I had to ask Carole what the difference was between a Macaron and a Macaroon. I was told Macaroons are heavier, more like a cookie and made with desiccated coconut whilst a Macaron is a delicate ground almond and egg white biscuit. Every day is a school day around here! Whatever they’re called, they sure do look gorgeous. – The Editor
Good morning and a very happy Monday to you all. I hope you all fancy some baking as this is my contribution for this week. Not just any kind of baking though, but one of my absolutely favourite things: macarons. Macarons do of course come in many flavours, so the one I have decided on is orange with a vanilla filling. I hope you will feel inspired to give these a try – they take a bit of time but are really worth it. I have made up the recipe through trial and error, reading up on various methods and figuring out a way that works best for me. This recipe will make around 20 macarons which is not absolutely exact as it slightly depends on the piping.
These are the utensils you will need:
- A mixer (preferably a standing one, but a handheld one will do)
- A cooking thermometer for the sugar syrup
- A macaron mould (available from Lakeland here: http://www.lakeland.co.uk/15816/Silicone-Macaroon-Mould-)
- A piping bag with one simple round nozzle and one large star-shaped one
- A very fine sieve
- A small pan to cook the sugar syrup
- A spatula
You will need the following ingredients:
For the macarons:
- 3 large egg whites
- 125g icing sugar
- 125g ground almonds
- 125g caster sugar
- 35ml water
- 1 tsp orange extract
- 1 tsp colouring powder (available here: http://www.thecakedecoratingcompany.co.uk/catalog/product_info.php?cPath=420_198_416_323&products_id=2193)
For the filling:
- 100g soft (room temperature) butter
- 200g icing sugar
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
Right then, now that you have all your ingredients and utensils it’s time to bake!
- Mix the ground almonds and the icing sugar together and work through the sieve in order to get the finest powder possible (this takes a bit of time) and set aside.
- Put the egg whites into your mixer and beat until they start to show some bubbles. Stop there.
- Pre-heat your oven to 150C.
- Next put the caster sugar and the water in a pan and over a medium to high heat. The sugar will start to dissolve into a syrup which needs to be heated to 118C or “soft ball” temperature on your cooking thermometer.
- Take off the heat.
- Switch the mixer with the egg whites back on to speed 5 (on a Kitchenaid) and in a slow, steady stream pour the sugar syrup along the side of the mixing bowl into the egg whites. This is where a stand mixer really does come in handy.
- Once all the syrup is in your mixing bowl, turn the speed up to 8 and beat for about 10 minutes or until the mixture is glossy.
- Add the orange extract and colouring powder, give it another 10 seconds of blending. The mixture will now look like it’s “collapsing”, but not to worry, it all still works.
- Take the bowl off the mixer and now fold in the ground almond and icing sugar mix. Don’t overbeat, about 30 “strokes” will do.
- Now take your piping bag with the round attachment, put the mixture in and just about fill up each of the shapes on the silicone mould.
- Put the mould (resting on a baking tray) into the oven and bake for 15 minutes.
- Take out your first baked batch, leave to cool for a moment and then take the halves off the mould.
- You might have to give the mould a quick rinse before piping the second batch.
- Once the second batch is baked, leave to cool completely.
Now for the filling. Unfortunately you will have to wash out your mixing bowl and the piping bag for this – unless of course you happen to have everything in duplicate…
- Put the butter into your mixer bowl.
- Sieve the icing sugar onto the butter and beat on speed 3 until the icing sugar has stopped flying around your kitchen. Turn the speed up to speed 6 and beat until pale in colour.
- Add the vanilla extract and beat for another 30 seconds.
- Fill the mixture into your piping bag with the star-shaped nozzle and pipe onto half of the baked macaron shapes.
- Put the other half on top.
- Now the most difficult part: put the macarons into an airtight container and leave for 24 hours. I know, it’s difficult, but this will give them the time needed for the flavours to fully develop and they really will taste better the next day.
- Your “perfect” (if there is such a thing) macarons should now have a thin and crunchy shell and a very slightly sticky middle.
I know it looks like a lot of effort and admittedly it’s not something you will be able to quickly make when unexpected guests pop round, but if you have the time and enjoy something special, then this a real treat.
Enjoy and bon appétit.