One of the inevitable side effects from the whirlwind that is GBBO, is that I’ve been wanting to challenge myself a bit more in the baking department. I’ve said goodbye no-knead bread, one bowl cakes and 2 ingredients cookies, and hello to rough puff pastry and French meringue. Martha Stewart’s recipe for Rose & Raspberry Macarons was calling my name, and our Wear It Pink day at work was the perfect time to try them. In hindsight, my attempt to whisk the egg whites to hold ‘stiff, glossy peaks’ was rather half-arsed, as I don’t have the fortune of owning a working electric whisk LET ALONE a blessed KitchenAid or Magimix, and my arm muscles gave up about two minutes into the frothy stage. Next time I will persevere (or invest in said equipment) to make these little beauties more plumpicious and delicious. That being said, it was a miracle that they ended up resembling actual macarons (albeit a bit flat) and I would say the result was optimistically promising for a first try!
- 70g ground almonds
- 120g icing sugar
- 2 large egg whites, room temperature
- 50g caster sugar
- 1/2 tsp rose water
- 3 drops red gel food colouring
- jam for the filling
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Press the ground almonds and icing sugar through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl, making sure there are no solid lumps remaining in the mix.
Whisk the egg whites and caster sugar in a large bowl to combine. Continue whisking until the beaten egg whites hold stiff, glossy peaks when you lift the whisk out of the bowl, about 12 minutes of manual whisking (6 minutes in a KitchenAid you lucky thing).
Add the rose water and food colouring, then beat for another 30 seconds. Do not be tempted (like I was) to go hell for leather with the food colouring, thinking that your macarons will turn a lovely deep shade of pink. All this means is that they will turn brown in the oven, and you will have to masquerade the end result as ‘dusty rose’.
Add the dry ingredients in one go, and fold together with a spatula until the batter flows like lava, about 30 complete strokes (but you don’t need to count, it’s fairly obvious when the mixture is completely combined).
Prepare your piping bag for filling. Pop in a half inch round nozzle, rest it in a glass and carefully (aka, messily) transfer the batter into the bag. Dab a blob of spare batter remaining in the bowl onto corners of 2 baking trays, and line with greaseproof paper. Pipe the batter into 1 inch rounds onto your sheets about half an inch apart, trying to keep them as neat as possible. Tap the trays firmly against the counter to release any air bubbles. Now leave them on the side for 20 minutes to form a skin, which will help them get a nice foot when baked!
Bake for 13 minutes until risen and just set. Let them cool for a few minutes on their trays before transferring onto a wire rack to cool completely. When you’re ready to assemble, spread them all out and match up the most likely twins (if you have been a bit haphazard with your piping like I was, you will have vastly differing sizes and need to do this step to avoid awkward pairings). Spread your jam onto the flat side and sandwich two macarons together, to make a finished macaron. This is like the chromosome/chromosomes conundrum all over again!
You can use raspberry jam like good ole’ Martha, but I used local Jersey damson jam that I picked up from the cider festival at the weekend. The two kind ladies at the stall let me eat all their white bread baguette in the process of trying every single preserve, so I like to think they’d be pleased at me putting the chosen damson jam to good use.
Macarons are best eaten after 1 or 2 days of being in the fridge, so feel free to bake them in advance if you’re holding a posh afternoon tea or fancy a more challenging bake. Admittedly mine are by no means perfect, but I was rather proud of them considering it was a first attempt and I lacked the strength and determination to fully complete the whisking stage. Onwards and upwards!