With a delightfully soft, chewy textured and a nutty taste, it’s no surprise that macaroons, or ‘macarons’, are all the rage right now. Coffee shops, market traders and retailers have been experimenting with flavour combinations, colours and ingredients; like vibrant green pistachio; dark chocolate made from ground cocao; coconutty concoctions which come in fluffy pink or royal blue made with rosewater and peppermint extract respectively. The list goes on.
Macaroons usually come in two principle forms: the more ‘modern’ sort consist of two small discs sandwiched together with a butter cream filling; whereas the ‘old-style’ macaroons consist of one single flat disc, with no butter cream, studded with a single blanched almond in its centre (pictured above). The latter sort are less common in patisserie windows these days but they are comparatively much easier to cook.
Having said that there is an art to making the perfect macaroon which I found out to my cost on my first attempt. The recipe stated: “finely grind the almonds with the caster sugar before incorporating it into the meringue mixture”. The result? Suffice to say that biting into a piping hot macaroon straight out of the oven was like biting into your sandwich after you’d dropped it on the beach. Note to self: finely grind means finely grind – not just a quick blitz in the food processor. You really have to whizz it round and round until you have an almost air-like consistency. I’m not kidding.
This is just a minor point, however.
So, if you fancy a sweet and tempting antidote to a sugary cupcake then this recipe should go down a treat.
‘Old-style’ almond macaroons recipe
Makes 10 small macaroons
- 125g/4oz ground almonds
- 200g/7oz icing sugar
- 3 free-range egg whites
- 2 tbsp caster sugar
- Combine the almonds and icing sugar and finely grind in a food processor. Set aside.
- Using an electric whisk, slowly whisk the egg whites in a large bowl at a low speed until stiff peaks form when the whisk is removed. Slowly whisk in the cream of tartar and caster sugar until the mixture is smooth and glossy, increasing the speed of the whisk as the mixture stiffens.
- Gently fold in the blended ground almonds and icing sugar.
- Spoon the macaroon mixture into a piping bag. Pipe 8cm circles onto the baking tray lined with greaseproof paper.
- Tap the bottom of the tray to release any air bubbles from the macaroons.
- Place a single blanched almond in the middle of each macaroon and then set aside for 60 minutes (the macaroon shells are ready to go in the oven when they are no longer sticky to the touch).
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 160C/Gas 2½.
- Bake the macaroons in the oven for 10-15 minutes, or until cooked through. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool for 5 minutes. Carefully peel away the greaseproof paper and set aside to cool completely.