Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Macarons at last!

Yes, it has been a few weeks since I have added recipes to the blog, however I have not been idle, in fact to the contrary, I think I've managed to perfect my Macaron recipe and will share what I have experienced to overcome some of the pitfalls. 

Now back to Macarons.........mmm biting into the perfect Macaron... chic, sweet and oh so very frenchy little morsels, when matched with tea or coffee.  Although the sweetness is cut perfectly when taken with a short black. This may be due to Macarons having originated in Italy in the mid 1500's before their popularity with French Patisserie's who produced them in infinite colours and flavours.  

The perfect Macaron should have a paper thin shell enclosing a light, soft, slightly chewy centre.  The surface should be smooth and the shells should have "ruffled feet" around the base. 
The Macarons pictured here are Lime flavoured  and sandwiched together with a Lemon and Lime Butter Cream.  I have had greater success in lifting the cooked Macarons from a biscuit tray if you use a silicon baking mat over the tray.  I found when using baking paper they stuck slightly, causing cracking and breakage.  It is also important to ensure you don't overcook them, as they will burn easily. Pure icing sugar is used rather than icing sugar mixture and egg whites should be weighed as ratio of egg whites to sugar is important.  Combine icing sugar and almond meal in a food processor for a few short pulses to combine and reduce lumps. Before cooking the Macarons, you will get a better result if you leave them sitting at room temperature for 2-3 hours to form a slight skin, so when you touch lightly with your finger it comes away dry. This reduces cracking when cooking.   The quantities listed here should make approximately 60

Macaron Shells
225 g pure icing sugar
140 g almond meal
100 g egg whites at room temperature
Lime Zest of 2 limes

1. Line two baking trays with silicone baking mats.
2. Sift the combined and blended icing sugar and almond meal into a large mixing bowl, discarding any large pieces of meal.
3. Whisk the egg whites in an electric mixer until stiff peaks form.  If colouring, add colour of choice now and whisk in. 
4. Fold combined icing sugar and almond meal into the whipped egg whites, add lime zest and continue to fold until the mixture is glossy resembling slow moving lava when the bowl is tilted.
5. Spoon mixture into a large piping bag fitted with a 5mm plain piping nozzle attachment.   Pipe rounds 3cm in diameter onto the baking mats about 2cm apart, as the mixture will spread.  Tap the tray on the bench firmly a couple of times to remove air bubbles.
6. Leave the Macarons to sit at room temperature for about 2 hours to form a skin.
7. Preheat oven to 150 degrees C.
8. Before placing Macaron shells into oven, reduce oven temperature to 130 degrees C.  Bake Macaron shells for 10 - 12 minutes and firm to touch but not coloured.  Remove from the oven and cool completely before removing from the baking tray.

3 egg yolks
90 g caster sugar
2 tablespoons water
125 g softened unsalted butter (chopped into cubes)
finely grated zest of 2 limes and 1 lemon

Whisk the egg yolks on high in an electric mixer for approximately 10 minutes until pale and creamy.  Bring sugar and water to the boil, reduce to simmer, inserting sugar thermometer that reaches 121c. 

With the mixer on medium speed, slowly pour the sugar mixture into the creamy yolk in a thin stream.  Increase speed to high and whisk for 10 minutes or until cooled.  With the mixer turned to medium add the softened butter a little at the time. Add lime and lemon zest.  Increase to high for 3 minutes.

Spoon or pipe the mixture onto half of the cooled Macaron shells and top with an unfilled shell to sandwich together.

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