There comes a point on a Friday afternoon when I get a baking itch. Things have started to wind down, ready for the weekend and I crave a quick project to tinker away on in the kitchen that will give same-day results. I never want anything too labour intensive, but I love whipping up a quick biscuit, loaf cake (coconut and lime is a winner here) and this week – macarons. Here’s where I admit I’ve never been the biggest fan of these colourful French delicacies – they’re just too sweet, but I like a bit of a challenge so I decided to dedicate my Friday afternoon to baking the notoriously difficult macarons.
Sure, macron recipes look simple and require relatively few ingredients, but as soon as you dive into it you realise these are not as easy as they first seem. For example, you can whip the egg either too little or too much, you have to combine the ingredients for exactly the right amount of time without knocking too much air out (called the macronage stage) you can pipe them wonky, and you even have to be hyper-vigilant once they’re in the oven – it’s a lot. Thankfully, many people have walked this rocky ground before me, so I searched for a recipe with a clear path around the common obstacles and hoped for the best. This recipe from The Spruce Eats helped me no end: it had practical tips, clear instructions, and most importantly, had pictures!
I was eager to start and started sieving my ground almonds to make a fine flour. I only realised once I added my icing sugar on top that I’d mislabelled my jars and used ground hazelnut instead. It wasn’t a huge mistake, but it would affect how shiny and smooth the end results would be. The rest of the bake went according to the instructions, I even had a successful macronage stage, evident when I could make a figure eight with the falling mixture from my spoon. I added a little food colouring to make them a light pink, tis’ the season and all that!
Overall I am really impressed with my first attempt! The thing I had the most problems with in the end was spreading the buttercream evenly in the middle without cracking the fragile macaron – I was definitely a bit heavy-handed. I still think they’re a little sweet for my normal tastes, but as a special little treat they were spot on – it’s so satisfying to try something challenging, but actually, pretty quick. What’s interesting though is that through making these I discovered that my husband is a secret macaron fan! He loves them and I had no idea, so I think they’ll be making more appearances in my kitchen in the future.