Italian meringue macaron recipe

Hello! 

Here is my recipe for Italian meringue macarons! I would recommend that any macaron novice start with the Italian meringue method. I initially started with the French method and couldn't get on with it at all! Hollows, as far as the eye could see. So I gave the Italian method a try, I was reluctant at first - sugar syrup is a little bit scary. But I powered through and made the most perfect little macarons on my first attempt! The Italian method is much more forgiving - much better at withstanding over mixing and gives you a much needed ego boost! I've since gone back to the French method and made that work for me but I think that the time I spent making the Italian meringue macarons helped me get the consistency right.

The ingredients
(makes approximately 40 3.5 cm shells)

You will need:

- 75 g ground almonds

- 75 g icing sugar

- 60 g egg whites (no need to age them)

- 25 g water

- 92 g caster sugar

- gel or powder food colouring 

- 1 teaspoon cornflour*

*The addition of cornflour will depend on how humid it is and whether your icing sugar contains any cornflour to begin with. The addition of cornflour seems to stabilise the meringue and decreases the likelihood of the macarons becoming hollow. 

The ingredients

The recipe

- Preheat the oven to 160 C (fan ovens tend to run 20 C hotter than the temperature dial, so preheat to 140 C. Refer to the oven thermometer and adjust to the correct temperature)

- Grind up the almonds almonds further in the food processor with the icing sugar and cornflour

Grind the almonds with the icing sugar and cornflour
- Weigh out 30 g of egg whites (you can do this in a non stainless steel bowl), and add the food colouring. Mix in the almond and icing sugar mixture, it will feel very dry at first, but keep mixing and you should have a thick almondy paste. The colour should be very vivid at this stage, as the addition of the italian meringue will dull the colour considerably.

- Next, make the sugar syrup - weigh out 75 g of caster sugar and 25 ml of water into a small saucepan and cook over a medium to low heat until the temperature reaches 118 C. There is no need to stir, I just give the pan a swirl every so often to pick up any bit of sugar stuck around the edge.

Heat the sugar and water to 118 C

- Once the sugar is at about 100 C, start making your french meringue. Add the remaining egg whites (30 g) to a stainless steal bowl and beat with an electric mixer, when the egg whites become bubbly start adding the 17 g of caster sugar, gradually. Once all the sugar is in, beat the meringue to soft peaks i.e. when you remove the beater, the mixture should fall back on itself slightly.

- When the sugar syrup has reached 118 C, remove from the heat and gradually beat into the french meringue. It helps to have a bowl with quite shallow sides for this. As the syrup is added the egg whites will become stiffer, keep whisking until the italian meringue cools down to room temperature.

Make the italian meringue

- The next stage is the macaronage - the folding in of the almonds/icing sugar into the meringue. This is probably the most important part of making macarons and probably the easiest thing to get wrong. You want to knock out some, but not all, of the air out of the meringue. Overmix and the macarons will be difficult to pipe, will spread in the oven and won't rise. Undermix and the tops of the macarons won't be nice and smooth, and they'll rise to much and be chubby little things.

- It takes a while to get used to what the right consistency should be, there is a definite element of trial and error. It's aways better to err on the side of caution and undermix rather than over mix. 

- The mixture is the right consistency when it falls off the spoon/spatula in a thick ribbon. As it falls back into the rest of the mixture, the outline of the ribbon should be visible at first, but should then be incorporated into the remaining mixture after a few seconds.

- Transfer the mixture to a piping bag. I use disposable ones but I wash them out and reuse them several times - they're really easy to clean out because the mixture isn't greasy.

Macaronage

- Pipe onto the baking trays, with the template beneath the baking paper as guide. I find it easiest to hold the piping bag vertically, about 1/2 a cm from the surface of the baking paper. Pipe enough mixture so that the it is a couple of mm from the outline of the template, the mixture will spread slightly. Once you've piped enough mixture lift the piping bag up quickly to give a peak which will gradually disappear into the rest of the mixture.

- I pipe one tray at a time, I keep the remaining mixture in the bag until I'm ready to pipe the next tray. I find that if the macarons are left to stand for too long after piping, they can go lopsided.

Use a 1 cm piping nozzle and a template to pipe out each macaron
- Now give each of the trays a firm tap on the counter top, this will flatten the peaks and bring any air bubbles to the surface. Break these air bubbles with a tooth pick.

- Leave the macarons to rest for 15 minutes. Unlike the french meringue macarons, it's not necessary for these to be rested until they are dry to the touch. I find the longer these macarons are rested, the larger their 'feet' and as I prefer more compact feet, I let them rest for a relatively short period of time.

Tap on the counter top and allow to rest for 15 minutes
- Bake at 160 C for about 12-20 minutes, I bake the macarons, one tray at a time, in the center of my fan-assisted oven. All oven vary so feel free to adjust the positioning of your macarons in the oven, depending on what gives you the best results.

- If you have strong heat coming from the bottom of the oven so that the bottoms are browning before the meringue is cooked, you might want to double stack the baking trays.

-You don't want the macarons to brown, but you also don't want the meringue to be under cooked as the interior will collapse leaving crunchy, hollow shells. With this recipe, baking at a lower temperature is guaranteed to result in hollow shells.

- It's perfectly acceptable to kneel down by the oven as the macarons bake. With these, the feet tend to appear at about 3 minutes into the baking time, then they really puff up and you think they're going to be macaron monstrosities, but then they fall back down to an acceptable height with little compact feet.

- To check whether they're done, pop one off of the baking paper and break it open, if the meringue is still wet, they need a bit longer.

- Once they're cool they'll feel disconcertingly crunchy, but don't worry, the shells will absorb the mixture from the filling and the insides will become lovely and soft.

Bake the macarons at 160 C for 12 - 20 minutes
Go on, give it a go :-)