I have been making macarons for 2 years on a regular basis and and always enjoy the challenge. The results are sometimes unreliable because I prefer to make the French meringue method versus the Italian. The difference between the two meringue’s is the French method uses a method of beating sugar into egg whites and then folding in a mixture of almond flour and icing sugar. The Italian method uses boiled sugar syrup into egg whites before folding into the almond flour/ icing sugar mixture. I learned how to do the French method in Dublin at The Baking Academy and the Italian method at the La Cuisine Paris in Paris, France. Although the Italian method has more reliable results I prefer the texture of the macaron shell with the French method. Plus I come from the school of thought if ain’t broke don’t fix it!
At this stage I have made hundreds of macarons and still hold my breath a bit as I pull them out of the oven. I usually know before they go into the oven if things are going to work out. The main problems I encounter are the shells being too runny, too lumpy or the heat of the oven altering the colour of the shells. The shells being too runny usually results due to over mixing the egg whites with the almond flour mixture. The shells being too lumpy or grainy is from under mixing the egg whites with almond flour mixture. Humidity can also reek havoc on your macaron shells resulting in cracked and lumpy shells. The colour changes are due to the oven being too hot and not using premium powdered colourings. I buy all my colouring in powder form from France. Gel and liquids are a macaron no-no as the shells hate any additional liquid.
I took a macaron break for a few weeks and have been concentrating on yeast breads but this week I was back making macarons for a school function and I forgot how much I love making them. It is a challenge. Whenever you buy a handmade macaron appreciate the effort and skill put into to it. Of course you can buy frozen or machine made macaron for a fraction of the cost of handmade one, but when you taste the difference you will never want to buy a mass produced one again.