These guys have really let themselves go, wouldn't you say? While most macarons are sveltly stuffed with a dollop of filling, these are teetering precariously with a greedy helping of cranberry cream. I couldn't be more pleased with them!
After faffing about with a few versions of stabilised fruit cream I settled on this cranberry edition, using some frozen cranberries that have been languishing about the freezer since Christmas. The cranberry cream rounds are easy enough to cut out - just use a small, plain cookie cutter and voila.
Note: this is a make-ahead recipe, as the cream needs to set for at least 2-3 hours, but preferably overnight.
Stabilised fruit cream:
- 250ml double cream
- 1 to 1 1/2 cups of tart fruit (I used frozen cranberries)
- 2/3 cups sugar
- 2 teaspoons gelatine
- 90g egg whites, aged for at least 48 hours
- 30g caster sugar
- 200g icing sugar
- 100g finely ground almonds
- A few drops red food colouring
For the stabilised fruit cream: Place the fruit and sugar in a small pan and bring to a simmer until the sugar is dissolved and the fruit is soft. At this point you can strain the mixture through a sieve or smush into a puree, depending on how smooth you want your cream. In either case, set aside to cool.
Place the gelatine in a medium bowl and add 3 tablespoons of water. Leave for 5 minutes until the gelatine is spongy, then put in the microwave for 10-15 seconds until dissolved. Stir in the fruit mixture.
In a seperate, chilled bowl whip the cream to soft peaks. Fold into the cooled fruit puree then transfer to a square dish (I used a 9 by 9 inch dish) and pop into the fridge to set.
For the macarons: Line 3-4 baking sheets with parchment or silicon mats. Preheat the oven to 160° C (140 if using a fan oven). Blitz the icing sugar and powdered almonds in a food processor until very fine. Beat the egg whites on high, adding the caster sugar in small batches, until stiff, glossy peaks form. Add a few drops of food colouring and beat quickly again, until the colour is incorporated. Tip: I tend to put a few tablespoons of the beaten egg whites into a small bowl, add and mix in the food colouring then transfer the resulting "roux" back into the rest of the meringue.
Gently but quickly mix the ground nuts and sugar into the meringue until the dough is glossy and flowing like lava. Transfer into a piping bag fitted with a plain nozzle and pipe even cookies onto the baking sheets. Leave the cookies to set for 15-20 minutes before baking to allow them to form a "skin" on top.
Bake for about 12 minutes then remove and leave to cool completely. If the macarons stick to the matt, pour a bit of hot water underneath the baking parchment and swirl around gently to steam the cookies off.
When ready to assemble, select a plain cookie cutter that roughly matches the size of your macarons and cut out rounds of cream, wiggling them atop a macaron and sandwiching. Stretch your jaw wide and devour.