Macarons let’s do this

So, before christmas I had a horrible couple of days making batch upon batch of failed macarons. And made it (one of) my new year’s resolution to master this most difficult of all bakes I have ever encountered.

Since my first four attempts, I have had some useful information come my way and decided it might be time to have another attempt with these new things in mind.

I had tried 2 different recipes already, but came across Zoella and Tanya Burr’s video during a youtube binge and their recipe was quite different again. The ingredients are the same but one big diffrence is that they added extra, unwhipped, egg whites to their mixture which was a new idea for me so I thought this would be worth a go.

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There were lots of great tips in this video as Zoe had a special kit and a book which seems to have really good intructions. Here are some things that I paid specific attention to that I didn’t do last time:

– I left my egg whites in the fridge for 24 hours. I had read about using ‘aged’ egg whites during my previous attempts, and for one batch did leave the egg whites out for a couple of hours, but this time I put them in the fridge to avoid poisoning, and left them for 24 hours. I think the idea is that some of the moisture evaporates and the proteins in the egg white … do something… beneficial…

– Tia from Little Button Diaries recently made some beautiful meringues and mentioned that Delia Smith recommends a final cleaning step for your bowl and whisk using some lemon juice on a paper kitchen towel to remove the last traces of grease. Tia swore by this as an antidote to flopping meringues.

– I left out the food colouring – just in case this was having a negative impact on my mixture.

– baked my macarons on just a greaseproof paper sheet on the grill shelf rather than on a tin tray

woolapple and a kenwood mixer ready to make macarons yeah bring it on yeah

So here is what happened step by step for you:

i n g r e d i e n t s

4 egg whites
230g icing sugar
130g ground almonds
60g granulated sugar

0. The day before: I seperated four egg whites into two incredibly clean bowls (2 egg whites in each bowl)

1. On the day of the bake: I measured out and mixed together the icing sugar and almonds using an electric mixer until they were well blended together. Then I sifted this mix into a bowl, and added one set of egg whites (but didn’t stir them in) and put this to one side (I threw away all the bits that didn’t go through the sieve)

2. Then I made my bowl and mixer beaters as completely clean as I possibly could, and did Tia’s lemon juice trick to do a final clean. I whipped up the remaining two egg whites with the granulated sugar (I actually used caster sugar) and I really noticed how the aging of the eggs had made a difference, they felt much gloopier than fresh egg whites. The egg whites take a lot of whisking to get to the right consistency, I think these took longer than my last attempts, maybe because of the aging? To begin with I had lost hope, but it soon started to take shape. Zoella mentioned that you are aiming for the consistency of shaving foam with your whisking, which is a good guide – it needs to be thick and forming good peaks when you lift your beaters out (not too floppy peaks)

3. Next I carefully folded in the almond/sugar/egg white mixture into my whisked egg whites. This was the make or break moment – it needs to be handled carefully, but also blended thoroughly (ARGH!) I don’t have a spatula which is the recommended utensil for this task, but used a metal spoon and all was well. I could already tell it was different to last time – this mixture was good and stiff and putty like.

french macarons piped

4. I prepared some baking paper by measuring a length to cover my grill shelf and doubled it over to make it nice and sturdy. Carefully carefully, I spooned the mixture into a piping bag with a plain nozzle and piped little rounds onto my paper. I think my piping skills need some work, but I was getting very excited at this point as could tell they were holding their shape and might..just..work..eek.

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5. Lastly I left my macarons for about half an hour to form a bit of a film on the outside. I am not actually sure if mine did this, but that is the idea of this step and I was taking no chances. Then I popped them in the oven a batch at a time. The instructions say to bake at 140 degrees, but as I have a fan oven I set it to 125 degrees (I was feeling nervous and had read previously that too hot an oven can lead to macaron failure. I think I read somewhere that you’re meant to leave the oven door open a little bit even?!) The first batch I baked for 15 minutes which I don’t think was quite long enough, and the second batch I baked for 20 minutes. I think next time i will try 23 minutes… or just turn my oven up slightly…

macarons from the oven

I was so excited! This was success!!!

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As per Zoella, I filled my macarons with nutella and raspberries. They were so delicious and I started to feel very weird from the sugar in my blood. Or maybe giddy from my achievement? Probably that. They are not christmas present standard yet, so I will be practising a bit more I think mostly my piping and also getting the oven temperature right (most of my macarons were a bit soft in the middle still and crumbled when i tried to fill them).

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I like this challenge a lot.

Please give these a go and let me know how you get on, or if you have any pro tips for me I would love to hear from you!

macaron and tea

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Macarons, a journey

I just really wanted to mention a bit of a baking challenge that I faced last week – my attempts at french macarons. But please don’t get excited for some nice pictures and a recipe (I admit, this was my plan for this) – I gave them so much of my time and attention last week. But they have defeated me!

It all started when I decided to make some little baked treats for my work colleagues for christmas. And came across a recipe for French Macarons – it looked so easy. I thought – those are delicious and they look so pretty – and one of my colleagues can’t eat wheat and these have no wheat – so this was a good idea! I thought. But… i didn’t count on them being IMPOSSIBLE to make!

I found a recipe in my little book of bakes, and it made it sound so straight forward. Hurruh!

But here is attempt 1:

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Oh no.

Luckily for the internet, when  i googled ‘why are my macarons flat and brown and wealded to the baking paper’ I came across this amazing link, crammed full of every macaron problem scenario. There was also a video which was really useful and  i realised my first batch was really too runny.

So – i followed her instructions to a tee… annnnnnd….

Still flat (i was too sad to take anymore pictures) but not brown so this is an improvement. I think the first attempt was definitely a case of not whisking my eggs enough, and the later attempts (there were four in all – the final batch i didn’t even bother to put in the oven, i was experienced at what a failed macaron batter looked like by then) I did get a bit closer. But still no.

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SO I gave up and made gingerbread instead (sorry Gill for this gift of gluten induced indigestion)

So, looking on the bright side, this post is about if at first you don’t succeed try try try again. Or in my case try try try again again. There seem to be very many recipes and tutorials about for these little delicacies, so I am taking on the challenge – something must work?

You haven’t heard the last of this. And if you have ever successfully made macarons – we need to talk!