A couple of years ago, I didn’t even know what a macaron was! There were macaroons, the coconutty things, so I thought that maybe it was just another way of spelling it. Then, the bombardment happened. These gorgeous looking little round, cream filled biscuits were appearing everywhere. Macarons were suddenly the favourite snack of every fashion blogger in the world! Do these women even eat such things? It didn’t matter, macarons complimented them and their blogs and all their fans loved macarons.
Even though macarons had such a presence, I’ve actually avoided them all this time. One, I was not a fan of meringues and the macaron was just that – a meringue with some sort of filling. Or so I thought! What gave me this impression were the couple of macarons which I tried out at a couple of different places. They were super sweet and slightly chewy. Blah, I didn’t know what all the hype was about. Did people really like all this sweetness? They did look very pretty in all their different pastel colours so I just put it down to that – macarons were simply loved for their look!
Best Macarons in Melbourne
A few more years go by and I find myself enjoying ‘High Tea’ at Collins Kitchen located at the Sheraton in the city. Pretty little macarons were sitting on the three-tiered cake stand which was served to me. They were from La Belle Miette, a specialist macaron patisserie in Melbourne. These little morsels blew both myself and my hubby away. This was how macarons should taste! They were by far the best macarons we have ever tasted. We realised that those chewy, overly sweet macarons were a little short on the almond meal.
From then on, we were fans. Luckily, La Belle Miette is in Melbourne’s CBD so we were safe from the excess of calories which we would consume if they were close by. Also, with the price which is charged for one of these little gems, they would always be a once-in-a-while treat. Macarons measured at approximately 3cm in diameter and disappeared in a mouthful or two. They are priced around the AU$2.80 mark at most macaron stockists, including patisseries in Paris!
Not having much of a sweet tooth anyhow, I’ve steered away from macarons for quite a while. That was until we stayed at the Olsen Hotel a little while ago. The Olsen is located within metres of the new Adriano Zumbo cafe in South Yarra, Melbourne. It was a stop we had to make. We had heard about Adriano Zumbo from friends who had enjoyed his sweets in Sydney, especially his macarons, so we had to go for a taste test. The cafe is flashy with lots of mirrors which reflected his divine cakes, making it look like there were masses of them. Our verdict? Close to the taste of the ones at La Belle Miette but the salted caramel one was a little overpowering in flavour. We’ve still to try the cakes which look way too good to eat!
The Macaron Obsession Begins – in search for the best macaron recipe!
Baking is something which I love to do and I’m not too bad at it. Surely these little rounds of delight couldn’t be that difficult to make? After reading up all the different recipes and methods on how to make macarons, I settled on a very old (200yrs) macaron recipe and adjusted it to create something unique. My first batch took the longest to make (due to not knowing how to use my mixer properly when beating the egg whites) and were so large and mis-shaped! They did taste good and disappeared quickly.
In the last week, I’ve gone slightly mad and have made four batches of macarons in the endeavour to achieve the perfect macaron. There’s so many things to take into consideration when attempting to make these things. Experiencing all the ways of how wrong macarons can turn out has given me a better idea of the do’s and don’ts of macaron making.
Nearly everyone pipes out those macarons too big on their first go. My first lot were ginormous! My macarons have come out too runny and flat, straight into the rubbish bin. My hubby read somewhere that I should add a few drops of water to my mixture to make it not so lumpy. Guess that twenty drops was twenty too much! You won’t need to add more than 5 drops (if any) to the recipe I’m sharing with you. They’ve also come out too meringue-like, so more mixing was required. They are still to come out perfect, but I’m a perfectionist so that might be a few more batches of trying.
The best macaron recipe – here it is:
Here’s the recipes which I follow in case you want to have a go at making some delectable macarons:
Ingredients for approximately 30 macarons:
Preparation time: 15 mins Cooking time: 20 minutes
- 4 egg whites (I use large eggs)
- Gel food colouring
- 1/3 Cup of caster sugar
- 1 1/2 of pure icing sugar or 1 3/4 of icing mixture.
