After the success of the first New Year Eve macaroons, I went through a couple of macaroon failures using other recipes, tweaking parameters here and there. The learning moment was seeing a ‘scientific diagram’ explaining how the lift of the shell happens and how the uneven temperature distribution within and without the shell causes it to grow ‘feet’.
It was an eureka experience, because the macaroon is part technique, part science and mostly passion. There is so much a chef can stomach damaged macaroons and the understanding of how the macaroon elf works is so important.
Most of us think macaroons are sweet things and the sugar needs toning down. But a certain amount of sugar is needed to provide the fine foam as the egg whites cling to each little sugar bit making an air suspension.
Besides getting a workable ratio between egg white and almond meal right, patience to wait for the shell to dry is indeed important. I did not age the whites overnight at this point of my experiments but perhaps I will someday to figure out the advantage of this overnight step. After the shell is sufficiently dried up at room temperature to form a ‘skin’, it is important to bake at low temperature until the macaroon is lifted up on its feet . The sweet spot is getting the right temperature and baking duration so that the shell is cooked yet moist and chewy.
Most recipes called for 160C and this caused lots of grief for me until I realized my oven is hotter than it programmed. After taming it down to 150C, I fiddled with baking from 10-12 minutes because the oven has the tendency to become hotter after the first batch.
So here’s my conclusion of my experiments :
Almond meal : icing sugar = 1:1.44
The 3 egg whites are from 40g eggs. Bigger eggs will yield runnier foam and affect the shape of the shell ( flatter ) if all other parameters remain constant.
Cream of tartar holds the foam. ½ tsp is a good number.
Tap the macaroons after piping. Air pockets are treacherous because they expand when baking and burst like a pimple, forming cracks. Tapping also flattens and evens off uneven piping. Tapping should be even and tray bottom flat and sturdy so that the macaroons do not slide and form ellipse. Tap gently for a start so that there is minimum gradient of ‘shock’ across the tray.
How long it takes for the skin on uncooked macaroons to form depends on the room it is placed. What is 1 hour in UK is 3-4 hours in Singapore.
Err on the low side when baking. There is a relationship between baking temperature and duration of baking. The thickness of the piped macaroons is also a deciding factor. So far, on a 1.5 inch template, a piped ‘fat’ macaroon is on the brownish side when baked at 150C for 12 minutes. Tweak around to see how it works out for your oven.
Lastly chill for at least half a day. Eat fresh does not work well with macaroons.
On a happy note, my friends who are wary of sweet stuff , managed to pop at least one each and that speaks volumes.
Talks over. It’s now camera … and action!
Makes 25 macaroons.
Macaroon shells –
1.5 inch macaroon template ( 4 sheets )
4 baking sheets
4 trays, low sides, sturdy base
125g extra fine ground almonds
180g icing sugar
½ tsp matcha powder
3 egg whites
2 tbsp caster sugar
½ tsp cream of tartar
Chocolate filling :
80g white chocolate
70g heavy cream
40g butter, softened
1 tbsp matcha powder
Prepared 4 baking trays.
Place 1.5 inch macaroon template under the baking sheet or silpat.
Whisk whites until stiff.
Add cream of tartar. Whisk.
Add caster sugar. Whisk until stiff.
Combine icing sugar, almond, matcha.
Sieve over whites in 4 batches, folding in between.
Pipe on prepared tray.
Tap tray 6 times, to rid air pockets in the shell meringue.
Set aside, 3 hours until shell is no longer sticky to the touch and forms a skin.
Preheat oven to 150C.
Bake for 10-12 minutes.
Remove shells, cool then transfer to cooling rack.
Heat cream until it steams.
Remove from heat, add chocolate , butter, matcha.
Whisk until homogenous.
Piping was be of pipe-able consistency when ready to assemble.
Pipe filling to make sandwiched macarons. Chill for at least half a day before enjoying it.