Friday, 22 November 2013

Everyone loves a macaron...

I normally make big things. A big, rustic loaf of bread. A big joint of beef. A big mess... you get the idea. I thought I'd go for refinement this week though and knock up a batch of macarons. 

I adore macarons - I've been fortunate enough to go to Laduree on the Champs Elysee to sample them and could literally wolf down a dozen of the chewy, crispy morsels in one go if it wouldn't cripple my wallet. I've never made them though but have seen dozens of people do them on TV so thought I'd have a go. 

175g icing sugar
125g ground almonds
3 large free range egg whites
75g caster sugar

1) Preheat the oven to 160°C/fan140°C/gas 3. Sift the icing sugar and almonds into a bowl.

2) In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt to soft peaks, then gradually whisk in the caster sugar until thick and glossy. I also added some food colouring and cherry flavouring - you can add almost any flavour, just remember to avoid oil based flavourings as this will destroy the integrity of the meringue.

3) Fold half the almond and icing sugar mixture into the meringue and mix well. Add the remaining half, and fold the mixture until it is shiny and has a thick, ribbon-like consistency as it falls from the spatula. Spoon into a piping bag fitted with a 1cm plain nozzle.

4) Line 2 baking sheets with baking paper. Pipe small rounds of the macaroon mixture, about 3cm across (I drew round a pot of bicarb to give me guide lines to pipe to), onto the baking sheets. Give the baking sheets a sharp tap on the work surface to get rid of any air bubbles. Leave to stand at room temperature for 20-30 minutes to form a slight skin. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool.

5) Fill the macarons and sandwich together - I use passionfruit and lemon curd but you could use buttercream, jam or ganache

For a first effort they turned out pretty well - crispy and chewy, although I wasn't too pleased with the colour. However, winging their way to me is a set of Wilton colour pastes so I can get a really intense colour next time. (That's a mini cake stand in the pic, I haven't made giant macarons!)

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