From Paris, with love…

Orange and Lemon MacaronsOk we didn’t really spend the afternoon in Paris, but we did everything in our power to feel like it!

Before Christmas I went to a macaron masterclass run by Rachel Hanretty, known in foodie circles as Mademoiselle Macaron. The class held at the Edinburgh School of Food and Wine was fantastic, and for an evening myself and two girlfriends soaked up as much macaron magic as Rachel was willing to give us.

This past weekend we decided it was time to get together and try to put our new (and hopefully not forgotten) skills to the test. For those of you who haven’t made macarons before, it’s not exactly an easy process. There are lots of little tricks and techniques to remember, so I am glad we decided to tackle the challenge as a group.

Ingredients at the ready
Ingredients at the ready

We decided to do lemon and orange macarons. We used food colouring powder to colour the shells and the fillings were butter cream based with lemon and orange rind and essence – yum!

They say cooking is an art, baking is a science – I couldn’t agree more. So much can do wrong when making macarons, so here are just a few tips from our afternoon of creating.

  • All your bowls must be absolutely squeaky clean, any leftover grease or residue will ruin your meringue
  • On that note, you cannot over mix the egg whites, they need to be so stiff they can’t move an inch in the bowl, so if you are cautious like we were, just keep mixing
  • However you definitely can over do the macaron mixture once all the ingredient are combined. This is the part where you want the mixture to be shiny, but not too runny. Mademoiselle Macaron taught us a clockwise mixing technique, along with a specific number of turns to the bowl – we made sure we stuck to it!
  • Draw circles on your baking paper and that will help guide you when piping the mixture, and make the cut in the nose of the piping bag straight, that also helps
  • Take your macarons off the baking tray once they have been in the oven for the full time required – they will cool and peel off easier if you remove them from the trays immediately
  • When you don’t them out if they don’t feel like they will peel off easily, pop them back in the oven for another couple of minutes. Just keep an eye on the colour and watch they don’t burn
Make sure your egg whites and sugar can not move an inch when you shake the bowl
Make sure your egg whites and sugar can not move an inch when you shake the bowl
Circles drawn on the reverse of the paper, in pencil, will help keep your piping on track
Circles drawn on the reverse of the paper, in pencil, will help keep your piping on track

Finally, set aside ample time to eat the macarons as soon as you’ve filled them, because they are delicious. To complete our French afternoon we indulged in a baked camembert, warm bread and some fizz. What’s that saying? When in Paris?!

Baked Camembert, warm bread, humous and fizz
Baked Camembert, warm bread, humous and fizz

We gained so many extra tips and tricks that we would have never have figured out ourselves by following a recipe, so I highly recommend Mademoiselle’s classes. Head over to her blog to find out more about them, and get yourself booked in!

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