Sunday, 18 March 2012

Parisian Macarons, my learning curve


My 3rd attempt making macarons (or macaroons in English although I don’t understand why there is a double “o”).  



Finally, I get to show you that “Collerette” or collar everyone is looking for. If I was only watching my oven the last 2 minutes of baking, my macarons would have looked pinky, but according to my family, it still tasted good, especially that they were served 48 hours later, after they stayed in the freezer and had time to get moist from the inside before being served. Who told you it was right to serve them the same day anyway…


I have my book of “Macarons” by Pierre Hermé. I have used a few of his tips which you can find in many blogs anyway, so you don’t need the book for that matter. You can buy it to get inspired because he's considered the Ace of Macarons, his book remains a good thing to have. If you can't, the blogs and Youtube are doing great showing us everything we need.

I have tried Pierre Hermé's macarons at Selfridges in London. His macarons are out of this world but most of all, they’re very well garnished. Plenty of ganache, you can’t complaint, except when you get to pay!

So, for the story, here is how my first macaron looked like, without the “Collerette” but still delicious. 

My first attempt of macaron, 4 years ago, in my first Doha's kitchen, no "collerete"

My second looked funny, but still delicious. Both have never been posted, so you get to see them now..

My second attempt of macaron, 3 years ago, in my 2nd Doha's kitche, still no "collerette"

 I've learned the following:

  • The egg whites should be separated from egg yolks at least 24 hours before using them to make the macarons. But an amazing Chef told me that there was no need to do so, I can just put a pinch of salt in the egg white at room temperature, get them to become lukewarm in a bain-marie or a micro-wave. I can start whipping the eggs without all that drama of 24 hours to 1 week some recipes are talking about (the time you need to keep the egg white separated from egg yolk).
  •  I learned that blending the sugar powder with the almond powder (or any other powder/meal you are using) and then sifting both to get a fine powder is a good tip to get a nice smooth macaron.  
  • I learned that toasting the almond powder before using it is good because you accentuate its flavour but also reduce the humidity in the macarons. That said, the almond powder is meant to be used cool. 
  • The oven, a story! It's apparently important to have a proper oven where you get to read the real temperature, otherwise, you need a thermometer inside it to know when it's really 170-160 degrees C or whatever temperature you have in the recipe. 
  • Finally, the macaronage , which is the moment where you bring the perfectly firm egg whites and the dry almond powder/sugar. I learned from many sources, including Pierre Hermé's "Macarons" that you should break that dryness but adding the egg white in stages.
  • I didn't pipe the macarons from the side, the piping bag should be close to the tray. The amount and the way you pipe will determine how "filled" or empty the shell will be. I still have to confirm this in my next trial.
  • I banged the trays on the counter to release air and get the shells to become "flat" from the top. then I waited 30 minutes so they dry a bit and stop being sticky. Although, some people skip this step, but it worked for me. I guess it depends on your environemnt.
  • Once I see the "collerette" coming to life, I have to open the oven to release the vapor. I would say twice.
  • The collerette will happen if we have 2 baking sheets, one where the shells are baking, the second one is underneath. I think it helps the temperature not to hit the shells strongly from the bottom, even though their baking sheet is placed on the grill in the center of the oven...Go figure! I just found it worked for me.
Here is my 3rd  attempt...I got the collar, but I have to fill my shells properly while piping so I get a heavenly macaron.


I advice that you start with 1 egg white, walk your way through the recipes, tests and trials. Once you become confident, go ahead and make a good batch, use other powders (hazelnut or pistachios), add melted chocolate..

Regarding the filling, I just use jam or nutella for time being. Not that I don't know how to make a proper ganache but I just think the moment I'll make a proper batch of macarons, I'll make a ganache with it so I don't waste anything . For now, my alternatives are more economic.

So here is the recipe I've used for the final experiment.


Ingredients
For 12 small macarons using classic method
Prep: 20 min - Croutage: 30 to 40 min- baking: 13 min

  • 1 egg white (medium-size calibre)
  • A pinch of salt
  • 40g of almond meal/powder, roasted or toasted
  • 65g of powdered sugar
  • 15g de caster sugar
  • Drops of colouring (preferably gel, paste or powder)
  • Drops of vanilla extract of any other flavouring
Garnishing
  • Ganache, or a good jam, or nutella, or buttercream..

Preparation

Pour the white in a bowl fitted for a bain-marie.
 

Weigh the icing sugar and ground almonds, mix everything in a pulveriser. Sift onto a large sheet of parchment paper using a fine sieve (the finer the better).
 

Using the steam from the bain-marie, beat the egg white until they become foamy. 
  
Out of the bain-marie.Add the caster sugar and carry on whipping at a low speed (2). The texture should become very much like a meringue, with stiff peaks and bright shiny white. Add the colouring and the flavouring extract just before you finish this step.

The macaronnage: pour the powder on the meringue into 3 times. Take a rubber spatula and make ​​a movement upwards back towards you and turning the bowl 1/4 of a turn. The batter should be smooth and a little bit runny (really a little bit)
.



Making the shells and baking

If you do not have a silpat like me, line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Fill a piping bag with a fit it with a round-end sort of tip, or just snap a disposable piping bag from the closed corner and leave about 1 cm diameter sort of hole to let the batter come out and make the shells.


Place the piping bag perpendicular to the surface, apply pressure with your hand placed on the top of the bag, stop the pressure and remove the bag by making a circle in a clockwise direction of counterclockwise, as is you are going to write a comma. 

Place the plate in an aerated area so the shells crust, which should last about 35 minutes.
 
15 mins before baking the macarons, preheat oven to 160 ° C. Bake at half maximum for 9 to 10 minutes then reduce to 140 ° C for about 3 min (this depends on their size). Open the oven door once or twice to release the steam from it.


Let the shells cool slightly before removing them from the baking sheet.

I do recommend freezing the unfilled shells and then filling them the day they'll be served, about 12 hours prior.



My brother is asking for the next batch..I think I feel more confident to make more and better versions of this everybody's favourite...

Same recipe was used to make these with white chocolate ganache filling..




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