Macarons are simple, elegant and understated just like a French woman with style, but like any woman they can be temperamental depending on weather, situation and sometimes nothing in particular. After reading of the many successes, difficulties and tips about macaron-making following the Daring Bakers’ challenge for October, I felt my long-held fear of making macarons was rightly justified. It wasn’t until I came across this recipe on Almost Bourdain, and being attracted by the flavour combination, that I decided to face one of my greatest baking fears and to go forth with gusto. So Ellie, I have you to thank for pushing me over that final frontier.
You see, I am very good at following recipes but I’m not always accurate with my measurements; a frowned-upon practice when it comes to the chemistry that is baking and especially risky when tackling macarons. After many years of baking I still measure ingredients by the cup as opposed to using kitchen scales, partly because I have yet to acquire a set of kitchen scales! I did a lot of reading beforehand about the finickiness of macarons and decided on combining elements from recipes on Almost Bourdain and Tartelette. Many recipes call for eggwhites to be aged (ie. separated from yolks and allowed either to sit at room temperature or in the fridge for 3-5 days) prior to use and the ones I used kind of were but kind of weren’t… For recipes as this, I ‘save’ and freeze eggwhites ahead of time in preparation – I usually pilfer one here and there when making scrambled eggs, omelettes, frittatas or similar. A practice borne out of not knowing what to do with excess egg yolks, me not being a fan of custard nor making ice-cream from scratch. So when it came to making these macarons I had to first defrost some eggwhites, which may or may not have ‘aged’ them in the process.
I was rewarded with my first ever macarons being a success with the much coveted feet! Granted, some macarons were a little lopsided and a few were cracked but overall it was a much less traumatic experience than envisaged. My piping skills also left a lot to be desired as I had macarons of varying sizes – I really should have traced guidelines on the underside of the baking paper prior to piping. And I know I said right from the start that I would not be posting any of my own cooking on this blog but, like any good woman, I reserve the right to change my mind whenever I want to.
Chocolate Macarons with Baileys Buttercream (makes approx 32 filled macarons of 1-1.5 inch in diameter)
- ¾ cup almond meal
- 1 cup pure icing sugar
- ¼ cup cocoa powder
- 6 tbs aged eggwhites (from approx. 3 eggs)
- ¼ cup caster sugar
For the Baileys filling:
- 75g unsalted butter
- 1 cup icing sugar mixture
- 1 tbs Baileys Irish Cream
- For the filling, cream together butter with icing sugar mixture before mixing Baileys through. Set aside but do NOT chill in the fridge. (You will end up with a solid block of buttercream otherwise.)
- Push almond meal, icing sugar and cocoa powder through a sieve into a large bowl to remove any lumps. Set aside.
- Whip eggwhites with a pinch of salt until frothy. Gradually add caster sugar and beat until thick and glossy. Mix in half the combined dry ingredients by hand before folding in the remainder.
- Preheat oven to 160°C.
- Transfer macaron mixture to a piping bag and pipe onto baking trays lined with non-stick baking paper. Allow piped macarons to sit for 20-30 minutes prior to baking for the surfaces to dry out and a ‘skin’ to form.
- Bake 10-12 minutes depending on size. Allow to cool on trays until lukewarm before removing to a plate.
- Match up pairs of macarons of similar size/shape. Spoon a blob of buttercream in the centre of a macaron and press another on top gently to sandwich together. (Leftover buttercream can be kept chilled in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.)
- Keep macarons in an airtight container in a cool spot out of direct sunlight. Do not chill unless weather is very humid. Best consumed within 3 days.