Since my macaron commandments post way back in January, I have made macarons very, very frequently. The kids love them* - my son especially. He is 2 1/2 and adores his 'macaroonies', even has a special 'macaroonie' dance.
*At least that's my excuse and I am sticking to it!
The original recipe has yielded very consistent results and I can now make macarons very quickly and without much trouble. Using liquid egg whites eliminates the need for 'ageing', but apart from that I have followed all my previous tips.
This time I decided to mix things up a little and try the other classic method of making macarons which uses Italian rather than French meringue. It is a little bit more time consuming, but produces beautiful macarons which are a tiny bit softer and more evenly risen than the french method ones.
I decided on making raspberry macarons after finding freeze-dried raspberry pieces at Sainsbury's. Normally these are hard to source and rather expensive, so I was delighted to find them at my local store for under £2. The raspberry flavour is very pronounced as both the shells and filling contain raspberries in some form. The buttercream is very zingy and fresh tasting - would make a fabulous cupcake topping as well.
Hands down, I think these are some of the prettiest and tastiest macarons I have ever made. My daughter's birthday is coming up so I am considering handing them out as party favours. This recipe makes a large batch - around 30 - so perfect for sharing if you are feeling generous.
200g / 7oz icing sugar
200g / 7oz ground almonds
150g / 5 oz egg whites divided into 2 x 75 g / 2½ oz quantities
200g / 7oz caster sugar
50 ml / 1/5 cup water
2 tbsp freeze-fried raspberry pieces (optional)
pink colouring paste
pastel sprinkles (optional)
500g / 4 cups icing sugar
140g / 1 stick soft unsalted butter
60g / 1/2 cup fresh (or frozen) raspberries
2 tbsp caster sugar
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
2-3 tbsp raspberry or elderflower cordial
Sift the icing sugar and ground almonds together in a bowl. Put the freeze-dried raspberry pieces in a pestle and mortar (if using) and grind them to a fine powder. Sieving them will get rid of any small seeds but it's not essential. Add the raspberry powder and half the egg whites and mix together with a large spoon. The almond mix will come together to form a paste. Set aside.
Put the caster sugar and water in a small pot. Put the rest of the egg whites in the bowl of your stand mixer. Bring the sugar to the boil and clip on a candy thermometer. When the sugar temperature reaches 110C / 230F start whisking the egg whites on high speed. Keep a watchful eye on the sugar - once it reaches 242F /117 C pour it very carefully down the side of your mixing bowl while still whisking on medium. Try not to hit the whisk as the sugar can scramble the egg whites! Once all the syrup is in, switch to high speed and whisk for several minutes till the mixing bowl is cool. You will have a very glossy, stiff meringue. Add the pink colouring paste using a toothpick or skewer and whisk it in. Start by adding a very small amount and increase the quantity until you are happy with the colour. I used about 1/8 of a teaspoon. Don't use liquid colours - they aren't strong enough and you will need to add a large amount to get a decent colour which in turn will affect the consistency of the meringue.
Add the almond paste to the meringue bowl and using a large spoon mix it together until it's well combined. The consistency of the batter is very important - it needs to flow smoothly and when dropped back into the bowl should spread slowly. With a bit of practice mixing it just right will become second nature, but if in doubt it is best to under rather than over beat the batter.
Line 2-3 trays with baking parchment - secure the paper by dotting a bit of macaron batter on each of the tray corners. Put the batter into a piping bag with a 1 cm / ½-inch plain round nozzle. Use a template and pipe small rounds of batter onto the baking parchment. Pipe slightly smaller than the template as the macarons will spread. If you like, put a small quantity of sprinkles on half of the macaron shells before you bake them.
If the macaron have little 'peaks' when you pipe them, the batter probably needs a few more strokes beating together. Use a clean, wet finger to pat the peaks down. Carefully but forcefully knock the trays against the counter to release any air bubbles. Leave the macaron shells for at least half an hour until the macaron shells are 'touch' dry.
Preheat the oven to 150C / 300F. Bake the shells for around 14-17 minutes. Do a test batch if you can - oven temperatures vary and you need to find the baking time that works for you. I turned the tray around halfway through the cooking to produce an even rise (but that may be a quirk of my oven not a necessity). The macarons are baked when they have a smooth, dry top and are firm. Leave them to cool down completely before carefully lifting off the baking paper.
To make the buttercream, put the raspberries, caster sugar and lemon juice in a small pot with 1 tbsp of water. Bring to the boil then simmer gently until the sugar dissolves and the sauce reduces slightly. Use a potato masher to muddle the raspberries then sieve them to get rid of the seeds. Set aside to cool. The more raspberries you use the deeper the colour of the buttercream (and more intense the flavour) so you can increase the quantity if you like.
Put the softened butter and icing sugar in the bowl of your stand mixer and whisk together for several minutes until very fluffy. Add the raspberry sauce and cordial and whisk together until thoroughly combined. If the buttercream is too soft add more icing sugar until you have a spreadable but thick consistency.
Put the buttercream into a piping bag with a 1 cm / ½-inch plain round nozzle and pipe a small quantity on half the macaron shells. Sandwich them gently together. The macarons will get softer the longer you keep them but the shells keep very nicely in an airtight container for a few days.
I am submitting these to the Classic French challenge hosted by the lovely Victoria over at Kick At The Pantry Door as well as May's No Waste Food Challenge [Spirits and Cordials] over at Turquoise Lemons.