Bonjour mon amies! Comment allez- vous?
When it comes to treats the French really do know how it’s done. I mean I’ve personally never met a patisserie I didn’t like, have you? So when I heard this week’s GBBO challenge was focused on European delicacies, there was only one country I wanted to venture to.
I bought up the relevant ingredients and set about transporting myself to a little cafe on a Parisian street where I’d sit and watch the world go by while drinking cafe au lait and munching on a little pink fluffy treat – bliss.
Although perhaps not technically referred to as ‘cakes’ I simply couldn’t help myself this week and was desperate to attempt pink macarons. I’ve always wanted to give these little morsels of meringuey goodness a go but feared I wouldn’t get that Parisian perfection quite right. As it turned out they were much easier than I anticipated (a theme of these baking posts it seems) and I was utterly charmed with the little blighters in the end.
Teamed with my new antique coffee set, which I picked up in a local charity shop while in Camberley for the weekend, I had the makings for a very au Francais looking afternoon tea!
What you’ll need…
100g icing sugar
100g ground almonds
2 egg whites
55g caster sugar
Pinch of salt
Pink food colouring paste (or whichever colour you like)
For the icing
100g unsalted butter
75g icing sugar
Pink food colouring paste
How it’s done…
1. Measure out your icing sugar and almonds and sieve into a large bowl (the sieving is important, you might spot a few bumpy bits on mine- that’s through in-adequate sieving)
2. Pre- heat your oven on a low heat of around 140 degrees Celsius and without the fan option if you can.
3. Seperate your eggs and place the whites in a bowl with the pinch of salt.
4. Whisk your egg whites until they reach stiff peaks and you can turn the bowl upside down without them moving.
5. Slowly add your sugar a little at a time whisking as you go.
6. Add a little of the food colouring to the egg whites to form your colour of choice – I went for a pale pink but choose whatever you like.
6. Gently fold in the icing sugar mixture to your egg whites a little at a time until all is blended. The mix will have lost some of its air but should still be quite fluffy.
7. On a piece of baking parchment, draw around a small glass to create even circles and place on a baking tray.
8. Using a piping bag and basic round nozzle, pipe a small splodge of your macaron mixture into the circles (don’t go all the way to the edges as they will expand in the oven)
9. Tap the baking tray fimly on a surface a few times to release air bubbles and let the macarons settle. Leave to sit for 20 mins.
10. Place the baking tray in the centre of the oven for 8 minutes then open the door and waft out the steam briefly before cooking for another 8 minutes.
11. When the macarons are crispy on top, remove from the oven and place the whole sheet of parchment on a wire rack to cool. Don’t be tempted to lift them off the paper before they are completely cool!
12. In the meantime beat your butter in a bowl with the icing sugar and then add a touch of vanilla essence and food colouring to create your butter icing. Depending on the colour of your macarons you can alter the flavours here. For example lemon flavour icing works well with yellow macarons while green could call for a more adventurous pistachio.
13. Once completely cool lift your macarons off the baking parchment and spread a little icing on one side before sandwiching them together.
14. When sandwiching, finish with a little twist to ensure they stick properly.
15. You should really leave them in the fridge for 24 hours to properly set but if you prefer you can make yourself cuppa and indulge straight away, like me!