It’s about the time of year that people start dusting off the Christmas baking recipes, organizing bake-offs and trying to kill off their coworkers with sugar. I like to try something new every year, but even with that requirement I don’t think I would have attempted Parisian-style macarons if I hadn’t had a tempting invite to learn how at Stuart’s Bakery kitchen on Granville Island!
Macarons are tasty little treats made from icing sugar, almond paste and ganache. According to Epicurious, they are slated to be a top food trend of 2011, as well as being gluten-free and delicious. And they come in a variety of flavours. At Stuart’s there are pistachio, coconut white chocolate, hazelnut cinnamon chocolate, ginger lemon, the raspberry chocolate we made, and special for Christmas – chestnut cream snowmen. I loved the less sweet ones – chestnut and especially pistachio – and Cassandra mentioned a foie gras version that I’m determined to try now that I have some experience.
David, recently arrived in Vancouver from France 18 months ago, shared his macaron recipe with us and walked us through the finicky bits. It’s not hard, but it is time-consuming and there are some key tips for success. He told us, “there are no secrets, you just have to be careful. If you want to go fast, you will fail.”
I’ve included the recipe below if you want to try your hand, but if you just want to pick up assorted Christmas baking you can do that at on weekends at Stuart’s Oakridge location as well as at Max’s Deli and Bakery on Oak Street. Within the next week they will be available at all locations, every day of the week.
Chocolate Raspberry Ganache (can be made up to 2 days in advance)
200g milk chocolate
75g fresh raspberries
1. Boil the cream.
2. Pour the boiling cream on the chocolate and stir until it’s a smooth texture. Then immediately add the butter.
3. Mash raspberries into a purée and fold into the ganache.
4. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours (up to 2 days).
100g egg whites (Separate the egg 1-2 days before, or use egg whites in a carton)
205g icing sugar
125g almond powder
10g cocoa powder
red colour (optional)
1. Mix icing sugar, almond powder and cocoa powder in a food processor. This mix always forms the basis of the macaron biscuit, but you can add in other flavours as long as they are in powder form (no liquid).
2. Sift into a mixing bowl.
3. Whip egg whites with a pinch of salt. When the whisk starts to leave a path, add sugar then food colouring.
4. Cover with the sugar and almond powder mixture.
5. Mix together using a rubber spatula until you get a smooth texture. Be careful not to “break” the eggs.
6. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and “glue” the corners with a bit of dough. Scoop the mixture into a piping bag and form macarons a little over an inch across. Important – the biscuit batter has to sit at least 45 minutes (no maximum) so it solidifies.
7. Layer the tray on top of 2 empty ones to prevent the bottom of the biscuits from burning and set aside for at least 45 minutes (at room temperature). There has to be 3 trays so that the bottom of the macarons don’t burn.
8. Bake for 14-16 minutes at 325 F.
9. Let the biscuits cool for 10-15 mins., then fill with ganache and assemble. Important – once they’re assembled they need to sit for 36 hours for the flavours to blend and the biscuit to harden. We tried some “unripe” ones and they were definitely not on par with the older ones. They will keep for 7 days.
There are a few keys to success:
- First of all, separate the egg whites at least 2 days before they’re needed. Keep them in the fridge and remove 2 hours prior to starting the recipe.
- Be careful to mix the powder thoroughly.
- Take your time when mixing the egg whites and the powders. This is the most delicate step and it can make the difference. Mix with gentle and sweeping movements.
- Once the macarons are formed on the tray, let them rest for at lest 45 minutes and up to overnight. This is a crucial part for the rising later.