Orriiiight! Rima is busy baking; so since her one-eyed bandit is at home I will be posting something today. But this posting involves plenty of Rima-input.
Macarons. I-say-maaan.... those melt-in your mouth confectioneries with rich chocolate or salted caramel fillings.. Just as good as Se.....listening to classical music. There are many tips on the internet but most of them are for dryer northern or southern climates. Not our humid equatorial climate.
So I will certainly duplicate some of the known tips, but Rima has some "local" tips that may help in your macaron-making escapade...
1) Weigh everything - digitally. Many Asian recipes are quite forgiving. And so are the simple desert recipes. But when it comes to macarons, the ratio of eggs, sugar, almond powder is really important. If you don't have a digital scale and still rely on an analogue one, get one. For example HERE or HERE. (Free marketing)
2) When you see pimples on top of a macaron, they are caused by almond that was not ground fine enough. Also, almond "chunks" weigh down the macaron shell - so they will not rise. Make sure your almond is ground finely and if not, put it into a food processor.
3) Amount of sugar. In my opinion, if you want less sweet - then don't bake. But anyway - You can do less sweet in other deserts, but doing less sweet on a macaron will cause its stability to weaken as you will not get a full meringue.
4) Meringue: Make sure your bowl is tip top clean. And absolutely no oil or butter in it from your previous bake. The slightest bit of grease in your bowl and the egg white will not foam. Mix your egg whites well until soft peaks form. MEANING: when you pull out your whisk, the meringue will follow and after that not topple.
5) The macaronage: Its important to mix everything thoroughly and not leave stray bits of meringue on the outer edges which you then later on end up piping onto the tray. The meringue batter behaves differently to the macaron mixture in the oven - so if you have some meringue mixture in there, it will most likely crack your macarons.
6) After piping your mixture, you will need to let any air escape and also let the macaron settle. You do this by tapping the tray 3 times - hard - on your counter. Forget this step and your macarons will not turn out well.
7) Let your macarons sit for awhile - and that while can be the big deal breaker. You need to let it sit until a skin forms on the macaron. Meaning: Touching the macaron mixture with your finger will not dirty your finger. In the tropics this can be tough to achieve due to the humidity. So the options are: a) When it is raining - don't do macarons. b) Let your macarons dry in an air conditioned room b) let them dry and prior to putting them in the oven, let them rest for 2 minutes on top of the open door of your oven.
8) Make sure you know how your oven works. Many ovens don't burn at the temperature we require. But they can be up to 20-30C off. So learn your oven and work with it prior to attempting macarons. Finally: switch off the fan in a fan forced oven if you can.
9) Make sure your macarons are well baked. If you don't bake them enough, the soft goo inside will stick to your mat and you will have hollow shells.
10) Macarons taste best when they are piped and then left in the fridge for at least 24 hours. When you are ready, take them out of the fridge and they are good to eat after about 10minutes.
11) So how should the macaron actually look/feel like texture wise. It is not a biscuit - so its not crunchy. It has a crunchy shell and a semi-hard-goo inside.
12) So why can't they be posted? Because they are too fragile. Only the outer shell is crunchy; so if you post them the movement will almost certainly crush the macarons.
Anyway, good fillings generally need to be refrigerated. Courier services and postal services cannot give you a chilled environment - so the only way to have macarons is either in a shop, self collected and then you have to refrigerate them quickly or delivered in a chilled bag.
...and just before posting I was bloghopping and chanced upon Liyanah's blog Baking Abode on her first Macaron try. Well done!!