Fancy Meal Time: I Heart Macarons

Finally, I decided to make my favourite pastry ever: macarons. And since I found my macaron cookbook last weekend today was the day. And dayum, it was fun! But so hard to make, my first batch didn’t work out very pretty… but oh-so very delicious.

So I got a bit excited and took some pictures during the process, so I’m sharing the recipe I used with you guys. Don’t expect Ladurée-quality the first time… mine looked weird and didn’t even have the “pied” (something I learned today, this is the little “ruffle” on the side of the shell). But don’t let that keep you from trying, they’re worth an afternoon in the kitchen anyway!

The recipe is from Hisako Ogita’s I Heart Macarons.
Ingredients for 2 dozen vanilla macaron shells (that is 12 macarons):
85 grams ground almonds
150 grams powdered sugar
3 large egg whites, at room temperature
65 grams granulated sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Firstly, to make it easier for yourself, cut a sheet of parchment paper to fit your baking sheet. Draw 2,5 cm circles with a pencil, space them at least 1,5 cm apart. This will be your guide when squeezing the batter onto your sheet.

Grind the almonds in a food processor, add the powdered sugar. Sift the mixture through a medium-mesh and sieve twice. Set aside.

In a stainless-steel mixing bowl, beat the egg whites on high speed until they are foamy. Gradually add the granulated sugar to the egg whites. After the sugar has been added, beat the mixture on high speed until it reaches stiff, glossy peaks (takes about 1 minute). Now add the vanilla, and stir lightly. When the meringue is stiff, firm and a glossy texture it’s done!

Now, add half of the sifted almond/sugar-mixture to the meringue. Stir it with a spatula while scooping it up from the bottom of the bowl. Add the rest of the mixture and mix it lightly. Macaronnage: when you run out of the almond/sugar-mixture, press and spread out the batter against the bowl’s sides. Scoop the batter from the bottom and turn it upside down. Repeat this process about 15 times (if the macaronnage step is repeated less then 10 times, the baked macarons will lack luster. But when it is repeated more than 20 times, oil stains may remain on the pastry’s surface). Macaronner: when the batter becomes nicely firm and drips slowly as you scoop it with a spatula, the batter is done!

Next step! Place the sheet you made in the beginning on the baking sheet. Attach a 1 cm tip to your pasty bag. Twist the bag to hold the tip tightly, this prevents batter from leaking out. Place the pastry bag, tip down, inside a deep measuring cup and poor the batter into it. Squeeze the batter onto the centre of the circles. Make small circles, the batter tends to spread out after being squeezed. Dry the batter at room temperature, for 15 minutes (I did this too long, which probably influenced my ‘pied’).

Preheat the oven to 190°C (or 375°F). Now, stack the baking sheet with the batter circles into an empty baking sheet and slide into the oven. (Why use to trays? Use on inside the other to prevent the bottom from the macarons from getting overbaked). Bake for 15 tot 18 minutes, until slightly crisp and crackled on top. To bake the macarons evenly, rotate the tray so that the macarons at the rear come up front and vice verse. If the insides of the macarons are still soft after 15 minutes, lower the oven temperature to 150°C (300°F) and cover the tray with aluminium foil, bake for another 2 or 3 minutes. Now… the shells are done! You can add jam, butter-cream, custard cream (like mine) or ganache filling, whatever you prefer! Bon appétit!