Macaroons are the most beautiful things I’ve ever baked.
It’s no wonder that they are so popular at the moment, they are simply gorgeous to look at and have such a delicate sweet and nutty flavour that they absolutely make the perfect treat for any special occasion.
Now, during my research I visited many recipe books, websites and blogs and – I will not start off like many of them by telling you that they are not difficult to make – I’m afraid they are. BUT, if you are very faithful to your recipe and follow the advice given carefully, you will get there and I can assure you that are most definitely worth the effort. It took me 4 attempts to make a perfect batch, I had to switch methods, tweak many steps and incorporate advice from many recipes to get there, but I think I can now share with you a simple recipe that works.
The world of Macaroon Baking is divided into 2 camps, the French method of preparation and the Italian one. As far as I can tell, the main difference lies on how you make the meringue, the Italian method is based on heating up the sugar into a syrup before mixing it with the egg whites (and it also involves ageing the egg withes… which I find quite odd to be honest!), whereas the French method instructs simply making a traditional meringue before folding in the ground almonds. I tried the Italian method twice and didn’t achieve the glossy, smooth surface top you should get, whereas the French method did yield the desired results, therefore I declare myself party to the French camp.
I was also quite amused to find many passionate ‘essays’ written on whether one should call them Macarons, or Macaroons during my research and rather than boring you with the details of both arguments, I’ll simply say that I have opted for Macaroons simply because it is the most commonly used term in the UK.
Before I offer you the recipe that worked for me… all I would say to all of you brave bakers out there considering baking them, is that Macaroons are like that pair of really uncomfortable shoes that you love with all of your heart and that you save for your very best occasions… you know, the ones that you know will probably give you blisters, but that look so good…like them, reserve these too for your very best occasions… that way the pain of getting the desired results will be worth the sweat of your brow!
- 100 gr Fairtrade icing sugar
- 100 gr ground almonds (very fine)
- 2 medium sized free range eggs
- pinch of salt
- 50 gr Fairtrade caster sugar
- For a buttercream filing:
- 100 gr unsalted butter
- 50 gr Fairtrade icing sugar
- 2-3 drops of vanilla essence
- Sieve the ground almonds and icing sugar (discarding any lumps) and mix them together
- In a clean bowl, whisk the egg whites until they form soft peaks and then start adding the Fairtrade caster sugar little by little until thick and glossy
- Fold the ground almonds and icing sugar into the egg whites, until they all blend in and the mixture is runny
- Separate into as many bowls as you wish to use different colours. Add a few drops of food colouring, or food colouring paste. Be careful to use ones that don’t have a strong flavour that might affect the end result
- Using piping bags, pipe small circles on to baking paper and leave to rest for at least 1/2 hr
- Pre-heat your oven to 150C and bake for 8 minutes
- Remove and wait until they are cold completely before removing
- For the filling, whisk the butter (at room temperature) with the icing sugar and vanilla until you have a soft paste
- Insert in between 2 macaroon shells, press gently and twist slightly so that the filling covers the whole surface
- Serve and watch the jaws drop!!!