Peggy’s signature macarons

Peggy’s signature macarons

By
From
Boutique Baking
Makes
50 macarons or 100 shells
Photographer
Georgia Glynn Smith

This recipe is for the more experienced baker as it requires patience and precision. But don’t feel put off, once mastered it is so worthwhile. I use my own purple raspberry and rose jam for the filling, but you can create your own flavour combinations.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
200g ground almonds
200g icing sugar
200g egg whites
200g caster sugar
100ml water
food colour, (optional)

Equipment

Quantity Ingredient
Basic baking kit
permanent marker pen
round piping nozzle, 8mm in diameter
small heart-shape cookie cutter, (optional)
sugar thermometer
plastic piping bags

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 150°C. Prepare the oven trays for the macarons. Cut sheets of baking parchment to fit a couple of oven trays. Using the fat end of a large round piping nozzle and a small heart-shape cookie cutter as templates, draw circles and hearts on the reverse side of the parchment at even intervals.
  2. In a food processor briefly pulse together the ground almonds and icing sugar until mixed well and sift into a large bowl. Set aside (this is known as a ‘tant pour tant’).
  3. To make an Italian meringue, place the egg white in a clean, dry bowl. Reserve 1 tablespoon of the egg white to mix with the colouring later on.
  4. Place the caster sugar in a small saucepan with the water. Dissolve the sugar over a medium heat, then bring the sugar syrup to the boil. Using a sugar thermometer, measure the temperature of the syrup. When the syrup reaches 115°C, start to slowly whisk the egg whites. Gradually increasing the whisking speed until the eggs are white and frothy. Once the syrup reaches 121°C, slow down the whisking and carefully pour the hot syrup into the egg whites in a thin steady stream – pour down the side of the bowl so that the syrup does not splash onto the whisk.
  5. Once all the syrup has been incorporated, continue whisking quickly until the meringue has cooled to room temperature; this will take about 5–10 minutes.
  6. Once the meringue has cooled, add your preferred colouring to the reserved tablespoon of egg white and then whisk into the meringue.
  7. Using the rubber spatula, fold the ‘tant pour tant’ into the meringue in three batches. Fold gently but thoroughly to ensure the mix is loose and smooth when piped. The amount you fold in here and the consistency you achieve is crucial; you want the mix to be even and fall easily off the spatula, but not so liquid that it does not keep a good round shape when piped.
  8. Place the nozzle into the piping bag. Using a rubber spatula, half fill the piping bag with macaron mixture.
  9. Use a little of the macaron mix to secure the sheets of baking parchment in place; smear a small amount of mixture on each corner of the underside of the sheet.
  10. Using the circles you have drawn as a guide, pipe the small rounds. To finish piping the round, stop applying pressure to the bag and flick the nozzle round in a small circular motion as you pull away. This ensures there will be no peak on top of the macaron.
  11. For the hearts, pipe a blob at the top half of the heart and then drag it down to the bottom. Repeat on the other side. If the mixture is the correct consistency, any small trails should sink back to leave a smooth surface.
  12. Once the macarons are all piped, gently tap the tray on the worksurface to bring any large air bubbles to the surface and pop them with a cocktail stick. Leave the macarons to dry out a little on the surface; about 15–30 minutes in dry conditions. You should be able to gently touch the surface of the macaron without your finger sticking.
  13. As soon as the macarons have a dry skin, place them on the lower shelves in the oven and immediately reduce the heat to 135°C. If your oven bakes from the top, then place a tray on the shelf above the macarons to prevent the tops from browning too much.
  14. Bake for approximately 15 minutes, turning the trays halfway through the cooking time. The macarons are done when the tops are dry. As soon as they are done, remove the tray from the oven and transfer the baking paper, with the macarons still attached, directly onto a wet tea towel. Leave for a few minutes and then remove the macarons.
  15. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to two days or in the freezer for longer. Sandwich with your chosen filling on the day of consumption, and once filled refrigerate for one hour before eating – this helps the macarons to soften and the flavours to develop.

Flavours

  • Raspberry and rose. Colour the macaron mixture with pink food colour. When piping, paint the inside of the nozzle with three thick lines of claret paste food colour to achieve the ‘candy stripe’ look. Sandwich the shells together with raspberry and rose jam – thicken the jam slightly by heating it for 3–4 minutes in a microwave. Leave the jam to cool a little before spreading.

    Chocolate. Replace 50g of the almonds with 50g cocoa powder, then proceed as normal with the recipe. If desired, add a little brown food colour to the macaron mixture to achieve a darker colour. Sandwich the shells together with dark chocolate ganache

Troubleshooting

  • Egg whites. These should be separated a few days in advance and left uncovered in the fridge to allow some of the moisture to evaporate and strengthen the whites. Bring the egg whites to room temperature before using. If in doubt, add a teaspoon of Meri-White to the egg whites to counteract any ‘watery-ness’.

    Macaronage. This is the stage of folding the ‘tant pour tant’ into the meringue. The consistency achieved is very important – if the mixture is too stiff then the tops will not be smooth after piping; if the mixture is too liquid then it will not keep a good shape and may produce grease spots on the surface of the macaron after baking. If in doubt, test a little of the mix by dropping a teaspoonful onto the baking tray and pulling a little peak up on the surface. If it is ready, the top should sink back into the surface gradually. If the peak stays there, the mix needs to be folded a little longer. Drying It is important to let your macarons dry on the surface before baking. If you do not let them dry, the tops will not be smooth and produce a good ‘foot’ on the bottom. If you dry them for too long, they will be smooth but not produce a foot at all.

    Baking. Every oven is different, so it is important to get to know your own oven and what temperature works best. Generally, a low temperature is important to prevent over-browning of the macarons and a low shelf for the same reason. Some chefs find the macarons can bake too quickly on the bottom and therefore recommend using two trays, one on top of the other, to bake your macarons – I find they can brown on top more easily so tend to place a tray on the rack above instead. If you bake the macarons for too long, they will lift easily off the paper but be a bit dry and possibly over-brown; to counteract the dryness you can place them in an airtight container in the fridge for a day to soften. If they are not baked enough, they will be too soft and not lift off the paper properly; they will also sink back down and develop what look like grease spots on the top.
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