Friday, August 2, 2013

Step by Step Strawberry Balsamic Macaron Recipe Using Pierre Herme's (Italian) Method

Strawberry Balsamic Macarons made with the Italian method
Strawberry Balsamic Macarons made with the Italian method. 
When I first started making macarons, I checked out every single macaron book from the library. As I did my research I came to understand that there were essentially two ways to make macarons using either the French method or the Italian method. Now, you're probably wondering what is the difference? The French method, used for most of my macarons including the Earl Grey Macarons, is when the dry ingredients are folded into the meringue. The Italian method uses a hot sugar syrup mixture that is incorporated into the egg whites while they are being whipped, and then into the dry ingredients. Previously, I had tried my hand at making macarons with the Italian method when I made the Ispahan Macarons. However, since that initial success, I've had failure after failure using the Italian method. Perhaps it was a temperature issue, under mixing, over mixing or resting time? Finally, this summer's break afforded me the time to spend dedicated time experimenting with the Italian method following Pierre Herme's method and also the one in Thomas Keller's Bouchon Bakery. 

I actually ended up baking macarons for an entire week. One batch using Pierre Herme's, another using Thomas Keller's and a final one using my "tried, tested & true" french meringue method. This post will be based on the recipe from Pierre Herme's book with the following posts on my other experiments and testing!




Strawberry Macarons with fresh strawberries on a plate.
Strawberry-Balsamic Macarons sitting pretty. 
Now, let's talk about what these Strawberry Balsamic Macarons taste like. Certainly the flavour of strawberry came through. The dark chocolate balsamic that I used did not seem to add to the flavour profile of these macarons, though it certainly gave the buttercream a darker hue. For everyone that tried this batch of macarons, they felt that it definitely tasted like strawberry, but was on the slightly sweeter side. I wonder if this may have been due to the method? It also seemed that macarons made with this method didn't need to rest in the fridge for the required 2 days and could be served almost immediately the next day. 




Strawberry Balsamic Macarons Recipe - Based on Pierre Herme's Italian Method

Ingredients for Macaron Shells (Italian Method)
  • 150g Almond Meal
  • 150g Powdered Sugar
  • 55g Egg Whites (to be mixed into dry ingredients)
  • 55g Egg Whites (place in bowl of mixer)
  • 150g  Granulated Fine Sugar
  • 38g Water
Directions:
  1. Using a scale measure out all the ingredients. Remember to set aside 55g of egg whites for mixing into the dry ingredients and to place the other 55g of egg whites into the bowl of the mixture.
scale
Scale to weigh all ingredients to the exact gram. 


Egg Whites, Granulated Sugar and Water measured out for hot syrup Italian meringue method.
Here are the egg whites, granulated sugar and water measured out. 

almond meal & powdered sugar measured out.
Measure and weighed powdered sugar, almond meal and egg whites.

2. Place the powdered sugar and almond meal into a food processor and process them together.


Almond meal and powdered sugar in food processor.
Process almond meal and powered sugar together.

3. Sift together the almond meal and the powdered sugar. If there are any larger chunks left over, process it again in the processor.
Sifting processed almond meal and powdered sugar.
Processed  and sifted almond meal and powdered sugar.
4. Mix 2-3 drops of your choice of gel food colouring (I used Wilton Red) into the 55g of egg whites. Take the egg whites mixed with the food colouring and pour into the almond meal and powdered sugar mixture. Allow it to sit.
sifted and processed almond meal and powdered sugar with coloured egg whites on top.
After sifting the powdered sugar and almond meal, pour coloured egg whites on top. 
5. Take a heavy bottomed pot and pour the granulated fine sugar and water into the pot. Attach a candy thermometer to measure the temperature of the sugar and water as it heats up.
Making hot syrup - using a heavy bottom pot, thermometer, super fine sugar and water.
Getting ready for the hot syrup - take a heavy bottomed pot, measured out superfine sugar
and water. 
6. Turn stove top to medium-high. Bring the water and sugar solution to 115C (~239F). Try not to stir the solution as it will reach the correct temperature faster without disruption. 
heavy bottom pot with water-sugar mixture.
Set the heavy bottom pot on the stove to medium-high. Allow the water-sugar solution to reach 118C.
7. Meanwhile, start whisking the second portion of 55g of egg whites to soft peaks.
Water-sugar solution in heavy bottom pot on stove & egg whites whisking in mixture.
Sugar-Water solution boiling away and egg whites whisking in mixer. 
8. Once the water and sugar solution reaches 118C (~245F), pour it slowly over the whisking egg whites. It will form a white meringue (see below). Continue to whisk and allow the meringue to cool down to 50C. 


