There are 3 different methods to creating a proper meringue for macarons: the French, Italian and Swiss. The French macarons (Lenôtre/Paris) is the most used in macaron recipes, because it results in the correct texture and taste for the French macaron. The Italian method macarons (Ladurée/Paris) is said to produce a more stable meringue because it uses a hot sugar syrup in place of dry sugar, but the downside is that it results in macarons that are sweeter and more challenging to bake. The Swiss meringue offers an interesting compromise; meanwhile whisking and heating egg whites and sugar together to 60ºC. Some claim to be the easiest but more challenging to execute into large batches.
Cracking is an unfortunate and undesirable side effect in a macaron shell. Cracking seems to be caused by multiple issues, including oily or wet almond meal, whipping the egg whites for too long or not enough (French method), over-folding the dry ingredients into the meringue during the 'macaronage' step. Excessive moisture in the air and batter and skipping the drying step before baking; this allows cookie to form a skin allowing the moisture to escape from the bottom while baking forming the macaron foot (pied); foamy base. A little known fact is that macarons withstand freezing very well. Chill macarons upward with or without filling in an airtight container for up to one week, or for up to 3 months in the freezer.
In a food processor, turn sugar and almond meal into fine powdered and sieve. Add egg white and food coloring.
Yield 9 large cookies / 18 large macaron shells ~ 3-inch/7.5cm diameter.
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Beat egg whites with cream of tartar on medium speed to foamy stage. In a small saucepan cook water and sugar to 245ºF/118ºC. Increase mixer speed to high and pour syrup in thin stream. Mix until stiff peaks until steam is out. Fold meringue into the almond mixture and start the macaronage. Macaronage is the stage in preparing macaron shells where the batter is worked until smooth, shiny and flowing. Fill a piping bag fitted with an 15mm/1.5cm nozzle with your mixture and pipe out into even sized pieces on silicone mat. Gently tap the tray on the counter to smooth out the surface of your macaron shells. Leave to crust for 15 minutes or until the shells are not sticky to the touch.
Professional ovens tend to bake macarons much faster. A pizza stone is recommended.
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If using a conventional oven preheat oven to 325ºF/160ºC and bake for about 18 minutes. If using a convection oven preheat oven to 300ºF/150ºC and bake for about 14 minutes. Bake one sheet at a time.
In a small saucepan, warm up milk with sugar and vanilla. At 120ºF/45ºC, add yolks and blend with an immersion blender. Cook on medium heat to 185ºF/85ºC. Sieve over mixing bowl and beat with the whisk attachment. At 90ºF/35ºC, throw in softened butter and beat on high until smooth. If the mixture separates, chill 15 min and beat again. If too cold, warm up mixing bowl over the stove. Add 80g Italian meringue to the buttercream if desired. Add flavoring.
Flip half of the macaron shells and pipe out a dollop of filling in the center of each shell. Surround with fresh raspberries (halves or whole). Top filling with a couple of lychees and sandwich with macaron shell. Decorate with rose petal is desired. Chill for up to 4 days. Avoid freezer because fresh fruits are in used. Enjoy!