I have a confession, another one! I used to think macarons were macaroons. I know, it's a cardinal sin! What was I thinking? Infact, the first time I had a macaron, I didn't even know what it was called. We were in a bakery on our first visit to Paris three years ago and when we are in France, I am in charge of speaking. I did French in school, but I wasn't very interested, as frankly, it wasn't boys. So I was doing my usual, trying to speak in my pigeon French, when I do this, I feel like the Earth stands still waiting for my next word. Je. Voudrais. Un. Croissant. Et. Un. Pain. Au. Chocolat. S'il. Vous. Plait. The person waiting for me to finish my sentence has nearly fallen asleep and usually responds in perfect English. Anyway, I was je voudrais-ing nearly everything in the bakery and managed to get a macaron in my bag of goodies, by accident. What a blooming great accident though. Crispy and chewy and really delicious.
I set about replicating my happy accidental purchase at home and it came out as something to be proud of. I can't remember if it had any 'feet' but I didn't know the importance of those back then. After much research over the years, I've discovered that 'feet' are the sign of success for a macaron, they are the product of the skin forming on the uncooked macarons. And they have a funny name. Feet. Hehe!
We had a macaron masterclass during my cookery course a few months ago, the recipe was so exact. 63g water, 190g egg whites, etc. It involved making an Italian meringue first before mixing it into the almond mixture. I tried this recipe on Saturday and did not have much success. The macarons were nearly too bad to even put in the bin. They were that bad. I wasn't going to let them get the better of me and I tried a different recipe the next day. I was lucky to win a macaron book on the lovely Colette's blog and have been wanting to try it for a while now and it worked like a dream for me.
I brought a jar of confiture de lait in Galeries Lafayette Gourmet when we were in Paris last October and I thought that would make an interesting buttercream flavour for sandwiching the macarons together. I have seen jars of the confiture locally so it might not be too hard to pick up. If you can't find it, I think a jar of caramel sauce or dulce de leche would work just aswell.
Chocolate Macarons - from 'Macarons' by Annie Rigg & Confiture de Lait Buttercream- adapted from Hummingbird Bakery 'Cake Days' basic buttercream recipe.Makes 16 macarons
180g icing sugar
100g ground almonds
2tbps cocoa powder
120g egg whites, about 3 eggs
a pinch of salt
40g vanilla caster sugar
red food colouring paste
2 solid baking sheets, lined with non-stick baking parchment - if you need a guide for piping, trace around a 2 inch diameter pastry cutter onto the baking sheet and then turn the paper over.
Blend the icing sugar, ground almonds and cocoa powder in a food processor until throughly combined. Set aside.
Tip the egg whites into freestanding mixer and add the salt. Beat until the egg whites can hold a stiff peak.
Continue to beat the egg whites at a medium speed and start adding the caster sugar a teaspoon at a time, mixing well after each addition. The mixture should be thick, white and glossy.
Dip a skewer into the food colouring paste and stir into the egg whites. Mix until combined.
Using a large metal spoon, fold the ground almond mixture into the egg whites.
The mix should be throughly incorporated and smooth, this can take up to 1 minute. When it is ready, the mixture should drop from the spoon in a smooth molten mass.
Fill a piping bag with the mixture and pipe evenly sized rounds, about 2 inches in diameter onto the prepared sheets.
Tap the bottom of the baking sheets sharply, once, on the work surface to expel any large air bubbles.
Leave the macarons for at least 15 minutes, and up to 1 hour, until they have set and formed a dry shell. They should not be sticky, tacky or wet when tested with your fingertip.
Preheat the oven to 170 degrees or 150 degrees fan.
Bake the macarons on the middle shelf of the preheated oven, one sheet at a time, for 10 minutes. The tops should be crisp and the bottoms dry. Leave to cool on the baking sheet.
Confiture de Lait Buttercream - Adapted from Hummingbird Bakery basic buttercream
90g butter, softened
250g icing sugar
2tbsp confiture de lait or dulce de leche or caramel sauce
Blend the butter and icing sugar in a freestanding mixer until sandy.
Add the milk and mix until pale and creamy.
Add the confiture de lait and mix well.
Fill a piping bag with the icing.
Pipe the buttercream on to a macaron shell and top with a lid. Simples.
Some Instagram pictures.....
The Sunday V the Saturday Macaron.