After a brief hiatus from macaron making, I am pleased to say that the “macness” is back thanks to Chef Thip Paine. Last year, I took my first macaron making class from Thip and have been living the macness ever since. At that time she was teaching the French Meringue method, which involved whipping up some aged egg whites to make a meringue for the macaron mass. I remember the very first time making it myself it was a bit nerve wrecking and in hindsight really wasn’t “flawed” since all I had to do was less mixing and increased bake time.
Making macarons does require the right technique and experience all of which comes with practice and patience. And for a “macnatic” like me lots and lots of practice did make perfect (sorry a very bad cliché but so true in this case). I have since made many successful batches of macarons. But keep in mind macarons are temperamental and every so often I do get a bad “macday”–the meringue was off, it was too hot in the kitchen, my kitchen scale was off, etc. Really it does happen! And so I’ve always wondered how it would be to make macarons with the Italian Meringue method since I’ve heard that it is more stable.
So it was by chance one day that I was looking through Thip’s blog and noticed that she was teaching the Italian Meringue method. Given the positive experience I received the last time, without hesitation I decided to sign up for her class. One of the best things about her class is the size. She limits the class size to four participants. This contributes to the success of her class because participants can get that hands-on experience. Thip also offers to her students the experience she has as a professional chef. She’s worked at several Michelin Star restaurants in San Francisco, but yet she is never arrogant in her approach or teaching style and is very gracious and patient. So it was with anticipation that I counted down the days to the class!
The class was great, fantastic, all that I had expected! The Italian Meringue method involves whipping a heated sugar syrup into the egg whites. This was why I stayed away from this method! Pouring a hot syrup in egg whites?! But as I watched Thip pour the syrup into the egg whites all my worries melted away! Thip does a good job of demonstrating and then having the participants DO! This is THE best approach for training and retention of knowledge. The take away for me was to slowly pour the syrup on the side of the bowl as to not have it hit the whisk. And even though I’ve read this time and time again in all of the Italian Meringue recipes, nothing is as valuable as seeing and DOING this crucial piece in person.
Okay so macness is back, but who the heck is pinky? Well in order to make the Italian Meringue you need a stand mixer. This is a change from the simple hand mixer that I was using for the French Meringue method. So Pinky . . . she’s my trusty mixer that I bought awhile back to support the Susan G. Komen for the Cure. As I started to bake more volume wise, my hubby bought me a bigger Kitchenaid mixer. Pinky is a 5 quart mixer–her momma Apple is slightly bigger at 5.5 quarts. When I tried to make the Italian Meringue with Apple, the amount of eggs whites had been too little for the bowl. So to salvage that batch I had to raise the bowl to the whisk, not ideal especially after pouring that syrup-HOT! I think there is a way to adjust/calibrate the mixer to the bowl, but I couldn’t find the instruction manual.
I take very good care of my mixers and wanted Pinky to be in pristine condition as I intend to pass her down to my ai daughter one day. So when I got Apple I vowed never to use Pinky again. But like an old friend out came Pinky to save the day! So for now her momma will have to take a back seat. I know weird, but really you become attached to your kitchen appliances. And I know equally weird I have names for them. But come on look at these beauties.
Okay enough of the peculiar crazy rambling about appliances and on to macaron making! So my very first batch using the Italian Meringue method was Blueberry Cream Cheese Macarons. I found some freeze-dried fruit from Trader Joes that I’ve been dying to pulverized and make into a powder for macarons. And naturally you think of cream cheese with blueberries, although I’ve never tried to fill macarons with anything besides ganache. Thip did warn that anything besides ganache would soften the shells and she was right. The cream cheese filling took the crunch out, which is so identifiable with macarons. Although still yummy, I am not sure I will use cream cheese as a filling again.
