Here is the final bake for my petit four selection. Macaroons (or macarons) are notoriously difficult to make, however thanks to The Pink Whisk’s recipe @ http://www.thepinkwhisk.co.uk/2011/01/chocolate-orange-macaroons.html, there are some great tips to make perfect macaroons.
110g egg whites (you can use liquid egg whites, or the whites from 3 large eggs)
75g caster sugar
125g ground almonds
175g icing sugar
Orange gel paste (from online or in some supermarkets)
Cocoa powder, for dusting
100ml double cream
100ml milk chocolate
1 tsp orange extract (or zest of one orange which is infused, see below)
- Cut out two pieces of baking parchment for two baking trays. Set aside.
- Get a food processor out (a mandatory piece of equipment for macarons) and put the almonds and icing sugar in. Blitz and leave on whilst you make the meringue base.
- Whisk the egg whites into soft peaks and then add the caster sugar one third at a time until it looks smooth and glossy. Add enough colouring to suit your taste (remember that the colour will get lighter as you combine everything together)
- Take half of the almond mix and sift over the meringue. Do not force any lumps through the sieve, just get rid of them. Fold this gently into the meringue. Repeat with the other half of the mix.
- Here is where you have to be careful and wary. You have to continue folding the mixture until it is smooth and glossy. This takes approximately 50 turns or 1 – 2 minutes of very gentle folding. The mixture should run in a smooth ribbon.
- Fill a piping bag with the mixture. There is no need for a fancy nozzle, just cut some of the bag off. Stick the two pieces of parchment using some of the leftovers in the bowl. Pipe small circles onto the parchment, allowing some space for spreading. You should find that the macaron will start to sink itself into a circle. Dust with some cocoa powder.
- The most necessary part of macaron making is the banging of the tray on the surface. This sinks the ground almonds to the bottom, and creating a pied or a foot that is so traditional of good macarons. Let the macarons rest for about 30 minutes. You know when they have rested enough when the macaron has a skin. This means that you can touch the macaron and it is not sticky.
- Whilst resting, preheat the oven to 160°C. Bake for 13 minutes. You can test the doneness by trying to lift one off the tray. It should come off perfectly.
- To infuse the cream with orange zest, put the cream over the heat and simmer with the orange zest for 15 minutes. In a separate bowl, chop the chocolate into fine squares. Then heat the cream until just before boiling point. When heated, sieve over the chocolate and leave for 2 minutes as you do not want orange zest in the ganache. After 2 minutes, stir until all combined. Leave to cool in the bowl until silky, like a chocolate fudge icing.
- Turn half of the macarons over and pipe, or spoon as I have done, some of the ganache on. Remember not to go right to the edges otherwise when you sandwich the macarons together, the ganache will leak out (sidenote; when I made them, the ganache melted as there were many ovens on, and it was 32°C heat)
You can see that macarons are very temperamental and there is a lot of room for error. Even so, follow these basic instructions and you will get perfect macarons each time. You can swap the colours and flavours, but I would suggest using gel paste colours and they are very concentrated and won’t affect the consistency.