Well the first post back really had to be a baking recipe didn’t it!?
This year saw the return of my favourite ever TV programme – The Great British Bake Off! Every week I would sit glued to my sofa while it was on, torn between the jealousy of wishing I was there in the bake off tent, and the relief of knowing I won’t ever have to face Paul and Mary if …shock horror…my pastry ends up with a soggy bottom!
One thing which appeared on the Bake Off a fair bit, but which I have always been too nervous to make, are macarons, but until recently I thought I didn’t like them because they were made with ground almonds. I tried one recently and…mind blown! I have been missing out for far too long, and so I promptly went out and bought a wee present for myself – Macarons by Annie Rigg. I know some of you may say that macarons are just the latest fad after the cupcake, but they look too pretty for me to be able to resist and a couple of people have reassured me that they are not as difficult as some people make out.
Now although this book is crammed full of fantastic flavour combinations, my novice status meant I had to start with one of the more basic macarons! Also, my best chance of getting Ben to try one was to involve chocolate, and so I decided to try the basic chocolate ones, filled with a dark chocolate ganache.
To make a batch of these you need:
- 2 tbsp cocoa powder
- 200g icing sugar less one tbsp (weird I know!)
- 100g ground almonds
- 3 egg whites
- pinch of salt
- 40g caster sugar
- red food colouring
Now the trick seems to be to make a sort of meringue out of the egg whites and caster sugar, before folding into the dry ingredients. I was absolutely petrified of knocking all the air out of the egg whites, but managed to get everything mixed ok – just VERY slowly!
The recipe said to pipe rounds of about 5cm. So again, in my nervous novice state I drew circles of exactly 5cm onto the baking parchment before piping the macarons. This is where I think I could change things a little next time. I piped in a swirl, but this never entirely disappeared when I left the macarons to set, and so next time I think I need a slightly bigger nozzle and to pipe from a single point in the centre of the macarons. Don’t think it changes the taste but it would make the top smoother! I would perhaps make them a touch smaller than 5cm as well.
They needed about 10 minutes at 170 degrees, and when they were cool I filled them with a chocolate ganache made from:
- 150g dark chocolate
- 150ml double cream
- 1 tbsp muscovado sugar
- pinch of salt
For a first effort I don’t think they went too badly! They definitely seemed to need longer to dry out than it suggested in the book, but they looked like macarons, complete with the “feet” at the bottom. They tasted brilliant!
I can’t wait to try more of the recipes from this book – although feel free to suggest any other flavours you have seen or made yourselves and I will give them a go!