I will not lie, macarons can be a little bit technical to make. I have spent hours reading about and baking macarons and have come to the conclusion that you have to find your own groove when it comes to these little pretties. You can take all the tips, scientific data, intuition etc., put them in a bowl, mash and smear them together, pipe them onto baking sheets, wait for a skin to form, bake them at just the right temperature and you still won't be absolutely positive that you've nailed your macarons until they come out of the oven. Macaron baking is a bit of a black art. It can be fun and frustrating. But at the end of it all, even if your macarons crack or spread, they'll still be delicious with a dollop of buttercream. Because everything is better with buttercream.
adapted from here
Makes about 30
For the Macarons:
115g ground almonds
230g icing sugar
140g egg whites (about 3 large egg whites)
70g caster sugar
Pinch of fine sea salt
For the Buttercream:
125g unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups icing sugar, sifted
2 tablespoons cream
1/2 vanilla pod, seeds scraped
Pinch of fine sea salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, plus extra for sprinkling
Make the Macarons:
Trace 3.5 cm circles onto two sheets of baking paper. Turn the baking paper over so that the ink is on the back and line 2 large baking sheets with the baking paper. Set aside.
Sift the ground almonds, icing sugar and salt into a large bowl. Set aside
Put the egg whites and caster sugar into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whisk on medium for about 5 minutes, then on high for another 5 minutes. You will have a stiff merengue.
Add the flour mixture to the meringue and begin to mash and smear them against the sides of the bowl. You don't have to be careful here, the point is to deflate the egg whites. After about 40 folds, you should have a mixture that is the consistency of molten lava - slow flowing. Start checking your mixture at 30 folds and go easy from there. If you over mix, you will have a batter that is runny. If you under mix, you will have a batter that is stiff. Both with be difficult to pipe. You are looking for a batter that, when dropped from a spoonful back into the batter, it disappears back into the rest of the batter in about 20 seconds.
Spoon the batter into a large disposable piping bag and snip a 5mm hole in the tip. Pipe the mixture onto the baking paper, using the circles as a guide. Pipe until the circles are almost full as the mixture will spread a little on sitting.
Preheat the oven to 150C.
Rap the baking sheet against the counter a couple of times. This will get rid of any air bubbles. Leave them uncovered and at room temperature for 30 minutes. This will allow the macarons to form a skin on the surface. They should feel dry when very carefully touched.
Bake, on tray at a time for 16 - 18 minutes, or until you are able to easy peel the macaron from the baking paper. Leave to cool completely on the baking sheets.
Make the Buttercream:
Put the butter into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on medium until smooth. Add the icing sugar and beat (slowly at first), until fluffy. Add the cream, vanilla seeds and cinnamon and beat for 2 - 3 minutes until whipped.
Spoon the buttercream into a disposable piping bag and snip a 5mm hole in the tip. Pipe onto the bottom sides of half of the macarons and top with the other macarons, sandwiching the filling between them. Sprinkle with cinnamon.