- 1 cup almond meal
- small pinch of salt
Method – the perfect macaron recipe:
Sifting the ingredients
Start off by sifting the almond meal, icing sugar and salt 2 times, discarding the pieces which won’t pass through the sieve. You’ll be able to fold it into the egg whites as soon as you’ve beaten them.
Whip the egg whites and caster sugar
In your mixing bowl, whip egg whites with caster sugar until you can turn the bowl upside down and the mixture doesn’t fall out. Go for a thicker consistency as runny egg whites don’t make good macarons. My hand-held mixer takes approximately 5 mins on the highest speed. It may take a shorter time or up to 15 mins. Add the desired amount of food colouring and beat for around 20 seconds to mix the colour in.Note: The time taken to do this will depend on your mixer and the quality of the eggs. Fresher eggs, at room temperature will stiffen faster than older eggs straight out of the fridge.
The tricky bit – get this right to make a perfect macaron
The next step is the tricky part. Add the almond meal and icing sugar mixture into the egg whites, folding around 30-50 times with the spatula or mixing spoon.The mixture should be smooth and viscous but not runny. Under-mixing will mean that your macarons will not come out smooth on top. Over-mix and your macarons will be flat and have no feet (the ruffle on the edges).Note: A great tip is to lift the spatula with some of the mix on it and see how the mixture falls off and lands. If the mixture lands back in the bowl, forms a peak and doesn’t smoothen out, mix a little more. Try again until you are happy with the way the mixture settles from falling off the spatula. I’ve also tested the mixture by piping out a couple to see how they flatten out. If they are still too stiff, I’ll scrape them back into the bowl and mix a little more.
Pipe the macarons – the easy way
Place the piping bag (with nozzle inside) into a tall jar to help keep it open while you pour the mixture in. Pipe out little circles (approx 3cm in diameter) onto a baking try lined with non-stick baking paper. I pipe onto two trays to give my macarons some space. You’ll need to practise the piping to see which way works best for you. It is suggested that you pipe on an angle but my piping nozzle requires me to do it straight down.
The trick to get no air bubbles
When piping is completed, pick up the baking tray and firmly tap in onto the bench a couple of times. This may help reduce the air bubbles which may have formed. Some people like to leave the macarons to sit for around 30 mins before putting them into the oven. I haven’t needed to with this recipe but do try it if your macarons aren’t working out for you.
The recipe I followed suggested that you pre-heat the oven at approximately 150 degrees celsius and cook for 20 minutes. Only cook one tray of macarons at a time as I’m not so sure how the macarons on the tray beneath will behave. The macarons should come off the baking paper easily. If not, place them back in the oven and cook for a bit longer. You could also just let them sit until cool and then lift them off.
Macron Recipe Tips – How to get the perfect macaron:
Adjust your oven! My macarons tend to brown at that temperature so I have worked it out to be 130 degrees on fan bake for 2o minutes. You should be able to lift them straight off the baking paper. If you can’t, put them back into the oven for another couple of minutes. Unfortunately you will have to work out which temperature works well for your macarons. It may take a couple of batches to adjust the macaron recipe to your setup! Cooking time depends on your oven and temperature.
Add the filling! Pipe some of your favourite filling onto one macaron and sandwich it with another one of a similar size. Go for fillings such as flavoured ganache, cream cheese icing or buttercream icing. The cream cheese icing would be the least sweet of all the different icing, which can be more desirable as the macarons are quite sweet already.
My favourite macaron filling:
Mix together the following ingredients and pipe onto macarons.
- 250grams Philadelphia cream cheese
- 1 cup icing sugar
Leave the macarons in the fridge overnight (after adding the filling) before consuming! They are normally too crunchy on the first day and will taste amazing the following day.
When you’ve perfected making the basic macarons, get adventurous and try out different flavours – and you created your own french macaron recipe!
Happy baking and I hope you love this easy macaron recipe as much as we do.
We’d love to hear about your macaron baking adventures.