There is something about macarons that fills me with joy! Despite the difficulty level in making these delicacies, I derive great joy in making them. So the other day I was challenged by the lady of the house to make blueberry macarons. This filled me with trepidation because I have not worked with blueberries to make a ganache or filling, and if I try will it be stable enough to hold the macaron shells together? My concern was not with the shells because they are pretty standard to make and all I needed was violet colouring paste which was easy.
My journey begins here and it was quite an interesting one. The first ganache I made involved equal amount of blueberries and white chocolate with the juice of a fresh lemon. Leaving this in the fridge overnight, unlike most ganaches I make using chocolate be it dark, milk or white it did not set, so I was left with a ganache that was unusable and I could not allow the thought of binning it to even cross my mind. So now it is double or quits, which led me to make a blueberry compote adding gelatine leaves, and then incorporating the ganache previously made. It worked! Okay, maybe an extra gelatine leaf would have delivered the perfect result, I was still happy with the outcome.
However, the bad news about this outcome is that gelatine which is a derivative from collagen found in the skin, bones and connective tissues of animals makes these macarons unsuitable for vegetarians! Although there is gelatine for vegetarians, it is not as effective as the former.
I make my macaron shells using Italian meringue, this is achieved by pouring hot sugar solution into a soft peaked egg white. The advantage of an Italian meringue is that it is more stable than the other 2 types of meringue, namely French and Swiss. Plus you don’t need to worry about losing the air bubbles in the meringue. The recipe below makes approximately 48 macarons, but the meringue recipe only requires two thirds of the overall quantity to make the macaron shells, and the rest you could use to make meringue shells (just an idea).
Generally, I prefer to make the ganache or filling after I have made the shells, but other bakers prefer to make the ganache first. The reason for me being if I have a disaster making the shells the ganache will not go to waste.
Important Tip: Humidity affects the quality of the Macarons, it is advised not to make them on wet or days that record high humidity
- 200g ground almonds
- 200g icing sugar
- 100g egg whites
- 8g violet food colouring paste
For the Italian meringue
- 300g caster sugar
- 120g egg white
- 70g water
For the blueberry ganache
- 300g frozen blueberries
- 200g white couverture chocolate
- 30g lemon juice
- 4 gelatine leaves
To make the macaron shells
- Sift the ground almonds and the icing sugar in a large bowl, mix together thoroughly and make a well in the mixture as shown in the images below.
- Take the 100g egg white and add the violet colouring paste and mix together until fully combined. Once combined, add the coloured egg white to the well and set aside.
- For the Italian meringue add the water to the caster sugar in a heavy based pot and heat until the temperature reaches 113°C. At 113°C begin to whisk the egg white.
- Once the sugar solution reaches 118°C empty the sugar solution into the soft meringue whisking at high speed for 2 to 3 minutes.
- Once the meringue is formed place two thirds into the icing sugar and ground almond mix and combine as shown in the images below. You do not need to worry about loosing the air bubbles when mixing, just ensure you achieve the glossy finish.
- Line 3 to 4 baking trays with parchment paper. Place the macaron template under the parchment paper to help guide when piping.
- Once mixed properly, transfer to a piping bag and begin to pipe onto the baking parchment using the template as a guide, Be patient, don’t rush it!
- Once the tray is completed continue on the next tray. Each completed tray should be set aside for 30 minutes to develop a skin on the surface of each shell before placing in the oven.
- Bake the Macarons at 150°C for 11 minutes. As ovens vary it is best to adjust the baking based on your understanding of your oven.
Important Tip: You need to make sure that you avoid steam build-up in the oven, so it is important that you open the oven after 4 minutes and 8 minutes. This is to prevent the shells from cracking.
- Once baked allow the shells to cool down on the tray for about 10 minutes then transfer to a cooling rack. At this stage you can freeze the shells and fill them as needed or you could fill them straight away and freeze. Either way it will keep well.
To make the ganache
- Soak the gelatine leaves in cold water for about 5 minutes
- While the gelatine leaves are soaking gently heat the blueberries with the fresh lemon until the berries completely break down.
- Take the compote off the heat, squeeze the water out from the gelatine leaves and stir into the compote and set aside to cool in the fridge.
- Melt the chocolate in the microwave or over a bain marie and allow to cool.
Tip: Do not heat the chocolate beyond what is required, a maximum 45 secs in the microwave normally does it for me.
- Mix the blueberry compote and white chocolate together and place back into the fridge to cool.
- Once cooled transfer contents to a piping bag and fill the shells with the ganache.
- The macarons can stay fresh in the fridge for up to 5 days