Macarons

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School’s out today, and I have a week off before summer school starts.  I’ve been wanting to learn how to make macarons for quite a while.  I’ve been scared to try.  This weekend I’m going to make some!  I found some instructions on about.com for tips on how to make them without too much trouble. 🙂  Try them with me?  Let me know how it goes!

Easy Macarons
This is the basic recipe for macarons with a few extra tips to help a beginner on their way. From this recipe, the macarons can then be elaborated on by changing the colors and flavors of the fillings. You can make colored macarons by (sparingly) using a food coloring paste rather than liquid food coloring. The color should be added to the egg whites before whisking.

To create even-sized macarons, it is best to either create a template on greaseproof paper or buy a specially designed silicon macaron mat

Makes approx 10 – 15 completed macarons
1 cup powdered sugar

1 cup ground almonds

2 medium, free-range egg whites

Small pinch salt

¼ cup fine sugar (grind regular sugar in a coffee grinder)

For the filling:
1 ½ cups unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup powdered sugar

Macarons need a steady, lowish temperature to cook properly, too high and they easily burn, too low and they don’t cook through. These temperatures are a guideline, adjust to suit your oven.

Preheat the oven to 300 °F for convection oven, 325°F for regular oven. 

Sift the powdered sugar, followed by the ground almonds, into a large mixing bowl and carefully mix together.
In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites and salt until they form soft peaks. Add the fine sugar, a little at a time, and continue to whisk until the whites are very thick and glossy (ideally, you should be able to hold the bowl upside down without the whites falling out – go on, I dare you!) Gently stir in the icing sugar and almond mix. The mixture will lose some air and become quite loose; don’t worry, this is the way it should be.
Using a piping bag with a 1/3″ nozzle, fill with the macaron mixture. Place the silicon mat onto a baking sheet. Pipe small blobs onto the sheet, remembering that less is more at this stage because the mixture will settle and form into the allotted spaces.
Gently tap the baking sheet a few times on the work surface to help the macaron mixture to settle and to break any air bubbles, then leave to dry for 20 minutes – the surface of the macaron will become smooth and shiny.
Bake the macarons in the preheated oven for 7-8 minutes. Open the door to release any steam, close the oven door (gently) and cook for a further 7-8 minutes. The macarons are cooked when they feel firm and are slightly risen.
Slide the mat onto a wire cooling rack and leave to cool completely. Do not be tempted to remove the macarons from the mat until they are cold or you will break them.

Make the Filling
Beat the softened butter until it is fluffy, then gradually beat in the icing sugar. At this point you can beat in any flavorings you may choose. See examples below.
Place approx 1/2 a tsp of the filling to the flat side of one macaroon and sandwich together with another then twist ever so slightly to create a bond. Continue with the remaining macaroons.
The macarons can be eaten immediately but will benefit from being refrigerated for 24 hours (that’s if you can resist them for that long) as this will make them even more chewy and tasty. 

Filling Variations for Macarons

For pink macarons: raspberry, strawberry are good matches, or for contrast add a little vanilla flavoring to the buttercream.
Green macarons work very well with a pistachio flavoured cream, use either food flavouring or finely ground, pistachio nuts. Alternatively, add a little coconut flavoring, fresh lime zest and a tiny squeeze of the juice for a zingy filling.
Purple with blueberry flavor is perfect.
Cream-colored – use vanilla extract for an extra creamy flavor.
Yellow with lemon works really well.
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