You will need
200g ground almonds
200g icing sugar
200g egg whites
200g caster sugar
Food colour (optional)
1. Preheat the oven to 150°C/Gas mark 2. Prepare the oven trays for the macaroons. Cut sheets of baking parchment to fit a couple of oven trays. Using the fat end of a large round piping nozzle and a small heart-shape cookie cutter as templates, draw circles and hearts on the reverse side of the parchment at even intervals.
2. In a food processor briefly pulse together the ground almonds and icing sugar until mixed well and sift into a large bowl. Set aside.
3. To make an Italian meringue, place the egg white in a clean, dry bowl. Reserve one tablespoon of the egg white to mix with the colouring later on.
4. Place the caster sugar in a small saucepan with the water. Dissolve the sugar over a medium heat, then bring the sugar syrup to the boil. Using a sugar thermometer, measure the temperature of the syrup. When the syrup reaches 115°C, start to slowly whisk the egg whites. Gradually increasing the whisking speed until the eggs are white and frothy.
5. Once the syrup reaches 121°C, slow down the whisking and carefully pour the hot syrup into the egg whites in a thin steady stream – pour down the side of the bowl so that the syrup does not splash onto the whisk.
6. Once all the syrup has been incorporated, continue whisking quickly until the meringue has cooled to room temperature; this will take about five to ten minutes.
7. Once the meringue has cooled, add your preferred colouring to the reserved tablespoon of egg white and then whisk into the meringue.
8. Using the rubber spatula, fold the ‘tant pour tant’ into the meringue in three batches. Fold gently but thoroughly to ensure the mix is loose and smooth when piped. The amount you fold in here and the consistency you achieve is crucial; you want the mix to be even and fall easily off the spatula, but not so liquid that it does not keep a good round shape when piped.
9. Place the nozzle into the piping bag. Using a rubber spatula, half fill the piping bag with macaroon mixture.
10. Use a little of the macaroon mix to secure the sheets of baking parchment in place; smear a small amount of mixture on each corner of the underside of the sheet.
11. Using the circles you have drawn as a guide, pipe the small rounds. To finish piping the round, stop applying pressure to the bag and flick the nozzle round in a small circular motion as you pull away. This ensures there will be no peak on top of the macaroon.
12. For the hearts, pipe a blob at the top half of the heart and then drag it down to the bottom. Repeat on the other side. If the mixture is the correct consistency, any small trails should sink back to leave a smooth surface.
13. Once the macaroons are all piped, gently tap the tray on the work surface to bring any large air bubbles to the surface and pop them with a cocktail stick. Leave the macaroons to dry out a little on the surface; about 15–30 minutes in dry conditions. You should be able to gently touch the surface of the macaroon without your finger sticking.
14. As soon as the macaroons have a dry skin, place them on the lower shelves in the oven and immediately reduce the heat to 135°C/gas mark 1. If your oven bakes from the top, then place a tray on the shelf above the macaroons to prevent the tops from browning too much.
15. Bake for approximately 15 minutes, turning the trays halfway through the cooking time. The macaroons are done when the tops are dry. As soon as they are done, remove the tray from the oven and transfer the baking paper, with the macaroons still attached, directly onto a wet tea towel. Leave for a few minutes and then remove the macaroons.
16. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to two days or in the freezer for longer. Sandwich with your chosen filling on the day of consumption, and once filled refrigerate for one hour before eating – this helps the macaroons to soften and the flavours to develop.
17. For the raspberry and rose flavours, colour the macaroon mixture with pink food colour. When piping, paint the inside of the nozzle with three thick lines of claret paste food colour to achieve the ‘candy stripe’ look. Sandwich the shells together with raspberry and rose jam – thicken the jam slightly by heating it for three to four minutes in a microwave. Leave the jam to cool a little before spreading.
Recipe, Boutique Baking by Peggy Porschen (Quadrille)
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