I'm addicted to making macarons lately. And I have no intention of stopping until I iron out the little creases that are the imperfections in my biscuits. As if I'm going to stop when I do finally get them perfect. Ha!
They're so addictive and so appealing to make. It's becoming and\ obsession. There are so many colours and flavours and possibilities just begging to be explored.
My major challenge at the moment is getting the biscuits all the same size. No matter how carefully I drew the circles and how carefully I piped, they'd always be different. I'd spend ages trying to match up same-sized biscuits, getting grumpy about the misshapen ones. So I thought it was time to try something new.
I bought a double-sided macaron mat. Now, I've baked macarons on baking paper and others on silicone mats and never liked the way the silicone ones came out. They were always flatter with a weird foot. Googling led me to believe this was just what happens with silicone mats. A lot of people complained of the same thing. So I'd resisted buying a macaron mat, but my desire to have even-sized macarons triumphed over my annoyance at the feet.
It's gonna take some practise re-training myself to bake with silicone. The macaron mats require very accurate piping, or else it either overflows or doesn't fill up the circle correctly. But the results so far are promising. To the point I think I'll invest in a second mat. I was also pleased to discover I seem to have overcome the silicone-feet issue. I baked this batch at a lower temperature for longer and, while they're still not as high as my paper-baked macarons were, they're much higher and the feet resemble the paper-baked ones. I'm going to have to bake a few more batches to determine whether this was the temperature difference, or if the silicone is just different.
As for the flavour, well, I'm in love with tea fillings, so every time I go shopping I look for interesting flavoured tea to use for macarons. Last week I found some orange and cinnamon tea, which sounded just perfect. I couldn't decide at first which type of ganache to pair it with, but in the end decided that dark chocolate and orange is always a promising combination.
Now, I love the bitterness of the tea, but if you don't or can't find such a flavour you can always add a little orange essence and ground cinnamon to the cream when you boil it instead.
Orange & Cinnamon Macarons
125g almond meal
150g pure icing sugar
3 large egg whites (aged 1-3 days) at room temperature
65g caster sugar
1tbsp ground cinnamon
ivory food colouring (optional)
Tea-infused White Chocolate Ganache
150g white chocolate
2 citrus flavoured teabags
- Prepare baking trays with double sheets of baking paper. Trace 2.5-3cm circles onto one of the sheets of baking paper as a guide for piping your macarons, leaving a few cm between each; make sure the side with the ink/lead is facing down so it does not come into contact with your food. Alternatively, use a macaron mat.
- Sift almond meal and icing sugar together; sift mixture thrice more, then set aside.
- Beat the egg whites until foamy; add gel paste or powdered food colouring here. Continue beating on low speed, adding caster sugar a tablespoon at a time. Increase to high speed and beat until mixture forms stiff peaks and is glossy. You should be able to hold the mixture above your head without it falling.
- Fold in half of the almond meal mixture until combined, add the second half and repeat.
- Using your spoon or spatula, swipe the mixture against the side of the bowl, scoop the batter from the bottom and plop it upside down. This movement deflates the meringue. You need to repeat this process until your batter is sufficiently runny. To test, look for the following signs: Your batter will slowly slide back down the sides. If you scoop up a bit of batter with your spatula or spoon and let it drop back into the bowl, it will fall slowly, form a small mound on top of the rest of the batter slowly sink back into it. Another good way to test is by getting a tea spoon of batter and plopping it into a small plate. If the peak formed when it falls from the spoon sinks back into the batter within 15 seconds, it is done.
- Fill a piping bag with a 1cm round nozzle, and pipe rounds of macaron batter onto your baking trays. Once done, bang your trays against the counter to knock any air out of the batter. Set aside your macarons aside to dry at room temperature. This will take 45mins-1 hour. Macarons are sufficiently dried when the batter does not stick to your finger when touched. Once dried, sprinkle with a little ground cinnamon.
- Preheat oven to 200°C or 230°C fan-forced.
- Place tray in the oven, reduce temperature to 140°C or 130°C fan-forced. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Here is where you need to experiment, as every oven is different and it will make a difference for macarons. Keep an eye on them and make sure your shells don’t char. Shells will be ready when they can be lifted from the baking paper without sticking. 25 minutes did it for me. Note, if using a macaron mat, the biscuits bake batter at a slightly lower temperature. Try decreasing the temperature by about 10°C and baking for 5-10 minutes longer.
- Set aside to cool.
Tea-infused White Chocolate Ganache
- Place cream in a small saucepan and heat over medium heat until warmed. Add tea bags and stir them through the cream until the flavour is released; you will be able to smell the aroma, and most likely see the colour run from the tea bags. Squeeze tea bags and remove.
- Bring the cream to a boil; remove from heat and stir in the white chocolate until smooth and combined. Pour into a bowl and set aside to cool to room temperature.
- When macaron shells are read, pipe or spoon ganache onto one half of a shell, then sandwich with a second half. Place in the fridge for a day to allow the flavours to mature.
You'll find the printable version of this recipe here.