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Macarons have had a meteoric rise to the top of the confectionery hierarchy recently with speciality shops bringing out every flavour from raspberry to rose, cotton candy to champagne crème.
Sandwiched between two delicate shells the variety of buttercreams, fruit curds, preserves, and ganache’s is only limited by your imagination. The problem is that as with most unfamiliar fine French pastries, theses little dollops of heaven can be hellishly intimidating to make for the beginner baker.
Grace Stevens, TV chef, cookbook author and confectionery extraordinaire shares her top 5 fantastic fixes to achieve a perfectly formed Macaron:
Why Don’t my Macarons Have Feet?
Getting that signature, even rise around the Macaron cookie is all down to how long you let your mixture rest. Much like the French themselves, French pastries takes finesse to get right, and trying to rush through them is futile. A well-rested Macaron will have developed a rubbery ‘skin’ that you can gently touch, and it will hold its shape. Depending on the weather this could take between 30 – 60 minutes.
Why are my Macarons Flat?
First, says Grace, don’t panic. Your mixture is probably overmixed and a little thin. On your next attempt, when you are making your macaronage – gently fold less meringue to your almond mixture. To test that you have the right consistency, lift the batter on a spoon, if it flows off the spoon in a shiny, continuous ribbon the structure of your Macaron shell, in the end, should be perfect.
Why are my Macarons so sticky?
Nothing says the opposite of sophistication and elegance like sticky fingers. If your Macarons are still sticky, they are likely under baked. One secret to getting them delicate and dry is to leave them for a little longer in the oven at 110 C so that all the moisture escapes.
Why are my Macarons Hollow?
It is an intensely disappointing feeling to bite into your creation only for there to be nothing but empty space inside. Hollowness is governed in part by the heat of your oven. If your oven is too hot, the meringue will not set correctly. To avoid this, be sure to bake your Macarons for 10 minutes at 130C and then drop your temperature to 110C.
Oh No, My Macarons are Cracked!
If your Macarons have cracked, chances are it is because your oven is too hot. Simply use a lower oven temperature of 130C and you should avoid any cavernous catastrophes. Grace also advises that by using an oven thermometer check that your oven is giving a true reading of the temperature and is not running hot.
After making hundreds of Macarons, in countless flavours, Grace says that she has a particular and persistent fondness for granadilla flavoured Macarons using fresh granadillas from the vine in her garden.
She says that she loves Macarons not only for their delicious taste but because of the reaction of awe and delight that sweeps through the room when she serves these undeniably ‘classy’ cookies.
Macarons are the perfect morsels to spoil your loved ones with, just be sure to pack them carefully and tightly if you plan to travel to avoid your delicate work being demolished before they can be devoured.
For more delicious recipes, follow Grace on Instagram @ grace_stevenschef, visit her website for some yummy recipes www.gracestevens.co.za, or meet her in person and book your macaron master class at the stunning Bosch experience centre, Cape Town.