I must say that having made macarons quite a few times before I am now more keen to bake something new, something I've never made before. However the thought of having more than 100g of egg whites sitting in my fridge from the making of creme patissiere and creme caramel just doesn't sit well with me. The fact that they're 'aged', i.e; left in the fridge for a few days, worries me even more as it's a fine line between aged egg whites and their rotten cousin. And so I decided to make some macarons, since aged egg whites are perfect for the recipe. In an attempt to learn something new, I (finally) decided to have a crack at the Italian meringue method, which most professional pastry chefs use and widely acclaimed to be superior to the French meringue method, which I had been using all this while. The reason I avoided the Italian meringue was because it requires a syrup to be made and brought to 118C and pouring it into the half whipped meringue to produce a cooked meringue prior to incorporation into the dry ingredients. This method is ideal for someone who owns a stand mixer as it means you could multi-task more easily, since the meringue has to be whipped to soft peaks while the syrup is cooking (for which you have the measure the temperature). Anyway with God's grace I somehow pulled it off. And I must say I'm now an Italian meringue convert. :)
Good points regarding the Italian meringue method:
1. The recipe is extremely easy to remember. 67g of each ground almond, icing sugar and caster sugar. 50g of egg whites divided between two, half goes into the dry ingredients and the other half goes with the meringue. Syrup is made using the caster sugar with 15g of water and brought to 118C before pouring into half whipped meringue.
2. No drying time was required. I baked them straight after piping and they did not crack, the shells also developed fairly nice feet. I did manage to get nice looking 'feet' with the French method before but they were a little touch and go and very temperamental indeed. It's hard to judge the consistency of result with just one attempt but the fact that I was not really paying a lot of attention making these macarons this morning probably means there's a bit more leeway to imperfection when it comes to this method.
3. No egg white powder was required. Whilst it isn't hard getting hold of egg white powder in my area I've always wanted to be able to make macarons without the use of any specialist ingredients.
4. To me, the shells looked better overall and produced higher feet. The feet also developed a lot quicker compared to the French method.
The only downfall of the Italian method is the need to split the 50g of egg whites into half. Half of it goes into the dry ingredients to make a paste and the second half is used to make the meringue. As you may know dividing egg whites is definitely not an easy task as all the whites from the same egg tends to hold on to each other, making it quite tricky to measure out small amounts.
Anyway here are some photos:
Not my best take at food photography but as you can see the best looking ones produced really good height (the feet) and all these were baked straight from piping without drying! I thought I was really taking a gamble sending them straight to the oven as this would have been considered suicidal had I used the French method. Anyway it's all good and well now. I made a simple milk chocolate ganache (50g chocolate with 50ml heavy cream and 10g butter) with mixed spice. Tasted pretty good but the trouble now is to find someone to eat them.