Macarons rely on a meringue to achieve their unique texture and shape and a good macarons recipe is needed to get it right. There are three different methods to creating a proper meringue: the French, Italian, or Swiss.
The French method is the most commonly used in macaron recipes, because it results in the correct texture and taste for the French macaron.
The Italian method is said to produce a more stable meringue because it uses a hot sugar syrup in place of dry sugar, but the downside is that it results in macarons that are too sweet and harder to bake correctly.
The Swiss method is less commonly called for, but may be of benefit to bakers who cannot master the technique of either the French or Italian meringue. However, it relies on whipping the meringue while it heats over a double boiler, which may pose a challenge to the under experienced.
The French method is the one most recommended for baking a batch of successful, and authentic French macarons. French macarons tend to be lighter, tastier with a more delicate, cookie-like texture that melts in your mouth!
A French meringue is created by whipping together cool egg whites with granulated sugar until they form a stiff consistency. This method is suggested for the casual baker, since it relies on kitchen equipment most bakers already own and you don’t have to worry about handling boiling sugar!
The only equipment necessary for creating the French meringue is a hand-held electric mixer (or Kitchen Aid), egg whites, sugar, and a clean metal bowl. All of the ingredients are added and mixed in the same bowl, further adding to the ease of the French method.
This method can be very reliable, as long as you use the right technique and follow a proven recipe.
The Italian method is slightly more complicated than the French, as it relies on a hot sugar syrup slowly whipped into egg whites to achieve its meringue. The baker will also need to have a candy thermometer on hand to monitor the temperature of the sugar syrup, and having an extra pair of hands is nice too!
Some bakers prefer the Italian method as it is said to be more reliable than the French, but it will not produce the exact taste and texture of a French macaron. To create the Italian meringue, sugar is dissolved into water in a saucepan and brought to a boil at the soft-ball stage, around 112°C to 116°C. After the syrup is created, it is slowly drizzled into the egg whites as they are whipping, until the mixture form stiff peaks and cools.
The baker must take caution while using this method, as pouring the syrup in too fast will cook the eggs and ruin the meringue.
A third method is possible, though not often used in macaron recipes…
The Swiss method calls for the sugar and eggs to be whisked together as they heat over a double boiler. The mixture must be constantly stirred so that the eggs do not cook.
After the mixture reaches a temperature of about 50°C, it is removed from the heat, whipped on a low setting until it cools, and then whipped on high speed until it forms stiff peaks.
There you go! Hopefully you found this useful. In the end no matter what method you choose you need to whip the merinque to the right consistency and no more and make sure you follow a proven macarons recipe. Always a great idea!
Making macarons can be tricky and it takes some practice. But it’s a craft well learning. After all, the macaron is said to be the world’s most temperamental cookie – even professional chefs at times struggle to get it right!