What could be more delighgtful than delicious little French Macaroons or macarons as they are called in France? The actual preparation is not difficult but it is really critical to get the proportions exact and, if you’re adding flavouring or colouring – put a little less egg white in – too much liquid means that they will run when you pipe them on a tray and go too flat and biscuit like instead of with the delicious chewy centres we all love. This is an easy recipe for macaroons, there are other methods which involve more complicated steps than this and which the true French artisans employ to create these tasty little cakes.
Did you know that these little petit-fours which we all associate with France were actually imported from the Italian court of Catherine de Medici? The names comes from the Italian word “Macarone” meaning “fine paste” in the Venetian dialect.
125g icing sugar
125g ground almonds
3 large egg whites (90g)
110g caster sugar
Colouring/flavouring of your choice
For the filling
150g butter, softened
75g icing sugar
Double cream whipped, nutella, jam
1. Preheat the oven to 160°C/fan140°C/gas 3 and line a baking tray (or two) with baking powder. Sift the ground almonds and icing sugar and ground together.
2. Whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt to soft peaks in a separate bowl and add the caster sugar a teaspoon at a time whisking in well until the mix is stiff and glossy. You can leave the macarons plain – they are a biscuit colour and quite delicious or at this stage you can add the flavour and/or colouring If you want more than one colour like in the picture – divide the mix into different bowls .
3. Fold half the almond and icing sugar mixture into the meringue and mix with a large metal spoon. Add the remaining half, fold the mixture until it is shiny and has a thick, ribbon-like consistency as it falls from the spoon. Spoon into a piping bag fitted with a 1cm (½ inch) plain nozzle.
4. Pipe 5cm discs of the macaroon mixture onto the baking sheets (make sure you grease them first to avoid the cakes sticking). Give the baking sheets a sharp tap on the work surface to ensure there are no air bubbles and flatten out any peaks – just wet your finger with water and push them down. Leave the discs to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes – this helps them to form a slight skin which enhances the texture. Test that they are ready by touching them lightly – no mixture should stick to your finger.
5 Pop them into the oven – middle shelf and bake for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow them to cool. When they’re completely cold, sandwich them together with the butter cream, cream, nutella, jam – your choice and enjoy (they won’t keep for more than a couple of days but funny enough they never seem to last that long anyway!). If you’re doing butter cream – simply mix the butter and icing sugar together until you have a smooth mix.