Vanilla Macarons

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Welcome to the macaron zone, aka the dark side.

Macarons have definitely become a bit of a craze right now… and rightly so! They are the perfect combination with their chewy shells and soft centres, the list of flavours you can create is endless. Here’s the bad news, if you are a macaron addict… they are irritatingly pricey to buy and tricky to make at home.

Fear not! I have found a way! (It took me long enough!)

Don’t get me wrong, they are a bit fussy to make. But once you know the method and have figured out what works best for your cooking environment, you will succeed.

I did a lot of research before attempting to make macarons. It can be the most frustrating thing as every post or recipe says something different. And by no means am I an expert on these French delicacies. But I have figured out a method that works for me every time.

It took me many painful batches/hours/days to perfect them, I was close to giving up. I don’t think any of my family dared to enter the kitchen area for the weeks that I was attempting/failing – I think they were more relieved than me when I finally ‘cracked it’ (excuse the pun).

So we’re going to do this together, step by step, until we have succeeded. Mixers at the ready people!

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Recipe (Makes 24)

Meringue (Shell)
80g Ground Almonds (Sifted)
120g Icing Sugar (Sifted)
70g Egg Whites (Approximately 2 Medium/Large Eggs)
45g Caster Sugar
Pinch Cream of Tartar
Food Colouring Gel (Optional)

Filling
75g Unsalted Butter (Room temperature)
180g Icing sugar (Sifted)
1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract
1 tbsp Heavy Cream
Food Colouring Gel (Optional)

Method

Meringue (Shell)

  • Begin by lining 2 trays with baking paper (I also place a macaron template under the paper to achieve uniformity) and make sure you have a piping bag fitted with a round nozzle ready and waiting.
  • Place a bowl on your scales and sift in your ground almonds until you have 80g worth.
  • Repeat the previous step with your icing sugar until you have 120g worth.
  • In a bowl combine your sifted almonds and icing sugar. Sift them again, this is to ensure that the mix is really fine.
  • Place your egg whites in a large mixing bowl with your cream of tartar and whisk on a medium speed for approximately 30 seconds until they start to look foamy.
  • Continue to whisk your egg whites whilst gradually adding your caster sugar 1/4 at a time every 10-15 seconds.
  • Once your sugar has been added, turn up to a high speed and whisk for approximately 3 minutes until you have shiny stiff peaks.* If you are using gel colouring you will want to add it about 30 seconds before you achieve the stiff peaks.** I added a tiny drop of peach.
  • Tip your almond sugar into your egg mix and begin to fold in with a spatula. This is the tricky bit!
  • Just keep folding regardless of how you mixture looks. I usually have to fold for a good 2 minutes to achieve the thick ‘lava’ like consistency.
  • Pour your mixture into your piping bag and pipe round dollops about 3cm wide.***
  • Firmly and carefully tap/bang your baking tray a few times onto your work surface, this will cause the macarons to spread slightly and release any air bubbles.
  • As you can see from my photos I have sprinkles on my shells. At this point you can scatter some over the shells. This is personal preference, if it’s your first time baking these you may want to leave this step out.
  • LEAVE TO REST! This is an important step as if you don’t let your macarons rest they will not dry out and they will crack when baked.
  • Whilst they are resting pre-heat your oven to 145 degrees (celsius)
  • Your macarons should dent when gently pressed and shouldn’t stick to your finger. When they do you know they are ready to go in the oven.
  • Depending on your kitchen environment/temperature drying your macarons can take anywhere from 20 minutes to 1 hour.
  • Bake in the centre of the oven for 9 minutes.
  • Take out and place on a wire rack to cool.
  • Make your filling using the steps below.

*A good test is to stop and turn your whisk upside down, if the egg white stays up in a straight peak they are ready!

**If you are unsure as to when you add your colouring, just stop whisking every 30 seconds and test your peaks by turning your whisk upside down. You will only need a fraction of colouring if you want a light colour.

***If using a template you want to pipe so you are within the circle by about 1cm.

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Filling

  • Mix your unsalted butter for 1 minute on a medium speed until lightened.
  • Add half your icing sugar and mix until combined, follow with your heavy cream and mix until pale, thick and creamy.
  • Add the remaining icing sugar with your vanilla and mix on a high setting for 1 minute until you have a thick creamy frosting.
  • If you are using colouring, add in and mix until you have reached your desired colour.
  • Place frosting in a piping bag with a nozzle of your choice (round is best if you a beginner.

Assembly Method

  • Gently remove your meringue shells from the baking paper (they should peel off fairly easily).
  • Turn them upside down so you can pipe your filling onto the flat side.
  • Get your filled piping bag and pipe a dollop of frosting into the centre of the macaron leaving a gap of 1cm around the edge.
  • Get an empty shell and sandwich together until the frosting reaches the sides.
  • Stand back and breathe… you’ve done the impossible! 😉

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