Monday, 10 October 2011

Vanilla and Rosewater Macarons (my first ever attempt)

Ahh, the mystery that is the macaroon or is it macaron?! Now, since the English word macaroon can also refer to the coconut macaroon many recipe books have adopted the French spelling of macaron to distinguish the two items in the English language. However, this has caused confusion over the correct spelling of the meringue-like biscuit.

Slightly cracked, but still lovely
Nonetheless, this delicacy is recognised by its smooth, domed top, ruffled layer (often referred to as the "foot"), and flat base. If you have 'feet' on your macaron, then you have the perfect macaron. It is mildly moist, crunchy on the exterior and easily melts in the mouth.

There are several ways of making these finicky little treats – the Italian version which involves some boiling of sugar until the right temperature which I just don't have the patience for, or the French version which incorporates some ‘folding’ for the right amount of times... I went with the french version.

I wanted to use a different flavour for the filling of the macarons, and rose water is just that, quite a very distinctive flavour and has been known to be used heavily in Iranian cuisine - especially in sweets such as nougat and baklava. In some parts of the continent rose water is sometimes used to flavour both marzipan and madeleines; a petite light French sponge cake.

This recipe is adapted from the Baking=Love foodblog I adore.

Ingredients for macarons:-

3 egg whites
50g white sugar
200g icing sugar
110g ground almonds
1 tsp vanilla extract


Age(!) the eggs whites in a container either in the fridge for 24 - 48hrs in advance or heat gently in a microwave on a medium-low for bursts of 10 seconds or so, to get that 'aging'
process. This is to dry out the egg whites to prevent the mixture getting too wet as this can cause the cracks. Its supposed to make a huge difference apparently. I just put them in an oven for a few minutes to dry out.

Whisk the egg whites to soft peaks, not like meringues just yet, but just foamy. Add the sugar gradually beating continuously till it gets glossy and shiny, like a meringue. Add the vanilla extract.

In a large separate bowl, mix together the icing sugar and ground almonds and sieve to remove all lumps, this will give the macarons that smooth texture. Umm, I don't have a sieve so I skipped this section, big mistake.

Macaronage stage:
Add half the almond/icing sugar mixture into the egg whites. Fold in gently for around 20-25 strokes. Add the rest of the almond/sugar mixture and vanilla and fold for another 20-25 strokes. So, I don't know, but apparently you only know when it's ready with experience but the mixture should look like lava and it should take no more than around 50 folds. I think I over did it, nevermind, I have learnt now.
Scoop mixture into a piping bag and pipe on to lined cookie trays into roughly 1 inch circles. Tap the trays on to the tabletop a couple of times to get the bubbles to come to the surface and pop them. Leave the trays of piped cookies to air for 30-60 minutes for the shells to form skins (this will help the cookies get the highly sought after feet).

Bake at 150 C or gas mark 3 for 10-12 minutes. Cool completely before piping buttercream and making into sandwiches. Put into an airtight container in the fridge overnight to mature before eating. Its supposed to improve the flavour and allow the macarons to absorb some moisture from the filling to get the perfect
chewy texture. But i couldn't wait that long.
150g Icing sugar
100g butter
2tblsp milk
1tsp rosewater
Food colouring


With the beater on medium, beat the butter and icing sugar until fluffy. Add food colouring to your desired pinkiness and add the milk. Further beat. Add the rosewater - not too much, this is quite strong!

Pipe onto a macaron shell carefully using a round tip and gently squish it down with a second shell. Enjoy!

Cracked, yet chewy and full of flavour, I'm still pleased with them!

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