Sunday, 20 June 2010

Italian meringue & fruity macarons...


Much has been said about how temperamental french meringues can be when it comes to making macarons. Known as macarons au blanc monté, the french meringue method is definitely less of a hassle compared to its italian counterpart, but extremely sensitive to conditions such as humidity and temperature. Not a reliable choice for home bakers who have little control over weather conditions in the kitchen.

Most professional cookbooks recommend the italian meringue method, i.e. macarons au sucre cuit, which requires heating sugar syrup to exactly 118 C, then pouring it it gradually into a bowl of egg white while its been whipped. The rest of the recipe is pretty much similar to the french meringue method.



Last week I decided it was time for me to try the macarons au sucre cuit and find out for myself if its worth the extra trouble. A standing whisk is definitely recommended for this task for a couple of good reasons: (1) One has to start beating the egg whites while the sugar syrup is heating up; (2) The sugar syrup has to be poured into the egg whites while it continues to be whisked; (3) The egg white & sugar mixture has to be beaten for a good 10 to 15 minutes till it cools down and a firm meringue forms. I don't know about other home bakers, but I definitely couldn't have managed all these if I didn't have my standing mixer, which btw I've had for about 15 years now - I'm amazed its still working after all I've put it through!



So what were the key differences? When I got down to folding the dry ingredients & italian meringue together, the mixture was noticeably smoother compared to my previous attempts with the french meringue. It also took me less folds to get the dry ingredients properly mixed in, though I've read on the internet that it should take longer (hmm...?). Other differences were my shells took 5 to 10 minutes shorter in the oven to bake and had tidier & prettier looking feet (the latter made me jump for joy!).

My conclusion? I definitely prefer the italian meringue method. A little extra hassle with sugar syrup is definitely worth it for beautiful looking shells!

For those also interested to try it out, I made reference to Duncan's basic macarons au sucre cuit recipe posted on www.syrupandtang.com (He has also put together great tips and guides for macaron making.). I adapted his basic recipe to create strawberry and mango flavored shells, which I filled with strawberry chocolate ganache - bascially adding strawberry puree to a standard chocolate ganache recipe.


13 comments:

  1. Amazing photography. I am sure that it tastes even better.

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  2. Thanks GH. Your food photos on FB are mouth watering!

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  3. just speechless looking at those beautiful macarons of yours! :) so striking!

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  4. Thanks Joyce & Big Boy Oven! I just checked out your respective blogs. Good stuff!! A lot for me to learn from!

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  5. lovely pics!These macarons look absolutely gorgeous!!

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  6. I am puzzled as to how the macarons could take ten minutes less in the oven when the cooking time for macarons is 8 to 10 minutes in the first place!

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  7. Hi Anonymous (posted on 16 May 2011 0912hrs),

    The macarons that come out of my oven take 15 minutes using the italian meringue method, and 20 to 25 minutes using the french meringue method, so there is a difference of 5 to 10 minutes. As you are probably aware, the baking time required for macarons can vary quite a bit depending on the which part of the world you are located and the type of climate in your kitchen... so i wouldn't generalize and say cooking time for all macarons take 8 to 10 minutes "in the first place"...

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  8. What do you add to the shells to make them strawberry flavored? Do you add actual strawberry puree? or is there strawberry flavoring?

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  9. Hii! I know it's almost a year later, but these macarons are beautiful! But I was wondering how you flavored your shells? I am aware that most people use food coloring to color their shells, but adding flavor seems scary...

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  10. Hi anonymous (posted 1 June 2011), apologies for the late reply. As you can see I've been getting lazy with the blogging! :(
    I use powdered strawberry which is basically dehydrated strawberries grounded very fine. As an example you can check out the ones sold here: http://www.lepicerie.com/catalog/product_706500_Dehydrated_Strawberry_Powder.html. I think it would be difficult to add strawberry puree to the shells, though they can definitely be used in the filling. Hope this helps!

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  11. Hi Chris, see my comment above. Hope it answers your question. I know what you mean by scary - unless I'm feeling adventurous I usually keep the shells simple and play around with the filling instead. :)

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  12. I should really try the Italian method. I always get mixed results with the french method. That is especially annoying when I make them as a gift. Thanks for explaining it so well.

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