Macarons are making a fashion statement in the baking world, and it is easy to see why. Sweet little parcels of almond joy that melt in your mouth, stuck together with a delicious filling. Walking past macaron shops is always a delight with the array of beautiful colours. If you ever find yourself in London with some time to spare, I would highly recommend stopping by one of the La Duree shops in Mayfair or Covent Garden and sampling one of their treats (or just staring in the window and drooling as I often do!)Last year, I was lucky enough to attend a macaron masterclass with Edd Kimber, the winner of the first season of The Great British Bake Off. It was really insightful and helpful, however I have not tried to make them since mostly due to fear of failure. So a few weeks ago, I decided to take the plunge and try again, and miraculously, they worked! I combined/followed two recipes, one by Edd and another by the lovely Lorraine Pascale. The recipe is a bit fiddlely with different parts, however they are definitely worth it for the end result. If you are going to try this recipe, you will need a large piping bag with a plain piping nozzle (1cm works best).
170g icing sugar
160g ground almonds
4 egg whites (roughly 120ml in total)
160g granulated sugar
Food colouring (gel or powder)
Assortment of fillings (such as nutella, jam, melted chocolate, buttercream)
Take 2 large sheets of baking paper (the size of your baking trays) and use a two-pence piece to outline little circles about 2/3cm apart. Turn these upside down and place them on your baking trays. Put the icing sugar and ground almonds in a food processor and mix on high until it is very fine. Sift the mixture into a bowl to get rid of any large pieces, add 60ml of the egg whites and mix to form a paste.Place the water and sugar in a small saucepan, wiping clean any sugar on the side of the saucepan as it will cause the mixture to crystallise. Bring to the boil over a gentle heat and leave to bubble away until the mixture starts to thicken and turn into a syrup. If you have a sugar thermometer, it will be ready at 115C. However if not, it takes roughly 15 minutes. Be sure not to have the heat too high, and do not stir the mixture. Whilst it is boiling, whisk the remaining egg whites on a high-speed until they form medium-stiff peaks. Once the sugar syrup is ready, pour it in around the side of the bowl and keep whisking until they have formed stiff and shiny peaks. The best way to test if they are stiff enough is to hold the bowl upside down over your head and pray none falls out! Add a drop of the food colouring until you get the shade you like and gently fold in with a spatula. Gel or powdered food colourings should be used as liquid colouring will break the chemistry of the meringue (especially if you are adding a lot for a darker shade).Add the meringue mixture to the paste and gently fold together with a spatula, but do not overmix. The mixture is ready when it falls off the spatula into the bowl in a thick ribbon and fades back into the mixture within 30 seconds (if not, fold a few more times). Prepare the piping bag and nozzle, add the mixture and secure at the top. Pipe the mixture onto the circle outlines; do this by holding the nozzle vertically, piping until the circle is full, then twisting the bag off after each circle. The important part is to stop applying the pressure when twisting or you will get mixture everywhere when you pull away. Once you have done all the circles, leave them to rest for around 30 minutes or until they have developed a skin on top – if you touch them lightly they will no longer be sticky.Pre-heat the oven during this time to 170C, then once ready, bake for 12 minutes. Remove from the oven, and slide the baking paper onto the work surface to cool. Once they are cold, peel the macarons off the baking paper and stick together with some yummy choice of fillings. The next step would be to make a complicated filling, but I found that nutella, jam or a bit of melted chocolate worked well.These are perfect little gifts to give away, or just for you when you fancy a special dessert. They should last for a few days in an airtight container – enjoy 🙂