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Top Tips for Making Perfect Macarons
There is much talk about how difficult it is to make macarons.
They are tricky but you only need a few handy tips and believe me; you will soon be making perfect macarons every time. The first time I made these delicious little French goodies, my attempt was a disaster - see it can happen to a professional too. The reason? I took little notice of the recipe believing it couldn't be that awkward, after all, this is basically a meringue. Well, I was wrong. It is possible to produce a... macaron by paying no heed whatsoever to recipes and tips, but they won't look very pretty which is one of the reasons macarons are so loved, it's not just the taste.
The Macaron Tower above is one I made for my stepdaughter's wedding; as you can see, I have improved since those feeble attempts in the beginning. These are the tips I have learned along the way and helped me to develop.Continue to 2 of 14 below.
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Use a Mat
If you can, buy a Moule Macaron, a silicon mat designed specifically for making macarons. My favorite is from Lakeland in the UK, but shop around where you are. You don't have to buy a mat; you can draw a template onto greaseproof paper; the advantage to the mat is the indentations help to create a perfect shape.Continue to 3 of 14 below.
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Use Food Color Paste
For colored macarons, use food color paste not a liquid; using a liquid alters the macaron texture.
Add colorings to the liquid egg whites. Add more rather than less at this stage which will make a darker color than you ultimately want as it will lighten considerably with whisking and the addition of the sugarContinue to 4 of 14 below.
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Sift Cocoa Powder
Chocolate macarons are slightly different. Sift the cocoa powder with the powdered sugar.Continue to 5 of 14 below.
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Weigh and measure all your ingredients before you start and always sieve the icing sugar and the ground almond; you may think skipping this step will not matter; it does. Not sieving, you risk lumps in the mixture which will flatten the macaron mixture.
Use egg whites that are a few days old and make sure they are at room temperature.Continue to 6 of 14 below.
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Clean and Sparkly
Before whisking make sure your whisk and bowl are sparkling clean and grease free.Continue to 7 of 14 below.
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Slowly Does It
Don't add all the sugar to the egg whites in one go, in three parts is usually best. Whisk the egg whites really, really well, they should be so stiff you can turn the bowl upside down, and they will not fall out.Continue to 8 of 14 below.
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Gently Does It
When mixing the almond / icing sugar to the beaten egg whites, use a slim spatula and fold quickly and gently. You will lose a lot of the air, but the resulting batter should still be thick and airy. Too runny and you have over worked it.Continue to 9 of 14 below.
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Less is More
Use a simple round nozzle in your piping bag, anything fancier is a waste of time. Less is more when piping onto the mat or greaseproof paper; you do not have to fill to the brim as the mixture will settle and fill the indent.Continue to 10 of 14 below.
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Tap and Wait
Once piped, tap the baking sheet sharply on the work top to remove any air bubbles and to help the mixture settle. Leave the piped macarons to dry before cooking; 20 - 30 mins is best; the macarons surface will dry and become smooth.Continue to 11 of 14 below.
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Half way through cooking, open the oven door and quickly waft it a few times to allow any steam to escape. Close the door and finish the cooking.Continue to 12 of 14 below.
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Wait Until They Are Cold
Once cooked, slide the mat / greaseproof onto a cooling rack and leave the macarons to go completely cold. DO NOT be tempted to remove the macarons until they are cold, you will be upset if you do; the macarons will stick.Continue to 13 of 14 below.
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Refrigerate Before Eating
Pipe the filling on to the flat side of one macaron, place the other on top and twist gently to spread the cream. Once the macarons are filled and you are about to think of eating them, just know; they are best kept in a container inside the fridge overnight. The end result is a more chewy and better flavored macaron. It's tough...but it works!Continue to 14 of 14 below.
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Freeze the Shells
If you do not have the time to complete making the macarons once cooked, or want to prepare some in advance, the shells freeze really well. Put them into strong container so they don't break and keep in the freezer for no longer than a month. Always make the buttercream filling fresh, this does not freeze very well.