And Then, There’s Swiss

In what is beginning to feel like a never-ending quest for perfection, I’ve realized that there is a third method for making French macarons. When I made the Grapefruit Macarons, I didn’t realize that they used this method, also called the Swiss Meringue Macarons. The difference in this method is that the egg whites and sugar are mixed together, then heated au bain marie (double boiler method) until the sugar has melted and incorporated into the whites, then beaten to stiff peaks before adding the icing sugar and almond.


Perspective does strange things… my whisk is NOT that long and skinny. Honest!

In doing even more reading, I found that this method is the least well known of the three but is more stable than the French method and more delicate than the Italian method. Of course, you know that I had to give it another go, right? I’m stubborn that way.

I found a couple of online pdfs, one from Chef Joseph Cumm, and another from Chef Ryan Zimmer; both recipes are similar in their ratios. This time, I’m following Chef Joseph’s recipe. I’ll be adding red powdered food colouring to the batter and will be filling them with a raspberry chocolate ganache (already made and cooling). His pdf even has a troubleshooting guide at the end.


The tops are a little rough looking; I probably should have whizzed the almonds and icing sugar before running them through the sieve but I like to live dangerously. Coming out of the oven, the shells are very fragile and I wasn’t, apparently, very careful.


Once I let them cool, they were better. I learned a little “trick” on one of the (many) videos I watched – push the bottoms in a bit. It gives more room for filling and pushes the insides up to the top, helping to fill in the hollows.


I filled these with dark chocolate raspberry ganache.


I’m not sure how long I can wait before trying these. I have to say, making macarons can be a bit confusing. In everything I’ve read, there’s been conflicting information. The oven’s too hot. The oven’s too cool. The meringue is over beaten. The meringue is under beaten. The macaronage isn’t processed enough. The macaronage is processed too much.

Will I ever reach macaron perfection? Does it really matter? No matter how they look, they still taste the same. Will I keep making them? Oh yeah. As often as I have over the past few weeks? I don’t think so.

But I WILL keep researching.



Macs Done Different

Up until now, each batch of macarons I’ve made have been done using the French method – sift the almond flour and icing sugar together, beat the egg whites with sugar, mix the two, pipe, dry, bake. Pretty standard, pretty basic. There are other methods.

Yesterday, I didn’t just make the Pistachio Macarons (which are absolutely delicious, by the way… not overly sweet, with a creamy filling), I also made a (large) batch of Grapefruit macarons. I didn’t realize the batch would be as large as it was but it’s not a problem. I froze more than half of them. Anyway, this method was a little different than all of the previous batches I’ve made. This time, the egg whites and granulated sugar were heated over a pan of simmering water until the whites were foamy and the sugar melted. Then, they were beaten together. As well, the icing sugar and almonds were mixed with half the egg whites. After the heated egg whites were beaten to firm peaks, the two masses were mixed until the proper texture was reached. Then, everything proceeded as usual.


Everything went pretty well but the final batter was a bit on the thick side and my arm was a pretty tired from the mixing. I even resorted to using the paddle on my mixer, on the lowest setting to get the batter to the correct texture. It was still a bit thick.


I ended up with five and a half trays!

To fill these, I made a batch of grapefruit curd and this is where things fell apart. I didn’t let the eggs, sugar, and juice mixture get thick enough before adding the butter. It tastes fine but is a bit runny. I ended up piping a ring of grapefruit buttercream and filling the ring with the curd before assembling them and refrigerating them. After resting in the fridge overnight, the curd has imparted its flavour into the shells.


This method, after having read dozens of recipes, is unique among those I’ve come across. It’s the only one I can recall reading that combines the egg whites and sugar and heats them together. I’ve seen that method used in buttercream recipes (Swiss Meringue Buttercream) but not in Macarons. As I wrote above, it worked but it was a lot of effort and sweat getting everything incorporated.

