Monday 24 July 2017

Mermaid Themed Macarons II (Swiss method)

I have another request for mermaid macarons along with seashells and starfish. But it's assorted flavours this time.

You may refer to this post for my first set of mermaid themed macarons.

I made these using my usual reduced sugar Italian method recipe but something happened and I needed to rebake the starfish so I took the chance to try out Swiss method. The "accident" was quite hilarious and I was fortunate it happened to the starfish and not to the mermaids which were a lot more time consuming to pipe. I was trying to speed up drying of royal icing decorations on the starfish using my oven but I forgot to check the temperature setting which was left at 200℃ from baking the previous night's dinner. When I realised something was wrong, the stars have charred! They looked so much like cartoon characters after an explosion that I had to laugh! Baking boo-boos do happen :p.

Since it was only a small batch that needed rebaking, I took the chance to use the Swiss method which I have been wanting to try but had no time for. The Swiss method is similar to the French method, except that you partially cook the egg whites. It is more stable than the French method and good for making small batches. I have posted another Swiss method recipe which I used to make my first ferris wheel. I am going to share my first attempt at Swiss method here which was more successful than my second attempt with another recipe which I adapted from here.

Swiss method macaron shell recipe
Ingredients (makes 12-15 macarons):
42g egg whites
42g caster sugar
56g superfine almond meal
38g icing sugar (with cornflour already added)
Gel food colouring (if using)

1. Prepare baking trays with template and baking paper over it. Sift together almond and icing sugar. Set aside. I divided the powder mixture into two as I was making two colours of batter.

2. Whisk caster sugar and egg whites together over a pot of simmering water until all the sugar has dissolved and temperature is 45-50℃. Remove from heat.

3. Beat the egg whites at medium speed using an electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Divide the meringue into two. Use some meringue to stick the baking paper down to tray.

Note that the meringue should still be smooth but peaks are upright.

4. Add gel colouring to the meringue and gently fold in to mix the colour in.

5. Scatter the powder mixture over the meringue and fold in. You may choose to scatter a few times or all at once.

6. Keep folding until batter is smooth and is able to flow off the spatula in an almost continuous manner. Please refer to this video for the correct consistency.

7. Transfer into piping bag fitted with piping tip of desired size. Pipe away! You may refer to this post on how to pipe complex shapes and a more systematic presentation from my Creative Baking: Macarons book.

Piping stars!

8. Some suggest that you don't need to rest macaron shells baked using Swiss method. Simply bang the tray on the table after piping and bake in preheated oven at 130℃. I didn't have the guts to try it so I still went ahead and dried in aircon room until dry to touch before baking in preheated oven. I preheated to 150℃ but turned the temperature down to 130℃ once the tray is in. Set oven rack to lowest rack. Bake for about 20 min or until feet no longer appears wet. Cool completely before removing baking sheet away from shell.

Checkout the feet!

Nice fluffy interior with no hollows!

However, I find that I am unable to get a really smooth shell surface with this method without risking over folding.

I filled the shells with dark chocolate ganache, mango white chocolate ganache or strawberry white chocolate ganache. Find out how I made the edible pearls from here.

Dark Chocolate ganache filling

Mango white chocolate filling with white chocolate pearls

Strawberry white chocolate filling

Since it was my first try, I had to do a taste test as well. Freshly baked shells didn't seem as delicate (slightly chewy) but after maturing with filling for a day, the texture was perfect. Here's a peek at the insides!

You may want to give Swiss method a try if you would like to work with small batches but want something more stable than the French method. There are people who swear by the Swiss method whereas some have difficulty mastering it. For me, it's an option if I want to work with small batches. On macaron mania days when I have to work with multiple colours and large batches, I still prefer to stick with Italian method.

With love,
Phay Shing


  1. Hello Phay Shing

    Thank you for sharing.
    May I know if the Swiss method using the same ratio 0.55 for portion the mass and the meringue? Thanks

    1. Hello,
      The ratio is different as the egg whites in Swiss method are not divided like the Italian method. And because I don't work with many colours using Swiss method, I simply weigh the meringue and divide according to the ratio of the colours :). Usually simple ratios like half or a third.

  2. Hi Phan Shing,
    You and Suzanne have a great blog. Very beautiful, creative and so inspirational. Keep up the great work!
    I have a question regarding the Swiss Meringue Macarons. The ingredient ratios for this recipe (Starfish Swiss Meringue) and the Ferris Wheel (AMAZING!!!) is very different. Which one do you think is better/easier for a mac beginner? Thanks in advance :)

    1. Thanks Emlyn for your kind words :). I see you have studied the ratio of ingredients carefully :p. I would say this starfish one is easier to work with. The Ferris Wheel one I felt was more suitable for climates with lower humidity than Singapore.