The forming of the Italian meringue after hot syrup is poured into the whisked egg whites.
Hot syrup poured into egg whites and forming a meringue. 
9. Once the meringue has cooled down to 50C, fold it into the almond meal-sugar mixture. 
Meringue folded into almond meal-sugar mixture.
Meringue folded into the almond meal-processed sugar mixture. 
10. Mix the meringue into the dry ingredients. Mix from the inside out, while turning the bowl in a clock wise direction.
Incorporating meringue into the dry ingredients.
Mixing the meringue into the dry ingredients. 
11. Mix until the mixture turns glossy and resembles that of runny cake batter.
Mixture looking like runny cake batter.
Mix until the mixture looks glossy and resembles runny cake batter.
12. Transfer batter into a piping bag fitted with a plain nozzle (I use piping tip A1).
Transferring batter to piping bag.
Transferring batter to piping bag. 
tricks I use: Use a plastic bottle to help prop up your piping bag.
One of the tricks I use: Since I'm often baking macarons myself, I prop up the piping bag in a clear
container so it makes the transferring of the batter much easier. 


13. Line your thicker baking trays with silicon mats and pipe rounds about 2-3 cm in diameter or 3-5 cm (depending on how big you want them), spacing them approximately 2 cm apart. If you are in need of a template, try this template. When you are done piping, you will notice that each macaron shell has a little top to it.
Piped macaron shells with an additional top.
Freshly piped macaron shells.
14. Before piping the next tray rap the try on a work surface to flatten the macarons. Use a toothpick to pop any bubbles that may have formed. Allow the macarons to sit for at least 30-45 minutes until a skin has formed on the top of the macaron shell (the batter should not stick to your fingers when you lightly touch the shell). The timing will vary depending on how humid or dry your baking conditions are.
Macaron shells resting before being baked.
Macaron shells resting for 30-45 minutes before being baked. 
15. While the macarons are resting, turn the oven temperature anywhere between 250-350F. You may have to do some experimenting with your oven to determine the best temperature for your macarons. This batch of macarons were baked at 260F in a regular oven for a total of 20 minutes. Open and shut the door of the oven at 8 minutes and again at 10 minutes to allow some of the heat and moisture to dissipate.
Finished macarons baked at 260F in a regular oven for 20 minutes using the italian meringue method.
Finished macarons baked in a regular oven at 260F for 20 minutes using the Italian meringue method. 
On this particular day of baking macarons I had enough batter left over to also pipe onto parchment paper. Here we can see the differences between macarons baked on parchment paper versus a silicon baking mat. The macarons baked on the parchment paper were a little uneven on the bottom and top and had somewhat smaller feet pied in comparison to those baked on the silicon baking mat. 