(There is another method I’ve yet to try, the Italian Method. In that method, half the egg whites are mixed with the almond/icing sugar mixture, the other half of the egg whites are beaten to stiff peaks, to which a boiled sugar/water syrup is slowly poured into the egg whites, which are then beaten again until peaks reform and egg whites have cooled. Then the almond paste, and colouring, are incorporated into the meringue until the proper consistency is reached. From there, all methods are the same.)

The resulting macarons, even though the batter was quite thick, turned out pretty good. Some of the shells were near perfect, rising straight up with feet but no ruffles. Others were a little… tipsy. I encountered something I’ve not seen in any of my previous batches. Some of them slid off their feet!


I’m not sure why that might have happened. I did get some hollows as well so perhaps I have to raise my temperature slightly. Maybe? Opinions anyone?

As for the flavour? Well, the grapefruit flavour is definitely there but not as strongly as I thought it would be. The curd did infuse into the shells but the flavour pop I was expecting just isn’t there. I’m sure, if the curd had been done properly, that flavour pop would have taken these over the top.



Macarons – First Try

I made my first attempt at macarons this week. Yes, I know I said I would be trying them on the weekend but when the urge strikes, you go with it. So I did. I also journalled about the process. Today’s post will be taken directly from what I wrote. Without further ado…

January 11, 2017

Macarons. It’s a word that elicits oooohs and OH! from many. Most who oooooh do so because they know how tasty these delicate little cookies are –  crunchy exterior, soft interior, melt in your mouth decadence.

dscn0430Those who response is more along the lines of OH! know that they can be finicky to make. Humidity and weather can affect the cookies. Ovens vary. Ingredients should be the best available. Newbies should quake in their boots.

I don’t know about all that. This coming weekend I’ll be trying my hand at this French classic. I’ve made croissants; macarons can’t be that difficult, can they?

10:15 p.m.

Okay, not difficult but certainly “moody”. The first attempt has been made and, though delicious, I’d classify them as dismal. I will try again on the weekend. In the meantime, I’ll do more reading.

Now, to bed.

January 12, 2017 a.m.

Thinking and analyzing, two things strike me.

  1. Oven temp for the first batch was too high (325ºF); oven temp for the second batch was too low (200ºF).
  2. Too much moisture in the egg whites, hence the “aging” in a lot of the recipes I’ve seen.

I’ve seen a few people suggest adding a bit of egg white powder to help with the latter. It may be something to have on hand.

January 12, 2017 p.m.

When I got home this evening, I decided to bake off the last bit of the macaron batter. Brainchild that I am, I forgot to let them develop a skin, to dry out a bit before baking. Basically, they’re not much more than flat macaroons. 


Oh well. A bit of salted caramel sauce makes almost anything taste amazing.


A couple of lessons have already been learned. First, my oven is a piece of crap. We know it runs hot; we just didn’t know how hot. Last night, we purchased an oven thermometer. This morning, I set the oven to 150ºF just to warm it. The thermometer read almost 250ºF! To say I was a little shocked is an understatement! I will definitely need to monitor the temperature of my oven if my macarons are to be successful.

Second, when measuring my egg whites, err on the side of less rather than more and make sure to age them. The recipe I used called for 120 grams of egg whites, or the egg whites from approximately three large egg whites. Well, three egg whites was less that 120 grams; four egg whites was more than 120 grams. I went with four; I should have gone with three. As well, I should have aged them. What’s aging? According to most of the recipes I’ve read, to age your egg whites, you put them in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, poke some holes in the wrap and allow your eggs to mellow out in the fridge for a minimum of 24 hours, or up to five days. It helps to evaporate some of the water in the egg whites and loosens the structure of the albumen.

I know I’m making it sound as if my first attempt was an abject failure. It wasn’t, really. The resulting cookies (they don’t qualify as macarons yet) were amazingly delicious. I gave John one filled with grape jelly; he didn’t care much for that one. When he saw that I was filling mine with salted caramel sauce, he tried one, too. He immediately let me know that the salted caramel sauce would not be lasting long. Truly, they taste great even though they’re not proper macarons… yet.