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Friday, April 22, 2011

Colourful Macaroons

175g icing sugar
125g ground almonds
3 large free-range egg whites
75g caster sugar
20 ml water

For the Buttercream filling
150g butter, softened
75g icing sugar

For the Custard fillings
½ cup (120 g) of sugar
4 egg yolks
1 stick (120 g) of butter
2 organic lemons

1. Preheat Methothe oven to 160°C/fan140°C/gas 3. Whizz the icing sugar and ground almonds in a food processor to a very fine mixture, then sift into a bowl.

2. Add the sugar to 20ml of water in a sauce pan, and heat until 245oF.

3. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt to soft peaks, then gradually whisk in the syrup until thick and glossy.(At this point you can stir in flavour extract, such as peppermint or lemon, and corresponding colouring such as blue or yellow, to your meringue mixture, depending on what kind of macaroons you want – see chef's tip. Or divide the meringue among different bowls if you want to make more than one colour.

4. Fold half the almond and icing sugar mixture into the meringue and mix well. Add the remaining half, making sure you use a spatula to cut and fold the mixture until it is shiny and has a thick, ribbon-like consistency as it falls from the spatula. Spoon into a piping bag fitted with a 1cm plain nozzle.

5. Line 2 baking sheets with baking paper. Pipe small rounds of the macaroon mixture, about 3cm across, onto the baking sheets. Give the baking sheets a sharp tap on the work surface to ensure a good ‘foot’. Leave to stand at room temperature for 10-15 minutes to form a slight skin. This is important – you should be able to touch them lightly without any mixture sticking to your finger. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool.

6. Meanwhile, make the filling/s (unless making chocolate macaroons – see chef's tip). In a bowl, beat the butter until light and fluffy, then beat in the icing sugar. (You can now add flavouring or nuts, and colour – see chef's tip.)Use to sandwich pairs of macaroons together.

Alternatively, you can make custard fillings,beat the yolks with the sugar in a bowl and pour them into a small saucepan together with the juice and the zest of the 2 lemons... cook on a low flame until the custard is nice and thick, as you can see; then remove the pan from the heat and fold in the softened butter.(You can now add flavouring or nuts, and colour – see chef's tip). When the butter is completely melted, place the custard in the fridge to set.

Chef's tip
To flavour and colour your macaroons, in step 2, add around ½ tsp flavour extract, then add the appropriate colouring, a drop at a time, until you reach the desired intensity. Flavour and colour the buttercream in the same way.

For chocolate macaroons, replace a quarter of the icing sugar with cocoa powder and use Nutella as the filling.

For pistachio macaroons, replace half the ground almonds with ground pistachios (whizz in a blender or finely chop by hand), and use green food colouring to achieve a pastel green. Fold chopped pistachios through the filling, if you like


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