How to Make Macaroons at Home

Macaroons, aren't they just to die for, cute, delicious they are also.........very expensive.
As an average baker, I could only dream of them: the Graal of Yummies, if there is such a expression, but you know what I mean.

Sometimes recipes are just not enough. It's all in the know-how. And to learn how to make macaroons, I attended a class run at the L'Atelier des Chefs.
Perfect. The class started with a short intro and then hands on all the way. The interaction with the instructor was brilliant, we got lots of tips. Macaroons are delicate so you need to get it right every single step of the way. Having mistakes corrected as we went along was a huge bonus. If you have a birthday coming think gift card.

In the meantime here is what I learnt:
To make 35 macaroons  Shells you'll need the following
250g Ground Almonds
350g Icing Sugar
150g Caster Sugar
215g Egg White (s)
5g Powdered Food Colouring

You will also need Baking Paper not the parchement which has got wax and will leave a taste on your little jewels and a tray with tiny holes to let the air circulate during cooking.

Preheat the oven to 155'C.
Icing sugar develops little crystals with humidity, they will affect the way macaroons looks.
This is the reason which it has to be sifted.
    extra tip: always keep icing sugar in sealed container after opening

When you sift don't check from left to right, it's very tempting to do so but the sugar is very light and will fly all over the shop. So use your hand to press sugar and almond mixture through

Step 1: Sift the ground almonds and the icing sugar together.

Now pay attention, the scientific bit is coming up :

Tip : It's preferable to use pasteurised egg whites, found in supermarkets in cartons. Pateurised egg whites are more runny than fresh therefore the meringue will rise better.

Of course fresh egg whites can be used in both cases, you'll need to add a pinch of salt to stabilised the proteins and use the whites at room temperature.

Step 2: Whisk the egg whites until white and fluffy and then add the caster sugar to the egg whites and continue whisking until you have stiff, glossy peaks.

You know it's ready when it looks like so : very shiny, with soft peaks so whisk away and don't worry you can't overwhisk meringues.

Step 3: Fold the ground almonds and icing sugar into the meringue mixture.
Cut and fold the mixture with a spatula until all of the dry ingredients are incorporated and the mixture is smooth, shiny and has reached the ribbon stage.

Our instructor's tip for this step was: find your own method to incorporate the mixture in the egg-whites, one way to do it : Slide the spatula in the bowl at 12.00o'clock push it all the way till 6. Fold turn the bowl and repeat. 
Step 4 : Carefully add the food colouring making sure not to overwork the mixture. Spoon the mixture into a piping bag.
Tip: do not use liquid colouring. Powder is the best if you can't find powder use gel. A little goes a long way, by adding 1/4 spoon we had really bright colours, like the one below. At this stage, incorporate the colour quickly without overworking the paste                 

When all this is done, it's time to pipe and bake.
Step 5: Pipe 2cm circles in straight lines across a baking sheet lined with a silicon paper. Leave a 1 cm gap between each macaroon shell. Drop the tray of macaroons onto the work surface from about 30 cm to remove any large air bubbles.

Step 6: Allow the macaroons to rest at room temperature for 20 minutes or until the macaroon shells are no longer sticky to touch.

Step 7: Bake in the oven for 15 minutes. If you are baking lots of macaroons you may need to keep the oven door slightly ajar (with a spoon or paper) to prevent steam building up in the oven. After 15 minutes, check the macaroons are cooked by gently lifting a macaroon at the edge of a tray. If the test macaroon does not stick, allow the tray of macaroons to finish cooking on the tray as it cools.

Step 8: Allow the macaroons to cool completely before filling.
Et voila: 
At the Atelier des chefs we made several fillings from ganache to caramel.
Macaroon shells freeze well, so make a batch, freeze half and when there is an impromptu visitor, get some out fill with chocolate paste, jam and leave to defreeze which takes no time.
My thanks to the Atelier des Chefs for inviting me to one of their macaroon  class.

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