While I’m swanning off for a couple of days in Sussex here’s my friend Lottie with her amazing macaroons – these will keep you busy over the bank holiday weekend.
“Hello, my name is Lottie and I am a macaroon fanatic. I walk past Laudrée twice a day, I seek out beautiful displays of them in patisserie shop windows when I travel and finally I have learnt to make them myself.
It’s not as daunting as you think it is although I was frightened enough by the prospect to sign myself up for a 2 hour master class (the time out offer cinched the deal). My basic recipe below is adapted from what I learnt in the class and I think is pretty fail safe so long as you do as you’re told!
Don’t expect each one to look perfect, trust me they will still taste amazing and really, who’s judging? Macaroons are a luxury, make when you have time to spare and enjoy leisurely (preferably accompanied by a nice cup of tea).
To make 20 small sandwiched citrus macaroons (40 shells)
For the shells:
80g ground almonds
100g icing sugar
2 large egg whites (weight approx 40g each egg)
Pinch of salt
A few drops of food colouring of your choice
For the filling:
125g unsalted butter (softened)
250g icing sugar
A few drops of orange flavouring (to taste)
1. Preheat the oven to approx 150 degrees centigrade
2. Put all the dry ingredients (icing sugar, nuts and salt but NOT the caster sugar) into a food processor/blender and grind until a fine powder
3. Sift dry ingredients into a bowl
4. Starting on a slow speed whisk the egg whites into soft peaks. Gentle add the caster sugar and continue to whisk until you have very stiff peaks and the mixture still looks glossy (you can turn up to a higher speed setting nearer the end)
5. With a metal spoon or spatula fold about one quarter of the sifted ingredients into the egg whites until combined. Add the remaining dry ingredients. Continue to fold the ingredients until you have a soft thick shiny lava (the mixture should run off the spoon rather than plopping off! – look for this change in texture then stop!)
6. Pipe small rounds onto a silicone baking mat or siliconised baking paper (try and get them similar sizes)
7. Pick up the tray about 6 inches above your table/work surface and drop it flat two or three times. This brings the big air bubbles to the surface.
8. Leave the macaroons to sit for 30-45 minutes to form a ‘skin’ on top then place in the oven and bake for 12-15 minutes
9. Remove from the oven and slide the baking paper/silicone mat off the baking tray and onto a rack to cool. One cool carefully remove.
10. Make a buttercream filing by beating together the butter, icing sugar and orange flavouring and pipe around the edge of every other shell. Put a little bit of lemon curd in the centre and sandwich the two shells together.
11. Leave for a couple of hours so the filing can set.
12. EAT! They do actually improve with age (as they mature) so will taste different 24 hours after baking, another 24 hours after that etc. (insert sciencey text about the filing gradually softening the shell blah blah – osmosis? Who knows…) although I would recommend you eat within a few days. They can be frozen too – just bring up to room temperature before you take that first delicious bite…!)
– Used aged egg whites (i.e. crack and separate your eggs at least 24 hours before you start baking. Alternatively use egg whites from a carton (sold in the milk aisle of some supermarkets). Bring up to room temperate for both before you start baking.
– I use a silicone baking mat on a heavy baking tray and this seems to get good results as it evens out the temperature and protects against cracking as there is a slight vacuum created between the layers.
– Go mad with the food dye (just because you can)”