Strawberry-Balsamic Buttercream Recipe

  • 80g Caster sugar (superfine sugar)
  • 25g water
  • 1 whole egg 
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 160g soft butter (cut into cubes then whisked)
  • handful of hulled strawberries (less than a cup)
  • 1-2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp balsamic
Directions:

1. Wash and hull the strawberries. 

Hulled strawberries on a board.
Handful of washed and hulled fresh strawberries. 
 2. Cut the strawberries into pieces, then sprinkle 1-2 tbsp of sugar onto the strawberries. Mix in the lemon juice and balsamic vinegar to taste. Allow the strawberries to macerate in the fridge.This process of macerating the strawberries allows the natural juices of the strawberries to come out. The lemon juice helps to keep the strawberries' fresh colour.
Strawberries macerated with sugar and lemon juice in a bowl.
Strawberries macerating with sugar and lemon juice.
3. Pour the 80g of superfine or granulated sugar and water into a heavy bottom pot. Bring the mixture to a boil at 250F (120C). 
Sugar and water in a heavy bottomed pot. Candy thermometer on the side to measure the temperature.
Bringing the sugar and water to a boil.
Use a candy thermometer to check the temperature. 


 4. Meanwhile, whisk the egg and egg yolk together until it lightens in colour. 
Whisked egg yolk and egg in a mixture.
Whisked egg yolk and egg. 
 5. Take the strawberries out of the fridge and blend in a food processor. Allow some bigger chunks to remain. Pour the mixture over a strainer and allow the juices to drain.
Processed and strained strawberries.
Processed strawberries being strained. 
 6. Once the hot sugar mixture reaches 250F pour it immediately into the whisking egg mixture. Turning down the whisking speed may help prevent the hot sugar threads from sticking to the sides of the bowl. Once the hot sugar mixture is in the bowl, increase to a higher whisking speed. Continue to whisk until a meringue has formed - it will be shiny and glossy. Once the meringue has cooled, add in the strawberries.   


7. With a hand mixer, cream then whisk the butter until it has thickened. Add by the tablespoons to the strawberry buttercream mixture.
Whisked strawberry balsamic buttercream.
Strawberry Balsamic Buttercream
 8. Transfer the buttercream to a piping bag, and pipe small mounds onto the cooled down shells.

9. Assembly the macarons by putting the top gently on the buttercream, pressing down and twisting slightly to the right.
Visual comparison between macarons baked on silicon mats versus parchment paper.
Visual comparison of macarons baked on a silicon mat versus parchment paper.
Slightly more uneven macaron shells for macarons baked on parchment. 
Top view of macarons baked on a silicon mat versus parchment paper.
Here you can see that the top of the macarons baked on the parchment paper are slightly uneven.

These are probably one of my most successful and tasty macarons. With all the experimenting that I did with various oven temperatures, having a consistent oven temperature is super important. Allowing the oven temperature to reach the correct temperature before you open the oven is important as some of the heat dissipates when the oven is open. Baking the macarons at a lower temperature such as 250F ended up with the desired feet but took almost 20-30 minutes to bake! On my last batch of macarons, setting the oven temperature to 350F for 12 minutes yielded nicely baked macarons with the desired feet. So, I would definitely encourage you to set up a chart to figure out which oven temperature is best for your macarons in your kitchen.

These particular macarons are full of fresh strawberry flavour (though the balsamic flavour could be intensified if desired) and are ready to be eaten shortly after finishing them. For best results allow the macarons to rest in the fridge for 2 days. These macarons can also be frozen. Just allow them to come to room temperature an hour or two before serving. I also recently hand carried 2 tupperware boxes of these macarons to Toronto and they fared quite well! No breakages! 

Hope you enjoyed this post and will try your hand at making these macarons!

Strawberry Balsamic Macarons with fresh strawberry buttercream. 

16 comments:

  1. Looks great. Love the plating!

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    1. @Vivian: Thanks so much for the comment. Sorry for the delayed reply, we were on vacation in Europe! Check back soon for more!

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  2. I just discovered the Pierre Herme book! Most awesome macaron recipe/technique ever! I've tried and failed miserably until now. Can't wait to do some of his unconventional recipes.

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    1. Yes, his book is great! Pierre Herme is certainly about "no fail". Patience is always needed though since I'm not always quite sure if I've got it right especially when trying out a new recipe :).

