It’s the season for baking and entertaining. Ready to bake something special? You may have your Grandmother’s old recipe box, or maybe a new Pinterest recipe.
Some recipes that are simple to make but look decadent include Chocolate dipped strawberries, hand piped cookies, specialty pastries, croissants, and a trending favorite, French Macarons. There are several recipes for these do-it-yourself food gifts, and each holds in common the need for a quality silicone non-stick baking mat. A silicone baking sheet is the make or break piece for several baked goods including delicate batter cookies, puff pastry or flaky crust croissants. A silicone baking sheet we especially like is the Smarter Baking Silicone Baking Mat.
WHY USE A SILICONE BAKING MAT?
A silicone baking mat is exceptionally useful, easy to clean, and lasts for a very long time. It’s a must-have for items such as French Macarons or puff pastry. It is also useful for anyone who wishes to reduce calories or fats that come from “greasing” a baking sheet or pan.
SMARTER BAKING SILICONE BAKING MAT FOR FRENCH MACARONS
French Macarons sell for a pretty penny, but with some practice, it is easy to learn to make these lovelies yourself. A half-dozen French Macarons wrapped in a cellophane bag with a pretty ribbon make a great last-minute gift. The filling is easy; it is the actual cookie wafer that is the tricky part.
But with the right equipment, French Macaron making becomes much easier. While some people use parchment paper, the macaron can stick to the paper surface, making for a partially broken cookie wafer. Parchment paper also won’t stay in place while piping macarons, so a silicone mat is a superior macaron surface.
The Smarter Baking Silicone Baking Mat has five features that make it especially suitable for making the ideal macaron.
SMARTER BAKING SILICONE BAKING SHEET SUPERIOR FEATURES
We prefer the Smarter Baking Silicone Mat for making French Macarons and other delicate cookies because:
1) The cookies slide right off the sheet with no damage to the cookie.
2) The mat does not absorb any flavors or odors that can be imparted to your cookie.
3) A Smarter Baking feature we love is the Smarter Baking mat has a unique fiberglass weave that ensures an even baking temperature, which is a core requirement for making a success macaron. An even temperature is half the macaron battle.
4) The mat stays put while piping the batter.
5) The mat is transparent so any printable cookie shape templates for hearts, mouse ears, circles, etc., can be seen through the mat.
Some other features of the Smarter Baking Silicone Baking Mat:
1) The half-sheet size is ideal for specialty or small batch treats and can fit into a mid-size convection toaster oven
2) “Non-stick” really means non-stick with this baking mat: meats, cakes cookies, biscuits or bread: they all just slide right off the mat.
3) Easy clean up of both the silicone mat and the metal pan, no greasy metal corners to clean off. Even when browned juices appeared “baked on,” it wiped right off for me.
4) Save money by not using aluminum foil, parchment paper or cooking sprays.
5) Save calories by not using oil, Crisco or butter to grease a pan.
6) The consistent temperature feature of the fiberglass weave makes for even browning for reheated and frozen items. This feature is very useful for heating frozen restaurant-style, out-of-the-package appetizers and hors d’oerves.
7) The reinforced border lays flat and even the edges don’t warp or curl.
8) The mat withstands high and low temperatures and can go from the refrigerator to the oven.
TESTING THE SMARTER BAKING SILICONE BAKING SHEET
I tried the Smarter Baking Silicone Baking Sheet with a few recipes including biscuits, cookies, and of course, French Macarons. It was also useful for reheating frozen pastry pocket sandwiches and breaded items; they browned consistently without burnt edges.
The sheet was easy to clean, and there was no need to grease the sheet.
Each recipe was cooked evenly inside and out. Everything slid right off the mat easily, even sticky items like caramelized pastries and bread.
MAKING FRENCH MACARONS WITH THE SMARTER BAKING MAT
Now that you have found an ideal silicone baking sheet for delicate cookie recipes, here is StyleChicks tips, tricks, and recipes for using the Smart Baking Silicone Baking Mat to make French Macarons yourself!
STYLECHICKS 13 TIPS FOR MAKING FRENCH MACARONS & STYLECHICKS MACARON RECIPE
With a little practice, your macarons will look and taste impressive. The two primary areas macarons can go wrong are the process of folding the dry mixture into the egg whites and having the right temperature for your oven. The oven temperature can be controlled by using a silicone baking sheet in a reliable oven.
Here are a few tips that help make the macaron process easier:
1) Preferably use a convection oven or an oven with a convection setting.
2) Google “printable macaron template” to get a free printable guide to slip under your silicone baking sheet as an outline for the perfect 1.5″ circular rounds needed for evenly piping out the macaron batter.
3) Use a pastry bag fitted with a round tip and pipe 1½ inch rounds onto the silicone baking mat following the template.
4) Stand your pastry bag up in a tall glass to balance it while filling it with the batter
5) Gently poke any bubbles or holes with a toothpick before baking
6) After piping the macaron cookie rounds, let the tray sit out for twenty minutes until the tops look drier than the cookie.
7) Only use gel food coloring so as not to alter the texture of the batter, and when possible, add the coloring in at the egg white beating stage.
8) Measure ingredients precisely using a digital scale. There is no estimating in French Macarons.
9) Don’t make macarons on a rainy or very humid day.
10) Folding the ingredients into the right consistency takes practice. Use a flexible spatula to scrape the side of the bowl and pull the mix towards the center 50 times. Do not over fold the mix into a runny texture, like a pancake mix. It needs to be thicker.
11) After baking, let Macarons stand one day for optimal taste. Store in an airtight container for up to five days or freeze them.
12) Fresh almond meal makes for the shiny and smooth appearance. The almond meal should fit through a mesh sieve. If not, grind it in the food processor until it does.
13) Use an oven thermometer to precisely gauge temperature
STYLECHICKS FRENCH MACARON BATTER RECIPE
100g (1 cup) powdered sugar
1/2 cup of almond meal (or finely ground almonds)
2 large egg whites, at room temperature
65g (5 tablespoons) granulated sugar
1. Preheat the oven (or the confectionary setting) to 350 degrees on the confectionary setting
2. Using a blender or food processor to grind together the powdered sugar with the almond powder until there are no lumps. Shift mixture through a mesh sieve.
3. Beat the egg whites until they rise and hold shape. While whipping, beat in the granulated sugar until very stiff (about 2 minutes in an electric mixer). Add gel food coloring if desired at this stage.
4. Fold in the dry ingredients in two batches into the beaten egg whites with a rubber spatula until there are no visible streaks of egg white. Do not overbeat.
5. Scrape the batter into a pastry bag.
6. Pipe the batter onto the Smart Baking Silicone Baking Mat, using the printed template underneath the mat as your guide.
7. Tap the pan on a flat surface a few times to settle and flatten the macarons.
7. Allow baking sheet to sit for about 20 minutes, pop any bubbles
8 Bake for 14-18 minutes, until risen and set. Rotate the pan once while baking.
9. Allow to completely cool then remove from silicone baking sheet with a spatula.
10. Spread on filling or jam to make macaroon sandwiches, and decorate if desired.
Makes 15 macarons
Find the Smarter Baking Mat at https://www.amazon.com/Silicone-Baking-Mat-FBA-Approved-Re-Usable/dp/B00KX5ETYA and https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B00KX5ETYA in Canada. You can save an addition 40% on the product if you send an email to [email protected], and they will send you a coupon code!
I received this product in exchange for my unbiased review and received compensation for my time and effort. However, my experience with the product and the opinions expressed in this review are 100% mine.