Macaron Chronicles VI: An Italian Meringue rematch

Macarons with olive oil and vanilla ganache

I finally got a chance to do an entry for Macattack the monthly challenge sponsored by Deeba and Jamie over at Mactweets blog where macaron-obsessed folks gather, cheer, whine and gain tremendous support in a united quest to overcome the finickiest confection ever created on this planet. The theme for this round is to “do something or add something you’ve never done before but wanted to try.”


I’ve always wanted to try olive oil in a ganache ever since I’ve seen this interesting combination in Pierre Hermé’s (PH) “Macaron" book. Fortunately, we made it in our class too (well, another team made this) and the instructor cautioned us repeatedly that olive oil and cocoa butter do not mix easily, you need to heat the olive oil to a certain temperature so the cocoa butter in the white chocolate ganache does not seize. As long as you keep this in mind, the ganache is fairly easy to make … and extremely delicious. The “Hungry” Hubby rates this as his second favorite flavor with passion fruit milk chocolate still ranking as number one.

The way ganaches are made at PH is more meticulous than what baking books will have you do. With PH method, you add cream or any liquid to your partly (or wholly) melted chocolate slowly just like making mayonnaise. The reason is, the emulsion is better and you end up with a smooth and creamy ganache that feels absolutely sexy in your mouth.

Though French Meringue macarons are still the best in flavor, I do enjoy the challenge of Italian Meringue – PH way – and believe me I have sampled plenty of Italian meringue macarons made by many shops that are just so, so wrong and this is sad because this gives macarons a bad reputation. PH does not add any sugar to the whipped egg whites, all his sugar is in the syrup. What this does is lessen the meringue-like texture that most Italian Meringue macarons tend to have. After adding the sugar syrup to the whipped egg whites you use it almost immediately so the heat of your meringue will melt the confectioner’s sugar in your tant pour tant. I believe this reduces the sweetness problem in macaron shells. And you need to work fast otherwise your meringue will get too cool to melt the confectioner’s sugar.
And luckily, HH came home in time to take pictures just as I was mixing the whole macaron batter. This differs from the way I do my French meringue, so for now this applies only to the Italian Meringue.

It is best to use a bowl scraper. Have enough leverage. I had to stand on a 4-inch stool (I’m 5’4") to be able to beat this stiff meringue down without wearing out my shoulders.

Start at 3 ‘clock, sweeping the scraper under
continue sweeping clockwise
when you reach 9 o’clock bring up the scraper to form a small wave

At this point, immediately give the bowl a quarter turn counter-clockwise with your free hand and resume at 3 o’clock. Continue to do these motions until you feel you are reaching the desired consistency. The point when your batter reaches this is called "macaronage" although I heard my instructor say "the macaron". To do this you want to dig your scraper further below and do a big wave like this:

Testing "macaronage" with the big wave

The height of the wave should slowly flatten back into the batter and it might even leave a peak, but that should disappear once you tap the bowl on the countertop.

Macaron a l’Huile d’ Olive et Vanille

an original recipe by Pierre Hermé

Olive Oil Ganache

60 grams whipping cream
1/4 vanilla pod
90 grams olive oil Disisa
135 grams Ivoire couverture

Melt the couverture and bring the cream to a boil with the split and scraped vanilla pod. Remove the pod and pour the cream gradually into the chocolate. Emulsify with a rubber spatula and pour the olive oil at 35/40C – 95/104F. Leave to crystallise at room temperature. Set aside at 12 C- 54F.

Almond Sugar Mix for Macaron

200 grams whole white almonds
200 grams confectioner’s sugar

Process the whole white almond in a food processor, add the icing sugar and process once more. Sieve.

Green Macaron Mix

400 grams almond-sugar mix
75 grams fresh egg whites
1 gram green food coloring
200 grams caster sugar
50 grams water
75 grams old egg whites
1.5 grams egg white powder

Combine all ingredients together from list 1) ( do this only right before you begin your sugar syrup, otherwise you will end up with an unblendable mass). cook the water and caster sugar to 118 C- 245F. When the syrup reaches 108 C- 226F start whipping on medium speed the eggwhites with the egg white powder to stiff peaks. Pour slowly the cooked syrup in a trickle over the meringue. Leave to cool down to 50C-122F, take the bowl out and fold the meringue progressively into the first mixture. Add a third of the meringue to lighten the mixture and then beat in the rest of the meringue. Be aware of required flow of the batter.

