WEDDING WEDNESDAY – DIY MACAROONS

Wednesday May 23 2012.

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In a bid to save money (and partly a personal challenge) I am attempting to make a certain amount of sweet treats for the evening reception.  Macaroons have been a favourite of mine since childhood but are they an easy thing to make?  According to BBC TV chef Lorraine Pascale yes, her ‘Baking Made Easy’ sounded about right for my culinary skill set so with whisk in hand I took to the kitchen with the recipe and the promise of these:

Needless to say I did mess up the first couple of attempts, I put this down to unclear recipe instructions and not my multitasking nature.  If you want to create some DIY macaroons, I’ve added my tried and tested method in pink alongside Lorraine Pascal’s recipe instructions.

  1. Preheat the oven to 170/C/325F/Gas 5 and line a large baking tray with baking paper. – DON’T BOTHER DOING THIS FIRST YOU’LL NOTICE IN STEP 6 THEY NEED TO SIT FOR 30MINS BEFORE GOING IN THE OVEN WHICH LEAVES PLENTY OF TIME TO PREHEAT & LINE YOUR BAKING TRAY
  2. Put the icing sugar, ground almonds and 40g/1½oz egg whites together in a large bowl and mix to a paste. USE A WOODEN SPOON NOT A WHISK
  3. Put the water and caster sugar in a small pan and heat gently to melt the sugar, then turn up the heat and boil until the mixture starts to go syrupy and thickens – I don’t use a thermometer but if you prefer to use one, it should read 115C/239F at this stage. BY PAN READ SAUCEPAN NOT FRYING PAN (WHICH I MADE THE MISTAKE OF USING FIRST TIME ROUND!) AND ONCE SYRUPY DON’T LEAVE THE MIXTURE TO SIT AS IT HARDENS VERY QUICKLY.  I JUGGLED STEP 3 AND 4 IN TANDEM
  4.  I USED FINE BROWN SUGAR AS I THINK IT GIVES A NICER TASTE
  5. Whisk the remaining 50g/2oz egg whites in a small bowl until medium-stiff peaks form when the whisk is removed from the bowl, then pour in the sugar syrup, whisking until the mixture becomes stiff and shiny. For coloured macaroons, add a few drops of food colouring. Tip this meringue mixture into the almond paste mixture and stir gently until the becomes stiff and shiny again. ONCE YOU’VE ADDED THE MERINGUE TO THE ALMOND PASTE STIR WITH A WOODEN SPOON
  6. Spoon into the piping bag. Pipe a little mixture under each corner of the baking paper to stop it sliding around. With the bag held vertically, pipe 4cm/1½in flat circles onto the lined tray, about 2cm/¾in apart, twisting the bag after each one. The mixture should be quite loose to give a smooth finish. The piping will leave a small ‘tip’ on each circle so, when they’re all piped, give the tray 2–3 slams on a flat surface to flatten them. At this stage, sprinkle with desiccated coconut if you want. I SUBSTITUTED THE PIPING BAG (AS I DON’T OWN ONE) FOR A TEASPOON WHICH IS THE PERFECT MEASURE FOR BITE SIZE MACAROONS
  7. Leave to stand for 30 minutes to form a skin then bake in the oven for 12–15 minutes with the door slightly ajar until firm. Remove from the oven, lift the paper off the baking tray and leave the macaroons to cool on the paper.
  8. When cool, sandwich the macaroons together with whipped cream. They can be kept for a couple of days, if they hang around that long! YOU ONLY NEED A SMALL SQUIDGE OF CREAM 
And after a few attempts I managed to make these, which passed the Mr Bijou taste test “oh yes yummy, looks like they were a bit of a palava to make though perhaps you should stick to the round cake ball thingys

You can find Lorraine Pascal’s recipe at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/macaroons_04669