Macarons - true, Parisian macarons - can easily become an obsession. With just four or five ingredients, they are nevertheless demanding little biscuits, requiring patience and preparation. The reward is a perfectly dainty almond shell ready to be sandwiched with any filling you can imagine. With today's batch, I finally managed to perfect their legendary "foot". So begins - or continues - my little obsession. In the meantime, there are a couple of places in Brighton to get a small selection of the elusive, exquisite macaroons: the Real Patisserie and Cocoa. Both Brighton baking legends.
- 90g egg whites, aged at room temperature for 48 hours (important!)
- 30g caster sugar
- 100g finely ground almonds
- 200g powdered sugar
Filling (approximate - proceed at own risk!)
- 100g cold cream cheese
- 100g white chocolate
- A few tablespoons double cream
1. Line 2 baking sheets with baking parchment. In a medium bowl, sift together the almonds and powdered sugar. In a separate, clean bowl, whisk the egg whites until foamy, then gradually add the caster sugar until you get a stiff but still very glossy meringue.
2. Add the sifted almonds and powdered sugar and begin folding gently until you get a uniform mass. Try the batter by dropping a bit onto some parchment paper: if the top smooths over by itself, the batter is good to go.
3. Put the batter into a piping bag fitted with a plain nozzle. Pipe out little bite-sized macaroons. Once you've piped a whole baking tray, pick it up and give it a good, straight whack against the kitchen counter to knock out any air bubbles. Don't worry, the macaroons won't go flying!
4. At this point leave the macaroons sitting at room temperature for about 30 minutes to harden their shells.
5. Preheat the oven to 140 degrees C. Check that the macaroons are ready to go in by touching one gently with your finger. If some of the dough sticks back, they're not ready yet! Leave them a while longer.
5. Place in the preheated oven and bake for about 15-20 minutes. I like to leave the door a little bit ajar.
6. Remove the macaroons from the oven. If they stick to the parchment paper, pour a little bit of boiling water underneath it - this will set them free!
7. Melt the white chocolate over a double boiler. Stir in the cream and let the mixture set for a bit before stirring into the cream cheese. Sandwich your macaroons. Gloat. You've just made macaroons.