the construction phaseMy parents bought me a styrofoam macaron tower base in June when I thought I would attempt one for my son’s second birthday.  I attempted it with toothpicks (the way the professionals do it) but found that whenever I pushed my macarons into the toothpicks, they would somehow crumble and crush under the weight of what I had thought were dexterous fingers!!  I ended up calling it a day and presented the remaining survivors on mirrored platters instead.

Anyway.. this time I thought I’d give it a go for Christmas.  After all, the styrofoam mould was just collecting dust in my son’s closet (yes I know – of all places!) so here’s what I did..

I made three batches of macarons because each batch makes roughly up to 60 macarons (in Hisako Ogita’s style – see my blog entry here for the particulars in great detail of how to make macarons..)  Of course, more than three years have since passed from when I first started making macarons, so now my method is much more abbreviated and less – to-the-book!  I’ve briefly outlined here what I do now.. so you can compare it to the then & now.

I have a Miele fan-forced oven which was pretty near top of the line when we bought it over 3 years ago.  I always preset my oven at 160 degrees celsius as I find a hotter oven over cooks the shell of my macarons without touching the insides… (& to be completely honest with you, I turn it off and leave it with the door open to let it cool down between batches – and preheat it again during the drying stage each and every time because macarons are sensitive little morsels and I find they get way too hot if the oven is left on for several hours..)

INGREDIENTS
150 grams icing sugar
85 grams almond meal (I use Lucky brand in Australia)
3 egg whites (free range, at room temperature)
65 grams castor sugar
food colouring & essence / extract / flavouring of your choice

DIRECTIONS
Start by sifting your icing sugar & almond meal together.  I don’t bother double sifting anymore, I simply use a whisk (ala Martha Stewart quick & easy style) vs the traditional way of working it through a fine sieve twice.sieve your almond meal & icing sugar

Start whisking your egg whites in your standing mixer until it turns all frothy.beat your egg whites until frothyThis is when you then start to gradually pour in your castor sugar.  Beat until stiff peaks form.add sugar and whisk until stiff peaks form

I then break away from tradition (again!) and add my colouring & flavouring now as I find I have more control getting the consistency right during the upcoming macaronnage stage.add food colouring and essenceNow you add in your almond meal & icing sugar.  I mix in half first, and then the rest once the initial addition has combined.add your almond meal icing sugar mixture half at a time

Then you perform macaronnage at least 12-15 times (usually more) until you get a smooth ribbon-y consistency – excuse the photo – I’m right-handed, not left, so the timing was a bit off for this pic! (Just realised you can see my sexy legs in this picture too – albeit warped by the reflection in the concave bowl..! Sorry about that..)perform macaronnage until you get a ribbony texture

Scoop it into a piping bag (I prefer the professional quality disposable bags eg. Loyal brand) with roughly a 1cm tip on the end, and pipe out your macarons onto a lined baking sheet (I still use the guide I drew up in 2010).pipe onto a baking sheet using a template then allow to dryI then tap it on the table top (or floor!) – quite rigorously until the surface air bubbles have dissipated..

Then you allow the mixture to dry.  It usually takes between 15-30 minutes.  If it’s a particularly humid day, I turn on the air conditioner; if it’s cold & rainy out, I generally turn on the heater which speeds up the drying time.  Then I bake them on a second, room temperature, tray in the oven.  At 160 degrees celsius in my Miele it takes roughly between 10-12 minutes for them to cook.macaron shells baked

——————–

I then repeated the process another 2 times and whipped up a batch of Martha Stewart’s Swiss meringue buttercream and flavoured them – one-third raspberry (for my red macarons), one-third salted butter caramel (for my yellow macarons) & one-third matcha / green tea (for my green macarons).

