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Macarons are said to be a rage of the 21st Century and seem to be "The Gift" to present at a wedding or a special event. Initiated to fame by the French Cuisine, these delicate bites of goodness are light, airy and simply melt in your mouth.
The perfect French Macaron is dry at the touch and soft and gooey from the center.
Italian by origin, Macarons were made popular by the French who were living as asylum seekers in Italian Monasteries and Churches in the 1780's during the French Revolution. (Although it seems there is a mention of the Macaron even earlier than this time period.)
Macarons are round circles, two pieces glued together with a thin film of sticky jam, jelly or ganache. My creation is to stick it with a cream cheese (It does taste just as divine) and an exclusive to Niloufer's Kitchen.
Basically macarons are made up of egg whites, sugar and almonds. Later on other European nations like The Netherlands and the United Kingdom substituted almonds with coconut. This makes them chewier but are not as airy and light. These are called Macaroons. They even changed the shape to a conical wavy mound to differentiate! Perhaps saving themselves from the 'whip' of the Culinary World for imitation?
Most cookery schools courses on preparing Macarons but they are not as intimadating as they look and following the step by step instructions can bring you success the first time round. You find them in every colour, flavour and edible filling possible. All major cities of culinary standing has at least one "Macaron Shop" worth its reputation. Toronto, Paris, London, Montreal and Florence having been on my tried and tested list so far.
Dab them in melted dark chocolate if preferred, it tastes perfect with or without the Chocolate Ganache. Add some gel food colouring to make it your own.
|Fill them with cream cheese, mango or saffron flavour|
|Pistachio cream filling is delicious.|
|The Macaron Mat with 28 pieces|
Makes 28 Macaron pieces or 14 complete Macarons.
3 oz/85gm skinless almond slivers
1 cup icing sugar
1/4 cup fine grain white sugar
2 large egg whites at room temperature
gel colouring of choice
jam/ jelly/ cream cheese/ chocolate ganache/ pistachio cream/ saffron or mango flavour
Preheat the oven on 350F or 177 C
Lay out the Macaron sheet on a baking tray. Prepare a large icing bag with a plain nozzle by standing it in a tall bottle.
In a food processor grind together the slivered almond and icing sugar for 3 minutes.
In a large bowl seive it out. Return the remaining almond and sugar left in the seive back to the food processor and repeat grinding it for another 2 minutes.
Seive it out and repeat one more time.
At the end there will be a few teaspoons left in the seive. Keep it aside to use in something else.
In the meantime, using a spoon vigorously mix the 2 egg whites and the fine grain sugar until it looks well mixed and foamy. Do this in your electric mixer bowl to avoid any wastage. Now attach the bowl to the mixer and start beating the eggs doing 3 minutes on low, 2 on medium and 3 more minutes on high. It will be glossy and shiny.
Now add the colour gel and all the dry seived ingredients. With a rubber spatula mix well lifting it up from the bottom and scraping it flat down. The idea is the incorporate all the dry ingredients well, while keeping the mixture smooth and shiny with the colour coming up as brightly as desired.
The end result will be a smooth thick mixture, ready to be filled in the ready piping bag.
Swirl in the ready macaron mat. Tap hard to make sure there are no bubbles at the bottom.
Now refrigerate for 1 hour.
Place on the lower part of the oven and bake for 15 minutes.
Remove from the oven. Let it cool for 10 minutes and snap them out very gently. Apply the choice of your fillings.
Keep it in an airtight box preferably refrigerated.
Using a macaron mould makes it simple.
The sieving process is very important. It keeps the dry ingredient light and airy and refrains from clumping together, it also makes it voluminous. This in turn makes it easier to incorporate into the egg white.
Using almond slivers that have been blanched and free of skin, are the best to use. All nuts have natural oils and using the almond powder or almond meal cannot result in the same as the process may differ.
To read about an ancient cuisine you can purchase my cookbooks called The World of Parsi Cooking; Food Across Borders and The Art of Parsi Cooking; reviving an ancient cuisine.
Photo courtesy Niloufer Mavalvala