After a rollercoaster love affair with macarons that included some highs and some lows such that I had declared my hatred of macarons, some time has passed and I'm ready to get on the rollercoaster again.
However, this time I had a secret weapon to make sure that I have more highs than lows. I was having a Macaron Masterclass with the master. No, not Pierre Herme, but the next best thing. I was having a Macaron Masterclass with Melbourne's Macaron Master Markham (MMMM), Duncan Markham, from Syrup and Tang, whose love affair with the Macaron is well known throughout the blogging community.
The day started when both Jackie and myself arriving punctually to Master Markham's palatial abode for a class in how to make macarons (ok use your best French accent and say it with me maca-rawn, roll your r's now).
We were using Duncan's Italian Meringue Method to make the macarons. This method is much more reliable, although slightly trickier as it requires making a syrup. Go to Duncan's post to get a detailed recipe and instructions.
Duncan showed us how to make the macarons with a run through of the ingredients and method before doing a hands on demo. It looked so easy when he showed us. Previously, I was so stressed when making it. I guess when you do it many times, it gets easier. The key to everything though is to learn how your oven works in relation to the macaron mixture. Being able to control the baking rate will result in either perfect macarons, or slightly less than perfect macarons.
Here were some shells that Jackie and I piped. Notice the irregular sizes, plus how we piped them too near such that they stuck together to make siamese macarons.
The hazelnuts that we shelled for use in the filling. Duncan had roasted these prior to us arriving and the house smelt so good. I remember a tip on an infotainment show that says you should bake something when having open house inspections as the smell helps to induce people to buy the house. Well, I reckon you should roast nuts as this smell trumped that of baking bread even.
Here we are plonking (and I say plonking as we had no technique whatsoever) on the filling. You're supposed to dollop a high mound in the centre and then squash the two macaron shells together from the edges so that the filling flattens out and also you don't break the shell.
Here is the master himself, making a ganache to put into the shells. Note, there was no Vogue magazine style photoshopping at all of this photo, Duncan really is that good looking.
Finally, when you do everything correctly, you get an amazing looking and tasting macaron. Hooray! I made a perfect macaron.
We did a basic vanilla shell and a chocolate shell and mixed and matched those shells with a chocolate ganache, lavendar and chocolate ganache (eew this flavour just tasted like toilet freshner to me, but Duncan thought it was "interesting" and growing on him), chocolate and hazelnut ganache, and my favourite favourite favourite flavour, violet.
I will definitely be trying to make macarons by myself. I have so many flavour combos to try out. A huge huge thanks to Duncan for being so generous with his time and talent to help teach Jackie and myself how to make macarons. Now, if you too want to make macarons, contact Duncan. He might be persuaded to run some small classes for a reasonable fee. You'll take away the satisfaction of making these wonderful pastries and the actual macarons that you can eat till your hearts desires.