    2. Thank you for your prompt reply. I will make my first mac attempt using this recipe.
      p/s: my apologies that your name was spelled wrongly - autocorrect is too efficient and I am too careless.

    3. No worries Emlyn :). All the best for your first try!

  3. Hello, I love how intricate the macarons look! Wanting to try shaped macarons and the seashells look easy enough with one color but still fancy. I was wondering how you piped the seashells with the defined lines that they didn't blend together?

    1. Hi, the details can be found in my creative baking: Macarons book on this piping technique. You may also refer to my video of piping the unicorn for reference. The wing is similar to the seashell design in this blog post:

    2. Thanks! The unicorns were adorable <3

  4. Hi I love this small batches especially since I had many failures. Do you need to age the egg whites before you can use them?

    1. Hi, you don't need to age the egg whites foe Swiss method. I would suggest checking out my pastel animal train blog post as it has my default swiss method recipe. But if you are looking for a really small quantity french method that works well, look for my Merlion macarons post. I use that ratio for teaching junior chef classes so even kids get it right the first time if they follow my instructions. Do note that technique is sometimws nore important than which recipe you use. For french method recipes, make sure the egg whites are at room temperature. It is also not necessary to age then from my experience

  5. Hello, what if my icing sugar does not have corn flour added? Do I still add in 38g of icing sugar?

    1. Yes. It may just take slightly longer to dry after piping

    2. I just have another question about the chewiness of macarons. I realise my macarons are quite chewy to the extent they would stick to the teeth. I use the french method and I also made sure they were not overbaked. However, the result is still the same. What could be the cause? And would it be less chewy if I used the swiss/italian method instead?

    3. If cornflour is added or you use icing sugar with cornflour/cornstarch already added, the macarons will tend to be chewier. Being too chewy can be fixed by longer maturation or you can brush the bottoms of your shells with milk or unwhipped whipping cream before filling them. I don't find much difference in texture between different meringue methods.

  6. Is there any icing sugar brands in singapore without cornflour/cornstarch added? I realised mine has modified starch in it.

    1. Sunflower brand. Available at Sheng Shiong. I used to use this brand for all my macarons until I switch to another brand. Nowadays I just use Redman's icing sugar which has cornflour added and it works fine for all meringue methods.

    2. oh wow ok thanks for the information! I will try out Sunflower brand first!

    3. Hello, I have tried out Sunflower brand but my macarons ended up being porous with no feet :( it did take very long to dry though. I had to put them in the oven at a low temperature on fan mode. What could be the problem?

    4. The sunflower brand has no cornflour or cornstarch added so the macaron batter will be wetter and takes longer to dry. Porous and no feet shells means there isn't a membrane or strong enough membrane formed in the surface of the piped batter before you attempted to bake. For this reason, I have switched to Redman brand of icing sugar which has cornflour added already. This helps to reduce drying time. Also, I bought a bag of the sunflower brand icing sygar recently and found that the quality is bad compared to a few years ago. The grains are coarse. That could be why your macarons had issues too as the icing sugar remains undissolved in your batter. However, their caster sugar is pretty all right and I use that instead of Redman's caster sugar which is rather coarse.

      Actually for swiss meringue method recipe, I use the pastel animal train macaron post recipe as my default recipe instead of this earlier one. This one has lower sugar content but the batter may be harder to work with and less smooth due to the higher almond to sugar ratio.

  7. How long did it take for yours to dry with the sunflower brand? Thanks for the detailed information! I guess I will give the Redman one a try!

    I have seen your pastel animal train post and the macarons look so cute and perfectly done! Actually I prefer this recipe with lesser sugar. The other recipe seems to be for larger batches and I cannot deal with a large batch of failed macarons =(

    1. Oh you can still use the pastel animal train recipe but combine all the egg whites to make the swiss meringue and halve the recipe 😊. As long as your mixer can handle that quantity of egg whites, it isn't an issue at all. Note that handheld mixers can handle small quantities but standmixers need a minimum of 60g at least for most mixers although mine can handle 40g egg whites as well. I have super low sugar recipes on the blog as well using swiss method if you are interested but it takes proper technique and some tricks to make it work and the texture isnt as delicate as regular macarons.

      Note that all lower sugar recipes will tend to be trickier to handle because sugar is there for a good reason in terms of structure and drying times.

      As a comparison my italian method recipes used to take 2.5 to 3h to dry in aircon room with sunflower brand but about 30 min to 1 h using Redman brand.

    2. oh alright! That sounds simpler, maybe I will try it out if the one with lower sugar keeps failing =D mine is a handheld mixer! Yup i saw your reduced sugar macaron recipe that includes rice flour but I haven't got guts to try it yet haha.

      2.5 - 3h in aircon room is a really long time. I guess I will try the Redman brand instead =D