Continuing the romantic vibes this week, except today I’m bringing you something a little bit daintier & definitely fancier than your usual cake or biscuit, raspberry macarons. Something that does require a little bit of patience & practice but that’s what makes them all the more special to make for someone as a gift (not to mention saving yourself a pretty penny by making instead of buying them!).
Whilst originating in France, the Parisian style macarons we know today, sandwiched & filled with either ganache, buttercream or jam, were actually introduced in France by an Italian chef of queen Catherine de Medici during the Renaissance. Simple, unfilled macarons have been produced in Venetian monasteries since the 8th century until, during the Renaissance, Catherine’s pastry chef made them when she brought her chefs with her to France.
It wasn’t until the 1930’s that macarons actually began to be served sandwiched & filled & now you can find them from bakeries to supermarkets in a whole rainbow of colours & multitude of flavourings. They’re usually quite expensive to buy however & that’s because they are not the simplest things to make, they do require a little practice but once you’ve nailed it, there’s nothing more rewarding.
The hardest part is simply figuring out two things: consistency & timing. Learning what the mysterious ribbon consistency looks like & getting to know your oven like you’ve never known it before. Whilst they’re all built in pretty much the same way, whether it’s conventional or fan, all ovens can be slightly different, producing different results for us all, so when it comes to macarons you really need to understand how your oven behaves when trying to bake them, some will produce perfectly baked macaron shells in 15 minutes flat, whilst others can take a while other 10 minutes, it’s a learning process.
Once you’ve figured it out though, the fun can really start! Endless colour & flavour possibilities, macarons are easy to adapt. If you’re after a flavourful macaron though, then you can’t go much wrong with these beautifully pink raspberry macarons. Normally, the shells aren’t flavoured, as adding too much liquids can really change the consistency & end results but I took a chance with mine & really wanted to amplify the raspberry flavour, so I added in a little freeze dried raspberry powder to both the shells & the filling. The results are a sweet, concentrated hit of raspberry flavour & perfect contrasting textures (a personal win!). These raspberry macarons make lovely gifts for someone, particularly on this Valentines weekend.
For the macaron shells:
- 125g ground almonds
- 170g icing sugar
- 2 tbsp freeze dried raspberry powder
- 3 large egg whites
- Pinch of salt
- 75g caster sugar
- A few drops of pink food colouring
For the filling:
- 150g butter
- 80g icing sugar
- 2 tbsp raspberry jam
- 1 1/2 tbsp freeze dried raspberry powder
- 30g ruby chocolate
- Dried flower petals or sprinkles
- Begin by placing the ground almonds, icing sugar & freeze dried raspberry powder into a food processor & blitz until fine & well combined
- Place the egg whites into a large, clean bowl with the salt & whisk until they double in volume & form stiff peaks
- Gradually add the caster sugar the bowl, a spoonful at a time, continuously whisking until all of the sugar has been added & whisk until thick & glossy
- Sift half of the almond mixture into the bowl & fold through
- Add the remaining half of almond & use a large spoon or spatula to fold & mix through until everything is smooth & shiny
- Add enough food colouring to the glossy meringue to reach the desired colour
- Test the mixture is of the right ribbon consistency by dropping a ribbon of the mixture off the spoon back into the bowl & wait 30 seconds to see if the ribbon starts to sink back into itself
- If it doesn’t continue to mix with the spatula, using it to press out some more air from the mixture & test again
- Spoon the mixture into a piping bag & carefully pipe 3 – 4cm rounds onto a parchment lined baking sheet, leaving enough room for them so spread a little
- Tap the baking sheet a few times against the worktop to remove any bubbles, peaks & gently spread out the rounds a little
- Leave the tray to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes until they form a skin & you’re able to touch the surface without any mixture sticking to your finger
- Bake the macarons at 160C for 15-20 minutes until they’re solid to the touch on top
- Remove from the oven & leave the macarons to cool completely on their tray before carefully removing from the parchment paper
- To make the filling, beat the butter to soften before adding the icing sugar & beating until light & fluffy
- Add the jam & freeze dried raspberry powder to the bowl & beat until fully incorporated
- Either use a teaspoon to spread the filling over the flat sides of half the macaron shells or add to a piping bag & pipe over
- Sandwich together with the other half of macaron shells
- To decorate, gently melt the ruby chocolate either in short bursts in the microwave or in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of bubbling water
- Drizzle the chocolate over the macarons & finish with a light sprinkling of fried flower petals or sprinkles