France – Macarons

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IMG_6084tIt has been crazy hot this week. So what better thing to do in insanely hot weather than to make macarons for the first time ever. One of the good things about this whole project is that I’m actually challenging myself to make stuff that I would never have touched ever. Past me is like “woah, macarons?! They’re technical and fiddly and probably not that delicious in the end for all the work”. Present me is like “shut up past me, you’re so wrong – they might be more technical, but they’re amazing.”

I’m so proud, it’s ridiculous, and so sorry if this post is essentially me going on about how pleased I am with my macarons rather than anything about France or Brexit. Oh, but actually, a quick bit about Brexit – Theresa May’s customs plans have been rejected. I can’t believe how well it’s going! One of the other good things about this project is that it helps me to forget what a clusterf**k Brexit is, and instead I just eat lots of cake all the time. IMG_6073tBut anyway, back to the macarons. I am sorely out of practise at piping anything, and so there was some low level panic when trying to pipe the macarons into 2.5cm circles. As you can see in the image below, they didn’t exactly look perfect, and they may have all ended up slightly too large, but who doesn’t love a larger macaron?! So it was a happy accident really, and now all my future macarons will be far too big (we’re talking 4cm diamter instead), because then you only have to eat two at a time instead of five. Win win. They didn’t turn out red like they were supposed to, but I was afraid to add more food colouring and make the mixture any more liquidy than it already was, so pink is fine! When they came out of the oven I couldn’t believe that they actually looked how they were supposed to.

The recipe, which is Edd Kimber’s (of GBBO fame), is incredibly exacting in a way that I thought was over the top, but if it makes macarons this good, then I will continue to weigh out my egg whites every single time. I also wasn’t sure about the sieving of the ground almonds/icing sugar mix, because it seemed not terribly exact, but I ended up with about 30g leftover that wouldn’t go through the sieve, which wasn’t too much (although I did sieve very thoroughly in fear of not having enough mixture). The chocolate ganache and raspberry jam work amazingly well together, but I’m now trying to think about what other flavours I can try out next time. I’m a total macaron-making convert, who would have thought. There will be some posts coming on my future macaron-making adventures, so watch this space.

This post is part of a series called ‘Brexit Baking’, where I bake my way around all 28 EU Member States. You can read more about it here.IMG_6076tIMG_6085tRaspberry and Chocolate Macarons (recipe from here)

170g icing sugar
160g ground almonds
120ml egg whites from about 4 medium eggs, separated into 2 equal batches
160g granulated sugar
½ tsp red food colouring
120g double cream
110g dark chocolate
25g unsalted butter, room temperature
75g raspberry jam

  1. Place the icing sugar and ground almonds in the bowl of a food processor and pulse about 15 times until fully combined. Sieve this mixture into a large bowl, discarding any particles that stay in the sieve. Add the first batch of egg whites to the almond mixture, mix to form a thick paste and set aside.
  2. Tip the second batch of egg whites into a spotlessly clean, heatproof bowl and have an electric whisk at the ready. Place 50ml water and the granulated sugar into a small saucepan on medium heat. Bring to a boil and cook until the syrup registers 110C, using a sugar thermometer, at which time start to beat the egg whites on high speed. Once the syrup is at 118C pour it slowly down the side of the mixer bowl, avoiding the moving whisk. Continue to whisk on high until the mixture has cooled slightly and you have a shiny peaked meringue mixture – the bowl should no longer be hot to the touch, but still warm. Add the colouring and whisk to combine.
  3. Tip the meringue onto the almond mixture and gently fold together. It is important not to over-mix the batter – it should fall in a thick ribbon from the spatula. The ribbon should also fade back into the batter within about 30 secs – if it doesn’t, fold a few more times.
  4. Heat oven to 170C/150C fan/gas 3-4. Line three baking sheets with baking parchment. Transfer the batter to a piping bag fitted with a large round nozzle. Hold the bag vertically to the tray, with the nozzle about 1cm from it. Pipe rounds about 2.5cm in diameter onto the prepared baking sheets. Leave to rest for 30 mins, or until the macarons have developed a skin.
  5. Bake the macarons for 14 mins (this needs to be precise, so you could test a macaron first). Immediately slide the parchment onto the work surface and cool for a few minutes before gently peeling the macarons off the paper.
  6. To make the filling, place the cream in a small saucepan and the chocolate in a medium bowl. Bring the cream just to the boil and pour over the chocolate. Leave to stand for a few mins, then stir to combine. Add the butter and stir until smooth, then leave to set until thickened. Place the chocolate mix into a clean piping bag with a smaller nozzle and pipe around the edge of half the macarons. Fill the centre with jam and sandwich with another macaron shell.
  7. Once finished, the macarons will improve with an overnight rest in the fridge.
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