To be honest I’ve always been a little intimidated by the macaron.
Firstly, I wasn’t even pronouncing the word correctly. The macarons (pronounced mac-a-ron, only the one ‘o’) I’m talking about are the French cookies made with egg whites and almond meal and are sandwiched together with a buttercream-type filling. A macaroon (pronounce both ‘o’s) is a flourless egg white cookie most often made with coconut.
Secondly, so far the only macaron recipes i’ve come across are complicated and long-winded. With my impatient personality (and undiagnosed ADHD) if that recipe doesn’t get me hooked in the first few seconds then it is tossed into the ‘too-hard’ basket. So for the last few years I have enjoyed eating these sweet, little french cookies but that was the extent of our love affair.
Last week I received my bi-monthly Donna Hay magazine and gee whiz I was excited. I slowly went through the whole magazine dog-earing nearly every page. Did I mention that this was the very special 10th birthday collector’s edition of Donna Hay? It is jam-packed with amazing recipes.
I was half way through the mag when I came across Donna’s section on how to cook macarons. I looked at the beautiful pictures and licked my lips… ‘if only I could find an easy-to-follow macaron recipe’ I thought to myself. As though Donna Hay knew what I was thinking her words lit up on the page.
“Don’t be daunted by making these petite and popular treats – follow our simple steps for beautifully light and crisp macarons every time”
So then and there I decided that my cooking challenge for the weekend was to attempt Donna Hay’s basic macarons.
Donna Hay is not only queen of the macaron but queen of the cookbooks. She has published 18 award-winning cookbooks and sold more than 4 million copies worldwide. She hosts Fast, Fresh, Simple – a 13-part TV series that features many of the recipes from her books AND she is the editor of donna hay, a top-selling bi-monthly food magazine. As I mentioned before the magazine is celebrating its 10th birthday and have released their special collectors edition magazine filled with some of the most divine recipes and beautiful photography.
Donna Hay’s Basic Macaron
FOR THE MACARON
- 1 ¾ cups (200g) icing sugar
- 1 cup (120g) almond meal (ground almonds)
- 3 eggwhites, at room temperature
- 1 tablespoon caster (superfine) sugar
FOR THE VANILLA BUTTERCREAM
- 125g butter, softened
- 1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped (see note below)
- ½ cup (80g) icing sugar
- ½ cup (60g) almond meal
FOR THE MACARON
Preheat oven to 150°C (300°F). Sift the icing sugar and almond meal into a bowl and mix to combine. Set aside. Place the eggwhites in an electric mixer and whisk on high for 30 seconds. Add the caster sugar and whisk for ten minutes until stiff peaks form.
Fold through the almond meal mixture in 2 batches until smooth.
Place the mixture in a piping bag fitted with a 1 ½cm plain nozzle and pipe 4cm rounds onto baking trays lined with non-stick baking paper. Lightly tap the trays to help remove any air bubbles from the mixture and ensure a smooth macaron (be sure to do this… I did a few little taps but obviously not enough because my macarons looks like they have headlights!).
Allow to stand for 20 minutes or until a ‘skin’ forms on the top of the macarons. Reduce temperature to 130°C (260°F) and bake macarons for 17-18minutes or until crisp on the outside and moist in the centre. Allow to cool completely on trays.
FOR THE BUTTERCREAM
Place the butter and vanilla in an electric mixer and beat for 6-8 minutes or until pale and creamy. Add the icing sugar and beat for a further 10 minutes or until light and fluffy. Add the almond meal and beat until combined.
Spread the vanilla buttercream onto half the cooled macarons and sandwich with remaining macarons. Makes 24.
NOTE: Not familiar with the vanilla bean and how to scrape the seeds? Cut it in half and then scrape all those tiny browny black seeds out. Still not clear? YouTube-it, they have some really helpful, detailed videos.
My macarons didn’t look EXACTLY like Donna’s, actually they looked like little boobies and nipples but that’s okay because they were my first attempt and practice makes perfect. I’ll keep trying them until they’re spot on.
Despite their appearance the macarons were DELICIOUS! They were slightly crispy on the outside, soft on the inside and the buttercream was to die for! Shared a plate of them with Beau, my sister-in law and brother in law on Saturday and a whole plate of macarons was inhaled in a matter of minutes.
So those of you who like me have been too scared to try baking macarons – bite the bullet and give it a go. They are so simple to make and a little too easy to eat. Once you’ve mastered the basic macaron you can try some of Donna’s other macaron variations like rosewater with coconut buttercream or coffee with salted caramel cream. YUM!
P.S. Donna has just released her iPad app and it is stocked with over 100 recipes and helpful instruction video’s. Quick get in fast - you can download the first issue free thanks to Destination NSW.