A Macaron Frenzy
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    Makes about 30 finished pairs (60 single macarons)
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I just love a good macaron. For years, I have watched my good French friend, Fabien, making macarons, but strangely have never had the courage to attempt making them myself. I always said that it’s a specialist skill unique to a good pastry chef. This goes very well with the other skill that Fabien has and that is to know exactly how to ‘butter me up’! Fabien knows there are two petit fours that I love, one is macarons and the other is Madeleines or as I call them, ‘mini me’s’!

The culinary world has gone into a macaron frenzy. It’s macarons wherever you turn your head. So I thought it’s about time that I jumped on the macaron bandwagon and give it a whirl. So, now I have even made this slide show and posted it on YouTube. To be honest, I tend to call them macaroons, but technically the correct term is macaron, because they’re actually two different things. The two ‘oo’s refer to a coconut biscuit and the one ‘o’ refers to these little fellas. You will see my comments on YouTube.

I am also addicted to all pretty things in life, so my aim is not only to make my macarons as pretty as possible, but also to give them a professional look. I achieve this by using a decoration of freeze-dried raspberry pieces, black sesame seeds or chopped pistachio nuts. I make one batch of macaron mixture, colour it with one colour, then use different decorations and flavoured fillings to finish them off. I make my own version of wasabi and white chocolate butter cream, as well as a toasted black sesame seed butter cream and, finally, a strawberry and rose jam filling.

You might think that the wasabi and chocolate is a weird combination, I honestly I thought the same until I had tried it, but all I can say is WOW, it surpassed all my expectations, and you really must try it! The wasabi has acidic and citrus undertones and when it’s combined with a good-quality white chocolate, it works really well. Just add the wasabi to suit your taste (I suggest you start with a little and mix it very well). I use a butter cream made from unsalted butter as my carrier for the wasabi, and I opt for wasabi paste, not powder, but the choice is yours (if you only have powder, then first make it into a paste with a little cold water before use – be careful not to add too much water though, otherwise if will make it too runny).

To add a bit of glamour and sparkle to your baked macarons, dust them with edible glitter. You can get all sorts of funky shades and colours.

What I love most about macarons is that you can make as many interesting colour and flavour combinations as you wish. I have listed only a few in the recipe below. I hope the short accompanying video will also give every macaron lover the confidence to give it a go and crack the art of making macarons.

photo of A Macaron Frenzyphoto of photo of A Macaron Frenzy

Ingredients & Method

For the macarons

  • 110g ground almonds
  • 225g icing sugar
  • 4 large free-range or organic egg whites
  • 50g caster sugar
  • food colouring(s) of your choice (optional)
  • decoration(s) of your choice, such as freeze-dried raspberry pieces, chopped pistachios, black sesame seeds, cocoa nibs, poppy seeds, desiccated coconut (optional)
  • edible glitter or edible lustre spray (optional)

For the wasabi and white chocolate butter cream

  • 150g unsalted butter, softened
  • 100g icing sugar
  • 40g good-quality white chocolate, melted and cooled
  • 10g wasabi paste (I suggest that you add the wasabi to taste; add half the quantity and increase the amount to your liking)

Line 2 large baking sheets with non-stick baking paper.

For the macarons, sift the ground almonds and icing sugar together, then discard any impurities and hard lumps. In a clean and grease-free mixing bowl, whisk the egg whites until they start to aerate and lightly foam, then add the caster sugar and continue whisking until peaks form. Add the food colouring of your choice, if using, and the sifted almonds/sugar to the meringue and fold in lightly until just incorporated. Do not over-mix.

Spoon the mixture into a disposable piping bag (I prefer using disposable piping bags, but any type will work). Cut a 1cm gap at the tip of the disposable bag (or fit a 1cm plain nozzle to your piping bag if you are not using a disposable one). Spread a smear of the meringue mixture underneath the paper on each of the prepared baking sheets to stick it in place. Pipe 2cm macaron droplets (keeping them evenly-sized) onto the prepared baking sheets, leaving a 3cm gap between each (you’ll need to bake the macarons in 2 batches). Leave the macarons to form a skin, about 10–20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 150°C/Gas Mark 2.

Meanwhile, make the wasabi and white chocolate butter cream. Cream the butter and icing sugar together in a bowl until pale and fluffy. Gently fold the cooled melted chocolate and wasabi paste into the butter cream until combined. Transfer the butter cream to a piping bag and if it’s too soft, refrigerate it to firm up a little, about 30 minutes. Alternatively, if it’s the right spreadable consistency, simply leave it at room temperature until needed.

Return to the macarons and sprinkle them with your chosen decoration, if you like. Bake the macarons in the oven for 12–15 minutes or until they have a crispy exterior and a slightly gooey interior (the colour will not change much during baking). Remove from the oven and cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer (leaving them on the paper) to a wire rack and leave to cool completely. Pipe, bake and cool the remaining macarons in the same way.

Once cold, dust each macaron with edible glitter, if you like. Loosen the macarons carefully from the baking paper, then pair them up in lines with one of each pair turned over so that the flat side is facing up.

Pipe the butter cream on the flat side of all the macarons facing upwards and then sandwich the pairs together. Keep them in an airtight container in a cool, dry place and eat within 5 days. Serve the macarons with a cup of tea or coffee for a sweet treat (they also make great decorations for some cakes and desserts).

Macaron flavourings and fillings

  • Decorate the macarons with chopped pistachio nuts and use a strawberry and rose jam for the filling.
  • Decorate them with black sesame seeds and fold toasted crushed black sesame seeds into the butter cream (replace the wasabi paste with a little vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste, to taste).
  • Decorate the macarons with desiccated coconut and fold toasted desiccated coconut into the butter cream (replace the wasabi paste with a little vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste, to taste).
  • Decorate them with cocoa nibs and flavour the butter cream with rosewater (omit the wasabi paste).

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