I'm by no means an expert baker, but it is something I've enjoyed doing since I was very little with my Mum, and I just find it therapeutic especially if I'm feeling a little down or it's raining outside. In particular I enjoy making (and eating) macaroons and have made them many times over the last few years. I've tried various recipes and techniques, and I've just found that this is the easiest way with the best results, and is also much cheaper than buying all the individual ingredients, or even buying ready-made ones as they can be so expensive! I also find the answer to perfect macaroons isn't just down to ingredients as some of the common problems I faced is the macaroons cracking in the oven, not staying a bright colour, or not staying circular. So if you're not an experienced baker, or are just want something extremely quick to bake then I hope you find this useful.
If you're following my technique completely then you will need everything on the list, however you can find your own recipe online and then jump ahead a few steps as the final result will pretty much be the same. But please DO NOT PREHEAT THE OVEN.
You will need:
- A Sainsbury's Macaroon Kit in either raspberry or chocolate for £2. (I find that these are only available in really large Sainsburys, but they are also online) Piping bags are included in the kit.
- Two egg whites
- An electric whisk
- Macaroon Silicon tray (these you can get at most places, including on Amazon. Mine were from Lakeland and Ocado)
- 50g of butter for filling
- A tablespoon of milk
- Strawberry jam (or whatever you want)
1. Start by whisking two egg whites (don't get any yoke in the bowl), and put the whisk on the fastest setting. You should whisk for about two minutes, but I usually go by sight. Once your egg whites look like the above picture, with 'small peaks', it's time to stop. Be patient, it could be much longer than two minutes if your whisk isn't that fast. It is very important that the egg whites are mixed thoroughly otherwise the macaroons won't work - I know from experience!
2. Once you've whisked the egg whites, spoon in (not whisk) the macaroon mixture from the box into the egg whites. You should do this gently and not over stir the mixture, just until it's all mixed together.
I find these macaroon silicon trays (from Lakeland and Ocado) really help for successful macaroons. It's because they keep the mixture in a perfect shape, plus once cooked the macaroon comes away easily from the silicon sheet as opposed to sticking on a baking sheet. You can use a baking sheet though, and just pipe in a circular motion which isn't as hard as you might think.
3. I find the best thing to do is to take the metal shelving out of the oven first and then put the silicon tray on top before piping, otherwise you will struggle to get it in the oven with all the mixture on a floppy tray. Using the piping bag provided in the macaroon kit, fill the bag with the mixture and then twist the open end shut to stop the mixture escaping. You will then need to cut the tip off with scissors (I recommend cutting lower down than the line suggests on the piping bag). If you're not using this kit then you can get piping bags pretty much everywhere now, and for a good price too. When piping, follow the inside of the circle then continue filling it in in a circular motion. Be careful not to pipe too much like I have in the bottom right, but if this happens just wipe some away with a wet cloth.
4. DO NOT PREHEAT THE OVEN. This is extremely important. Place the metal shelvings back in the oven with the silicon trays on top. Make sure the oven is completely cold. You will then need to put the oven on 50c degrees and let the macaroons cook for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes turn the oven up to 150c degrees and let them cook for a further 20 minutes, but keep an eye out incase they start looking brown.
5. Take the macaroons out of the oven, preferably still on the metal shelving. Let them cool for a bit, then take them off the metal shelving once cold. They should hopefully look like the above pictures where they are perfectly smooth with no cracks, and they have risen slightly. If not, they should still be edible anyway!
6. Once the macaroons have cooled, it's time for the filling. You can either follow the kit ingredients by whisking 50g of butter, the icing mixture provided and a tablespoon of milk. I find this works well as the flavour is lovely, but you could just make your own icing as long as it's not too runny, or buy ready bought if you want to extra cheat. I decided to also use strawberry jam so my macaroons have two fillings, but you don't have to do this. You could pretty much use whatever you wanted to as a filling. If you were doing chocolate ones you could use nutella, or even marmalade. It's up to you!
7. The next step is pretty self explanatory. If you've not used a silicon tray then I find it's best to choose two circles that are around the same size. The circles just peel off on a silicon tray, but if you're using a baking sheet then be careful or they could break. If you're just doing one filling then spread only a small amount onto the completely flat side (tray facing side) then sandwich the two circles together. If you're doing two fillings like me, then I do one on each circle before sandwiching together. There you have it - a macaroon!
I find macaroons make lovely gifts (you can buy pretty bags to put them in), or are just nice to have in the house as they are pretty and bite-sized, and completely yummy! Don't get me wrong, usually when I'm baking I would never use a kit as I would make everything from scratch instead, but there are a few reasons why it's impractical for macaroons. Not only are the ingredients for macaroons expensive, but the mixture is time consuming and very hit-and-miss. I have made successful macaroons using a complete recipe, but like I said - it's not easy. I managed to make 20 macaroons with this kit, and the kit itself was only £2, and all you need to add is 2 egg whites and a bit of butter, so this really is the cheapest way to have macaroons in your life, and the easiest! And who has to know that you used a kit? I won't tell if you won't!
If you give this a go, or have your own easy way of making macaroons then I'd love to know! I hope you find this useful, and let me know if you'd like to see more stuff like this on my blog. Until next time,