Yes, it’s time again; a brand new year is about to come and your eyes are looking for a special recipe on this blog at that time of the year. I know that very well and believe me I did my best to catch up. However last week was a complete mess thanks to well known astrologer Susan Miller who visited Istanbul recently. What she said was quite off-putting.
Something very big, a sort of phenomenal event would take place in Turkey on last Tuesday and this would affect lives of all people nationwide. This event might be a natural disaster, a serious bomb attack or a major scandal. My goodness, choose lesser of the three evils. She also warned us that Mercury was coming back (explanation for astrology virgins: this is something bad, very bad) and we should be very careful while taking decisions, better not to take any decisions even.
Thanks to this prophecy I had one of my worst Tuesdays ever, expecting vicious things to come out from everyday life scenes like construction workers on the street corner to drill natural gas pipeline by mistake and cause a huge blast and so on. Of course I could not take the decision for what kind of New Year recipe to work on under these circumstances, could I? Thanks lord, nothing serious happened on that day and I went back to my kitchen after a hard day of work.
As a new year’s tradition I stick to spicy recipes but the things I tried were not better than my dear deer cookies of last year so I decided to go for some change (or should I say challenge?) and developed a new macaron flavor combination to celebrate the new year. I knew that it was not an easy task but when I read my own words from last New Year’s post saying “We all can do anything, no matter how fancy or how difficult it is. It’s all about trying and retrying just like all other things in our lives.” I gave it a go.
It was a bit more difficult than I thought and you would pity on me if you had known how many undercooked or overcooked, under folded or over folded macaron shells I ate to test the recipe. It took me preparing several batches of batter again and again with different amount of ingredients, consuming a great number of eggs a chicken can lay in two weeks’ time and lots of almonds.
When it comes to macarons everyone has his/her own way of doing things. Some achieved success by folding dry ingredients very slowly, some prefer folding rapidly as they would beat the shit out of it at first then slowing down, some recommend lower oven temperatures some others apply high temperature at first then lower it at the halfway of baking, some recommend a convection oven, some using a conventional one. Even, I read about using two different ovens set at different temperatures for each half of the baking time and then I stopped reading any more. Imagine, the question of “how long you should wait for macarons to get dried before baking?” has many answers ranging from “What the hell, I don’t have enough patience to wait even for a minute after piping them!” to “You have to to wait for a day to harden their shells”. As you see it is so easy to go insane.
In short, this would be your own experience with your kitchen tools and oven which would significantly affect the end product. Particularly you need to know the characteristics of your oven very well, if you do not know yet, this will be the chance to deepen your relationship. Good to keep in mind that it takes some trials to realize what works and what does not for the given conditions you are in; even the humidity of your kitchen might change the fate of your little macarons according to some opinion.
Accepting the fact that they are not a simple cake to bake, gather all your courage and be determined to accomplish what you aim: sweet and crispy outer shells without any cracks on the surface and a moist interior to leave a deep almond flavor on your taste buds.
After all your efforts if they do not come out perfect, please don’t get down. Anything with that much almond will taste nice regardless of its shape. Try to look from the bright side; you may not have the picture perfect macarons but will definitely have delicious almond cookies beside your tea. It’s just a matter of finding the courage to challenge yourselves and that’s what all we need to have for the coming year.
I wish you a New Year full of courage and determination to take a step further and realize all the things you wish for no matter how difficult they are.
Ingredients (makes around 24 macarons depending on size)
For macaron shells
- 120 g (3,8 oz) blanched or slivered almonds
- 200 g (7 oz) confectioner’s sugar
- 90 g (3,1 oz) egg whites (aged 1 day at room temperature)
- 30 g caster sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- A pinch of salt
- Cinnamon to sprinkle on top
- 160 g (5,6 oz) mascarpone cheese
- 2 ½ tablespoons green apple syrup
- 50 ml (1,7 fl. oz) heavy cream
|1.||First make sure that your egg whites are aged enough (24 to 48 hours) so that some of their water content evaporates (this will help your macarons to have harder shells). Aging process is to keep them in the room temperature without covering on top. Do not worry about the hygiene issue, there won’t be any bacteria left after cooking them. If you are not convinced at all, just microwave your egg whites for 10 seconds at medium heat (I also tried this method once and it worked well)|
|2.||Using a food processor, finely grind your almonds and confectioner’s sugar together at highest speed. Sift it at least twice and discard any parts and pieces of almonds. You’ll end up with smooth flour like almond-sugar combination. Add ground ginger and nutmeg, mix well.|
|3.||With a stand mixer with whisk attachment beat the aged egg whites with a pinch of salt at medium speed and when they start to get foamy add caster sugar gradually and increase speed to high and whisk until you end up with a firm, glossy meringue forming stiff peaks (should take two minutes).|
|4.||Sprinkle half of the dry ingredients over the meringue and fold in with a silicon spatula with circular motions around the bowl. After some of the dry mixture is incorporated, add the rest and keep on folding gently. This part is the most important part, believe me. You should not over work the batter, and stop folding when everything is roughly combined. Final batter should be smooth and thick, not runny. Drop a ribbon of batter from a spoon onto the remaining batter and watch, it should take 15 seconds to disappear the ribbon. Even one or two more folds may ruin the whole thing and if you did so,you do not need to spend time on cooking them since you will end up with flat almond cookies cracked on the surface (I know it very well since I did it twice).|
|5.||Dab a very small amount of batter on each corner of the baking sheet and place a properly cut baking paper (batter on the corners will glue your paper on the baking sheet so that it won’t slip). If you do not trust your piping skills you may try to draw circles on another baking sheet with around 4cm diameter and around 3 cm distance between circles and keep it underneath the baking paper you will use to take advantage of it as a guide.|
|6.||Using a piping bag with a 8-10 mm nozzle, pipe 4cm rounds of batter roughly. There might be a soft peaks on each macaron but they will disappear soon if not you may tap the baking sheet on kitchen counter and they will be gone. Let macaron shells dry for an hour at room temperature. If they are not dried enough, you will end up with some wrinkles on the surface and your macarons won’t be able to develop their feet underneath.|
|7.||Preheat your oven to 140°C (280°F).(I use a convection oven –with a fan-, if you are using a conventional oven –no fan- you may need to increase the temperature to 150°C (300°F).This is the feeling I got from all the things I read about making macarons but let me emphasize it once more, this depends on your oven characteristics and you need to try a few times to decide on the correct temperature setting).|
|8.||After your macarons are dried out, place the baking sheet on middle rack. In my case 15 minutes of total baking time was perfectly all right but you need to watch closely to decide on your timing. After 6 minutes shells should have lifted and around 8 minutes they should form their feet. Right after, their outer skin would start to colour slightly and get harden. They should not get browned if so, either your oven temperature is too high or you kept them in the oven longer than necessary.|
|9.||Remove the baking sheet from the oven and leave macarons to cool down thoroughly. If you try to lift them before, lower parts might stick on the sheet and break into pieces. If they won’t come out easily after completely cooled, sprinkle a few drops of water under baking sheet this should solve the problem.|
|10.||Whisk heavy cream well. Add mascarpone cheese and green apple syrup and keep on whisking till you end up with a smooth whipped cream texture (should not be runny).|
|11.||Match each macaron with a similar sized one (this is quite strange but each and every macaron finds its mate no matter how uneven you piped them, no one would be left alone in macaron world I guess)|
|12.||Pipe some filling on one of the paired macarons and cover with the other one like a sandwich. Dust upper shells with cinnamaon.|
|13.||Keep them in the refrigerator at least one day so that flavors will deepen. Serve at room temperature and consume in 2-3 days.|