After my first miserable attempt at making a macaron, I wasn't as confident this time about making a good macaron.
This time, instead of using the "simpler" but more unreliable recipe from Duncan, I tried the "harder" but more reliable recipe. You can read all about Duncan's post of the recipe to get tips and explanations of things. It helps makes things a lot clearer if you read the recipe first. So go and read the recipe first.
So here is what I found.
I went and bought a sugar thermometer and it works a treat. I followed the steps exactly and watched until the thermometer hit as close to 118 deg C as I could judge. My whipped egg white did turn out really satiny as shown below. The combined mix with the dry ingredients and other half of the egg white was a nice "magma" consistency. A drop of batter from a spoon did take about 30 seconds to sink into the rest of the batter.
I really hate piping so did the spoons method that Duncan suggested. I used a large tablespoon to scoop the main mixture and the back of a smaller teaspoon to scrape the mixture onto the baking tray. I then sort of smoothed the mixture with the teaspoon. After all the mixture was done, I tapped the tray repeatedly to flatten out any bumps. I forgot to photograph the mixture on the tray, but below is a photo of them in the oven. Size wise, they were a bit big and small, but I will try to make them more similar next time.
At the start, I cooked the macarons at 160 deg C with the fan off in my oven. When I saw the edge macarons start to burn after about 6 minutes, I quickly took the whole tray out.
After two minutes of cooling, I tried to lift the burnt macarons, only to discover that they stuck to the tray. The centres were also still uncooked. All I did was put the whole tray back into the oven at 120 deg C, fan still off. After 10 minutes where they had risen again so the feets were higher, I took them out. After they cooled for two minutes, all but one peeled off the baking paper without a problem. I broke one open and it was perfect inside, cooked and with no hollow gap between the crust and the base.
Just because I couldn't resist, I took two of them and sandwiched some nutella just for a quick taste test. They tasted fantastic. While a macaron by itself tastes fairly bland and a bit too sweet, added with the nutella, it was excellent. I can see how well they will work with a dark chocolate ganache. The almond and icing sugar in the macaron really give it that hint of something extra and makes it very "fragrant", for lack of a better description.
So I'm going to be making more macarons for Christmas presents now. I just hope they all turn out this well. What I'm not sure about is whether to start the oven at a higher temperature (160C) and then drop it (120C) as that worked this time, or start it at a low temperature and cook it at that temperature the whole way through? Hmmmm.