Sunday, 5 February 2012

Macaroons: Round One

I was never expecting this experience to be easy.  I’ve heard a number of times that it takes years and years for the top French chefs to produce a crisp coat, yet soft centred macaroon; but I brushed that thought aside and powered forth with optimism. The recipe was read and read again, with eager anticipation that somehow this would help. But I must say the critics were right- they didn’t look the part. However, combined with the cream butter filling they were amazing! The moral of this story- do not judge a book by its cover! And not to give up... but then again there are so many other culinary conquests...

Pink Vanilla Macaroons

Makes 18 whole macaroons

75g ground almonds
115g icing sugar
2 large egg whites
50g caster sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
A few drops of pink food colouring

55g butter, softened
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
115g icing sugar, sifted

Place ground almonds and icing sugar in a food processor and process for 15 seconds. Sift the mixture into a bowl.
Line two baking trays with baking paper. In order to make it easier and to get nearly symmetrical circles I traced around a 3.5cm circular cookie cutter on the underside of the baking paper.

Whisk the egg whites in a large bowl until soft peaks form. Gradually whisk in the caster sugar, about a tablespoon at a time, to make a firm glossy meringue. Whisk in the vanilla extract and food colouring.

Using a spatula, fold the almond mixture into the meringue mixture one third at a time. When all the almond mixture is incorporated, continue to cut and fold the mixture until it forms a shiny batter with a thick, ribbon-like consistency.

Pour mixture into a piping apparatus and pipe 36 small rounds onto prepared baking sheets. Tap the baking sheets onto the work surface to remove air bubbles. Leave a room temperature for around 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 160°C. 

Bake macaroons for 10-15 minutes, checking every 5 minutes. This is the result after ten minutes:

Lesson 1: Lower the temperature to 140°C. The result after ten minutes:
You might not be able to tell- they were pink but uncooked in the centre.

Once cooked, leave to cool for ten minutes then carefully peel off baking paper. Leave to cool completely.
To make the filling, beat the butter and vanilla extract in a bowl. Gradually beat in the icing sugar until smooth and creamy. Use to sandwich pairs of macaroons together.

There are probably a number of factors that influenced the success of this recipe- maybe it was that I didn’t use fresh eggs whites (there’s always a supply of them in the freezer from when making recipes using the yolks), or that I over mixed the meringue-almond mixture? If anyone out there can recommend something please let me know! Or maybe I’ll just use another recipe...

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