Macarons With Ali’s Adventures In Bakerland
Last month, Ali Mitter invited me to take part in her August baking class. In this post you will read about how I stepped into the sweet world of Ali’s Adventures in Bakerland and learned to make delicious macarons.
For the disclosure bit: I did not pay for the class. Ali invited me to take one of her classes in exchange for a review. She didn’t put any conditions on the review and she didn’t ask to review the post before it is published. What you will read below is my personal opinion of an afternoon at Ali’s Adventures in Bakerland.
If you’re into cooking, you’re like to be aware of the Great British Bake Off. Well Ali took part in the 2014 Great Irish Bake Off. Not only did she take part but she also made it to the final. When you see the array of talent on that program, this is by no means a small feat. Ali went on to open her own baking business which she called Ali’s Adventure in Bakerland.
It was a safe enough bet to assume that even if I came out of the class not being able to make great macarons I would at least be scoffing a few down. And that’s never a bad thing. As it happens, I ate many a delicious macarons, learned enough that I can now make them at home confidently and brought lots of them home with me. Macarons have a shelf life of about a week. I’ll let you take a guess as to how long they actually did last in my house.
What to expect on the day
- An email from Ali detailing how you get to the class (the instructions were great, I never got lost and I get lost easily)
- what you need for the class in this instance electric beaters, a hair bubbon (hygiene, hygiene, hygiene) and a container to bring your macarons home safely
- Her email also comes with the promise that if you do not feel comfortable making macarons after this class you can attend the next class for free (a major deal clincher for me).
- A small size class. There were 7 of us and there might have been enough room for a couple more but this meant we had plenty of space to work on and a lot of one on one time with Ali if you need it.
- A pleasantly steady pace. At 3.50 hours long, the class packs in a lot. Between teaching you about the macarons themselves but also at least 2 fillings, there is a lot to cover.
- A laugh: although, I’m quite the shy animal, Ali’s easy manner and leadership make for a professional but relaxed atmosphere. I went in quite nervous as I was by myself but I needn’t have been. I came out of my afternoon at Ali’s Adventures in Bakerland full, happy and laughing.
- Finally, you can expect to come out feeling confident that you will be able to reproduce the skills demonstrated and practiced during the session.
- On the basis of the above, and the sheer value I felt I received from the class, I will return to Ali’s Adventures in Bakerland, only this time I will pay for and gladly so. I’ve already got my eye on an éclair class if you must know.
Below you will find the recipe for simple unflavoured natural macarons with a chocolate ganache filling.
For the macarons:
- 50 g of almond flour
- 50 g of icing sugar
- 40 g egg white (that’s about the egg white of one large egg – at room temperature)
- 40 g caster sugar
- pinch of salt
For the ganache:
- 100 g of good quality dark chocolate
- 120 g of cream
- 40 g of cubed butter
- 10 g of sugar
For the macarons:
- Put the almond flour and icing sugar in the bowl of a food processor and blitz it 4 time for not more than 2 or 3 seconds at a time.
- Sieve the mixture and discard the lumps
- Mount the egg white and the pinch of salt with your electric beaters until you get soft peaks.
- Once you are at that stage, add the caster sugar slowly and keep beating for three minutes on low speed.
- You are now wanting firm peaks and the whites will stick to your whisks when you stop beating them.
- Add your flour and icing sugar mix to the eggs white and start folding it in. You don’t need to be too careful here as you are looking to get the air out of the mixture. Fold it from the middle out. Once this is done your batter should be smooth and shiny and have the consistency of lava. Any peaks in the batter should settle down within 20 seconds. This is the only tricky part of the recipe and I’m glad I was able to see it done in front of me as I now know exactly what I’m looking for,
- Spoon your batter into a fitted piping bag (you’re looking for a large round tip).
- Place a baking sheet over your macaron template and start piping.
- Once all the macarons are piped, lift your tray and slam it back down. Revolve and repeat. This is to get any large air bubble up to the surface. You can flatten any lumps or bumps with a damp finger.
- Let the macarons dry out for 30 to 60 min. You will know they are ready for the oven when you can touch them without anything sticking to your finger.
- Put them in a preheated oven at 140 C (Gas mark 3 or 4). Leave them there for 18 to 20 min but do check on them. They are ready when there is no wobble left in them.
- You must leave them to cool completely on a rack before trying to remove them from the baking paper.
For the ganache:
- Break your chocolate in a bowl.
- Heat the cream and sugar until it just about starts to boil.
- Pour over the broken chocolate and cover it with a plate.
- Leave for about 10 min and stir. All the chocolate should melt easily and give you a very glossy finish.
- Add your cubed butter to the mixture and fold with a spatula until fully incorporated.
- Leave the ganache to cool at room temperature.
- Once the ganache is nice and thick it is ready to pipe onto a macaron surface. It will act as a glue to its other half.
The class teaches you much more than the above but this will give you a taste for them. I was also very taken with the salted caramel buttercream filling and will be making a mixture of different macaron colours and fillings next.
You can find out about all the other classes available at Ali’s Adventures in Bakerland here