Laura Ashley are celebrating the launch of their new French website and asked me to come up with a French themed recipe for their blog. I chose to make macarons because they are something I’ve always longed to perfect and I was determined to make a decent batch… I wrote about a couple of my failures here last year and how much it bothered me that I couldn’t get them right. So it gives me great pleasure now, to say: “I can make macarons!” *the crowd cheers* Anyway, you can see my post on Laura Ashley’s blog here. Macarons are known for being tricky little things to make but after persisting, and making my way through countless bags of almonds and icing sugar… I finally found a recipe that worked, and has worked every time for me since. This recipe, along with a few tips, means macarons are now a doddle for me! Well… almost, anyway…
- No need for fresh egg whites. Simply measure out your egg whites the night before you’re making them and leave them, covered, at room temperature overnight.
- Be precise in your measurements. Use an electric measuring scale to make sure.
- Get to know your oven. All ovens are different and can effect the outcome of your macarons. For me, I found that my oven was too hot, with a lot of heat coming from the top element and so I lowered the temperature slightly and placed an empty baking sheet on the top tray of the oven to stop it from browning the tops of the macarons.
- Use a paste colouring. Paste food colouring is ideal for macarons as you don’t need a lot of it to make a bold colour. This ensures you’re not adding too much liquid to the batter.
- Be prepared. Have all your ingredients measured out, your baking sheet(s) lined and your icing bag ready. This makes things a lot easier!
- 200g icing sugar
- 100g ground almonds
- 110g egg whites (3 medium egg whites)
- Pinch of salt
- 40g caster sugar
Colours and flavours Lavender – Add 1 tsp dried lavender to the icing sugar and ground almonds before mixing together. Use a small drop of violet food colouring paste. Chamomile – Add 1 tsp dried chamomile flowers (or loose chamomile tea) to the icing sugar and ground almonds before mixing together. I used no colouring for the chamomile but you could use yellow food colouring paste if you wanted. Rose – Add 1/2 tsp of rosewater to the egg whites when they have nearly reached stiff peaks. Use a small drop of pink food colouring paste. Instructions
- Line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper.
- Mix the icing sugar and ground almonds together in a food processor until it makes a fine powder.
- Whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt until it creates firm (but not stiff) peaks. Slowly add the caster sugar, 1 tsp at a time until it reaches a stiff peak stage. Add the food colouring at this point.
- Sieve 4 tbsp of the icing sugar/ground almond mixture into the egg whites and gently fold together with a spatula. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl to make sure everything is mixed well. Keep sifting in 4 tbsp of the dry mixture at a time, gently mixing into the egg whites until everything is well combined and the mixture is lava-like.
- Spoon the mixture into a piping bag fitted with a medium nozzle and begin piping circles of the mixture onto the baking sheet. Aim for the circles to be about 3cm wide and make sure to leave plenty of space between the circles as they will expand.
- Firmly tap the baking sheet a few times onto a flat surface. This is to get rid of any air bubbles.
- Now leave the macarons to dry out for 20 minutes to 1 hour before putting them in the oven. When they are ready, a dry outer shell will have formed on top of the macarons and they will be firm to the touch.
- Preheat the oven to 170c (150c if fan assisted)/325f/gas mark 3.
- When the macarons have dried out and the oven is preheated, place the baking sheet on the middle tray of the oven and bake for 12-15 minutes with the door slightly ajar (I used a wooden spoon to prop it open slightly.) Depending on your oven, you may need to turn the baking sheet around half way through to bake evenly.
- When they’re baked, leave to cool completely on the tray whilst you make the buttercream filling…
- 140g unsalted butter, softened slightly
- 280g icing sugar
- 1-2 tbsp milk
- Optional food colouring & flavouring
- Whisk the butter until soft and creamy, then add the icing sugar a bit at a time until smooth and well combined.
- Add milk as necessary to make the buttercream lighter and looser.
- Stir in food colouring or flavouring if using.
- Spoon mixture into a piping bag and ice a small dollop of buttercream on the bottom of one macaron cookie and place another one on top to create a sandwich.
- Repeat until all the macarons have been filled and then serve! Keep in the fridge for up to 3 days.