This is the best place to start your macaron ventures as it is the easiest and most trustworthy method, using an Italian meringue mixture with a high sugar content that guarantees a glossy shell. The zumbarons in this book were made using this reliable, all-purpose recipe
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You Will Need
Grease 3 large baking sheets and line with non-stick baking paper. Place another baking sheet under each lined baking sheet.
Put the almond meal and icing sugar in a food processor and process to a fine powder, then sift into a large bowl.
Put the egg whites in an electric mixer with a whisk attachment. Put the sugar and water in a small saucepan over a low heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Use a clean pastry brush to brush down the side of the pan to avoid any crystallization. Increase the heat and bring to the boil. Add the food colouring (if requited) at this stage. Cook until the mixture reaches 118°C (244°F). When it is getting close to this temperature, add the powdered egg white to the egg whites in the mixing bowl and whisk on medium speed until frothy.
Once the sugar syrup is at the right temperature, add it to the egg whites in a thin steady stream down the side of the bowl. Whisk until warm, about 8 minutes. Add the extra egg whites to the dry ingredients, then add the meringue and use a large spatula to fold them through until combined.
Continue to fold the mixture so it beings to loosen. Working the mixture this way will soften it slightly – when the mixture falls slowly off the spatula it is at the right texture. The texture is important for the next stage, which is piping the macaron shells.
Transfer the mixture to a piping (icing) bag with a 7mm (3/8 inch) plain nozzle. Holding the piping bag about 1.5cm (5/8 inch) about the lined baking sheet, pipe straight down to make 4cm (1 ½ inch) diameter rounds, leaving a 3cm (1 ¾ inch) gap between each. As you finish piping each macaron, move the nozzle from 12 o’clock to 6 o’clock quickly to finish the piping action. If you have the correct texture, the macaron will soften again slightly and the tip on the top of the macaron will drop, leaving a smooth top.
Some macarons are dusted, using a fine sieve, or sprinkled with a flavours at this stage (refer to specific recipes).
Leave the macarons at room temperature for 30 minutes or until a skin forms. After 10 minutes, preheat the oven to 135°C (275°F/ Gas 1).
To test if the macarons are ready, gently touch one with your fingertip to check that a light skin has formed – the macaron should not be sticky. On humid days this may take longer. The skin is important as it lifts while the macaron cooks, creating a ‘foot’ at the base.
Bake the macarons for 16 minutes, until they have a firm outer shell. Remove from the oven and set aside for 2 minutes, then carefully remove one macaron with a spatula to check that the base is also cooked and dry.
If it is still slightly sticky, return the macarons to the oven for 2-3 minutes, then check again. Cool the macarons completely on the trays then pair them up according to size.
Variation – Chocolate macaron shells
Process 60g (2 ¼ oz) unsweetened cocoa powder with 270g (9 ½ oz) almond meal and 270g (9 ½ oz) pure icing (confectioners’) sugar, then sift and continue as for the basic recipe.