Hello my fellow bakers, this week was one of my most stressful ever I think, not only did I have plenty of wedding cake orders, but I had also agreed to make French macarons – or macaroons as we English call them. Although I have made these many times before, I hadn’t actually made any since last October which really is quite a while ago and I really needed these to be very pale pinks and greys and perfect as they were to be on a small wedding cake display table.
Well at my first attempt this week the macaroons came out a sort of ‘beige/grey , my friend’s comment was ‘oooh they look mouldy’ , well yes, she was right they did! The pale pink ones were far too bright. Therefore it was back to the drawing board! If any of you have ever tried making macaroons you will be well aware that they are tricky little things to make, even looking on blogs with top chefs they all agree that macaroons are one of the trickiest things to make with a mountain of things that can go wrong, so therefore it is practise, practise and then more practise! So tempting fate I changed my tried and tested recipe. After several attempts of adjusting the recipe adding less ground almonds etc I finally achieved the perfect colours and also importantly taste, I added blueberry flavoured butter-cream to the centres, some small handmade edible pearls to the edges, a bit of satin colour onto the fronts. Voila perfect macaroons for a wedding table!! This I achieved at about 10.30pm on Tuesday evening, the wedding in question was for Wednesday!
So this week for the more adventurous cooks, I will give you the recipe for the ‘perfect macaroons’ especially if you are looking to achieve light colours!!
3 egg whites.
210g icing sugar
120g ground almonds
30g caster sugar.
First thing on the morning separate the eggs and leave the 3 egg whites at room temperature to temper them.
Now prepare a baking tray with parchment paper. Or use a macaroon silicone tray (from Lakeland) this saves a lot of work, although I do recommend adding a bit of grease to this silicone tray as I do find the macaroons stick.
If you use parchment paper you also need to make a ten-plate. On white paper mark out about 20 small round circles about 5 cm diameter each. Put this ten-plate under the parchment paper.
Now If the ground almonds are a bit wet which they often are,put them on a baking tray and pop them in to a warm (not hot) oven for about half an hour or so until they feel dry.
To make macaroons properly you really do need a food processor. Without this you will not achieve perfect results. So place the icing sugar and the dried ground almonds into the food processor while you prepare the rest of the ingredients, leave this running for about 5 minutes.
Add the egg whites to a mixing bowl and whisk – preferably with an electric whisk until they are white and quite firm, now add the caster sugar and a small (from a cocktail stick) amount of gel food colouring, whisk for another few minutes until they are stiff and glossy. Now remove the icing/almond mix from the food processor and sieve this into the whisked egg white mixture, (don’t worry if there is a little bit of course almond left in the sieve, dispose of this). Now with a metal spoon fold this in to the egg white mixture, carefully and slowly so as not to lose too much air. Continue folding until the mixture is smooth and shiny, so that when you pour the mixture from the metal spoon it runs smoothly and is not jerky and does not break. Do not over mix, otherwise your mixture will be too runny and will spread on the baking tray and they will not rise. The mixture should be quite thick.
Now the tricky bit put the mixture into a piping bag fitted with a small round nozzle. Now carefully pipe small circles on to the baking tray using the template as a guideline, or into each perfect hole on the macaroon tray ( much easier!) Pipe small amounts so that as you take away the nozzle it leaves a small ‘peak’. This should flatten out itself or you can just touch it with your finger to flatten it. Leave the tray ready for the oven for about 30 minutes, so that a skin forms on the macaroon. Now bake for 13/14 minutes in the oven set at 140c or 300 gas.
Remove from the oven leave to cool then sandwich together with butter cream flavoured to your choice.
Enjoy the baking,
Till next week, Ibiza’s Queen of Cakes. xx