Disclaimer: Macarons are only for those who are confident enough to handle it. Those without prior experience should read up more about macarons here to avoid disappointment. It took me about 5-8 batches prior to this to figure out what was the right consistency of batter to fit my oven.
The macaron craze hit Singapore a couple of years back and shows no signs of dying down. Just what is it that draws us to these colourful bite-sized meringue treats? Despite the hefty cost of a macaron (usually priced at S$2 to S$2.50), we somehow find Singaporeans very willing to purchase the treat. Perhaps it is the endless variety it has to offer in terms of flavour, or simply because it is a luxurious treat! Whatever it is, there is definitely something irresistible about this petite dessert.
Following this craze, the desire to make one’s own macarons followed. An attempt, no doubt, to save on the cost of enjoying this delectable dessert. Yet, most give up after the first few attempts of trying to perfect this finicky treat. The first two times I made it, everything came out perfect. But suddenly after that, nothing did. I did tons of research online, trying to figure out what went wrong with my macarons, but to no avail.
Then in almost perfect timing, I received a copy of the English version of Macarons by Pierre Herme for my birthday. The world-renowned pastry chef uses the Italian meringue method in his recipe. The macarons came out perfect. Crisp on the outside, chewy on the inside and, with almost perfect feet. Suddenly, making macarons at home didn’t seem like so much of a chore (well, unless you need more than one flavour and colour it shouldn’t be an issue).
Although not a big fan of rose-flavoured desserts, the rose swiss meringue buttercream I experimented with was flowery, buttery and just fluffy enough to make the whole macaron delicious. I chose to stray away from Pierre Herme’s recommended French buttercream as the swiss meringue offers less room for error.
Without further ado, here is how you can make some of these little gems at home.
Adapted from Pierre Herme’s Macarons
Makes about 72 macarons (144 shells)
300g ground almonds
300g icing sugar
110 egg whites (aged)
300g caster sugar
110g egg whites (aged)
1. Sift together icing sugar and ground almonds.
Stir food colouring into the first portion of egg whites. Pour them into the bowl of icing sugar and ground almonds but DO NOT stir.
2. Bring the sugar and water to boil at 118˚C. When the syrup reaches 115˚C, simultaneously start whisking the second portion of egg whites to soft peaks.
3. When the sugar reaches 118˚C, pour it over the egg whites, whisk and allow meringue to cool till 50˚C. Then fold it into the mixture of ground almonds and icing sugar.
4. Spoon mixture into a piping bag to pipe (I used tip 20. Any round tip of that size should suffice).
5. Pipe about 3.5cm diameter, 2cm apart on baking trays with baking parchment. Leave to stand for about 30 minutes or more until shells form a skin.
6. Preheat oven to 180˚C.
7. Put baking trays in the oven. Bake for 12 minutes (try 11 first), briefly opening and shutting the door twice during cooking time.
8. Take the shells out of the oven and slide them onto the work surface.
Swiss Meringue Buttercream (filling)
Adapted from Youcandoitathome
100 g sugar
2 extra large egg whites
150 g butter, at room temperature
1 tablespoon rosewater essence
1. Place sugar and egg whites in a large heatproof bowl. Put the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and whisk continuously until the sugar is dissolved. The mixture should be thick and sticky.
2. Place the egg white mixture into an electric mixing bowl. Using whip attachment, whip the egg white on medium-high speed until it reaches a stiff peak and is glossy. The meringue should be cool at this point.
3. Change to paddle attachment (of electric mixer) and continue beating meringue at medium-high speed . While the motor is running, add small chunks of room temperature butter one at a time. Continue adding all the butter and keep beating until the butter is blended in and the buttercream is smooth, very smooth.
4. Put rosewater into buttercream and mix well to combine.
5. Set aside until ready to use. If the room temperature is over 20C, chill about 20 minutes before using.
1. Pipe the amount of buttercream you would like per macaron on one shell and cover it with another.
2. Store in an airtight container over night and eat the next day. If your fridge is very crowded, clingwrap the box as well. It will prevent air from entering. If you would like to keep it for a long time, macarons freeze really well. Thaw them in the fridge / out in the open before serving.