We have made over one million macarons in our lifetime, it might even be closer to two million! So while we think we know everything there is to know about macarons, there has been one thing that’s escaped us until now: cooking macarons in an Aga!
Luckily for us (and for Matt and his team working in the Edinburgh Aga store) we got to play around and find the best baking solution as well as discover some exciting new products Aga has in store!
We are used to baking macarons at 155 degrees in an electric fan assisted oven. However, the key to good macarons from an Aga was in putting them in the baking over with a cold plane shelf to ensure the oven wasn’t too hot to burn the macarons. We tested this out in the New R3 and also the Electric Dual control 3.
Ingredients for the filling:
250g dark chocolate
200ml double cream
50g unsalted butter
Ingredients for the macaron shells:
110g ground almonds
225g icing sugar
50g caster sugar
125g egg whites
Step 1: Follow the measurements.
It's really important to weigh everything out, especially the egg whites! You have to give yourself the best start so do that by paying attention to what the scale says! Don’t be tempted to just do the egg whites of four eggs, it should be 125g!
Step 2: Whip those egg whites right.
The thing I always teach in my classes is that you have to whip those egg whites (with a normal electric hand whisk or fancy machine if you have one) to within an inch of their life. You need solid egg whites so that when you add in your icing sugar and almonds, the meringue doesn't quickly become liquid with all the air out of it. If you’re a visual person who like me, enjoys a good simile and metaphor, think of styrofoam packaging, that white block packaging you might find when you open the box of a new tv. That is how thick you want your meringue to be. You only want to add the caster sugar once your egg whites are solid of their own accord. Then, continue to whip until super thick - thick enough that if turned the bowl over and put it over someone’s head, nothing would land there!
Add food colouring at this stage but only use gel or powdered food colouring. Liquid food colouring will cause the meringue to collapse.
Step 3: Add ground almonds and icing sugar and mix
After whisking your eggs whites, sieve the almonds and icing sugar together and add in two goes to your meringue. Mix until the dry ingredients are completely absorbed by the meringue and you can't see any icing sugar hiding at the bottom of the bowl.
Once you are sure the dry ingredients are mixed, begin to move your spatula (or spoon)
Be careful! You don't want to do this so much that you take out all of the air and are then left with a runny mixture that won't stay in a circle shape once you've piped it.
Step 4: Pipe succinctly and leave to rest (be patient)
You can use little circle templates though we advise against the trays that have cut outs where the macaron shells go into. These don't tend to give a flat bottom of your macaron, more like a concave shape so either find a flat silicone tray with circles cut out or create your own. Pipe every little bit of mixture! Leave well alone and don't put into the oven until the macarons have what's called a 'skin' on them. You know this has happened when you touch the macaron and no mixture comes off on your finger.
A great Aga tip is putting them on the warming plate. Our macarons got a skin a lot quicker compared to leaving them on a worktop. It can take 30-60 minutes for them to get a skin on them so don’t get disheartened if it’s taking a while.
Step 5: Bake for 12 minutes
Once the macarons have their skin, you are ready to cook them. We put them in the baking oven but found very importantly that we needed to put in a cold plane shelf to act as a baffle. If you are baking quite a few trays of macarons one after the other, you will need to remove your cold plane shelf and run under the cold water tap as it stops being an effective heat shield so you must cool it down.
Remove from the oven after 12 minutes and leave to cool.
Step 6. Make your chocolate ganache
Break the chocolate into pieces in a bowl (if you have chocolate drops even better). Heat the cream in a saucepan over a medium heat. Just as the cream begins to boil pour it over the chocolate and mix well. Once the chocolate has melted, add the butter to the chocolate. Mix it all thoroughly until you get a smooth ganache. Leave the mixture to cool before piping onto the macarons.
Step 7: Pair and fill
Once your macarons are out of the oven and have cooled down, you can pair them up. Make sure they are completely cool before piping your ganache onto one side of the macaron shells otherwise your chocolate filling will melt everywhere!
You can also fill your macarons with anything from a buttercream to jam or chocolate ganache. I'm nuts about Nutella so sometimes I put Nutella in there too!
Step 8: Don't eat immediately!
Macarons should sit in the fridge or freezer once they have been made in order for the filling to seep into the shell a little. That is how you get the more mallow like consistency rather than a hard biscuit. The temptation is real but once you match them up and add the filling, please put away for 24 hours!
Step 9: If confused, come to one of our macaron making classes
They are held twice a month and are great fun!