Many competent cooks have a phobia about making macarons. If you follow a few simple rules however they are not as difficult as they may seem. After Master Chef Australia they have really become the current sweet craze. Make a batch, put them in a pretty box tied up with ribbon, and give them to a friend as a dazzling gift. Our book of the week, Secrets of Macarons, will also help demystify the baking process. To make them you will need a piping bag fitted with a 1cm nozzle.
125g icing sugar
125g ground almonds
90g free-range egg whites
110g caster sugar
food colouring (optional)
150ml double or whipped cream, whipped
- Preheat the oven to 170°C. Line a large baking tray with baking paper.
- Put the icing sugar, ground almonds and 40g egg whites together in a large bowl and mix to a paste.
- Put the water and caster sugar in a small pan and heat gently to melt the sugar, then turn up the heat and boil until the mixture starts to go syrupy and thickens – if you prefer to use a thermometer, it should read 115°C at this stage.
- Whisk the remaining 50g whites in a small bowl until medium-stiff peaks form when the whisk is removed from the bowl.
- Pour the sugar syrup, slowly, into the whisked egg whites whisking until the mixture becomes stiff and shiny. For coloured macarons, add a few drops of food colouring.
- Tip this meringue mixture into the almond paste mixture and stir gently until it becomes stiff and shiny again.
- Spoon into the piping bag. Pipe a little mixture under each corner of the baking paper to stop it sliding around.
- With the bag held vertically, pipe 4cm flat circles onto the lined tray, about 2cm apart, twisting the bag after each one. The mixture should be quite loose to give a smooth finish. The piping will leave a small ‘tip’ on each circle so, when they’re all piped, give the tray 2 to 3 slams on a flat surface to flatten them.
- Leave to stand for 30 minutes to form a skin on the tops.
- Bake in the oven for 12 to 15 minutes with the door slightly ajar until firm. Remove from the oven, lift the paper off the baking tray and leave the macarons to cool on the paper.
- When cool, sandwich the macarons together with whipped cream. They can be kept for a couple of days, if they hang around that long!