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. These delicate bites of goodness, popularised by French cuisine, are light and airy. They simply melt in your mouth.
The perfect French macaron is dry to the touch and soft and gooey in 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 cream cheese (it does taste just as divine) and is 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 it also makes them less airy and light. These are called macaroons. They even changed the shape to a conical wavy mound to differentiate! Perhaps they are saving themselves from the 'whips' of the culinary world for imitation.
Most cookery schools offer courses on preparing macarons, but they are not as intimidating as they look, and following the step-by-step instructions can bring you success the first time round. You can find them in every colour, flavour, and edible filling possible. All major cities of culinary standing have at least one "macaron shop" worth its reputation. So far, Toronto, Paris, London, Montreal, and Florence have been on my tried and tested list.
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.
85g / 3 oz 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 to 177 C |350 F
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 almonds and icing sugar for 3 minutes.
In a large bowl, sieve it out. Return the remaining almonds and sugar left in the sieve back to the food processor and repeat the grinding for another 2 minutes.
Sieve it out and repeat it one more time.
At the end, there will be a few teaspoons left in the sieve. Set it aside for another recipe.
In the meantime, using a spoon, vigorously mix the 2 egg whites and the fine grain sugar until they look 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 for 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 sieved ingredients. With a rubber spatula, mix well, lifting it up from the bottom and scraping it flat downwards. The idea is to 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 piping bag.
Swirl on the ready macaron mat. Tap hard to make sure there are no bubbles at the bottom.
Refrigerate for an hour before baking them.
Place it in the lower part of the oven and bake for 15 minutes.
Remove it from the oven. Let it cool for 10 minutes and then snap them out very gently. Fillings of your choice should be used.
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 ingredients light and airy and refrains from clumping together. It also makes them voluminous. This, in turn, makes it easier to incorporate into the egg white.
Almond slivers that have been blanched and free of skin are the best to use. All nuts have natural oils and using almond powder or almond meal cannot result in the same as the process may differ.
My published cookbooks are available for sale through myself and on amazon.
The World of Parsi Cooking: Food Across Borders is a 3 award winning book. It has been self published in July 2019 and will be going into its second print in 2022.
The Art of Parsi Cooking; reviving an ancient cuisine was published in 2016 by Austin Macauley and continues to be available through amazon book depot book depository and from the publishers.
Photo courtesy Niloufer Mavalvala