      Which unique macaron flavours do you have in mind?

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  3. Hi how about the hollows? did you have any? I am soooooo frustrated making these macarons, no not your recipe, but I have been looking around everywhere for different recipes and do the trial and error…. So far I had few success with the Laduree: The Sweet Recipes…. With other recipes, I get Lopsided macs and Hollow macs.

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    1. @Chubby Cheeks: Which way are you making your macarons? The french meringue method or the Italian method with the hot sugar poured into the egg white to make a meringue?

      Mixing method can definitely cause bubbles/hollows inside your macarons. However, having a slight hollow is actually okay if you look at the macarons that Pierre Herme has in his book!

      from my experience, hollow macarons are often due to not tamping/hitting the trap with the macarons down on the counter enough as well as popping all air bubbles. The macarons often have to rest for at least 30-45 minutes. Some recipes say you don't, but i've found resting them for almost 60 minutes sometimes yields the best results.

      As for lopsided macarons, that is due to the oven temperature. If the oven isn't set to the correct one then macarons can become lopsided due to uneven temp inside your oven or 'hot spots'. I find putting a pizza stone on the bottom has helped OR put an oven thermometer inside the oven so you can see what the temperature is actually reading at.

      I've found the best thing to is experiment a TON! I usually put in a 'test batch' of 4 macarons first at 260F (which really reads at 280F in my oven) and see how it looks. low and slow seems better in this current oven that I have. In the past, I was able to bake my macarons at 285F, for approximately 15-20 minutes.

      Keep playing around with various things, but only change one 'factor' at a time i.e. only the resting time, or putting in macaron trays at different temperatures to see which one is the best for yours :) keep on going! They are tricky but so dang worth it!

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  4. Hi Lillian, just wondering if you use a convention oven or not? I made my first batch of Italian method just the other day and the recipe called for 20mins in a 160 degree celcius oven but as mine was almost burning after 10mins I took them our. The second tray I left in for 7mims and they were fine but now after a few days they are pretty soft. Would you recommend a lower oven or less time? Thanks in advance! Please also check my blog www.theartofeman.blogspot.com xx

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    Replies
    1. HI Melanie,
      Good to hear from you! I currently do not have a convection oven, just a regular one. However, I made several batches of a passionfruit macaron and a salted caramel macaron in my friend's convection oven. After some testing, and with a oven thermometer inside the oven we found that the most optimal temperature for one macaron tray at a time was 280F (reading at 290F on the oven thermometer) for 12 min. Take the tray out, and slide the parchment paper/silpat onto the counter and allow the macaron shells to cook for a bit longer. That way the bottom of the macaron shells will finish cooking. I also find that you need to let the macaron shells rest for at least 30 min before cooking so the shells won't get soft.

      Hope that helps! I would definitely play around with different oven temps to see what works better. If you find they are burning then it is way too hot! :D Try lowering the temp and start at 260F for one tray and then move up in temperature! I usually chart my results to keep track :) let me know if you have more questions! Glad to help. Will certainly check out your blog.
      ~L

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  5. great recipe! made it but they don't look like yours! next time they will :)

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  6. Those look so good! Must perfect making macarons!

    itsirislin.blogspot.com

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  7. Hi there! I hope you figured out what went wrong with your macarons. I know that over the past couple of years I end up getting lopsided macs too. The lopsided macs is when you don't end up mixing your mixture enough and the egg white is still there so it affects the rise of the macaron. Hope you didn't give up and are still trying! :)

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  8. Did you keep making macarons? I really hope so!! Please let me know if you still need more tips!

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  9. not too hard to make! though I would recommend starting with the basics first of just the french meringue method.

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  10. maybe if you weren't a spam bot it would make it easier to make these macarons :D

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  11. oh my goodness , this looks delicious !! They look perfect is every way

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