Piping and baking the macarons

With a piping bag fitted with a no. 11 plain round nozzle, pipe macarons on tray lined with parchment paper. Bake in a convection oven, vent opened, at 160C- 320F for about 14/15 minutes. Once aked, slide the macarons on cooling rack to cool.

When the shells have cooled and when the ganache has reached pipable consistency, fill one shell with a nice dollop of ganache, top with another macaron, making sure to assemble 2 shells of the same size.

Store in refrigerator for at least 24 hours before consuming. Take out of refrigerator, 2 hours before consumption.

A perfectly creamy olive oil ganache

Cooking Notes
  The shells are almost the right thinness I wanted them to be and they were not sweet at all. It’s amazing how mixing the batter makes all the difference. To mature the macarons, they need to be on a wire grate and be stored in a refrigerator with a 70% to 80% humidity for 24 to 36 hours.This might be difficult to achieve in a home refrigerator but this can be done by leaving a bowl of hot water inside for 10 minutes (I do not recommend this if you have other stuff in the fridge that might be sensitive to humidity).

Macaron "innards" after maturation

I was very pleased how the macaron shell allowed the flavor of the olive oil ganache to take center stage. This is why maturing the macarons is very important. Newly filled shells taste horrible because the filling has not had time to moisten the interior with its own essence. Ganaches take 24 to 36 hours and buttercream takes about 48 hours for the transformation to take place.
In choosing olive oil for this recipe make sure that it is first-press olive oil that is floral in scent, not the heavier variety with grassier notes.
The original recipe included three strips of green olives to put on top of the ganache but I had none available. Enjoy these macarons with Ceylon tea or coffee!

64 thoughts on “Macaron Chronicles VI: An Italian Meringue rematch

  1. Jessica, sorry for this late reply. You can try adding egg white powder to your egg whites to make the shell thicker when using FM. If you grind your nuts too much, the oiliness also produces thinner shells. With IM, beating it enough is important, otherwise you’ll have the airpockets. If you did beat it enough, you probably did not bake your macarons long enough.
    Christine – chocolate macarons are different for IM, you will need to use cacao pate for this. I’ll see if I can make this soon.

    Sorry for the late reply, I was out of the country for six weeks and some questions just slipped my attention.

  2. Thank you for your time to write this down. I was searching the net for macaron recipes but nothing compares with the information you give here. My first attempt to make another recipe failed because the cookie cracks and didn’t make de “feet” on the oven. So, again, thank you so much.

  3. Thanks so much for such a detailed post that highlights misguided assumptions of the IM! I tried the IM once but thought I made a wrong step when i combined the dry ingredients with the unwhipped whites, as it all came together and became like a dough. Is this supposed to happen?

  4. Hi,

    Thanks for such a beautiful macaron recipe. I just finish making these and while the ganache looked well emulsified in the bowl, after I finished piping it onto the macaron, I noticed that it’s looking a little separated and some of the oil is seeping out. I quickly put the finished macarons in the fridge and am hoping for the best but I am wondering what you think may have happened and in your experience, do these macarons hold up well at room temperature? (I did carefully check the temperature of the olive oil before stirring it into the white chocolate when making the ganache).

  5. Ami, I do notice that if you take too long to pipe the ganache onto the shells the warmth of your hands will make the oil seep out. This was what our instructor said in class also. Normal room temperature of 70F should be fine.

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  7. It’s easy to make the French meringue taste better. Italian meringue macarons tend to taste crunchy if you take your syrup too high or if you don’t age the macarons properly. For your first time try the French Meringue.

  8. After reading your blog, I am now obsessed in making the french macaron. This is my third attempts, still with no luck! I am following your recipe, using the french method meringue and allowed the piped mixture rest for 20 minutes before put them into oven. While in the oven, the macaron started to develop porous skin! I took them out after 15 minutes, again not feet and the texture was very dense and hard, skin was dry and porous. Taste like shortbread this time! Can you tell me what will be the possible problems with this?

  9. Hi,
    I tried PH recipe for 3 times and i get the same result. The batter is not sticking together, it is more “liquidy”.
    Do you have any idea what I might be doing wrong?

  10. Omg, your entry has been so eye-opening! I always hated the Italian method and everything you said made total sense as to what was wrong with the usual taught way of the “Italian” method. I am eager to try this one out. Thanks!

  11. Pingback: Musings of a macaron-maker | Kitchen Musings

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