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A Parisian Macaron

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So evocative of Left Bank French patisserie the macaron is a bit of a show-piece for Makedomenders Afternoon Tea. They’re so much easier than you might think and you just need a couple of bits of standard equipment and staple ingredients and then you’re set.

Chocolate Macarons

Makes about 10

65g ground almonds
85g icing sugar
25g cocoa powder
3 medium egg whites
Pinch of salt
60g caster sugar

For the filling:
100g whipping cream
100g dark chocolate, chopped
20g butter, cut into small pieces
Pinch of sea salt

Makes about 30 discs approximately 2.5 cm in diameter.

Heat the oven to 160 degrees (fan-assisted) or 180 degrees if not.

You will need a piping bag fitted with a 1 cm nozzle and 2 medium sized baking trays lined with greaseproof paper.

Make the filling first. Heat the cream in a small pan until it’s just beginning to boil, then take it off the heat and add the chocolate. Leave it be for a couple of minutes, then stir beat until smooth followed by the butter and finish with a pinch of salt. Leave to set.

The secret to the next step is fineness. The dry ingredients need to be smooth and fine so, if you have a food mixer or coffee grinder (clean), try grinding the ground almonds until really ‘dusty’. Sift the ground almonds, the icing sugar and cocoa into a bowl and then re-sift so they’re really blended.

Put the egg whites and a pinch of salt into the mixer and begin whisking. As soon as the whites begin to hold their shape, whisk in the caster sugar, and continue whisking at high speed until you have a stiff meringue. I even hold the bowl upside down to just make sure. Do if you dare!!

Fold in the dry ingredients, and then beat the mixture until it’s a bit like just melting ice-cream or shaving foam. The less air in the mixture the better as this will affect the finished result.

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Spoon the mixture into the piping bag and carefully pipe circles of about 1.5-2 cm diameter. If you’re not sure you can keep this consistent try drawing templates on the underside of the greaseproof paper to guide you.

Now the fun starts! Pick the baking tray up and drop it on to the worksurface a couple of times. This knocks out any extra air in the discs and evens them out. Then leave to rest for about 30 minutes which is essential if you want perfect macarons.

Pop into the oven for about 17 minutes until firm. You can take a peak after about 10 minutes as this will release excess moisture in the oven.

When you take them out, just gently slip the discs and their greaseproof paper off the tray to stop them cooking and drying out. Cool completely on the paper, then carefully peel off: if they’re cooked, they should come away easily.

When cool, match up equally-sized macarons, and then, using a small palette knife or spoon, sandwich them together with the gooey filling. Be generous! Refrigerate for 24 hours, then serve at room temperature.

You can freeze the shells if you don’t want to use all at once (really?) but be sure to defrost thoroughly before filling and devouring.