After trying numerous recipes, I have found that Lorraine Pascale´s recipe gives the closest result to a professional macaron. Check out the episode on Lorraine Pascale’s Macaroons. Through experimentation I have changed the recipe slightly.
123g Icing sugar
125g Ground almonds
90g Egg whites
110g Caster sugar
Before you start get all your ingredients out and weigh them. A good tip is to get the eggs you are going to use out of the fridge an hour or so before you start. It is much easier getting stiff peaks with fresh eggs which are at room temperature.
1. For the almond mixture, sieve the icing sugar and finely ground almonds into a bowl (if you have a blender you can blitz the ground almonds for a few seconds to make it even finer, but it’s not crucial for a good result). Then add 40 grams of the egg whites to the almonds and mix to a thick paste.
If you want to add color to your macaroons I would do so now, this way it will not affect the merengue. A few drops of a good quality food colouring should do, in this case I’m using a vibrant yellow for Lemon macarons.
2. For the sugar syrup, add the sugar and water to a small pan. Slowly melt the sugar before you turn up the heat and then allow it to boil so it becomes a clear but thick syrup. Do not stir the sugar, you will end up with a lump of crystallised sugar. Instead swirl the pan to make the sugar dissolve.
3. While the sugar is boiling away, whisk the remaining egg whites (50g) in a clean glass or preferably a metal bowl until it forms stiff peaks (a plastic bowl will always have a thin layer of grease left on it, which will hinder the egg whites from becoming stiff peaks, also make sure your whisk is completely clean). One trick that keeps popping up in macaron recipes is to add a pinch of sugar to the egg whites to “warm” them up, with prevents them from becoming over-whipped.
4. When the egg whites have formed stiff peaks and the sugar has turned into a syrup, slowly pour the sugar syrup into the egg whites. Keep whisking until you have glossy stiff peaks.
5. Now you should have two mixtures, the almond paste and the meringue. You will notice that the almond paste is quite thick, use half of your meringue mix to loosen the paste up. Do not be afraid of beating the mixture well, it will not affect the rise of the macarons. When the mixture is thinner you can start to fold in the rest of the meringue gently. Fold until the meringue and the almond paste are well combined.
6. To pipe the macarons use a number 10 nozzle and a piping bag. Using baking parchment will keep the macarons from sticking and make it easier later on. I like to trace small circles on the baking parchment to make piping out the macarons easier. It will also give you a more uniform result. If they have little tops after you have piped them out you can gently bang the baking tray on the floor to make the tops smoothen out and release any air bubbles in the mixture.
7. After you have piped out all the macaroons, leave them to dry for 20-30 minutes, you should be able to touch them without the mixture sticking to your fingers. Drying them like this will stop them from cracking in the oven and I have found this to be one of the most important steps in creating great macarons.
8. While the macarons are drying, preheat the oven to 150 degrees celsius. When they are ready to go in, place the tray at the bottom of the oven and bake for 15 minutes with the door slightly ajar, I use a wooden spoon to keep the door open.
9. When they are done, carefully peel them off the baking parchment and leave them to cool on a wire rack. If you are not able to peel them off without them sticking to the paper then they are not done yet and should go back into the oven for a few more minutes.
I hope this has helped you in making your own perfect French macarons. What you put in them is up to you.
One filling that is easy to make is buttercream, which you can flavour with a lot of different flavours, e.g. rose water or lemon curd, which you just mix through.
However I will post recipes for salted caramel and for chocolate ganache later on.
Good luck! You can find more recipes on my blog.
P.S. I would love to see your results! And if you have any questions or comments let me know.