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.
*Liquor adds flavor, but it also prevents the sorbet from freezing solid. Alcohol won’t freeze, so it is great insurance that you will have a soft sorbet. Honey, liquid glucose or light corn syrup will help maintain a soft mixture. Make sorbet syrup first; bring to boil – add liquor and cool. Blend red fruits with lemon juice and syrup; chill and process in ice cream maker. Freeze. Scoop out small portions (≈15g) and arrange on frozen tray and mat. Keep frozen.
In a food processor, blend almond meal and sugar to fine powder, sieve and keep (macaron almond mixture / tant pour tant) in dry area. Can me made in advance and in large quantity.
Yield 30 large cookies / 60 small macaron shells
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For pink macarons; add a few drops of red food coloring into the meringue. If you want to play with the colors, make 2 separate recipes; one vanilla and one pink. In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat room temp egg whites with cream of tartar and one-third of the sugar on medium speed. Let it run and keep it on the foamy stage for as long as needed. Set speed to high and beat until stiff peaks adding remaining sugar gradually and food coloring if desired. Transfer meringue in a large pastry bowl and fold in half of the dry ingredient – add remaining powders and continue folding until just combined. Macaronage: with the help of a soft dough scraper – scrape down the sides of the bowl; rotating it coming across the bowl smashing the batter. Repeat this step until the batter turns glossy and ribbon forms. Pipe out macaron using a 0.40''/10mm diameter plain pastry tip over 2 half sheet (11 5/8" x 16 1/2”) silicone baking mat. Tap over the counter and leave macaron to dry out for 40 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 14 minutes. If using a convection oven preheat oven to 300ºF/150ºC and bake for about 12 minutes. Bake one sheet at a time. Cool and freeze.
Wear gloves. Sandwich sorbet in frozen in 2 macaron shells. Store macarons upward in air tight containers for weeks in the freezer. Enjoy!