Thank you again Thip for allowing me to repost the Italian Meringue method recipe for macarons. With so many copyright, proprietary, secret recipe hoopla out there it is nice to know there are still others wiling to share wholeheartedly. Don’t get me wrong I frown upon copyright infringement, after all I spent four years as an undergraduate in English with this always at the forefront of my mind. But I equally feel compassionate about sharing of recipes. I know all too well the longing and sadness of not knowing a recipe that you wish you could turn back time to obtain. So as with everything use common sense and common courtesy.
Here is Chef Thip Paine’s recipe for making macarons using the Italian Meringue method with the caveat that making macarons is considered an intermediate to advance level of baking. If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, it’s a no brainer –take Thip’s class. If you don’t live in the Bay Area, try to take a class near you. I am glad that I had the opportunity to do so and with such a great teacher.
Blueberry Cream Cheese Macarons (adapted from Chef Thip Paine’s recipe)
150 g almond flour
150 g powdered sugar
10 g blueberry powder (powder made from freeze-dried blueberries, pulverized in food processor)
50 g egg whites (fresh no need to age)
pinch of blue powdered food coloring
120 g sugar
40 g water
54 g egg whites (fresh no need to age)
Blueberry Cream Cheese Filling
113 g cream cheese (half a package)
25 g powdered sugar
25 g blueberry jam or puree
50 g unsalted butter, softened
Preparing the Mass
- Sift almond flour, powdered sugar, and blueberry powder in a large mixing bowl. There will be solids left after sifting. Either save it for another recipe or give it a quick whirl in the food processor. But be careful not over process or else the almonds will start turning to a paste. Place the processed left overs back in the sifter. Depending on your almond flour/meal expect some left over.
- Add powdered food coloring, optional.
- Mix in the 50 grams of egg whites until it resembles a think paste. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the mass and set aside while you make the Italian Meringue.
To Make the Italian Meringue
- Place sugar in a small heavy sauce pan (preferably one with a pour spout).
- Add water and ensure that it coats all of the sugar.
- Place 54 grams of egg whites into a stand mixer fitted with a wire whisk.
- Heat the sugar and water mixture and at the same time whip the egg whites on medium high-speed.
- The temperature of the syrup should be 240 degrees, while the consistency of the egg whites should be soft peaks.
- Place mixer on high as you pour the syrup into the egg whites. Ensure you slowly pour the syrup on the side of the bowl as to not have it hit the whisk.
- Whip up the meringue until stiff peaks (about a minute). It should resemble shiny shaving cream.
Final Mixing/Folding of the Mass
- Lighten your mass by adding about a third of the meringue. Mix by folding, but also flatten the mixture as you fold. You don’t want air in the mass since it will cause hollow shells.
- Add remaining meringue and mix/fold, but do not overmix. Mass should be slow-moving and somewhat thick, but not too fluid.
- Place mixture in a piping bag fitted with a round tip.
- Using the back side of a baking sheet, place a piece of parchment paper or silpat.
- Pipe circles no larger than 2 inches on the parchment/silpat.
- Carefully drop pan on counter to remove any air pockets and let rest for an hour.
- Bake at 285-300 degrees for 8-10 minutes (this depends on the temperature). Turn baking sheet mid way for even baking.
- Remove macarons from parchment/silpat after three minutes. Fill with cream cheese filling (see below).
Blueberry Cream Cheese
- Mix cream cheese, butter, and powdered sugar until smooth.
- Add blueberry jam or puree and mix until incorporated. Chill to set.
Here’s a pic of the macarons resting. I sprinkled some of the blueberry powder immediately after I piped the macarons.
Someone took a bite of the macarons before I was finished photographing them!
Here’s a first for my blog. I know I mention my ai kids a lot! I’ve been hesitant about posting pics of my kids, primarily to protect my children. However, in the spirit of sharing and to reveal the culprit behind the pic above-without further ado . . .
My cutie ai son! He loves momma’s “macmoons” and loves to watch me set-up and take photos for my blog. All the while asking in between shots “momma cheese me”–translation I am a ham and take my picture please!