The prettiest of French sweet treats, macarons are one of the most iconic pâtisseries in France. Learn how to make your own chocolate macarons with this recipe
Preparation: 45 minutes
Cooking: 12 minutes
Refrigeration: 24 hours
For the Italian meringue
*250g caster sugar
*100g egg white
For the shells
*250g fine almond meal
*250g icing sugar
*30g cocoa powder
*100g egg white
For the creamy chocolate ganache
*100g egg yolk
*100g caster sugar
*400g dark chocolate
For the decoration
*30g cocoa powder
1. Make the creamy chocolate ganache:
Blanch the egg yolk and sugar using a whisk. Bring the milk to boil. When it rises to the top of the pan, pour half of it into the egg yolk and sugar mixture. Stir, then pour back into the saucepan. Return to cooktop over medium heat, stirring constantly with a spatula, until the crème anglaise coats the back of the spatula. Strain the crème anglaise into the chocolate. Mix. Set aside in the refrigerator.
2. To make the shells, preheat the oven to 150°C.
Make the Italian meringue, whisking until it cools:
Pour the water into a very clean saucepan. Gently add the sugar to the water, avoiding splashes. Slowly heat the mixture. Keep an eye on the cooking with the aid of a sugar thermometer – don’t let it touch the side or the bottom of the pan. When the syrup reaches 114°C, beat the egg white with the mixer at full speed. When the syrup reaches 121°C, remove the saucepan from the heat. Wait for the bubbles to disperse, then pour the syrup in a thin stream into the egg white while beating. Continue to beat until the mixture has cooled.
3. In a stainless-steel bowl, mix the almond meal, icing sugar and cocoa powder. Incorporate the uncooked egg white using a dough scraper.
4 Incorporate one-third of the Italian meringue using the dough scraper.
5 Add the rest of the meringue and continue to mix, crushing the mixture with the scraper (this is called macaronage, see below). Take a large lump of the mixture and check if it is at ribbon stage: it should fall from the scraper in a continuous ribbon. If this is not the case, mix it again.
Macaronage: Incorporate one-third of the meringue into the almond paste vigorously to loosen it. Incorporate the rest more delicately, crushing the mixture regularly to smooth it out. Scrape every part of the bowl to combine the two mixtures perfectly. The dough should have a silky, smooth and slightly runny texture. If it is too liquid, the macarons will be flat; if is it not worked enough, they will be dented or cracked. Check your macaronage with the ribbon test: take a large piece of mixture with the scraper or spatula and let it drop; the mixture should run continuously, in the form of a ribbon. If that is not the case, mix again.
6 Line a baking tray with baking paper. You could possibly use a template (by drawing staggered rows of circles of 3 cm diameter on baking paper). Hold the paper in place by weighing it down (with a knife, for example). Using a piping bag fitted with a no. 8 piping nozzle, pipe shells of 3 cm diameter. Pipe them in staggered rows so that the heat circulates correctly, dust them with cocoa powder and bake for about 12 minutes. The shell shouldn’t move when you touch it with a finger.
7 Remove from the oven and slide the paper off the baking tray so the macarons don’t dry out. Put pairs of shells side by side.
8 Take the ganache out of the refrigerator and smooth it out using a spatula. Use it to fill a piping bag fitted with a no. 12 piping nozzle.
9 Pipe the ganache onto half of the macaron shells (foot side up), stopping 5 mm from the edge, then put the hat on and press lightly so the ganache comes just to the edge. Ideally, let them rest in the refrigerator for 24 hours.
Extract from Pâtisserie: Master the Art of French Pastry by Mélanie Dupuis & Anne Cazor (Hardie Grant, £30); Photography ©Pierre Javelle; Illustrations ©Yannis Varoutsikos