Cooking Macarons in an AGA!
We have made over one million macarons in our lifetime - it might even be closer to two million! So whilst we think we know everything there is to know about macarons, there has been one thing that’s escaped us until now: cooking them in an AGA!
Luckily for us (and for Matt and his team working in the Edinburgh Aga store) we got to play around and find the best baking solution as well as discovering exciting new AGA products!
We're used to baking macarons at 155 degrees in an electric fan assisted oven. However, the key to good macarons from the AGA was placing them in the baking oven with a cold plain shelf to ensure a suitable temperature. We tested on the 3 Series and the 3 Oven Dual Control Electric.
Ingredients for the filling:
250g dark chocolate
200ml double cream
50g unsalted butter
Ingredients for the macaron shells:
110g ground almonds
225g icing sugar
50g caster sugar
125g egg whites
Step 1: Follow the measurements
It's really important to weigh everything out, especially the egg whites! You have to give yourself the best start by paying attention to what the scale says! Don’t be tempted to just do the egg whites of four eggs, it should be 125g!
Step 2: Whip those egg whites right
The thing I always teach in my classes is that you have to whip those egg whites to within an inch of their life. You need solid egg whites so when you add in your icing sugar and almonds, the meringue doesn't quickly become liquid. If you’re a visual person who like me, enjoys a good simile and metaphor, think of the white block packaging you might find when you open the box of a new TV. That's how thick you want your meringue to be.
You only want to add the caster sugar once your egg whites are solid of their own accord. Then, continue to whip until super thick - thick enough that if turned the bowl over and put it over someone’s head, nothing would land there!
Add food colouring at this stage but only use gel or powdered food colouring. Liquid food colouring will cause the meringue to collapse.
Step 3: Add ground almonds and icing sugar and mix
After whisking your eggs whites, sieve the almonds and icing sugar together and add into your meringue. Mix until the dry ingredients are completely absorbed by the meringue and you can't see any icing sugar hiding at the bottom of the bowl.
Once you are sure the dry ingredients are mixed, begin to move your spatula (or spoon).
Be careful! You don't want to take out all the air and be left with a runny mixture that won't stay in a circular shape once you've piped it.
Step 4: Pipe succinctly and leave to rest (be patient)
Feel free to use circular templates, but we advise against using cut-out trays which the macaron shells can go into. These don't tend to give a flat-bottomed macaron, so either find a flat silicone tray with circles cut out or create your own. Pipe every little bit of mixture! Leave well alone and don't put into the oven until the macarons have what's called a 'skin' on them. This is when you can touch the macaron and no mixture comes off on your finger.
A great AGA tip is putting them on the warming plate. Our macarons formed a skin a lot quicker compared to leaving them on a worktop. It can take 30-60 minutes for them to form a skin, so don’t get disheartened if it’s taking a while.
Step 5: Bake for 12 minutes
Once the macarons have their skin, they are ready to be cooked. We put them in the baking oven but found the need for a cold plain shelf to act as a baffle. If you are baking a few trays of macarons one after the other, you will need to remove your cold plain shelf and run under the cold water tap as it can cease being an effective heat shield.
Remove from the oven after 12 minutes and leave to cool.
Step 6. Make your chocolate ganache
Break the chocolate into pieces in a bowl (if you have chocolate drops even better). Heat the cream in a saucepan over a medium heat. Just as the cream begins to boil pour it over the chocolate and mix well. Once the chocolate has melted, add the butter to the chocolate. Mix thoroughly until you get a smooth ganache. Leave the mixture to cool before piping onto the macarons.
Step 7: Pair and fill
Once your macarons are out of the oven and have cooled down, you can pair them up. Make sure they are completely cool before piping your ganache onto one side of the macaron shells otherwise your chocolate filling will melt everywhere!
You can also fill your macarons with anything from a buttercream to jam or chocolate ganache. I'm nuts about Nutella!
Step 8: Don't eat immediately!
Macarons should sit in the fridge or freezer once they have been made in order for the filling to seep into the shell a little. That is how you get the more mallow-like consistency rather than a hard biscuit. The temptation is real but once you match them up and add the filling, please put away for 24 hours!
Step 9: If confused, come to one of our macaron making classes...
They are held twice a month and are great fun!
To celebrate Easter, we’re giving away a set of our super-cute Macaron textiles, including a tea towel and chef’s pads, and a six month subscription of delicious macarons courtesy of our friends at Mademoiselle Macaron.
For your chance to win:
1. Follow @aga_cookers and @madmacaron on Instagram
2. Like the 'Macarons being made' post
3. Tag a friend who might also like to enter
Ends Tuesday 23rd April. The winner will be announced 24/04/2019. T&Cs apply. E&OE. UK entries only.