And here I am with another macaron post! Did you know that there are types of meringues in the baking world? French, Italian and Swiss! Yes, I know it looks like a U.N. meeting but it is really important to know and try them all so you can decide which one works best for you!
The Swiss meringue method is , for me, way easier than the Italian one. Let me break it down for you:
- The French meringue is the most commonly used at home. It is made by whisking sugar into beaten egg whites until fluffy and stiff. It does not requires any cooking . In my opinion, not the most stable one when it comes to making macarons because it does not always hold itself and can lead to baking incidents; cracked shells, no feet etc… (Sorry French people, I am on of you but I’ll pass for this one!)
- The Swiss meringue is made by beating egg whites and sugar over a double boiler (a pan of hot water topped with a heat proof bowl) until the the sugar has dissolved, then beating until the mixture reaches stiff peaks. Personally, I adored working with that technique to make macarons. The piping process is easier, the macarons shells can be shaped flawlessly and the shells are also thicker and shinier.
- The Italian meringue consists of whisking a hot sugar syrup into beaten egg whites – it is the most difficult to make but is popular with bakers as it tends to hold its volume well. It requires a food thermometer and a lot of concentration and attention. I would not recommend this technique for your first macaron attempt.
I tried the three methods, the French one is the one I would use when I want to make macaron but I am too lazy to make efforts! The Italian one, is the one I used the most but to be soon replaced by the Swiss method! The latter doe not need you to age the egg whites which is also another burden removed from our heads!
The ingredients are the same; ground almonds, icing sugar (both sifted and well combined), egg whites and caster sugar (preferably yo allow it to dissolve better). Never skip the sifting process when you ale macarons and always make sure to read the list of ingredients carefully, weigh them and prepare the on your kitchen counter. Also, always prepare your piping bag, baking mat before starting your macaron adventure, you do not want to let the batter dry while you are doing something else at the last minute! What I always say, macarons are very selfish and you cannot focus on anything else than them!
What is a double boiler?
It is a pan that is constructed in two parts. The lower half of a double boiler contains the boiling water, the upper half holds the food being cooked and fits above the water. The upper part of the double boiler which holds the food does not touch the water, cooking occurs because of the steam heat generated by the boiling water. So it is important to use a large pan in which the boiling water does not touch the upper part, because here for the macarons, we do not want the hot water to cook the egg whites, we only need it to help the sugar dissolve. You can check when the sugar is dissolved by carefully take some of the mixture between your fingers; if you can feel some grains it means it is not ready yet.
Then, you need to transfer that mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer (recommended) and beat until a “bec d’oiseau” is formed (French for bird’s beak as the meringue tip should create the same shape; it should hold it shape and not fall on the sides).
The next step called “macaronage”, folding the wet ingredients into the dry ones. It is the most crucial stage in preparing French macaron shells where the batter is worked until smooth, shiny. Grab a spatula, and create a “J” shape with it starting for the top middle of your bowl:
Then, you need to be very careful; you do not want to over mix your batter otherwise there is no way back. If it’s too loose, the macarons will spread too much, and will not develop properly in the oven. All depends really on meringue stiffness, folding pressure, room humidity (that is why here in the UAE I recommend full AC!!). Sweep the batter on the bowl sides with a circular motion to deflate the batter.
Every 3-5 folds check the batter consistency but lifting some of it with the spatula. It should not be too liquid. I like to use the “figure 8” test. Lift some of the batter draw an 8 the spatula; it should flow like a ribbon and continuously:
How to store /freeze macarons?
Macarons shells freeze actually very well. I would recommend to freeze them without filling as they will become too soggy. Place them in an air-tight container after fully cooled down and place in the freezer. You just need to let them thaw at room temperature and they will be as fresh as the day you baked them.
Macarons are best consumer at least 24 hours after making them; it helps all the flavors to combine and it will give your the full French macarons experience! So patience is the key here! The filling choices are yours: buttercream, ganache, jam…
Head to https://www.piesandtacos.com/mango-macarons/ for the full recipe of the macarons with Swiss meringue. She explained perfectly the steps and even have a mango/jam buttercream!