add you own colours or flavours. You may also wish to consider filling with home made jam or a home made lemon/lime or orange curd.
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