First of all, let me just say that French macarons are not easy to make for beginners, so be prepared for failure the first couple of times. However if you understand the proper way of making them, it should become easy.
There are a couple of ways to make macarons, either using the French meringue technique, or the Italian meringue technique. I think Swiss meringue method should work too, although I have not come across recipes using the Swiss meringue technique. I am using the French meringue method here since I am still not too confident in making Italian meringue.
There are many professional recipes that called for powdered egg white when making macarons, but it is not really necessary if you age the fresh egg whites yourself. What you do is to leave the egg whites, making sure there’re no traces of egg yolks, uncovered at room temperature for about 24 to 48 hours, even up to 72 hours in some recipes. I let mine aged for just over 48 hours. This is to let the egg whites age, basically to evaporate some of the moisture off to concentrate the protein in the egg whites. Do not cover the egg whites while ageing them as they could get mouldy and go off!
An important step in making macarons is to make sure that the consistency of the batter mixture is magma-like (or lava-like) before you start piping it out. After folding the almond/sugar mixture (‘tant-pour-tant’ in French) into the meringue, the mixture is quite stiff, firm and dull, just continue to keep mixing until the mixture starts to flow like magma, that is becoming fluid and shiny. Then you can stop mixing and start piping the mixture out. This requires some experience in making macarons to recognize the correct consistency and is one of the steps that could make or fail the macarons.
Another very important point in making macarons is to let the piped out mixture of macarons form a skin before baking. I’ve seen recipes that called for 15 to 20 minutes and up to 4-5 hours of resting time! I think it all depends on the temperature/humidity of the day as to how long it takes to form the skin. What I do is to turn the oven on at its lowest setting and open the oven door slightly, and make sure the temperature inside stays around 20°C to 30°C, you really need an oven thermometer inside to check. Then put in the tray of piped out rounds of macaron in the oven for about 30 minutes. They should form a nice layer of skin on each macaron by that time. When you lightly touch the surface of the macarons with your finger, they should feel firm and dry and there should be no mixture sticking to your finger.
Makes approx. 30 pieces (or 15 pairs)
72g almond meal
72g pure icing sugar
8g (about 1 tablespoon) coconut milk powder
60g aged egg whites
scant 1/4 teaspoon salt
60g caster sugar
pandan paste, to colour
100g white chocolate
50ml thickened cream
pandan paste, to colour
1. Ideally use two baking sheets per tray, that is stacking one baking sheet on top of another, and line the top baking sheet with baking paper. This is to insulate the base of macarons from too high a heat when baking.
2. Mix the almond meal and icing sugar – this equal amount of almond meal and icing sugar is called ‘tant-pour-tant’ in French. Sift the tant-pour-tant. Add sifted coconut milk powder; set aside.
3. Beat egg whites and salt until soft peaks form. Gradually add in caster sugar and continue to beat until stiff peaks form. Add pandan paste to flavour and colour to your desire.
4. Pour half of almond mixture into the meringue and fold in. When well mixed, add the remaining almond mixture and fold in. Use folding and cutting motion until the mixture is thick and fluid like magma.
5. You may use a little of the mixture to stick the four corners of the baking paper to the baking sheet. This will prevent the baking paper moving about as you pipe.
6. Transfer the meringue mixture to a piping bag fixed with a 1cm plain round nozzle. Pipe out rounds on the prepared paper lined baking sheets. Pipe out about 3cm-sized rounds; they will spread out to a slightly larger macarons, so leave enough gaps between rounds to prevent them merging into each others.
7. When the tray is filled, lift up the tray and give it a bang on the counter to get rid of any bubble in the macaron rounds. Leave in a warm place until each round forms skin on the surface.
8. Preheat oven to 180°C. When the macaron rounds are ready, put them in the oven and immediately turn the oven temperature down to 150°C. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until the surface is crisp and the underneath is just set. Do not allow the surface to brown, if it is the oven temperature is probably too high. Remove from oven and let cool until room temperature.
9. If the macarons stick to the baking paper, this is a way too remove the macarons. Lift up the baking paper from the baking sheet and pour hot water between the baking paper and baking sheet, the steam will dislodge the macarons. I did it another way which works too and not as fiddly. Turn the baking paper upside down carefully onto another slightly smaller tray with the macarons still stuck on the paper, so the macarons are upside down between the tray and paper, making sure the paper is large enough to completely cover the tray. Carefully pour hot water on the upturned paper, making sure no water run into the macarons underneath, then carefully peel the paper off the macarons.
10. Let cool completely, then sandwich each pairs with Pandan Ganache.
Boil the cream and pour over chopped chocolate. Stir until chocolate dissolves. Mix in pandan paste to flavour. Let cool then beat until stiff.
Taste: Light delicate crispy macaron shells with a chewy interior; delicious pandan and coconut aroma and taste
Consume: May be kept for up to 1 week
Storage: Chill in airtight containers in the refrigerator for best result
Recipe Reference(s): From various sources
Below is the Taste le Tour 2009 short video on Macarons by pâtissier, Pierrick Boyer: