Although my preferred choice of method is the Italian method, I decided to make these using the French method, which I will be teaching this weekend. Many of you may find it simpler to use the French method too since there's no messing around with boiling syrups and candy thermometer. I am including a video tutorial in the blog post on how to pipe the perfect heart-shaped macaron. You may have seen a few other video tutorials on YouTube. The way I pipe is different from what you have seen elsewhere so do take a look at how I pipe :). I will also share with you how to create the sweet ombre shade in a deceptively easy way.
Do take a look at this post for the basics of macarons made using the French method. If you would like a reduced sugar recipe, please refer to this post.
Recipe for macaron shells
Ingredients (makes about 12-14 hearts, 24-28 shells):
40g egg whites (aged in fridge for a few days*, brought to room temperature before using)
36g caster sugar
1/8 tsp cream of tartar (optional)
43g superfine almond powder
57g icing sugar
1/16 tsp fine sea salt
1/2 tsp white powder food colouring (optional)
*In order to age egg whites, place the egg whites in a clean bowl in the fridge. Cover the bowl with a paper towel to allow excess water in the egg whites to evaporate. Loosely cover the paper towel with cling wrap. This is to prevent anything in the fridge from entering the egg whites.
1. Prepare tray with heart template and baking paper over it. You may print out on an A4 sheet. I was lazy to print so I used my heart cookie cutter to trace out the hearts.
2. Sift together almond, icing sugar, salt and white powder.
3. In a clean metal bowl, beat egg whites with cream of tartar until foamy using an electric mixer. Gradually add caster sugar while beating the egg whites on medium speed until stiff peaks form. Scrape down the meringue from the sides of the bowl and beat the meringue for several seconds more or until the meringue is really glossy and stiff. Repeat the scraping down the sides of the bowl and beating again if necessary.
4. Scatter about a third of the dry ingredients into the meringue and fold in gently with a spatula. Repeat until all the dry ingredients have been added in. Test the consistency of the batter. You may refer to this video tutorial to have a better idea of the correct consistency. Continue folding the batter until you get a slow moving lava-like consistency.
5. Transfer batter into piping bag fitted with a Wilton #10 or 12 tip. Pipe away! Have a look at the video tutorial that I made below on how to pipe:
6. Bang the tray on the table to release trapped air bubbles. Dry in aircon room or under a fan until the surface is dry to touch. About 1-2h depending on humidity.
7. Bake in preheated oven at 160°C (top and bottom heat only, fan off) at lowest rack. Turn the temperature down to 140°C once the tray is in. After 10 minutes of baking, reduce temperature to 110°C and continue baking for another 8 minutes or until the feet do not appear wet. Cool completely before peeling the baking paper away from the shells.
Freshly baked shells!
Checkout the feet!
Prepare some peach or pink colored lustre dust. Use a soft brush to apply some dust on a corner of the heart. Please refer to this site on some tips for how this is done :). I learnt this trick from there too!
For better colour contrast, I filled these shells with dark chocolate ganache. Store in airtight container in fridge for at least 24h before serving.
I hope that showing how manageable this bake is will convince you to try your hand at making macarons :). I had a phobia of making these a few years ago because of its reputation of being the hardest thing to bake well. Don't be too discouraged if yours don't turn out well the first time round. Practice makes perfect! Let me just highlight some points to ensure higher rate of success for French method:
1. Always store almond meal in fridge.
2. Buy superfine almond meal.
3. Age your egg whites.
4. Ensure that the meringue is really stiff.
5. It is safer to underfold than overfold your batter.
6. Never send the shells into the oven if you are not able to run a finger across the tops of the shells without feeling any stickiness.
7. Always start baking at a higher temperature then lower towards the end.
8. Use the lowest or second lowest oven rack to bake.
9. Always use an oven thermometer.