Le célèbre macaron
Macarons have a little bit of a reputation in the baking world. Not greatly time efficient to make, difficult to master and all in all, a bit of a faff! But once you get them right, they are absolutely delicious and totally worth it - especially for those almond lovers.
Macarons were born in Italy in 1533 but they didn't gain their fame until 1792 and even then they weren't filled with gooey goodness - they were just single biscuits. It wasn't until the 1900s when Pierre Desfontaines of Parisian pastry shop Ladurée decided to take two macaron cookies, put them together and fill them with ganache. Le célèbre macaron was born!
Macarons vs Macaroons
The most common mistake people make (myself included before I started baking them) is knowing the difference between macarons and macaroons. The word macaron isn't just a different way of spelling macaroons; they are in fact two completely different confections.
A macaron is a meringue-based almond cookie filled with buttercream, ganache or fruit curd. The delicate cookie has a crunchy 'skin' exterior and a light and airy weightless interior with a soft ending fit for the gods. To add to the confusion, it can sometimes be referred to as a French macaroon.
A macaroon is actually a generic phrase that can be applied to a number of small and sweet confections. Mostly the phrase is used to describe a dense coconut macaroon, similar to a macaron but with the use of cocnut, piped with a star-shaped tip and often dipped in chocolate.
My top tips when making macarons
Always separate the egg whites from the yolks at least a day before you start to make your macarons and leave them uncovered in the fridge. This allows the egg whites to lose their elasticity meaning they are easier to whisk to smooth soft peaks
Once you have piped out your macaron mixture into delicate circles, allow them to stand for 30 minutes so that a skin forms. This is how you get that signature foot
Ensure you put your macaron shells (on baking parchment or macaron sheet) onto a cool surface as soon as you take them out of the oven, otherwise they will continue to cook
I know it’s hard to resist but, don’t eat your macarons the day they are made! Stand them in the fridge for 24 hours once complete, this will allow the flavour of the filling to seep into the shells slightly which will also improve the texture. Just remove the macarons from the fridge two hours before indulging!