Macaron Shells

Known to be a very difficult cookie, they are also known to be very delicious cookies. Serve them in any colour you like. The cookie is the trickiest part, but the real flavour comes from the filling, so make sure you give that plenty of thought.
I took a class from Dutch macaron master Carle Douglas on the basics of macaron making. This does help because working from written instructions is more difficult. However, you still need to test your own oven and your own baking trays. I did four batches to find the optimal settings for my oven (16 minutes on 130°C fan, turn once, on baking paper on a silicone mat) and then I bought new cookie trays which are double based and therefore heat slower. That is perfect for cookies, which can have the tendency to overbake at the bottom, but my macarons suddenly wouldn’t bake anymore on the bottom. The feet were less high and once cooled I couldn’t get them off the baking paper anymore.
I am not telling you this to scare you, only to make you realise that macarons are very temperamental and they will work perfectly if you have the same conditions every time. If your first batch isn’t perfect, adjust the settings some and simply try again. Do not keep using the recipe settings if that doesn’t work for you, my recipe may be wrong for your oven.
Should you have any issues, drop me a line and I will try my best to help you make your next batch a success.

Ingredients:

  • 130gr sieved almond flour
  • 130gr sieved powdered sugar
  • 50gr egg white
  • 145gr sugar
  • 50gr water
  • 50gr egg white
  • food colour to your preference, thick paste or powder

Makes around 80 regular macaron shells, for 40 cookies

Recipe:

Combine the sieved almond flour and sieved powdered sugar. The finer the mesh is when sieving the almond flour, the smoother your macarons will become. You will need double the amount of flour though, but I save the leftovers for cakes, in yogurt for breakfast or for desserts.
Add the egg whites to the middle of the bowl and combine it with around a third of the almond-sugar mixture. Set aside.

Place the regular sugar and water in a sauce pan. Be aware that these quantities include some sticking to the pan later when pouring. If doubling this recipe, increase the sugar by 130 gram and the water by 42 gram.
Heat the sugar to 120°C without stirring.
Place the remaining egg whites in a fat free bowl, in a freestanding mixer should you have one, but a regular mixer works fine for these quantities too.
Once the sugar is at 108°C, start beating the egg whites. When the sugar is at 120°C, add it to the beating whites in a slow, steady stream, being careful not to pour it over the beaters as that would cause this very hot sugar to fly everywhere.
Beat the whites until the temperature has become lukewarm. Do not overbeat them until fully cold, if you can hold the bowl and it feels warm but not hot, it is fine.
If using food colouring, add it now, so it is mixed through well. Use either thick pastes or powders, thin food colouring waters the mixture down too much.

Fold the warm egg whites into the almond-sugar mixture. Make sure it is well combined. If the mixture is a bit thick, beat it to thin it down, but be careful to not make it too thin. You want a drip of batter to flow out into the rest of the batter in 10 seconds. But err on the side of caution.

Have cookie trays at the ready. I have a template on cardboard with rounds on it that I pipe. I place baking paper on top and pipe on that. Then I move a full sheet of macarons onto a baking tray I have lined with a silicone mat. But the set-up you use is oven and tray dependent.

Spoon everything in a piping bag fitted with a 7-10mm round nozzle. Twist the top end and wrap it around your fingers.
Holding the bag upright, pipe by putting pressure at the end of the bag, which will allow for a steady flow of batter. Do not move the bag while piping, but instead pipe in one spot and have the batter push itself outwards. When you have a cookie piped, stop the pressure before lifting the bag. Swirl the bag around to have the nozzle cut off the tip of the batter coming out. This prevents that horrid tip on top of macarons.
Create equal sized rounds, spaced a bit apart. When you have a plate done and have the baking paper on the baking tray, tap the tray to have any air bubbles come up. Prick them with a toothpick. Tapping the tray will create smooth macarons. For a thick batter you will need to tap more than for a thin batter. Do not over-tap a thin batter or you may end with very thin shells.

Bake for 16 minutes on 130°C fan. Turn the trays once in the middle of baking (flipping front to back and vice versa), to avoid any sides turning brown.

When I use the double based cookie trays, I omit the silicone sheet, place the baking tray a bit lower in the oven and amp the temperature to 135°C, baking a minute longer both before and after flipping (so two minutes extra in total).
During the workshop I took, they used oven temperatures of 160°C and they told us to use 140-150°C at home, but I found that in my oven that would ruin the macarons, turning them brown, so really find out what works in your own oven and with your own equipment.

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