Instead of using toothpicks this time, I opted for the left over royal icing I had from the gingerbread I made the other week.ingredients for assembling your tower

And so it began.  I began by sticking the macaron base onto a cake base and started building it up.the transition between perpendicular vs parallel macarons I had ideally wanted to stick them down all perpendicularly to the tower but after the first row realised that I would never have enough macarons to complete the tower if I continued to do so.  So I persisted for the second row (because my favourite macarons are salted butter caramel macarons) and then was forced to change over to plastering the macarons on the tower base essentially parallel to the conical base.

more assembly photos

the summit

Me – looking & feeling exhausted towards the end of the tower assembly (it was by then around 12.30am)!
looking and feeling exhausted as the end is in sight..

the ascent

arty angles

My two Christmas trees – I can definitely tell you which one was easier (& a keeper)!
my two christmas trees

So this.. is what I’m taking (alongside my husband’s divine roast pork) to Christmas lunch on Wednesday..  It, believe it or not, contains more than 150 macarons (& is surprisingly heavy)..please stay together for christmas day

Hopefully it will survive the commute! xx

8 Responses

  1. Victoria Barillas

    Hello, I am wondering if he macaron tower is edible seeing as you used royal icing and a styrofoam base and was left out after you made it

    I am a baker and struggling with tackling my first tower and I want to sell them, but not if they are not edible

    Also I am having trouble with my macarons being hollow, I’m not sure what is causing this…they look beautiful and taste great except for being hollow

    If you have any tips it would definitely be well appreciated and helpful!

    Thank you for your time, Victoria B.

    Reply
    • Elaine

      Hi Victoria

      Wow.. good on you for wanting to make multiple macaron towers! I’m pretty sure I’ll never make another one again.. but hopefully I can answer your questions here.

      Firstly, yes – by using royal icing and a styrofoam base the macarons are most definitely edible. I went to a high tea once where they did exactly the same thing at the ‘buffet table’.

      Secondly when you say that the macarons are hollow do you mean that the base is missing or stuck to your baking sheet? If so, I would highly recommend baking them for another couple of minutes to even 5 minutes more.. as it usually means that they are under-cooked. The other thing you can try is raising the temperature of your oven by another 5 degrees celsius..

      Hopefully my tips help..

      Good luck and do let me know how you go…
      Elaine x

      Reply
  2. Deb

    When you pull the macaron off the tower to eat it, doesn’t it pull away some of the styrofoam?

    Reply
    • Elaine

      None of the styrofoam came off when we ate it. The styrofoam tower is still very much perfectly intact and completely reusable. Perhaps it depends on the quality of the tower..

      Reply
  3. Steph

    So did it survive the commute? A friend of mine wants a macaroni tower badly, and will pick it up and take to her destination but I’m scared and do not know how to stack them without being nervous they’ll all topple over.

    Reply
    • Elaine

      It did survive the commute (it was so tall I actually sat with it in the front passenger seat with it embraced between my legs in our 4WD!!). I think the cellophane helped it set in all the right places overnight. I did bring a piping bag with some royal icing in it just in case but fortunately didn’t need to use it…! I’m sure yours will be fine. Make some extra macarons and bring them along – in case there are casualties on the road! 😉

      Reply
      • Steph

        Thank you so much Elaine :)

        Do you mind posting the royal icing recipe you used.

        I’m so excited and very scared to do this tower. I’ll be grabbing a cellophane bag as well.

      • Elaine

        Steph

        I usually just use a royal icing powder (usually Wilton) because they work every time. You essentially just add water and then whip until it’s the exact consistency you’re after.

        But you can also use this more traditional recipe:
        1.5 cups (240 g) confectioners’ sugar, sieved
        1 egg white
        1/4 tsp lemon juice

        Whisk the egg white lightly, add the sugar gradually and beat in an electric mixer or whisk by hand until it’s the right consistency. When you’re happy, mix in the lemon juice.

        It’s a little bit finicky because it depends on the amount of egg white you begin with, etc but you will sometimes need a little more sugar or a little less depending…

        Good luck! Would love to see photos when you’re done! And yes.. for a little insurance, wrap it up tightly in cellophane!! xx

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