Classic French macarons are given a modern twist with the addition of matcha. Matcha (green tea) ganache and sweet raspberry fill the centers of these delicate pastries.
I distinctly remember the period in my career in where I went out on a quest to perfect French macarons. I even remember the very weekend I devoted to making these finicky, fussy little treats. It was probably about 4 to 5 years ago and my husband, Brett, was out of town for a few days. I rarely ever had/have weekends to myself, but when I do, I like to plan little projects for myself. By the time he got home, I was determined to master these suckers.
Dozens of egg whites and probably about $50 worth of almond flour later - I was nowhere close to where I wanted to be....
Like most things, I definitely learned that you can't master a skill in 48 hours. Sure I made things that resembled macarons and I definitely got the filling down, but it has taken me many years and several different recipes in order to produce the kind of macaron I love to eat and enjoy. A thin, crisp outer shell with a pillowy, chewy center - french macarons are not impossible to make. Sometimes difficult and frustering? Yes. Worth the effort? Most definitely!!!
I've tried both the French meringue method and the Italian meringue method. And while "French" is even in the title, I think the turning point for me was when I switched to using Italian meringue. In this case, you make an Italian meringue (boiled sugar and water mixed into whipped egg whites) then combine it with the almond/confectioner's sugar mixture. I find that Italian meringue it much more stable, easier to mix without getting soupy, and way less difficult to over-whip (in defence of French meringue, I think I was over-whipping the egg whites making them dry and extra difficult to combine with the almond mixture).
Upon moving to Vancouver, I worked about a 4 to 5 month stint at a local pastry shop. They primarily specialized in macarons. I had definitely made my fair share of macarons before working there, and after months of doing macaron production I was officially burnt out. French macarons used to be my most beloved desserts. They take time and patience to make (yourself) and may be difficult to find (really good one, at least). At first, I was so spoiled by delicious macarons surrounding me, but they quickly started to lose their luster and that deeply saddened me. I needed a break so that I could fall back in love with these precious little gems.
It had been about two years since I made macarons when I was suddenly inspired to try them out again. Really, I wanted to see if I "still got it" and give my muscles a reminder on how to mix them properly. So, over the weekend, I made my first batch of French macarons in a two years. I went with pretty pastel pink shells with Raspberry Buttercream as well as Matcha Ganache with Raspberry Jam for filling.
Here are some of my thoughts on mixing macaron batter or "macaronage" (what most would consider the "tricky" part - me included):
In my humble option, using an Italian meringue makes this mixing process much easier. I feel like I have much more control over everything. Like when folding other ingredients of vastly different weights, I like to add the meringue in batches – usually in two or three batches. As you go, the dry almond mixture slowly starts to incorporate with the thick, pasty meringue. You don't want to vigorously mix these two ingredients together (although at first it might seem impossible that they will ever combine), but rather deliberately fold them together. Since over-mixing is a major thing you want to avoid, try to make every fold count by scooping up from the very bottom of the bowl and folding it over on itself. Continue adding in the meringue and rotating the bowl as you go.
When properly mixed, the batter should run slowly like thick ribbons of lava. Again, do not over-mix! Over-mixing leads to major spreading, so be careful. However, under-mixed macarons can be an issue too. When piped, under-mixed macarons may keep too much of their shape - with peaks and not the smooth, flat tops that make macrons so mesmerizing. If you are unsure about your mixing technique, try testing it as you go. If you "plop" a bit of the batter back into the bowl, a properly mixed batter should blend back into itself within about 5 seconds. Likewise, if you drag a spatula through the center of the bowl (full of batter), it should blend back together.
For even more macaron tips and tricks, check out Brave Tart.
Matcha Raspberry French Macarons
200 g almond flour
200 g icing sugar
140 g egg whites (4 large eggs)
200 g granulated sugar
50 g water
2 to 3 drops red gel food coloring
Since it had been such a long time since I tried my hand at making macarons, I wanted to go with a really trust worthy recipe. I wasn't all that confident with some of my past recipes, so I went with this amazing one from Chef Natalie Eng (her work is phenomenal! you should all check it out).
I followed her recipe exactly with amazing results. For only one color of shells, add your gel food coloring straight into the Italian meringue during the last minute of mixing.
Depending on the size of your shells, they will take about 9 to 12 minutes to bake at 325 degrees. When done, the tops of the shells should just barely "jiggle" but still stay connected to the "feet." After about cooling just a few minutes, a done macaron should easily peel off a piece of parchment or silpat.
7 ounce white chocolate, chopped
1/2 teaspoon matcha powder
6 tablespoons heavy cream
2 teaspooons unsalted butter, diced
1. Place the chopped chocolate in a heat-safe bowl. Sprinkle with matcha and set aside.
2. Gently heat the cream in a small saucepan over medium-high heat until it just begins to simmer.
3. Pour the cream over the chocolate and let stand 30 seconds.
4. Add the butter and whisk until smooth.
5. Let ganache cool until thick and "pipe-able."
mix about 1/4 cup raspberry jam/jelly with 1 cup Swiss meringue buttercream (or buttercream of choice - adjust raspberry jam to taste) until smooth. You can find my favorite recipe in this post.
After the shells cool, pair them up according to size. Line the pairs up on a baking tray or clean work surface - one side up, one side down.
For the raspberry buttercream filling, pipe a large dollop of filling onto the center of the upside down shells. Leave a bit of room around the edges for the filling to spread after they are sandwiched together. Top the macarons with the top shells and gently sandwich together until the filling comes to the edges.
For the matcha raspberry macarons, fill a piping bag fitted with a small round tip with the ganache. Pipe rings on top of the upside down shells - again, living a bit of space for spread. Fill the center of the rings with raspberry jam/jelly then gently sandwich together.
It's recommend that to let macaron "mature" in the refrigerator for about 24 hours, but I usually can't wait. Enjoy at your own leisure =)
NOTE: Next time I will pulse the almond flour and icing sugar in the food processor a bit before starting. My shells were a bit too "bumpy."