Tuesday, 14 July 2015

French Macarons with Lemon Buttercream

I decided to try to make some French Macarons, though I call them macaroons.  From all that I read these are quite tricky to perfect and, as you will see from this first effort, I didn't quite manage it.  But I shall persevere and have another attempt later today.

I thought I should let you see this first try anyway.  Then, hopefully, my next attempt will look better.
It seems, from looking at several recipes, that there are different opinions on what to do with the egg whites.  Some people say they should be aged in the fridge for a day at least and for up to 5 days.  Others say that as long as the eggs are at room temperature they will be fine.  So for this attempt I just used eggs at room temperature. 

The consistency of the mixture is also very important, and it will take some practice to get it quite right.  My mixture was probably just a little too thick, or hadn't been mixed to exactly the right consistency.  As you mix in the dry ingredients the air begins to come out of the beaten egg whites and when it is just right the piped result will settle into a smooth top.  Mine didn't quite settle like that.  So I know for next time.

I will also know to use more colouring, since my mixture looked very yellow when I piped it, but in baking the colour mellowed significantly.

I think for the next batch I will try raspberry or strawberry, since any hew of pink will suffice.

The end result is quite delicous though, crisp on the outside and a lovely soft interior, with a tasty lemon buttercream.  

The experts also say that macarons are best eaten 24 hours after being made, since the flavour from the filling seems to infuse into the macaron.  I wont know if that is true until tomorrow, but they taste great just as they are.
French Macarons - Lemon
Ingredients:
for the Macarons:

  • 100g eggs whites at room temperature
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 35g caster sugar
  • 100g ground almonds
  • 180g icing sugar


For the buttercream:
  • 125g softened butter
  • 250g icing sugar (plus more if needed)
  • 2-3 teaspoons double cream
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp lemon zest

Method:
  1. Beat the eggs whites until they become frothy and start to thicken
  2. Add the cream of tartar and the caster sugar
  3. Continue to beat until very stiff peaks have formed.  Don't beat until the egg starts to break up.
  4. As the eggs are beating place the icing sugar and ground almonds together and sieve.
  5. Then fold those dry ingredients into the egg whites until the mixture is combined and drops from the spatula in thick ribbons, and settles back into itself. But it should take a good few seconds to settle back.  If it does it immediately you have overmixed it.
  6. Line two or three baking trays with parchment paper.
  7. Pipe the mixture into rounds, about 1.5 inches in diameter, leaving at least the same amount of space between each one.
  8. The mixture will spread slightly and should level off on top.
  9. Take each baking tray and lift it and tap in on the counter a few times.  This will allow air to escape.
  10. That is very important, as without doing this step the macaroons will probably crack.
  11. Preheat the oven to 160C
  12. Leave them sitting on the baking trays for at least 30 minutes, until they are not sticky to the touch.
  13. Place the trays in the oven and bake for 14-16 minutes, until the macaroons can be lifted, gently, from the parchement paper.  Try it with one only, and if it doesn't lift without sticking they are not quite done.
  14. Allow the macaroons to cool completely.
  15. Beat the butter, lemon, cream and lemon zest together until it is fluffy.
  16. Add the icing sugar and beat some more, until it is all combined.  If it is not thick enough you can add more icing sugar until the desired thickness is achieved.
  17. Turn over half the macarons and pipe some buttercream onto them.
  18. Place the remaining half of the macarons onto the piped buttercream and press slightly to affix.

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