Sunday, 6 May 2012

Magnifique Macarons – Mastering The Art

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Sinead Burke is 29 and co-leads a team of clinical dietitians in London.  One of her favourite things to do is bake!  This weekend she headed out to Clapham and learnt how to make macarons as the French would say it.

What Inspired You?
This year I’ve been working on expanding my baking skills.  I’ve already mastered breads (oh why not, yes I’ve mastered them she says), and experimented with pastry.  Finally the opportunity presented itself when a colleague mentioned workshops in Clapham.

Baking for me is a great way to relax and even a very simple task or recipe can give you a sense of achievement when you’ve completed and tasted the final product.  For example, you'd never think so, but breads are one of the easiest things in the world to make.

As a dietitian, I like the fact that you can control the amount of salt that you use when baking your own bread.  A basic wholemeal loaf that’s homemade has a third of the amount of usual salt found in some manufactured brands.  

If you want to learn more about salt see my article So What's The Big Deal With Salt

What Did You Enjoy About Making Macarons?
I found it to be a very methodical process.  The folding needs to be done consistently at the right speed and sustained for 5 to 7 minutes.  When you pipe the macarons precision is key to ensure same size and that lovely round shape.  Our teacher was very informative and runs these classes as part of a social enterprise.  Money from macaron sales goes back into the local community for projects (see

Are Macarons Healthy Then?
Although macarons are an indulgent treat, their bite sized form means that you can still take pleasure from this little patisserie without blowing your calorie budget.  Just stick to one or two of these delicious delights and share the rest around with your friends.  They make a great present too!


Would You Send A Friend?

Definitely.  I would not have tried to make this alone without learning the tricks of the trade from an expert.  Now I feel confident to try more difficult recipes and I have some home-made passionfruit curd that I want to incorporate into my next macaron expedition!

I was truly surprised at how easy it was to make macarons.  Easy because the recipe calls for very few ingredients.  All it takes is a little patience and a nice strong arm to fold the ingredients (think of this as your gym work-out)!

The workshop lasted a couple of hours and could be a fun thing to do for a hen weekend.

Vanilla French Meringue With Chocolate Ganache Filling
Recipe by On Cookery School 

150g egg whites
100g caster sugar
180g ground almonds
270g icing sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla paste

1.    Separate eggs 3 days ahead.  Leave the egg whites in the fridge (you will not need the yolks).
2.    Whisk the egg whites (at room temperature) to glossy firm peaks.  Add the caster sugar after 1 minute of whisking.
3.    Sift ground almonds together with icing sugar, add vanilla paste. 
4.    If you want to colour the meringue add a small amount of good quality colour paste (around ½ to 1 tsp).
5.    Fold in the meringue into the dry ingredients using quick circular movements, until the mixture is ready for piping.  This is called the dropping stage.
6.    Transfer the mixture into a piping bag with a plain nozzle and pipe the meringues out to the required size of about 4.5cm.
7.    Leave for about 20 minutes to set, until the skin is formed.
8.    Bake at 160 degrees celcius for 10 minutes.
9.    When ready, leave the baking tray until cool and remove from tray.
10.  Pair up on the tray one row flat side up and one row flat side down.
11.  Prepare the piping bag with the filling* and pipe onto each upturned shell.
12.  Leave in the fridge for at least 24 hours, before serving.

*This recipe used a chocolate ganache for the filling, but you can use any flavour e.g. butter cream or lemon curd, or a drop of your favourite essence into the filling.

Chocolate Ganache
200g dark chocolate
190g whipping cream
50g unsalted butter

1.    Put chocolate into a bowl.
2.    In a saucepan, heat the cream on medium heat (until it just starts to bubble but no more).
3.    Add butter and stir.
4.    Pour the cream mixture into the bowl of chocolate and stir so that it melts together to make the ganache (you can also use a whisk).
5.    Allow to cool and refrigerate so that it thickens into a lovely rich paste.
6.    Pipe into your macarons once cool.

Thanks Sinead, let's eat the macarons now :)

1 comment:

  1. Oh my! The macaron has an estimated 177kcal. I'd probably stop at one..