When the October Daring Baker challenge was announced, I was so excited! I've always looked at pics of stunning macarons on other sites and wondered if I would ever try my hand at baking them. If you know anything about making macarons, they have a reputation of being quite tricky to master, but if you keep at it, you'll find it very rewarding when you see those macaron feet appear!
Macarons need to be flavoured with dry ingredients which can be seen as limiting, but if you think a little outside the box, you'd be surprised at what you can use to flavour these little bites of heaven.
I had the idea for a rather... um... pleb... way to flavour the meringue but kept it to myself for a while 'cause I didn't want to be laughed at if I'd asked if it was possible in the Daring Baker forum. Eventually I thought, "what the heck!" and put my question forward. "Could I substitute some of the icing sugar with flavoured Nesquik (milk flavouring powder)?" I was quite happy when the response I got from Audax was something along the lines of "That's a good idea! Give it a try!"
The reason I said substitute as opposed to adding, is that I wanted the flavour quite strong, and
- You can't add too much dry flavourings to the batter
- Macarons are already very sweet without adding more sugar on top of it
I gave it a go and it was fantastic! The smell, the taste, exactly what I was after :D If you like your flavoured milk, you need to give these a try. I've done these with a white chocolate ganache filling but they'd also be fantastic with vanilla swiss buttercream.
90g Egg Whites, aged & at room temp
30g Granulated Sugar
134g Confectioners/Icing Sugar
66g Strawberry Nesquik (or similar)
110g Ground Almonds
1/2tsp - 3/4tsp Candy Pink Powdered Food Colouring
- Process the confectioners sugar, almond meal & strawberry Nesquik until the almond meal is fine then sift into a medium bowl.
- Tip: If grinding your own nuts, combine nuts and a cup of confectioners’ sugar in the bowl of a food processor and grind until nuts are very fine and powdery.
- Beat the egg whites in the clean dry bowl until foamy.
- Slowly add the granulated sugar and beat until the mixture is glossy and holds stiff peaks.
- Tip: If you turn the bowl upside down they should make no move to fall out
- Fold half of the almond flour mixture and powdered colouring into the meringue, starting quite vigorously then folding more carefully.
- Add the remaining almond meal mixture and fold in carefully. Do not overfold.
- Tip: A good way to tell if the batter is ready is when you fold it onto itself, it should blend back into itself in about 30seconds
- Spoon the mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a plain half-inch tip. You can also use a Ziploc bag with a corner cut off.
- Tip: It’s easiest to fill your bag if you stand it up in a tall glass and fold the top down before spooning in the batter.
- Pipe 1 1/2 inch mounds of batter onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper.
- Tip: I don't recommend using a silicon mat, I had trouble taking the macarons off each time I used it. Once piped, bang the sheet down on a counter top a couple times to flatten any mounds and bring up air bubbles, also to settle the almond meal to the bottom giving smooth tops.
- Leave the unbaked macarons out to dry, between 30min - 1 1/2 hours.
- Tip: If you have a fan assisted oven you can dry them in less time by just having the fan turned on with the macarons in the oven.
- While the macarons are drying, preheat the oven to 140°C/280°F (120°C Fan Assisted)
- Once dry, bake for 15-22mins depending on their size
- Tip: They're ready when you push them and they move very slightly on their feet
- Cool on a rack before removing from the parchment, 15-30mins
- Pipe or spoon with filling and sandwich
White Chocolate Ganache
250g White Chocolate
250ml Double Cream
- Finely chop/grate the chocolate and put into a heat resistant bowl.
- Put the cream into a saucepan and heat until just about to boil.
- Remove from heat and pour hot cream over the chocolate, using a whisk stir the cream and chocolate together making sure all the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth.
- Refrigerate and stir with a fork every now and then so that it's all the same consistency until thick enough to spread (about 2 - 3 hours)
- Tip: Basically, the longer you allow it to cool, the thicker the ganache, cooling it in the fridge speeds up the process but make sure to stir the ganache so that it cools evenly, also, keep an eye on it because it can become too thick for spreading if left too long in the fridge. If that does happen, allow to soften up at room temperature or using a water bath. The macaron shells are very delicate so rather have the ganache on the softer side, then pop in the fridge to firm up
Macaron recipe adapted from Tartelette
You'll find that most serious macaron bakers swear by using aged egg whites, and I did notice a difference with the feet between using fresh & aged. Some say 3 days is best, some say up to 5 days is best. To age your egg whites, leave them in the fridge (or if in a cool climate) on the counter covered with a paper towel to stop anything from getting inside, and allow to stand between 3-5 days. If aged in the fridge, leave out until room temperature before using.
Store in an airtight container in the fridge but sit out for an hour or two before eating