Friday, September 30, 2011

Chocolate Orange Macaroons

A few years ago cupcakes became the "it" thing in confectionery.  I think macaroons are possibly replacing cupcakes as the new super trendy sweet treat. Normally I'm not one for being trendy, generally it actually puts me off things but I do have a sweet tooth and really enjoy macaroons. There's something wonderful about teaming of the soft meringuey biscuity base and top sandwiched together with a buttercream filling. The French truly have a gift for creating wondrously indulgent sweet things! I think that last statement is just one of those widely accepted facts of life. 

But one of the unfortunate results of things becoming trendy is that you can end up paying stupid prices for something you could just make yourself. Like €1.60 for ONE macaroon - sod that!

This is the first time I ever made macaroons, a French dinner themed pot luck last month proving to be the kick I needed to finally make them. As you can can see from the pictures, I made two types of macaroons, the green ones were elderflower flavoured but if I'm honest I'm not entirely happy with how they turned out, so I'll hold off on putting up a recipe for them until I've refined it more. 

As a final note, those who have problems with sugar, be warned these things are loaded with it!

Basic chocolate macaroons: - Recipe by Rachel Allen
200g icing sugar,
100g ground almonds,
3 egg whites,
75g caster sugar,
2 tbsp cocoa powder,
Pinch of salt.

Icing: - My twist on my mom's chocolate cake icing recipe
220g icing sugar,
110g soft butter or margarine (suitable for baking),
30g cocoa powder,
1-4 tbsps Cointreau or Gran Marnier liquor.

Piping bag,
Baking paper, 
Baking trays,
Small spatula,
Cooling trays.

Preheat the oven to 170/150 C(if fan assisted)/ 325 F/ Gas Mark 3

Line your baking trays with greaseproof/nonstick paper.

Sift the icing sugar, cocoa powder and ground almonds into a bowl and mix together.

In a seperate bowl, (make sure it is cleand and dry with no traces of oil or grease as this will affect the meringue) whisk the egg whites, salt and castor sugar together until the mixture becomes thick and glossy and holds stiff peaks when you pull the whisks out.  

Next fold in the mixed ground almonds and icing sugar into the meringue with a spatula. (Folding is more of a down to underneath the mixture and back up movement which helps keep the air in the mixture rather than the circular motion of stirring which can cause the air to escape.)

Scoop some of the mixture into a piping bag and pipe out circular disc shapes on the lined baking trays like this (except maybe not like some of the more blobby chocolate ones):
Quick tip: If you want to ensure that you have consistently sized macaroons, draw around the top of egg cups on the reverse side of the paper before you begin, so you just have to pipe in the individually marked circles. 

Leave the piped macaroon discs to set for 15 minutes to 1 hour, then bake for 10-12 minutes. They should look something like this when they're done: 

Transfer the sheets of macaroons from the baking trays to wire racks to cool for 15-20 minutes. When they've cooled, carefully peel the greaseproof paper off the bottom of the macaroons.

To make the filling, beat together the softened butter/margarine with the icing sugar, adding the orange liquor tablespoon by tablespoon until the icing reaches the desired consistency. Spread a teaspoon or so of the icing on the flat side with either a flat bladed knife or a spatula before sandwiching it together with the flat side of an un-iced macaroon.

Now do this over and over again until all your macaroons are stuck together. 

These are best consumed within 48hours of making them as they are not nearly so nice when they're stale. 

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