The Italian Meringue Method
Allegedly, and perhaps controversially, macarons originated from Italy, not France. Rumour has it that when King Henry II of France proposed to Catherine d’Medici of Italy back in the 1500s she stipulated she would only accept if she could bring her Italian pastry chefs, the masters of Macaronage, along with her to France.
Authenticity of the story aside, there are two distinct methods in macaron-making—The French Meringue method vs the Italian Meringue method. In practise, the ‘French Meringue method’ is a bit quicker but temperamental as it involves uncooked whipped egg whites folded into the dry ingredients, while the ‘Italian Meringue method’ includes an extra step of pouring sugar syrup into the meringue prior to folding.
My recipe is based on the slightly lengthier but much more stable Italian Meringue method. Although it may seem like an extra step to make a sugar syrup it more than makes up for it in beautifully consistent and gorgeous macarons!
Any macaron recipe is heavily dependent on two elements - air (the good guy) and moisture (the bad guy) - and any fluctuation from the ideal balance of the two may show up in inconsistent and unpredictable results.In just one small step of pouring the sugar syrup into beaten egg whites to whip to a stiff and glossy meringue, my Italian Meringue method adds much more stability to the batter by controlling both elements in the meringue, giving you pretty perfect macarons everytime!
For the basic recipe, there are a few kitchen accessories that would be particularly useful -
- Digital scales: For precise measurements. It really helps taking the guesswork out of numbers
- Sieve: Sifting helps aerate the dry ingredients and pull out coarse bits
- Sugar thermometer: Digital or not, a thermometer that goes up to 120C will be ideal
- Electric stand mixer: While a hand-held mixer would suffice, a stand mixer is safer and much more convenient
- Silicone spatula: Bendy spatulas help folding the batter evenly by scraping around the sides of the mixing bowl gently
- 1cm round piping nozzle: Maxi macaron, medium macaron, mini macaron, all possible with the one nozzle size
Basic Ingredients for approx. 25 Macarons
150g Ground almonds
150g Icing sugar
(Tip: If grinding your own almonds, do it together with
the icing sugar so that it doesn't turn to butter)
50g Egg white, room temperature
120g Granulated sugar
40g Water, room temperature
55g Egg white, room temperature
35g Granulated sugar
1) Sift ground almonds and icing sugar together
2) In a saucepan over medium heat boil 120g measure of granulated sugar and water together while simultaneously whisking the 55g measure of the egg whites on medium speed in a stand mixer bowl with a whisk attachment, or carefully with a hand mixer
3) When the syrup reaches 100 degrees, pour in the 35g measure of granulated sugar into the whisked egg whites and continue whisking till the syrup reaches 116 degrees
4) Once the sugar syrup has reached 116 degrees, reduce the speed of the mixer and pour the syrup down the side of the bowl in a steady but swift stream
5) Bring the speed back up to medium to whip into a meringue for up to 8-10 minutes. At this point you have a basic meringue which is ready to be folded into the dough when the bowl has cooled till just warm to the touch and the meringue is stiff and glossy
6) Pour the 50g measure of egg whites onto the dry almond-icing sugar mix in a mixing bowl and fold in the ingredients just until till they come together as a stiff dough with a spatula
7) Fold the meringue in using gentle and firm strokes, scraping from all the sides of the bowl and pulling the spatula through the middle to incorporate all ingredients just till it reaches a smooth and glossy cake-batter like consistency
8) Pour 2-3 ladles of batter into a piping bag prepared with the nozzle and cut parchment paper to the size of the baking trays. To aid piping perfect circles, trace the outline of a 10p coin on the reverse side of the parchment paper leaving 1.5 inch gaps in between
9) Once a whole tray is piped with batter tap firmly against the work-surface to pop out any trapped air bubbles and let rest for 20 minutes. Pre-heat the oven at 170 degrees before baking for 13 minutes.
10) Once baked let the trays and shells cool completely on a heat-proof surface or a cooling rack before peeling shells off gently.
Now that you’ve mastered the Italian Meringue method, it’s time to make some macaron magic with flavours and fillings!