Tuesday, 29 January 2013

The Macaroon Experiment

Part 1.  When I envisioned this post, I imagined a cake stand overflowing with macaroons....
Yummy macaroons.  They not only look amazing, but I'm pretty sure you can eat them all day and never feel full.  Shame they are so blooming hard to make...or are they?  Read on blog friends and follow my macaroon experiment, Part 1 [I hope, I'm making more!].

If I am honest, I thought macaroons needed fancy ingredients, so when I realised I had the majority already in my cupboards, I thought I'd give them a go myself.  Plus, any challenge from The GBBO has to be taken.  Really, they just need patience, time and lots of stress-busting slamming of trays.

What I Used:
A variation of this recipe [Guru Pascale]
I didn't inclue the coconut and changed the icing sugar measurement to 150g and almonds to 100g.  I'm a big fan of sugar, not so much of almond, so wanted to tone down tat taste a tiny bit [also, ground almonds come in 100g bags, so I'm tight like that].
I also made a light buttercream for a few of my macaroon fillings in place of the cream:
100g caster sugar
150g icing sugar
Food Colouring
Baking Tray
Parchment Paper
Piping Bag [with circular nozzle]

Lorraine Pascale is my food guru.  I think she takes complicated and intimidating recipes and simplifies them perfectly into ones you feel confident to attempt yourself [rightly or wrongly!], so I was more than happy to follow her recipe [and ignore her almond and icing sugar quantities.....]
To start, it's all about the preparation.  I lined a baking tray with parchment paper, which I even took the time and care to cut to size [normally I would just fold, but I didn't want any lopsided or wonky macaroons] and helped keep it all in place with a little butter on the bottom of the tray:

In a mixing bowl, I added the icing sugar, almonds and half of the egg whites [P.S - I'm not used to weight of egg whites, but I found that I needed 2 and 1/2 eggs] and mixed into a paste:
Setting aside, I then added the water and caster sugar to a pan and heated the mixture gently:
Once mixed thoroughly, I raised the heat to boil until the mixture turned thick and syrup-like [this took around 15 minutes]
In a separate mixing bowl, whisk the remaining half of the egg whites until they form peaks:
...and then add the sugar syrup, continuing to whisk until glossy peaks can be made:
[this part of the method is similar to when making meringues]
Next , I added my egg whites to the paste.  If you are colouring your macaroons, this is also where the colouring needs to be added.  I decided to try three shades of pink/red and make 4 white, 4 pastel pink and 4 red macaroons:
...so once my paste and egg whites were combined, I divided the mixture also into three, I added the whisked egg whites and stirred until peaks formed again:
This is where I probably need a lesson in food colouring.  As the paste had a brown tint, the red food colouring actually created purple.  That will do.
Once mixed, it was time for my favourite part - piping bag time!
I could only find a Wilton Star nozzle, but the outcome needs to be flat circles.  Flat equal circles.  So ideally, you would want a plain circular nozzle.  I followed the recipe advice by piping with the bag vertical and cheated size-wize by cutting the bottoms from cupcake cases and filling them to get even macaroons:
I will be hone, by this point, I was feeling pretty pleased with how everything had gone.  30 minutes in, things had gone to plan.  Whilst I cleared a little of the mess I had made away, I found my macaroons had begun to expand a little....slightly changing from their circular form but not too much that I worried about it.  Next time, I will be a little less generous with the amount of mixture I pipe to allow for this:
Next, you need to get rid of any air bubbles by slamming the tray hard on your worktop.  I don't know about you, but after all the work I had put in up to this point, I wasn't up for splattering it all over my kitchen, so started with small slams until I gradually built up to more 'effective' slams.
Once happy, you set the macaroons aside for 30 minutes to harden on the outside:
Then pop in a pre-heated oven at 170 degrees C, but don't close the door shut, keep it ajar [I felt a little wasteful with this, but what Pascale says, goes].  I had the door pushed to, but not shut and found the edges of some of the macaroons browned after just 5 minutes, so if you have a fan assisted oven like me, keep a close eye and open more if this happens to you too!
15-20 minutes later [and lots of checking them every minute] you should have macaroon like sweets...
.....sort of.
lift the paper from the tray and set aside to cool: 
Yes! ONE I can say looks as I hoped.
In the meantime, I whisked up my cream:
Ready to fill once the macaroons were cooled:
This happened for a total of 6 macaroons, creating 3 complete macaroons. 3.  Out of 12.
...and then I added some decorations with writing pens on top...someone stop me:

This was fine for a first try, but with the amount of preparation they take, I'll probably double the quantity next time, allowing for epic failures as well as success - the ones that work out, they disappear fast [especially when there are only 3]!
Like meringues and marshmallows, this is something I want to try again and I am sure, having attempted it once, it's something I'll get better at [here's hoping]!
If you have any tips or tricks for my next experiment, I would love to hear them! You can email me at [thethingsshemakes@yahoo.co.uk]

UPDATE: I've tried again - here are the second and third attempts!

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  1. These are so lovely! You did a fantastic job! I love Lorraine Pascale too. I tried this recipe about 2 years go but yours came out much nicer than mine. I love your piping decor!

    1. Thank you! I was hoping my decoration would distract people that only 3 made the grade! Really want to try them again though and was pleased they weren't as hard as I had feared - hopefully Take 2 wont be too far away and I have more to show for it!


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