Operating out of a little shop in Newtown is MakMak Macarons and it was there I headed to avail myself of a macaron making class, a Christmas present from my son. The two hour class involved trying delicious macarons, learning the history behind the company and the step by step process in making the perfect macaron before taking on the recipe ourselves.
There were ten in attendance and, after instructions and demonstrations from 'Mak Daddy' Carlos, we split up into pairs, put our supplied aprons on and began whipping up our masterpieces.
It was the Peanut Butter and Belgian Milk Chocolate Ganache filled macaron we were making, 9 of them each to take home. They don't take long to whip up but the process is very precise when it comes to the way you stir and blend the ingredients as well as the tools you use.
Without giving away the exact recipe (you'll have to do the class for that), the basic process is as follows:-
Combine almond meal and pure icing sugar (not icing mixture) in a bowl, passing each through a sieve to avoid lumps
Beat egg whites using an electric mixer for 30-35minutes until white and fluffy
Boil white sugar in water until dissolved and a temperature of 118 degrees Celsius is reached
When egg whites are ready and sugar water is at correct temperature, gradually pour the latter into the mixer and there you have your meringue
Put 50grams of your meringue in a bowl and blend in evenly 2grams of blue food colouring with a spatula, folding it to ensure it is not streaky, before adding it to your almond meal and icing sugar or alternatively add the food colouring to the almond meal and icing sugar then mix in the meringue
Add another third of the meringue from the mixer to the bowl to soften the mix before scraping the bottom and folding in the remainder of the meringue in a clockwise direction
It's important not to over mix your batter as this can ruin the rise of the shells. If the batter is shiny, then you have over mixed.
Once your batter is ready, it's time to put it in a piping bag with a plain nozzle and start piping rounds of 4cm in diameter, leaving a space of 2cm between each round. We were given a handy sheet of paper with circles printed on it to use as a size guide which we placed under baking paper on a sturdy tray.
Use a good quality tray that won't buckle in the oven
When piping, put nozzle in centre of circles and not too high off the paper and squeeze the bag from the top
Add a little meringue to the edges of the baking paper to paste it down so it doesn't blow over the top of your cooking meringue and ruin its smooth appearance
Once complete, tap your tray quite firmly on each edge against the bench a couple of times so that the batter flattens evenly and any air bubbles are removed
Remember to remove the sheet of paper with the circles on it before putting your macarons in a preheated oven, set at 170 degrees Celsius. Cook for 10minutes.
When cooked properly, they should have a crust or craggy edge on the bottom.
Out of oven, allow them to cool completely before gently loosening them from the baking paper and pairing each shell with a like-sized shell. You can then pipe in a centre of peanut butter on one shell and surround it with a circle of chocolate ganache, made with couverture chocolate and cream. Put its paired shell on top and squeeze so that the ganache can be seen at the edge (but not overhanging). Repeat this filling process for the rest of your macarons.
Refrigerate your macarons in a container. They are best after 2 days as the moisture is drawn into the meringue from the filling.
It was fun trying something new outside my comfort zone. If this interests you, then a class can be booked on MakMak's website. They run on Sundays and selected Saturdays from 10am-12pm. The cost is $100 and you'll come away with expert knowledge and tips to make the perfect macarons and that they are. In 2012, a blind tasting by esteemed chefs Christine Manfield, Peter Gilmore and Ross Lusted saw MakMak voted number 1, ahead of Adriano Zumbo and Laduree.
MakMak's macarons are available to purchase at the Newtown shop or you can purchase online and either pick up or have them delivered. They do a range of awesome flavours using seasonal fruits and native Australian ingredients, including lemon myrtle and strawberry gum. Special occasions see many a decoration with unique and beautiful designs. For Australia Day they made a special lamington macaron, and for Chinese New Year, a mandarin and dark chocolate gem decorated with a gold 'Fu' character representing good fortune. They also sell chocolate chip cookies and a wonderful salted caramel sauce. Gift packaging is available, inclusive of ribbon and greeting card. A 10% discount on products is available when doing a class.
Great in macarons, milkshakes, on ice cream and pancakes