Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Bonjour, les Macarons!

Macarons? Aren't they hideously complicated to make, and a touch too lah-di-dah for a simple baker such as moi? Shouldn't I be more comfortable with a bog standard Coconut Macaroon (double 'o')? Well, oui, c'est vrai - Coconut Macaroons are delicious too. But sometimes you want a touch of Parisian chic, n'est pas?

So don't fret. Macaron-making didn't live up to the hardcore hype for me (although perhaps that was beginner's luck!) If you're a bit apprehensive about giving them a go, then this is the recipe for you. To make life simple, I used Belgian chocolate spread for the filling, so that I could concentrate on the shells. The shells froze really well, so that I could make them in advance, then defrost on the day I wanted to serve them, just sandwiched together with the chocolate spread.

They also make rather excellent and delicate gifts...

Super simple Chocolate Macarons
Parisian-style Chocolate Macarons
Makes about 50 shells (25 Macarons)

3 large egg whites (at room temperature - this is important)
125g ground almonds
125g icing sugar
25g cocoa powder
125g caster sugar

Belgian chocolate spread to sandwich
Alternatives: Nutella, raspberry jam, vanilla buttercream, peanut buttercream... go wild!

1. Pulse together the almond, icing sugar and cocoa powder until it is very fine, then sift into a super-clean bowl (any touch of greasiness will sabotage your macarons).

2. Put the egg whites in a bowl with half of the sugar. Beat on a low-medium speet with and electric whisk. When you reach the soft peaks stage, increase the speed of the whisk, and continue until you have stiff peaks. Add the rest of the caster sugar and whisk until all of the sugar is disolved.

3. Add the eggs to the almond/chocolate powder, and fold gently, being careful not to lose any of the air. Don't overmix it. The mixture should be smooth and glossy and should form a ribbon when dripped from the spoon.

4. Put the mixture into a piping bag (never more than half-fill it at a time) and pipe walnut-sized blobs onto baking paper on a couple of baking trays. These will flatten out over time. Smack the trays down on your work surface a couple of times to remove and bubbles and let them site for 20-30mins, until a skin starts to form on the top of the shells, and they are no longer wet to the touch.

5. Bake at 160 degrees celcius at 12-14 minutes. By this time, you should be able to see the traditional 'foot' (ridge) at the bottom of the shells. To test if they are done, gently tap the side of a shell,and  it should remain firmly on its foot.

6. Allow to cool thoroughly on a wire rack before attempting to remove from the baking paper. Then, sandwich together with the filling of your choice.

7. If giving as gifts, wrap them in cellophane and tie with a nice ribbon - but they're best eaten within 24 hours or so. (If they even last that long!)

Who wouldn't want a gift of Chocolate Macarons?


  1. They look so yummy, i bet they just melt in your mouth.

    You have some really great ideas on here, ill be looking in!!

  2. Thanks very much. They do melt in the mouth and they're not half as hard as they look... give it a go ;)