They inspire you to tackle seemingly impossible baking projects. For some reason, I got it into my head this morning that I was going to make my own macarons from scratch.
I think everyone has a macaron story. Mine is as follows. The best macarons I have ever eaten were in Tokyo. It was August 2010 and we had eaten at Beige the night before for my birthday. When we were about to leave the restaurant, I was given a box of 3 macarons by the concierge. I had them for breakfast the next day and the salted caramel macaron was my absolute favourite.
As luck would have it, I was recently sent this Masterchef macaron set by the lovely people at Kitchenware Direct.
It retails for $24.95 through their website. The set includes 6 nozzles and a reusable piping bag.
Not only that, but the October 2011 issue of Donna Hay magazine featured a 'how to' guide for making macarons.
How could I possibly fail? In hindsight, I think the glass of sparkling was a little premature. If I have any words of advice for my fellow macaron novices, it would be this - don't drink and macaron. You might think that making a perfect macaron is a nice little project to go with Sunday drinks but be warned, it is not as easy as it may appear.
I can't blame my tools though. I think that the Masterchef kit was good value for money. The bag and the nozzles were easy to wash and survived my inexperienced hands. The trick to the bag is that the nozzles go inside the piping bag. The piping bag need to be hand cut so that the nozzle fits snugly in the opening. I used the plain wide diameter nozzle to make my macarons today.
To fill the piping bag, I placed the nozzle and bag inside a tall glass before filling with the macaron batter.
There's one more bit of preparation required before you lay hands on ingredients and that is to prepare your baking trays.
As per Donna's guide, I traced 4cm circles onto baking paper as a guide for when I piped the batter onto the baking trays. Remember to turn the paper pencil side down on the trays. Macarons also bake at a very low preheated oven temperature of 130C.
The macarons are made from 11/4 cups icing sugar, 1 cup of almond meal, 3 egg whites at room temperature and 1 tablespoon of caster sugar.
|The Kitchenaid working hard to peak those imprecisely separated egg whites.|
The egg whites are meant to be beaten to stiff peaks with the caster sugar (on high speed). I regret not using white vinegar to clean my mixing bowl because I think there may have been residual fat on the beater which prevent me from getting those perfect, peaky egg whites.
Undeterred, I added the icing sugar and almond meal to the egg whites and then piped the batter onto my baking trays. My batter spread rather badly and quite a few rounds lost their perfect proportions as they sat out the 20 minute wait before baking. After piping, the trays need to be tapped gently and allowed to rest until a skin foams over the top of the batter. The Masterchef kit worked very well, it was my batter that was at fault.
I made the vanilla buttercream from the same edition of Donna Hay. I got to scrape my last vanilla pod for this. The empty pod is going into my caster sugar jar. Just like the celebrity chefs advise.
Making macarons is an art. I managed to make 8 vaguely presentable macarons from a recipe that was meant to be enough for 24. Mine look very rustic indeed in comparison to the perfect specimens from Tokyo. They did taste delicious though, probably because I'd been slaving over them all morning myself. I hope to improve with practice and try a salted caramel recipe next time.
Special thanks go to Brad from Kitchenware Direct for providing the macaron set for today's post.