Recently I made a lot of macarons. I’m talking 93 wedding favours worth, with two macarons in each. That’s four shells per favour. If my maths is right then I made 372 shells, which is a lot of piping and boiling of sugar, even for me.
My lovely friends Helena and Sam have been together for over a decade and so have the luggage set and the linen and the cutlery. They need no new toaster in their life. I didn’t want to give them a cheque and so suggested over a bottle of wine that I give them macaron wedding favours as a gift. Little did I know when I offered that I’d be sent on a training course the week before the wedding. Leaving exactly 12 hours from getting home to when I needed to deliver all the favours, wrapped and named. The only answer was to freeze them all 2 weeks in advance.
So I used my chocolate macaron recipe and then made two different flavour ganaches. I’m going to have to be honest here and admit that I am estimating how much ganache you might need to fill just 30 shells, obviously for the macaron wedding production line I made huge quantities.
So for the strawberries and cream macarons I boiled 100mls double cream until it just started to bubble, then added 200g of white chocolate that had been finely chopped, plus 1 tsp strawberry flavouring. Using a teaspoon I mixed the ganache up until all the chocolate had melted, then added a dot of the pink Sugarflair food colouring. That stuff is potent so I really did only use the tiniest dot from the end of a toothpick. You can’t take the colour away after all.
Then I mixed it all up, transferred to a bowl and let the ganache solidify until it was still malleable but not too thick to pipe – spoonable rather than pourable. The fridge can help with this solidifying process but beware leaving it for too long without a stir or you’ll have rock solid ganache at the edges of your bowl and liquid in the middle. (The mint ganache was made in exactly the same way; 100mls double cream, 200g white chocolate, 1 tsp mint flavouring and a dot of green colouring.)
When both the ganaches were pipeable I transferred into two easygrip piping bags fitted with plain nozzles and filled half the macaron shells using a circular motion. I carefully sandwiched the macarons together, popped them onto large platters and let them sit in the fridge for 2 hours until the filling was rock solid. Then I transferred to freezer bags, being careful not to overfill and squeeze too many into one bag. Straight into the freezer they went and so I continued until the lot were bagged up and ready to go.
On the eve of the wedding I removed all the macs from the freezer and Mr B and I set about bagging them all up in their frozen state. Once bagged and named the macs placed on a tray. 93 favours later Mr B drove very slowly to the venue with tray upon tray in the boot. I knew there was a reason we bought a 7 seater! The macs sat in the cellar of the venue overnight so were nice and cold but defrosted by the time the wedding party sat down to lunch.
The bride and groom seemed to like them. The groom did grab Mr B and I on the way out, saying ‘I don’t know what they’re called, I call them little burgers, anyway, I like them.’ I like a man who likes little burgers.
Things I have learnt:
– Don’t put the filled macs straight into the freezer as the filling isn’t hard enough to take being pushed about a bit in bags. The macs become misshapen which is a shame when they’re so painstaking. Refrigerate them first.
– Don’t use liquid food colourings if you want your ganache to set. They change the ratio of liquid to chocolate too much and you’ll have runny ganache.
– Don’t try and pipe the ganache before it’s really thick. It’s pretty annoying to see it spill out all over the mac shells and onto the counter.
– Pair up your mac shells into similar sizes before you start piping and you’ll make the whole process a lot quicker.
– Think about fridge space before you start (and freezer space for that matter) – we had some interesting unidentified dinners all in the aid of clearing space for the wedding macs.
– Tying ribbon around cellophane is a two man job. You need one to scrunch the cellophane up and another to tie the ribbon.
– Don’t stack macs on top of each other when they are setting in the fridge pre being frozen. They can’t stand the weight of each other and slip-slide about.
– Don’t stack frozen macs on each other once they’re all bagged up into favours. As they defrost they’ll cave under the weight.
– Find a place for the packaged up macs to defrost that’s reasonably cool. Not next to a radiator for instance. All that lovely ganache needs to defrost slowly and to a cool room temperature. If you’re lucky enough to have very hot weather for your wedding then think about defrosting the packaged up favours in the fridge over 24 hours. And your neighbour’s fridge. And your cousin’s fridge… all depends on the size of the wedding I guess.
– Expect the usual hardness of the mac shell to be compromised a little after the freezing process. I think Paul Hollywood might have been critical of my wedding mac shells, few could take the finger flick test. They tasted okay though.
– Do not be upset if you see any of your macs left behind, or worse still, half eaten and discarded. You can’t please all of the people all of the time. It’s fine. One man’s heaven is another’s hell and all that.
– If I were going to make macs for another pal I think I’d go for chocolate shells with a chocolate and caramel filling. Like a Cadbury’s Caramel.
– It took about 5 hours to make all the mac shells. In case anyone’s interested. That was with dry time of the uncooked mac shells, two ovens going and baking trays of 16 shells at a time.
I hope this post is helpful to anyone thinking of making a lot of macs for any reason, be it wedding or otherwise. HUGE thanks to Scott for letting me use this photo from the day. His work can be seen here.