Macarons, naturally gluten free are a real treat and once mastered you will really enjoy making them. Flavour combinations are endless, they keep well and make great gifts.
Put the ground almonds and icing sugar together in a food processor and blitz. I do this to break down any lumps in the almonds and icing sugar – your finished macarons should be smooth and shiny. Take from the machine and sieve into a bowl. Add 1 x 40g of egg white and stir until everything comes together. Add the rose water and food colour or colour and flavor of choice. The colour needs to be quite deep as it will be made paler when the meringue is added – so don’t be afraid to go dark. Set this bowl aside and move on to making the meringue.
In a saucepan dissolve the caster sugar in the water and once the mixture is clear increase the heat, bring to the boil, don’t stir but allow the temperature to reach 119 degrees centigrade.
Whilst the syrup is heating, whisk the other 40g egg white to the soft peak stage then when the sugar has reached its temperature pour it into the beaten whites in a slow steady stream with the whisk still going all the time. Continue to whisk until the mixture has cooled.
Using a spatula incorporate about a third of the meringue into the almond paste (to loosen it) then gently incorporate the rest. This is by far the most important step – fold gently and thoroughly to make sure all the colour is evenly spread but don’t beat so quickly or fiercely that the mixture becomes quite thin and runny. If this happens you may as well start again. The mixture needs to be quite thick.
Place the mix into an icing bag fitted with a plain nozzle then spread a piece of baking paper to a tray and pipe even rounds, each about the size of a 2p piece. You may want to mark circles on your paper as a guide. The macaron mix as it is piped will leave a little nipple or point as your icing nozzle is lifted away. This is exactly right because when you look again you will see the circle has settled, the nipple has disappeared and the finish is smooth and shiny. The macarons now need to dry for 30 minutes. If the environment is humid I find placing them in the oven with just the fan on works quite well. After 30 minutes test to check whether your macarons have skinned over. Gently touch and if the mixture doesn’t stick to your finger you are ready to bake. If the mix is still sticky leave for 15-20 minutes longer.
Preheat the oven to 125 degrees c (non fan). Bake in the oven for 18-24 minutes and I bake each tray separately.
Take out of the oven and put the baking tray onto a dampened surface then the shells will be easier to remove.
If your macarons crack on the top then your oven is too hot – drop the temperature a little.
To make the filling
In a small saucepan bring the double cream to the boil then pour over the chocolate which has been broken into small pieces in a heat proof bowl. Stir well until the chocolate melts then place into a piping bag. The ganache needs to have cooled to the consistency of buttercream before filling your shells.
Once filled you may want to decorate with a little melted chocolate piped over some or all of your shells.
If you decide on the lemon filling simply melt the white chocolate in a small bowl in the microwave in 15 second bursts then once melted stir through the lemon curd. Leave the mixture to go completely cold and thick then fill the shells as above.
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