Raymond Blanc reveals the secrets to the perfect macaroon, one of the benchmarks by which a good patisserie is measured. You may need a little practice to get them right but, as M Blanc says, “every mistake will still be delicious. Trust me; I know!”
Equipment and preparation: You will need a kitchen mixer, a sugar thermometer and a piping bag fitted with an 8mm/¼in nozzle.
Heat the oven to 170C/325F/Gas 3 and place two unlined baking trays on the middle shelves.
For the pâté à macaron, melt the chocolate in a bowl suspended over a pan of simmering water – do not let the bottom of the bowl touch the water.
In a large bowl, mix the icing sugar, ground almonds and egg whites to form a paste.
Fold in the melted chocolate and set aside.
For the Italian meringue, whisk the egg whites and lemon juice in a kitchen mixer on a medium speed.
Meanwhile, place the sugar and water in a small pan and cook over a high heat until it has reached 117C/242F or the ‘soft ball’ stage.
Reduce the speed on the mixer to its lowest setting and pour the sugar syrup onto the firmly whipped egg whites. Take extreme care when you do this as the syrup will be very hot and will burn your skin if it splashes.
Increase the speed to high and continue to whisk for 2-3 minutes.
Fold the Italian meringue mixture into the pâté à macaron until it reaches the ribbon stage – this is when a spoonful of the mixture poured back into the bowl sits like a ribbon on the surface. Do not over-mix or the macaroon will crack when cooked.
Place the mixture in a piping bag fitted with a 8mm/¼in nozzle.
Line two baking trays with greaseproof paper and pipe on 3cm/1in discs, at least 2cm/¾in apart.
Remove the heated baking sheets from the oven and carefully slide the greaseproof paper with the piped macaroons onto them (pre-heating the baking trays kick-starts the cooking and forms the distinctive 'collarette' on the base of the macaroons).
Bake in the oven for eight minutes and then leave on a cooling rack until completely cold.
For the ganache, place the cream in a small pan and bring to a boil.
Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the chocolate until the mixture is smooth then place the in a piping bag fitted with a 8mm/¼in nozzle.
Pipe about one teaspoon of ganache onto the flat side of a cooled macaroon and top with another macaroon to make a sandwich.
Repeat with the remaining ganache and macaroons and store in a single layer in an airtight container in the fridge.
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