Wednesday, 28 November 2012

French Macarons

Ever since I started working at Thierry, I've been collecting their pastry recipes. They are truly different from the ones you find online and they turn out much better. When I made these macarons I didn't have the exact measurements of the ingredients, but what I did know was that you use the egg whites in 2 ways instead of one.

Bear with me while I explain the difference. If you type in "French Macarons" into google, you will only get recipes that look like this. You are to mix the almond flour with icing sugar in a food processor then sift it into a bowl to remove lumps. Then you whip the egg whites with a pinch of granulated sugar and fold into the almond mixture.

That's not how they do it in the French cafes. They use egg whites twice in the recipe. One portion left un-whipped and added to the almond mixture to form a paste, and the other portion whipped with a hot sugar mixture that has been brought up to 248 degrees. I got the recipe from Thierry after I made this batch, which is taken from the book Bouchon Bakery. The idea is the same and ingredients largely similar; technique is probably the only thing that makes a difference.

I'm going to give you the recipe from Thierry and briefly go over what I did wrong in this batch and how it should be done.

Macaron Shells:

300g almond flour
300g icing sugar
110g egg whites

110g egg whites
300 g sugar
75 g water

Combine the almond flour and icing sugar in a food processor and process until it becomes a fine powder. Push it through a sifter into a bowl and add the first portion of the egg whites.

Start with a whisk and mix the egg whites into the almond flour. you can probably see that my almond mixture is kinda crumbly. That's because I skipped the step of using the food processor and really shouldn't have skipped it. It makes the cookie shell more dense, causing it to collapse. My cookies may look like they are fine, but inside they collapsed, leaving a cap between the top exterior and the bottom of the cookie.

You may need to switch to a spatula to finish the mixing process. At Thierry, they weigh out all the ingredients so they make the almond mixture and the meringue mixture in large patches. Then they would weigh out the batter into different portions to give them different colours and flavours before they fold in the meringue. I folded in the meringue first before colouring and it lead to over mixing.

For the meringue, combine the water and sugar in a small pot and bring it up to 119 degrees Celsius. Once it reaches 119, turn off the heat and start whipping the 2nd portion of egg whites on high until medium peaks. While the sugar mixture sits on the stove top, it will reach 121 from the residual heat. Turn the mixer to low and pour in the sugar mixture slowly. Keep mixing until the meringue cools down, about 15 minutes. Fold in the meringue into the almond mixture and keep folding until the mixture reaches a ribbon stage. You want to be able to scoop up the mixture and have it fall smoothly back into the bowl. If you're not sure, it's better to have it stiffer than softer.

Put the mixture into a piping bag and pipe it onto a piece of parchment paper. Let it sit uncovered for 30 mn-1 hour, or until the top loses its shine and does not stick to your finger when you touch it. This is a really important step and there's no reason you should ever skip it. This allows the top to set and harden so that moisture would have to escape from the bottom during baking, creating the "feet" of the macarons.

While you are waiting, preheat the oven to 325 (335 at Thierry but it's a convection oven). Bake for 8 minutes and take it out to cool on a wire rack.

For the filling, I made basic butter cream using 1/2 stick of butter, 1/2 stick of shortening and about 2 cups of icing sugar. I just eyed it so there's really no recipe.

I made a lemon curd using a recipe from crumb boss and added 3 tbsps of it to 1/2 cup of butter cream for the lemon macaron.

Add about 1 tbsp mint extract to 3/4 cup of butter cream for the mint macarons

Add 1/4 cup strawberry jam to 3/4 cup of butter cream for strawberry macarons.

1 comment:

  1. Lovely. I have had these on my bucket list for a while. I guess I will have to give it a go.