Yes. It is yet another post about macarons. However, I do have some exciting news this time! I have a new recipe that has been working wonderfully. The shells have a nicer texture and are not as sweet, and most importantly, this new recipe is a lot easier to make (or rather, harder to completely ruin).
If you’ve done any research into the making of macarons, you probably know that there is the french meringue method where granulated sugar is poured into the egg whites as you beat them, and there’s the italian meringue method where a hot sugar syrup is poured into the beating egg whites. The resulting cookies are relatively the same with some small differences in the shells. Although it is said that the Italian meringue method has a higher success rate for beginners, I had only ever used the french meringue method since it was working (kind of) well for me and I didn’t want to bother with cooking the sugar. I promise I’m going somewhere with this, so stick with me.
This spring, my mom took a baking class in Taiwan and came home with a macaron recipe unlike any I had seen on the internet. It wasn’t a french meringue, nor was it an italian meringue. It was actually closer to a swiss meringue, where the egg whites and sugar are mixed together and heated to about 110F (45C) before beating. So, I tried this new method and it worked very well. In fact, I found that the ‘macaronage’ – the combining of the egg whites and the almond mixture – required significantly more mixing and was thus much harder to overmix (a problem I often encountered with the extremely delicate french meringue).
So every batch I made with the swiss meringue was turning out quite well, except the shells were a little too hard and the cookies were still too sweet. I experimented with different baking temperatures and times, different resting periods, and varying amounts of both granulated and icing sugar. What I’ve come up with is just right: not too hard, not too soft, and most importantly, not too sweet. So here it is, my new macaron recipe:
Macarons (Swiss Meringue)
105 g egg whites (about 3 eggs, I have had no problems with the carton egg whites either)
110 g granulated sugar
140 g almonds, ground or sliced (you can replace 40 g of the almonds with other nuts, such as pistachios or pecans)
90 g icing sugar
Measure out all of your ingredients, and thoroughly clean the bowl of a stand mixer, ensuring it is completely dry and grease-free.
Combine the icing sugar and almonds in a food processor and sift through a sieve. If you still have a large amount of big almond pieces, grind them in the food processor and sift again. Set aside.
Combine the egg whites and granulated sugar in the clean bowl and place over a pot of barely simmering water. It is very important that this water is not boiling, and make sure that the bottom of the bowl is not touching the water; just an inch or so of water will do. Whisk until all the sugar is dissolved and the mixture reaches 110 F or 45 C. Transfer to mixer and beat on medium-high (I use a 6 on my kitchen aid) for 5-8 minutes until you have a stiff peak. The time will vary so make sure you watch carefully and check every 30 seconds once it looks almost ready.
Pour in half of the almond mixture and combine. No need to be super delicate just yet, but definitely don’t attack it too vigorously either. Pour in the rest of the almond mixture and fold until it is completely combined and you can’t see any more streaks of dry almond. This is when you start adding colour, if you wish. Continue folding until you reach a consistency where batter falling off your spatula will flatten out in about 10-15 seconds. You can also dollop some on a plate and see if a peak stays or settles. It’s kind of tricky to describe the batter consistency, so it may just take some trial and error. Remember, it is always better to undermix as you can always give the batter a couple more turns.
Once your batter is ready, fill a piping bag with a plain round tip (at least 1 cm in diameter is ideal) and pipe circles on a sheet of parchment paper or a silicone mat on the underside of a baking pan (not a baking sheet).
Let the piped macarons sit for roughly 30 minutes to harden a bit. Keep in mind this waiting time will vary depending on the humidity. You don’t want the shells to be completely solid but you also don’t want them to be mush. Preheat to
180F 275F and bake for 12-15 minutes. I find that placing an empty baking pan on the rack below the one you are using prevents the bottoms from getting too hard. Remove from the oven, and let cool on a drying rack before removing each shell with an offset spatula. If you are not filling them right away, you can keep them in an airtight container in the freezer for a couple weeks.
These are chocolate balsamic, maple pecan, raspberry, and peppermint. The chocolate and peppermint are filled with ganaches with a splash of balsamic vinegar and peppermint extract. The maple pecan and raspberry are both a swiss meringue buttercream with maple extract and raspberry jam. The maple pecan shells are my favourite of the bunch and are also made with 40 g of pecan in the shells. I find that the swiss meringue buttercream is significantly less sugary than other fillings and has a lovely smooth texture, so combined with the new sugar-reduced shells, they make for a delicious treat.
If you’ve had some trouble with macarons before (particularly with overmixing the batter), or if you have always found them too sweet, give this recipe a try and let me know what you think! As always, please feel free to leave any questions in the comments, and I’ll try to help you out as best as I can.