Italian meringue macarons

For the first time, I’m going to share a macaron recipe.

It’s been about 2 years since I’ve been able to create good macarons but it hasn’t always been that way.
I rarely use this recipe as I prefer french meringue macarons.

To explain quickly, french meringue macarons are made with egg white whisked with a small amount of sugar to obtain a light but stiff base to then incorporate some icing sugar and ground almonds.
The italian meringue macarons are made by mixing half of the egg white (non whisked) with icing sugar and ground almonds and whisking the other half of the egg whites with hot sugar syrup to make a very stiff, heavy meringue which is then mixed with the almond paste.

Both recipes contain roughly the same amount of ingredients, only the actual method is different.

They also look and taste slightly different: The italian one looks matt and very rounded, with a small “foot” and is fragile and cakey.
The french one looks shiny, with a large foot. They have a slight crunch on the outside and should be chewy inside.

If you’re not a macaron crazy like I am, you may not tell the difference between the two but to me, this is important business.

Here is the recipe and some tips to creating the italian version to perfection.

For about 50 macarons, you’ll need:

– 200g of icing sugar
– 200g of ground almonds
– 2 x 80g of egg whites (4 large egg whites)
– 200g of sugar
– 80ml of water
– food colouring

First, you’ll need to grind the icing sugar and ground almonds together until you get a very thin powder, this will ensure your shells are smooth.
You can do it in a food processor but the almonds will certainly not be fine enough. I use a coffee grinder and it’s perfect. Sieve the powder that you get from doing this.

Heat the sugar and water together and let it reach 110°C.
For this step, it’s highly recommended to use a candy thermometer. If you don’t have one, count 4 minutes from boiling and you should get it right.
Just before your sugar reaches 110°C, start whisking half of your egg whites. Don’t whisk the egg whites until they’re firm otherwise the hot syrup will break them.
Add the sugar syrup, still whisking. Keep going until the meringue is cool.
I recommend using a kitchen robot because it will take a while to cool down.

Meanwhile, add the other half of the egg whites to your powders (almonds & icing sugar) and mix until you get a thick paste. You can colour the mix right now with the colour of your choice.

Always go darker than the shade you want as the meringure will lighten it up a lot.
I recommend using powder colours as they are much stronger than paste or liquid colours. The alternative is to add your colour to the meringue instead.

Fold a bit of the meringue into the almond paste to loosen it up a bit and then fold in the rest of the meringue.

This stage is the trickiest one: when to stop folding. You may have to fold the mixture for a while before getting the perfect consistency. You don’t want an under-mixed batter as it will form peaks and look rough and you don’t want an over-mixed batter as it will be impossible to pipe and never hold it’s shape as a circle.

The batter needs to be runny but not liquid.
If you take a spoonful of mixture, pour it on you worktop, leave it for 1 minutes, you’ll see how it behaves.

Line baking trays with baking paper, fill a piping bag with the mixture and pipe your macarons, this requires practise!

Hit the bottom of the tray to bash the extra air out of the mixture and leave in your dryest room.
If you leave them in your kitchen, they’ll never dry because of the damp air.
This stage may take from 30 minutes to 2 hours, depending on the weather and the temperature.

When you can very gently touch your macarons without the batter sticking to your finger, they’re ready to go in the oven. 140°C for about 20 minutes.

If you have a gas oven, it will be harder to get perfect macarons as the temperature is usually harder to control than an electric oven.

Take them out after 20 minutes and leave to cool completely before filling them with buttercream, jam, lemon curd, chocolate ganache….

Hope you enjoy the recipe

Mylène

Focaccia mon amour…

Since I arrived in UK, I noticed all the Italian food you can find in the supermarkets here; we don’t get the chance to get it in France. I was surprised to see Italian breads, sauces, risotto… Italian food is so popular over here. I then realized I didn’t even know half of the Italian famous dishes.

Anyway, I discovered the existence of focaccia on a food programe on TV.  It looked amazing and I couldn’t wait to try it.

Obviously, the focaccia has to be thin and not thick like you usually find them in England. The dough is very very wet so it makes the kneading quit unusual but not bad at all, I actually enjoyed doing it.

My focaccia was really nice, light and very tasty. It didn’t last very long  at all, it’s very moreish. So for my very first one, it was a success. It was very easy to make so if you fancy making it, don’t hesitate and give it a go!

You’ll need:

–  500g of strong white flour
–  7g of fast action yeast
–  3 table spoons of olive oil plus more for kneading and topping
–  400ml of cool water
–  10g of salt

Mix together the flour, yeast, salt, olive oil and half of the water. Add the rest of the water a bit at a time.

You will soon think you need to add flour but don’t, it would be a big mistake.

Knead this wet dough for 5 minutes. Oil your worktop with olive oil and put the dough on it. Knead it a bit more and put it in a oiled bowl, cover with cling film and leave it at room temperature for an hour.

Then pour the dough in two medium tins, covered with oiled baking paper. Press it gently to take the shape of the tin or tray. If your fingers stick to the dough, just put a bit more oil. Leave it at room temperature for an hour, without cover.

Preheat your oven at 220°C. Press gently your focaccia with the tip of your fingers to make little holes. Sprinkle with salt, rosemary, thyme… You can put garlic, olives…

Put in the oven for 20 min or until golden. Drizzle with virgin olive oil and serve warm with feta cheese, olives, dried tomatoes,… I personally love it on its own.

Absolutely delicious!