Macaron day
Wednesday, October 19, 2011

On Monday, we finally made macarons, french macarons, in 13 different flavours too! Chef was impressed that none of our shells cracked and everyone’s macarons turned out pretty good. Here’s a preview of what I took home today before I get into the details.

The assortment of macarons and some petits fours we made this week.

Macarons are very finicky petits fours to make that require a lot of attention to detail. Over-mixing your batter by just a few hand strokes and you will get thin flat shells and visa versa for under-mixing.  There are also many material and environmental factors which require adjustments to the recipe or else your shells may suffer. This might be the temperature and humidity of your kitchen, elevation, type of oven, quality of ground almonds, and type of parchment paper!

For all the macarons, we used the italian meringue method (or cooked sugar method) which involves cooking sugar until 117-120°C. You adjust the temperature according to the humidity of your kitchen, higher temperature for more humidity. And yes, those 3 degrees will make a difference!

Part 1: We cook sugar until 120°C, and add this to egg whites that have already been whipped to soft peaks. After the sugar syrup is added, we continue beating on medium-high speed until firm peaks. This is the italian meringue which is used in this recipe. Near the end, I added some green food colouring for my pistachio macarons.

Part 2: While making the italian meringue, we mix egg whites with the tant pour tant (tpt; equal parts powdered sugar and almond). Then we fold in 1/3 of the italian meringue and mix until homogenous.

Part 2, continued: Then, we add the remaining italian meringue and fold the mixture roughly so that you are forcing the air out of the meringue. We have to be very careful at this point not to over-mix until the mixture is too liquid, but also to mix just enough so that it's shiny and flowing like lava. I'm not sure what lava looks like but this is the consistency to stop at.

Part 3: And then my favourite part, the piping. We use sort of a 'cheat sheet' here. We have cardboards the size of our baking trays with circles drawn on. We just place a parchment sheet on top, pipe, and transfer the sheet to a baking tray.

My first tray of macarons. Are they even enough for you?

My macaron shells after baking.


A close-up of my macaron shells.

And now onto the next part, which is just as important, the filling for the macarons. For my pistachio macarons, I made a pistachio ganache.

Ingredients for my pistachio ganache: white chocolate, cream, sicilian pistachio paste, cinnamon sticks. It was easy to make, just heat the cream with the cinnamon and pistachio, whisk in the chocolate and cool.

And finally, my completed pistachio macaron.

I learned from Chef that you are not supposed to eat macarons on their first day because they will be too chewy and the shells need to absorb some moisture and ‘relax’ a bit. I ignored this and had one (actually, a couple) on the first day and I was a bit disappointed by how chewy it was. I didn’t think it would soften too much, but after having one today (Tuesday), I can say that it really did. They are good in the fridge for up to 5 days, and good frozen for up to a month if well wrapped.

Here are the different macarons made by my class. Look how nice everybody's shells turned out!

The innards of the orange marmelade macaron made by my friend. She made a delicious orange marmelade from scratch for this macaron.

More macaron innards. This one was special, it had a duo filling of chestnut cream surrounding a green tea ganache.

The tray of our nicer macarons. From left to right, heart-shaped rose & raspberry, vanilla, orange, chocolate, olive oil, apricot & saffron, more rose & raspberry, pistachio, cafe, caramel, green tea & chestnut, and lemon cream. Missing from the picture are Chef's chocolate banana macarons.

And after all that sugar, a couple of us headed over to a friend’s apartment for Singapore chilli crab dinner! Did you know you can get 4 live medium sized crabs for 10 Euros in Paris?  We had sort of a small potluck and everyone brought something. I made some pork and cabbage dumplings fried gyoza-styled, and there was also bak kut teh (pork ribs simmered in five spice and soy until falling off the bone), korean chive pancakes, guacamole, and home-made spiced apple cider rum.

My pork and cabbage dumplings. Thanks to my friends who helped me wrap close to 80 dumplings on Sunday.

But back to the Singapore chilli crab, it was my first time having it and the only reason I was able to stop eating it was because I couldn’t feel my mouth anymore. This meal just made me so happy. And the bak kut teh reminded me of Taiwanese tea eggs from home, so comforting.

Singapore Chilli Crab. So good, just so good!

It was an epic meal. The end.

Well? Let me know what you think. Write me a comment below!