Is there any confection more contentious than Turkish delight? Some relish it as an exotic treat, others scorn it as slimy, perfumy gloop. Personally, I don't feel strongly about it either way. I don't crave it, I won't refuse it if it's on offer. But I did want, for the longest time, to make Turkish delight macarons. The time had finally come.
Why? Well, I've long wanted to sandwich my macarons with perfect fillings cut out with the help of a cookie cutter. Turkish delight seemed like the perfect candidate: strongly flavoured, very sweet and soft, but firm enough to be cut.
I didn't quite succeed and I blame it on never having made Turkish delight before. The mixture almost, almost set to a perfect firmness but wasn't quite firm enough to allow me to cut out little ovals of it and slide them into the macarons. I ended up slopping spoonfuls of the fragrant stuff into the biscuits. But the result was, I think, still very pretty, especially as light shone through the slightly translucent filling.
Oh, and they were very delicious as well!
Note: the filling needs to be made a day ahead to allow it to set. You'll have more than you need to sandwich the macarons, so feel free to divide this recipe even further! Obviously you'll need to use a smaller pan to spread the mixture if you do so.
For the turkish delight filling:
- 2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 Tbsp lemon juice
- 1/2 cup, plus 1 Tbsp corn starch
- 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
- 2 cups water
- 1/2 tsp powdered food colouring
- 1 Tbsp rose water
- Equipment: candy thermometer, jelly roll pan, parchment paper, butter or oil for greasing the pan, small ramekin
In a heavy pan, combine the sugar, 3/4 cups of water and lemon juice. Let the sugar dissolve over low-medium heat before bring it to a rapid boil. Allow the syrup to boil until it reaches 240 degrees C (soft ball stage). Set aside.
In a separate pan, combine the remaining water, corn starch, cream of tartar and stir over medium heat to remove any lumps and create a smooth mixture. When the corn starch stars to boil and resembles glue, add the syrup mixture to it, turn the heat to low and allow the lot to simmer, stirring frequently, for 1 hour until very thick and gluey.
Once the hour is up, place the food colouring in a small ramekin. Add a few spoonfuls of the cooked mixture to it, stirring to make a coloured "roux". Add this back into the pan, mixing to distribute the colour evenly. Add the rose water and stir thoroughly.
Line a jelly roll pan with parchment paper and butter or oil generously. With the help of a palette knife, spread the mixture onto it. Leave to set overnight in a cool place (not the fridge).
For the macarons:
- 90g egg whites (about 3), aged for 48 hours
- 30g caster sugar
- 200g icing sugar
- 100g very finely ground almonds
- 1/4 tsp powdered food colouring
Blitz the almonds and icing sugar in a food processor until very, very fine. Using a standing or hand-held mixer, beat the egg whites to a light foam then continue beating, adding the caster sugar in small batches, until firm, glossy peaks form. As with the Turkish delight mixture, add a small quantity of the egg whites to the food colouring and mix to dissolve the powdered colour thoroughly. Add back to the egg whites and fold gently but thoroughly.
Sift the almond-icing sugar mixture over the egg whites and fold rapidly and thoroughly until the mixture is uniform.
Line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper. Using a plain tip piping nozzle, spoon the mixture into a piping bag and pipe your macarons. Leave on the counter for about half an hour to let the biscuits dry out. They are ready when no longer sticky to the touch.
While the macarons are drying, preheat the oven to 160 degrees. Bake for 12 or so minutes with the oven door slightly ajar.