Move over cupcakes, it would seem another colourful, sugary delight is coming back into food fashion and is becoming the sought after treat, perfect with tea or boxed and ribboned making a wonderful gift.
You cannot mention macaroons without being transported to Paris. Ladurée, the home of luxury cakes and pastries, made these little treats infamous, colouring them with the most endearing pastel shades and flavouring them with delicate scents such as rosewater and lavender.
You will pay an arm and a leg for a beautifully-packaged assortment of macaroons, so I thought I would don my apron and give them a whirl myself. Making macaroons, in essence, is very simple, comprising of only four basic ingredients. The key for perfect macaroons is precision, patience and practice…
175g icing sugar
125g ground almonds
3 free-range egg whites
75g caster sugar
(will make 16-18 macaroons)
Preheat your oven to 60°C/fan140°C/gas 3
1. Whisk the egg whites, with a pinch of salt, until they have formed soft peaks. Gradually add the caster sugar, making the mixture thick and glossy.
2. If you wish to create colourful macaroons, add your food colouring at this stage and whisk until you have achieved your desired shade.
3. In a food processor, whizz together the ground almonds and the icing sugar into a fine powder.
4. Add half the almond/icing sugar mix into the meringue mixture and fold in gently with a spatula. Once completely combined, fold in the remaining half. The mixture should be glossy and fall off the spatula with a ribbon-like consistency.
5. Line two trays with baking paper.
6. Fill a piping bag with the mixture and pipe small rounds, about 3cm across.
7. Leave the macaroons to stand for 10-15 at room temperature until they form a slight skin.
8. Place in the oven for 15 minutes but keep your eye on them. My ones only took 8 minutes so it can vary and you don’t want the tops to burn or discolour. You want your macaroons to have a lovely glossy domed top and a beautifully bubbly base. Leave to cool before removing gently.
For the filling, the sky is your limit and you can be as adventurous as you like. The typical filling is a standard buttercream (1 part butter, 2 part icing sugar) but you could try a luxurious chocolate ganache, lemon curd or jam. Or simply colour or flavour your buttercream to add a bit of je ne sais quoi! Decorate with chopped nuts, rose petals or desiccated coconut. Macaroons are the perfect chance to let your creative juices flow.
Before you add your sandwich filling, pair up your macaroon halves so both are a similar shape and size. The perfect macaroon should be crispy on the outside and delectably soft and sweet on the inside.
For the pink and yellow macaroons, I filled them with buttercream. For the white macaroons, I added spoonfuls of Nutella to the buttercream mix to create a chocolatey contrast.