*Update (14/6/16): Creative Baking: Macarons is now available on Amazon!
*Update (13/4/16): Great news! Creative Baking: Macarons is now available on Book Depository!
*Update (29/3/16): I have included a section at the end of this post to answer any queries that readers may have. Some have contacted me in private but I thought it would be good to collect all the queries and record it here.
* Update (8/3/16): Creative Baking: Macarons is available at all leading bookstores :).
*Update (19/2/16): Great news! Creative Baking: Macarons is available for preorders in Malaysia from MPH! Click on this link to find out more and take advantage of the 20% discount! The book will also be available on Amazon in the near future. Will post the updates here when the time comes!
Here's a short write-up on what the book is about, taken from the Marshall Cavendish 2016 catalog under the Cuisine section.
The photoshoot is finally over!! I am sharing this post to let you have a sneak preview of the Creative Baking: Macarons book that is going to be published by Marshall Cavendish :). It's been a privilege and joy to work with the same talented team as the one that helped on Creative Baking: Chiffon Cakes. Unlike the photoshoots for chiffon cakes that were spread over a few weeks and 3 sessions, the photoshoot for macarons took place over 2 consecutive days with the team from Marshall Cavendish and Hongde Photography working overtime on both days to complete the shoot. Thank you all for your hard work! Still amazed at the professionalism and spontaneous creativity that the team displayed!
It was a hectic two days but we had our moments of cute overload. My favorite dose of cute overload is this bunch of sheep :).
There's also cheery rainbows...
Delicious looking food...
Modes of transportation that actually look cute...
Wonderful group shots....
And some photos of my hands :p. Here's one of them...
The book is not just all about pretty pictures. There will be sections covering the basics, use of natural ingredients for colouring macarons, different types of fillings that are not too sweet, FAQs, and recipes and templates are provided for all 30 designs featured in the book. If you think that macarons are too difficult to make for homebakers, fret not! My first attempt at macarons did not look like macarons at all! But with more practice and knowledge of what is needed for a batch of successful macarons, I managed to churn out macarons that are good and cute! The Italian method is used for all recipes, which is more forgiving and foolproof than the French method.
Susanne and I are also very thankful for the generous support of Phoon Huat and Chew's eggs for providing ingredients that we needed for the photoshoots.
Thankful to my hubby who helped to take care of our kids while I was busy with the photoshoot, and to the kids for providing us with toys and even artwork as props.
Creative Baking: Macarons is scheduled to be out at Kinokuniya, Times and bigger Popular stores in March 2016. Really thank God and the team again!
Queries from readers
I am including the following section for readers' queries. Will update now and then if necessary.
1. Can I reduce the recipe by half?
Yes you may divide all ingredients by two and work with a 100g almond meal recipe. I have included 200g almond meal as the basic recipe as some people may have difficulty working with small quantities of egg whites when preparing the Italian meringue. But I have worked with half the amount and it's OK too :).
2. Do I turn on the fan in the oven when baking macarons?
Please don't. My apologies for not including this detail in the book. You may end up with browned and/or lopsided shells. You may turn the fan on for the first minute just to stabilize the oven temperature if it drops too much when you first place the tray of macaron shells in. But don't leave it on for too long or your shells won't turn out well.
3. Must I use an oven thermometer at all times?
Yes!! Well this question wasn't asked but I realised that many homebakers assume that their actual oven temperature is exactly what is set on the oven. Home ovens can be off by 10-20°C so it is crucial for an oven thermometer to be in the oven during baking at all times. It's an inexpensive investment that is necessary. I use a cheap basic built-in oven with analog functions at home but rely on the thermometer (which costs $10) to achieve better temperature control.
4. Why is my batter runny even if I just folded until no traces of meringue is seen?
Chances are you didn't beat your egg whites until soft peak stage before adding the syrup into the egg whites. You may find that your piped shells take an awfully long time to dry as well.
5. Why does my batter turn bubbly after sitting out for a while?
This is a sign of the meringue breaking down. When the Italian meringue is prepared properly, this should not happen. Either the egg whites were underbeaten before the syrup was added or the meringue was not beaten long enough to cool until body temperature after the syrup was added.
6. Why are my macaron shells hollow?
This question has been addressed in the book but I have gotten this same query from quite a number of people on foodie Facebook groups so I will just highlight it here with a more detailed explanation than what is included in the book. It seems like this problem is pretty common among homebakers.
There could a few factors or a combination of these factors that can cause the space between the top outermost layer which is formed during drying of the shells before baking and the fluffy cake-like interior.
- Baking temperature is too low during the initial baking time before internal structure has set. The oven has to be at 130-140°C during the initial 10-15 minutes (depending on size of macarons) of baking time. Use an oven thermometer to monitor the actual oven temperature at all times!
- Underbaked. This is related to the previous point. Underbaked shells have internal structures that are not fully set yet. So when you remove the tray of shells from the oven, the internal structure will collapse. Reduce the heat towards later half of baking time to ensure shells are baked through but not browned.
- Egg whites not beaten to soft peak before pouring in the syrup. If the egg whites are unable to hold a peak for a second before disappearing and the egg white bubbles still appear large instead of fine, the egg whites are not beaten long enough. The resulting meringue will not be stable.
- Italian meringue not beaten long enough. Make sure that the meringue is sufficiently cooled before you stop beating at high speed. This make take anywhere from 10-15 minutes depending on size of your batch. I usually blow a fan at the stand mixer to help it cool faster. Make sure that the meringue is at least body temperature before you stop beating.
- Didn't bang tray on the table after piping. Any trapped air bubbles that are not released in the batter will gather to form the air pocket under the outermost layer of the shell.
- Under-folded batter. Not enough air is knocked out of the batter.
With lots of love and thanks,