Yeah man, what is cooking?!
Absolutely nothing of late as after the back agony, the GA passing away, Christmas, work, boyfriend changing his eating habits.
Until yesterday at work, after a week of eating bought macarons from Ladurée and Paul, one of the girls piped up with “Emma’s are the best macarons I ever had. They look exactly the same by she makes more interesting flavours.”
Is it any surprise when my house is full of both Ladurée books, watched every macaron recipe on Youtube going, been to Le Cordon Bleu and have these books too:
L to R : Un Amour de Macaron Stephane Glacer, Macarons Pierre Hermé, Les meilleurs des Macarons Thomas Feller, my class handout from Le Cordon Bleu.
In terms of which book would be best to buy to learn how to make macarons, I would say get the Ottolenghi book because that is the recipe I always used and the closet to the one from Le Cordon Bleu. Both recipes don’t bother with heating the sugar to make the meringue part. The other books all seem to employ making a meringue for the shell with hot sugar and a candy thermometer.
Using the Ottolenghi recipe.
The thing about macarons is the shells dont taste of anything, the are always just egg white, castor sugar, icing sugar and almond meal with a bit of colouring. The flavour comes from the filling – be it ganache, icing sugar, jam, caramel beurre salé, ice cream, fois gras, mousse (yep you can even have savoury macarons)…
So luckily, you just have to find the recipe for the shells you like and practice it over and over again until you get it right. That is the frustrating part – depending on the humidity in the air, the age of the egg white, the temperature of your kitchen, how well your oven can keep the temperature, whether you remember to let the steam out of the oven as they cook – is managing all the variables to get the macarons to come out without splitting across the dome.
I have never tried this recipe, but it is very similar to the Ottenghi one I recommend. Gourmet Traveller Macarons I also rate recipes of this website – they have definitely been tried and tested before publishing. There are a few things the recipe I don’t necessarily agree with for example:
– leave a macaron 4-5 hours seems a little extreme. I usually leave mine 30 mins to an hour before touching one gently to see if a skin has formed.
– I would recommend adding 1g / a pinch of cream of tarter to the egg whites as you start to beat them. This for some reason stabilises the eggs and helps things turn out ok. (Tip from Le Cordon Bleu. Other recipes suggest lemon juice. I figure that is adding more liquid to the mixture and could be problematic later so I haven’t tried it.)
– the chef at Le Cordon Bleu recommended 160 degree centigrade without humidity. Above that temp, the macarons discolour. Below that, they won’t cook. And, by without humidity, he means twice through cooking open the door quickly, wait a second for all the steam to come out and shut the door again.
But, as I said I rate the Gourmet Traveller so expect their way to turn out pretty well. And if your macaron shells are a fail, there is nothing wrong with using them to make Eton Mess in cocktail glasses or something. Also, there are some areas of France where the traditional macaron is cracked so you know, just wing it.
But this is where all the recipe books come in handy – ideas for different flavours to make the filling. If you want ideas for filling, I like the big green book on the left – except it is French. You could also try Google of course and end up with suggestions for flavours so hideous and sweet on various blogs. To make macarons that “are the ever eaten” my suggestion would be to try things that are naturally flavoured, use real fruit rather than jams or flavouring, herbs are great too and booze works wonders in a ganache. The best macarons I ever had were with the Cardinal in Zurich from Sprungli that were cinnamon flavour. The best macarons I ever made were either blood orange and campari OR honey and basil.