I thought I would share with you my February article in Country and Town - we liked this article as we got to eat all the macaroons at the end of the shoot - yum yum!
My first encounter with macaroons was whilst filming on Masterchef. One of the other contestant’s had bought a box of colourful Laduree macaroons for his girlfriend as a present – I was immediately transfixed with the delicately coloured meringues nestled between layers of tissue paper. To me, macaroons remain one of the most romantic gifts – the perfect way to say “I Love You” – so why not treat a loved one to some home made macaroons – flavoured with rose, the flower of love. Macaroons are not as difficult to make as you might imagine – it is just a question of getting the right consistency to the meringue as you fold the almonds in and letting the meringue shells rest for an hour before baking so that they develop their classic crystallised “foot”. Macaroons store and freeze well so these are the perfect make ahead present.
Preparation time 30 minutes, setting time one hour, baking time 15 - 20 minutes
For the macaroons
120g ground almonds
150g fondant icing sugar
90g egg whites (approx 3 eggs)
85g caster sugar
Few drops of pink food colouring
1 tbsp rose syrup
pink edible lustre spray (optional)
For the rose cream filling
200g fondant icing sugar
1 tbsp rose syrup
1 - 2 tbsp soured cream
A few drops of pink food colouring
Edible rose petals (optional)
Place the ground almonds and icing sugar in a food processor and blitz to a fine powder. Sieve into a bowl and return any pieces that do not pass through the sieve to the blender, blitz, then sieve again. Whisk the egg whites to stiff peaks using a stand mixer or electric whisk and then add the caster sugar a spoonful at a time and whisk until the meringue is smooth and glossy. Add the almond powder a third at a time with a few drops of pink food colouring and the rose syrup folding in with a spatula. The important thing is to get the right texture to the meringue. It needs to be folded until it is soft enough that it just does not hold a peek. Drop a little onto a plate and if it folds to a smooth surface it is ready. If it holds a peak then you need to fold it a few further times. Spoon the mixture into a piping bag and pipe 6cm rounds onto two baking trays lined with silicon mats or greaseproof paper. If you do not have a piping bag, place rounds of mixture on the tray using two spoons. Leave on the trays for 1 hour so that a skin forms on the macaroons. Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 3/170C/325F and bake for 15 - 20 minutes until firm. Leave to cool on the trays. If using, spray the macaroons with the edible pink lustre spray. For the icing, whisk together the butter, icing sugar, rose syrup, a few drops of pink colouring and add the soured cream gradually until you have a stiff icing. Whisk for a further 3 – 5 minutes until the filling is very light. Spoon into a piping bag fitted with a large star nozzle. Slide a pallet knife under the macaroons to release them from the mats or baking parchment and pipe a swirl onto half of the macaroons. Top each with a second macaroon and serve, decorated with rose petals if you wish.
Reaching the final of Masterchef 2007 was a rollercoaster of emotion, with huge highs and lows, but I loved every minute and learnt a huge amount. I owe a great deal to John and Gregg who had faith in my ability when I did not believe in myself. Since competing on the programme my life has changed considerably. I now write cookery columns for two magazines, give cookery demonstrations and am just working on my 13th cook book - unlucky number for some but not for me!!! I love all forms of country cooking, using seasonal and locally sourced produce. This blog is to enable me to share with you a few of my recipes and baking ideas. Enjoy Hannah xxxx