For C’s 1 month, we decided to add a personal touch to the traditional 1-month gift box – homemade macarons. I needed to make 180 to have enough for at least 3 in each box. Each batch of macaron shells fills two trays and makes 24 macarons (assuming no spoilage). Factoring in that I needed to make three different colors and cover for possible failures, the minimum number of batches I would need to produce was 9.
While consistency was the key to my macaron success, they’re not so temperamental as long as you keep four things in mind:
Tant pour Tant
This is the almond powder/powdered sugar mixture. Dry, Grind, and Sift are the important things to remember. Dry: The almond powder should not easily stick to your fingers when pinched. In moist climates (like Singapore), I’ll dry it out in the oven for 20-30 min at 50° C. Grind the almond and sugar together in a good food processor. Too coarse and your macarons will turn out lumpy. Sift your tant pour tant to ensure that you have a very fine and dry mix.
The meringue is probably the most important step in macaron making. I prefer the French meringue mostly because I really didn’t want to deal with making syrup for each batch. A handmixer can easily whip up solid meringue. I wait to add my sugar until the egg white looks foamy, but have read elsewhere that it’s not necessary. Remember to beat until just before it turns stiff.
The macaronage is the last part of making proper macaron batter. You can either divide the tant pour tant into a couple of folds or dump the whole thing in at once. With smallish batches of batter it really hasn’t made any difference for me. Here you don’t need to worry about being too gentle when incorporating the dry and wet ingredients together.
Be sure to invest in some decent pans. I have some lightweight pans at home that pass on heat too easily with a tendency to burn the bottoms before they’re properly cooked. I compensate by going with convection baking at a lower temperature. My mortal enemy is moisture as my shells have a tendency to be undercooked on the inside resulting in the filling collapsing.
It turns out that a) macarons are not best when fresh – the tops need to age with the cream for about a day before consumption and b)macaron shells freeze and keep remarkably well (same with buttercream) mostly due to the lack of moisture in these items. I used the latter to my advantage by freezing the 300+ shells I made one weekend and then piping the buttercream the day before the 1st month celebration.