First of all I feel I should apologise for taking so long to post this review!
So many things have cropped up in the last couple of weeks and everything has had to be put on hold for a while but fear not, I'm back! Back at work, back to blogging and hopefully back on form.
So without further ado lets talk Macaron Mats!
The fabulous Sarah-Jane of siliconemoulds.com spent months locked away in her top secret silicone laboratory, working tirelessly to develop the The Revolutionary Double Sided Macaron Mat.
The idea behind the macaron mat is to make it far simpler for the baker to produce a batch of perfectly uniform macarons. It has very low retaining walls to help keep the mixture in the correct shape.
This is where it differs from other macaron mats I have seen, such as this Squires Kitchen version. As you can see this mat is purely a template and does not have 'retaining walls'.
Sarah -Jane's Macaron Mat is also unique because it is the first ever double sided macaron mat. Oh yes, she's very clever that Sarah-Jane.
One side of the mat has 25 x 50mm diameter cells and the reverse has 48 x smaller 30mm cells.
I decided in order to review my macaron mats as thoroughly as possible I would keep a little diary of all the batches I have made using it. So here it goes...
Macaron Mat Macarons Batch #1 - Rice Pudding Macarons
These macarons were made at the bakery and baked in an industrial oven.
I knew before my macaron mat arrived that the size of the cells differed from my usual macaron sizes. My standard or large macarons are 1.5 inches in diameter as apposed to 2 inches on the large side of the mat and my mini macarons are ever so slightly larger than the cells on the mini side.
This isn't the hugest problem but it does mean, for the time being at least I cannot use the macaron mat's large side to make macarons at the bakery. Our sizes and prices are set and we would have to review this at a later date before we could make the switch. I have however baked these batches both at home in a conventional oven and at work in an industrial oven.
I was of course dying to try the mini side of the mat, I am the hugest fan of bite-size mini macarons.
My piping was totally off on my first batch, you need to pipe quite far inside the cells to allow the batter to spread and this takes some practise.
I had more than a few macarons overspilling their cells and consequently I had a few macarons of different sizes. I baked the mini rice pudding macarons for 10 minutes at 150C. I usually slide the baking parchment off of the baking tray as soon as my macarons are out of the oven, allow them to cool for 5 minutes or so and then remove the shells and place on a wire rack.
I do not recommend trying to slide the mat off of the baking tray, I broke a few macarons attempting this and decided to leave well alone. I let the macarons cool for 10 minutes before trying to remove them from the mat. The macarons did stick and were quite difficult to remove and I broke a few feet in the process.
Minus a few casualties though the finished macarons did look pretty great, I love the size and despite my dodgy piping they really did look rather uniform.
Macaron Mat Macarons #2 - Salted Butter Caramel & Apple Mini Macarons
These macarons were also made at the bakery in an industrial oven.
For batch #2 I decided to use a French Meringue macaron recipe and the mat really came up trumps. My piping had far improved, I used a smaller round piping tip than normal, this helped a lot and the batter had room to spread within the cells.
Sarah Jane also told me to leave the macarons to cool for 15-20 minutes depending on their size. I left these macarons to cool for 18 minutes after baking and they came off of the mat beautifully. Not a single casualty.
Macaron Mat Macarons #3 - Caramel Macarons
These macarons were made at home and baked in a conventional oven.
I found using the mat at home was brilliant and quite a space saver too.
This was the first batch of macarons I made using the large side of the mat and they are certainly easier to pipe than the mini macarons which I find are very close together and there is little room for error.
This batch was also French Meringue and I think the mat and the French Meringue method love each other. The whole process was a breeze, the macarons came out beautifully, there was not a single wonky shell, which can be far more common with French Meringue than Italian. There was no change in texture at all either.
The only real difference between the macarons I bake on a parchment lined baking sheet and the macarons baked on the mat is the height. The macaron mat macarons have perfectly flat tops and rise far less than usual. Here is a picture of some of my macarons baked on a parchment lined sheet so you can compare the difference.
I don't think this is either good or bad thing but more a personal preference, the macaron mat macarons stack really easily and would therefore package up beautifully but I do also like a slightly puffy macaron.
Macaron Mat Macarons #4 - Raspberry Cheesecake Macarons
On to batch #4 and possibly the most delicious macarons in the universe! I made the teddy bear macaron from the same batter and baked it on a parchment lined baking sheet. I baked both the bear and the round macaron mat macarons at my usual 150C but think the temp may need to be adjusted for the macaron mat macarons. The foot was very small on this batch, particularly in comparison to the the foot on the teddy bear macaron.
Macaron Mat Macarons #5 - Miniature Macaron Pearls
I was so taken with this batch, I used the same recipe I used for batch #4 because I wasn't 100% happy with that batch and wanted to solve that small foot issue. I baked these mini macarons at a lower temperature of 130C for a slightly longer time and they definitely had a better foot and were the puffiest of all my Italian Meringue batches.
Sarah-Jane has since suggested baking at 120C for more height and I will definitely try that asap.
I'm definitely getting the hang of the piping although it is worth remembering that not all macaron batters spread the same distance and you will need to get to know your mixture really well.
The macaron mat really out did it's self with these mini macaron pearls and I don't think they would have looked so dinky and identical if I had baked them without the mat.
This macaron mat is a really nifty tool but it is not fool proof. You will need to practise the piping and you will need to play around with your recipe, trying different temperatures and cooling times.
For someone like me who makes a lot of macarons I think it would actually be harder to adapt to than for a macaron novice.
I'm so used to making my macarons a certain way and could probably whip up a batch in my sleep but when using the mat I have to come off autopilot and alter my usual process. If you are somebody who hasn't made macarons before or haven't made many however then you won't have any habits to break and once you have made a few batches will find this mat so easy to use.
Any one obsessed with the uniformity of their macarons will love this mat and even in my 1st batch, where my piping was all over the place the macarons still came out pretty blooming uniform!
I love the mini side! I really really love the mini side. I have so many ideas for awesome mini macarons using this mat and do wish I had had it when I made my popcorn macarons or miniature blueberry macarons.
Many bloggers and bakers comment on my macaron posts saying they're a bit too scared to try macarons and I think this macaron mat would be the perfect way to eliminate much of the fear. In my entire time testing the mat I had not one single disaster, not one bad batch or disappointment and I think that's the clincher isn't it.
The only thing I think the mat could possibly do with is an inner template ring, by that I mean a non raised ring inside the cell that suggest where you should pipe up to, this would take the guess work out and make it much easier for a total novice.
Apart from that I have no criticism, as long as you make the appropriate adjustments to baking time and temperature this mat makes perfect macarons.
Sarah-Jane has also made a video tutorial - Macaron Mat Tutorial
The tutorial will give you all Sarah-Jane's tips and tricks to baking with this mat.
You can purchase the Double-Sided Macaron Mat here and at £13 I think it is an absolutely fantastic price.
The mat really does work and all of the macarons I produced tasted and looked brilliant but it is very different to baking on parchment lined sheets so be prepared for a learning curve if you already bake macarons.
If you haven't made macarons before I highly recommend getting yourself a mat, watching the tutorial video and I can almost guarantee you a batch of perfect macarons. It's even easier to clean than I expected.
I have plans to make whoopie pies on my mat both big and mini! I was thinking you could use it for meringues too.
I hope you have found this rather long review helpful and I'd love to know your thoughts.
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