Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Battle of the macarons!

Macarons are a usually a sometimes treat. They're delicious, but too expensive to buy on a regular basis. I started making them myself after I got a kitchenaid mixer for my 21st, and discovered they're not that hard at all! Whenever I make them I bring them to work and everyone seems to really enjoy them (and I get a huge ego boost, haha). For Christmas I decided to make candy cane maracons after mum bought a recipe for them home, and I also made some caramel macarons from Zumbo's packet mix (that you can get from Coles and Woolies and also comes in passionfruit) for my boyfriends mum for Christmas because the last time I tried to make caramel myself it was a disaster, and I wanted to see how good his packet mix was, compared to making them from scratch from his recipe.

Most ingredients and equiptment laid out on the table 
My trusty kitchenaid mixer
To make macarons from scratch, I use Adriano Zumbos recipe (which you can't find on the internet, but I would totally recommend buying his Zumbaron book - SO many good recipes... I got given 2 of these for Christmas!) I don't follow the recipe exactly, I don't use egg white powder in mine and I like to add a little less castor sugar (he says 150g, I usually go between 70g and 90g)

My macaron shells
150g Almond meal
150g Icing sugar
55g egg white
70-150g castor sugar
37.5ml water
55g egg white

Mise en place is really important with making macarons and makes cooking them sooooo much easier, so measure everything out before you start!! Sieve the almond meal and icing sugar then combine with the first lot of egg whites. Add the castor sugar and water to a saucepan and heat till 118˚c (This is soft ball stage and seriously, just go out and get a sugar thermometer instead of trying to figure out when it reaches this stage!). This is also the part where you add any colouring of flavourings, by replacing some of the water you're adding with the dye or flavour. I replaced 2.5ml water with peppermint essence.

sugar syrup in the saucepan with sugar thermometer
While waiting for the sugar syrup, beat the second lot of egg whites until you get froth on top, then when sugar syrup is hot enough, beat the egg white while pouring in the sugar syrup, and then beat until stiff (not quite hard peaks).

glossy Italian meringue
Then you 'sacrifice' about 1/3rd of the meringue and beat it almond and icing sugar mix (this is so you can fold the rest in easily).
finished macaron mixture
Piping the shells with the mat underneath
Fold in the remaining meringue, pop it into a piping bag and pipe onto baking paper. You'll need a stencil underneath, which you find on the internet, or you can buy a macaron mat from a baking shop (I use those, but I still put baking paper on top). You can add stuff to the top of your macarons at this step, like cocoa powder or gold dust, and I added ground candy canes to mine. Bang the tray on the table after you've piped it and let them sit for about 30 minutes (longer if it's humid, they need to form a kind of skin). Heat your oven to 135˚c (fan forced) and when the macarons don't stick when you touch them, whack them in for about 16 minutes.
Crushed candy canes!

The packet mix was a whole lot easier! It came with 3 packets, 1 was a caramel meringue, 1 was caramel almond mix and the other was the caramel filling.
To make these you just beat the meringue mix with some water (exact amount is on the box) until it thickens, then sift in the almond mix (which I would recommend doing before you beat the meringue because it takes a long time) and fold to combine. Put it in a piping bag and pipe onto your baking tray lined with paper. There's also a link to get a template for the macaron shells. For the filling you just need to beat the packet of filling with some butter (and a bit of salt if you want salted caramel.

I found that the packet mix was a little runny and most of my shells stuck to the baking paper. I also preferred the taste of the candy cane ones, but next time I make them I would rather a white chocolate and peppermint ganache (like Zumbos recipe) instead of a buttercream. The macarons I made from scratch are far from perfect looking, but I really enjoy making them, and definitely more than from a packet. The Zumbaron book comes with a whole heap of delicious flavours, and I can't wait to make peach iced tea, and chocolate peanut butter and jelly.
Candy cane on the left and caramel on the right.


  1. Yum the candy cane one looks good :) I tried the Lauderee ones today and they weren't amazing so now I'm craving for some good macarons :) Wish you worked at my workplace!

    1. It tasted just like candy canes! I've never tried Lauderee ones (I did have ones from Galeries Lafayette in Paris that was amazing, we bought Lauderee ones but they got eaten before I could try one).