Posted by Grace Massa Langlois on Friday, 26th April 2013
What is a French Macaron? Traditional macarons are meringue-based French pastries with almonds about three to five cm in diameter. The cookie or shell element of the pastry is smooth on the surface with ruffled edges. The ruffled edge is commonly referred to as the feet. The shell has a delicate eggshell crust with a moist, soft centre. The macaron is usually filled with ganache, buttercream or a variety of jams.
The name, macaron is a derivative of the Italian dialect “maccarone”. It’s said that the origin of these pastries should be attributed to the Italians. It’s believed that they were brought to France in 1533 by Caterina de’ Medici’s Italian Chefs. At the age of fourteen Caterina de’ Medici, an Italian Noblewoman moved to France to wed King Henry II. She arrived in France with her personal chefs and is credited for bringing many food innovations to France.
Why has it taken me so long to feature the macaron? Very simply, I was concerned that I wouldn’t get the macaronage technique right. The ingredients are very similar to the ingredients used in Amaretti cookies. Achieving a perfect batch of Amaretti cookies is attributed to the technique used to prepare the cookies the same is said about macarons. Macaronage is simply the mixing of the meringue with the dry ingredients.
I’ve studied the technique and read a lot of tutorials but only after finding Helene Dujardin’s publication, Demystifying Macarons did I feel confident enough to try my first batch. I only wish I would’ve read Jill’s Silicone Macaron Mat review before my first attempt.
I struggle with piping (I really should take a class) so I thought purchasing the silicone mats would make the task of piping the perfect sized cookies easier, which it did but the same could not be said about removing the cookies from the mat. I cracked at least half of the batch trying to remove them.
The same thing happened when I purchased various silicone moulds for cakes and tarts. I completely forgot the tip I received when purchasing those moulds, although it’s not necessary to grease the moulds it’s recommended that the moulds be greased when used for the first time.
I plan on trying the mats again but I will definitely grease lightly prior to using. The mats are odd shaped and don’t fit inside a standard rimmed baking sheet thankfully I have a few larger baking sheets.
I followed Helene’s advice for the macaronage using fifty strokes and the batter came out perfect. Jill described in her review that the mats affect the forming of the feet, which they did; my feet were flatter than most I’ve seen. All in all I was very proud of my first attempt not nearly as difficult as I thought it would be.
My nephew, Michael is getting married in September and we’ve begun planning for his fiancé’s bridal shower. Helene’s inspired me to make macaron bouquets for the table centrepieces. We’re working with a red and black theme so I’ll be playing around with flavours and the best use of the two colours.
In most of my research I found a common element, the pastries should be allowed to mature, at least 24 hours. The flavours deepen and the moisture from the filling makes the shell moister yet the surface of the shell remains crisp.
I picked up a great tip at Not So Humble Pie (great tutorial too). Apparently professional bakeries spritz the underside of the cookie (or shells) with simple syrup that duplicates the flavour in the macaron. Not only does the syrup deepen the flavour in the cookie but it also restores moisture in the shell.
I played it safe with my flavours for these macarons, almonds, dark chocolate and raspberry, concentrating more on getting the technique right for making the macaron shells. Now that I’ve entered the world of macaron making I’m looking forward to trying various flavours in the shell and also experimenting with different flavours and textures for the fillings.
French Macarons with Raspberry Ganache
- Basic French Meringue Macaron Batter
- Macaron Filling – Raspberry Ganache
Basic French Meringue Macaron Batter
I used the ingredient list in the Demystifying Macarons publication (the ingredient yields are almost identical).
Macaron Filling – Raspberry Ganache
- 339 g (12 ounces) good quality bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
- 80 ml (1/3 cup) raspberry jam
- 120 ml (½ cup) heavy cream, 35%
- 1 tablespoon
- Place chocolate in small heatproof bowl. For a seed-free ganache, strain the jam through a fine mesh sieve into a small bowl. Use the back of a spoon to press the jam through the sieve.
- In a small saucepan, bring cream and corn syrup just to the boil (small bubbles beginning to form around the sides of the pan), stirring until corn syrup is dissolved.
- Remove from heat and pour over chocolate (make sure all the chocolate is covered). Let stand, 2 minutes.
- Using a flexible spatula, gently stir together beginning in the centre of the bowl and gradually working toward the edges pulling in as much as chocolate as possible until the mixture is smooth, glossy and combined well. (If you find the chocolate has not completely melted return to the saucepan, place over very low heat and warm, continuously stirring, just until chocolate is almost melted, about 45 seconds.)
- Remove from heat, add the jam and stir until combined well. Strain the ganache through a fine mesh sieve into small bowl. Place a sheet of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the ganache and let stand at room temperature until cooled and thickened.
- Transfer to large pastry bag fitted with large plain tip, Atecco 2A or decorative tip, Wilton 1M.
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