How to make macaroons

Video guide to making macaroons

Lucy:      Hi, I'm Lucy.

Claire:   I'm Claire and we're going to show you how to make macaroons. First you need to whisk your eggs, but before you do that, it's a really good idea to make sure that your bowl is completely clean and that way your eggs will get nice and voluminous. I'm using lemon to get rid of any grease and then using a dry, clean tea towel, I'm going to wipe the bowl. There you go. Beautiful and clean.

Start whisking the egg whites

Lucy:      Very fragrant smell. Perfect, OK. I'm going to crack these eggs into this bowl and separate the whites from the yolks. Just do that by cracking it and then playing catch with the yolk. These are large free range eggs; I'm going to be using three. There we go, just get all those bits. Lovely, let's get them whisked up; just move those out of the way.

Claire: They're fluffing up nicely.

Lucy:   They look perfect; let's get that out the way for the moment.

Claire: There is a test.

Add sugar and food colouring

Lucy: There is a test, this is why I chose to whisk the egg whites. Head, please. There we go, now you can tell they're perfectly done, she's not going to get egg on her head. So I've got 75g of caster sugar here, if I give that to you, would you mind gradually pouring it in as I whisk? It should become all glossy and beautiful, a bit like a meringue.

Claire:  And then once we've done that, we're going to add the food colouring. You can add any colour you like; green, purple, you can go crazy. We are going to go for pink.

Lucy:  Lovely, are you ready?

Claire: I am.

Lucy: Food colouring? Do you think that's ready?

Claire:  Yeah, I think that's beautiful. Try that. Little bit more.

Lucy:   Beautiful. Just put that over there. Look.

Claire:  That looks fantastic.

Lucy:   Absolutely beautiful, lovely and pink and now stage two.

Mix in the almonds and icing sugar

Claire:  Here we have a mixture of almonds. There's 140g of ground almonds and 180g of icing sugar. They've been whizzed in the food processor to make sure they're really fine, because sometimes the ground almonds you buy might be a little bit coarser than we need for macaroons. But just to make sure, we're going to sieve it. We're going to put in half to begin with. There we go.

Lucy: It's amazing how fine the almonds are, isn't it? Makes you realise that when you buy them in packets, they are slightly coarser than you need.

Claire:  You can hardly see them in the sugar. There you go.

Lucy:  Beautiful. You can see there are some coarser bits that'll need a bit of a push through. All done, shall I get folding?

Claire:  Yeah. I reckon it's time to fold.

Fold the mixture to make macaroons

Lucy:      When you fold, using a large metal spoon is ideal. Any large spoon will do, as long as it's not wooden. And you use a big spoon so you have to interfere with the mixture less, because the idea is, with folding, to keep all the air that you've whisked into it in there, so you've got a nice and light, fluffy mixture. So I'm just going to start off on the outside and gently turn over. I'm just going to do a figure of eight to keep all that nice light air in. So it's not stirring, it's much more gentle than that.

OK, and I think that's all folded in and we're ready for the next half of the mixture.

Claire:  There we go.

Lucy: Do you want me to hold or are you alright? I'll help you scoop it in. There you. Shall I get rid of that? Leave you that spoon. There we go. I love the alchemy of it all, the magic of baking. You have all these separate ingredients and you end up with something as beautiful as this. That looks fine to me, we'll get rid of those?

Claire: Yeah, I think so.

Lucy: Let's get that out of the way and the last bit of the folding.

Claire: More folding action.

Lucy:  It's so gooey, isn't it? It's really lovely.

Claire: You think that maybe the mixture can't absorb all that almond and icing sugar but then it does.

Lucy:  It's funny because I'm glad we put that extra food colouring in now because the almond and sugar mixture does dampen down the colour a bit. It kind of dilutes it, doesn't it?

Claire: Yeah, but looking at it, still it's pretty pink.

How to pipe your macaroon mixture

Lucy:  Just get that out of the way. Here, I've got a piping bag. It's got about a 1cm - 1.5cm nozzle in it and I'm going to fill that up and then I'm going to pipe out individual macaroons. The best way to do a piping bag is if you fold it half down, then it's easier to get the mixture in. If you take a big spoon, try and make that as big as I can.

Claire:  Get the spoon in as deep as possible so you don't get any round the sides. Or much round the sides. In it goes. And then use your thumb to take the mixture off the spoon.

Lucy:  Then open it up again. Another big one. In, lovely, great. Let's just give that a twist. Perfect.

Prepare to cook your macaroons

Claire:  I'm going to put that there. We're going to bake the macaroons on greaseproof paper, on a baking tray. A great tip is you want all your macaroons to be quite uniform in shape because you're going to be sticking them together so they're pairs. A top tip is to draw a circle on the underside of the greaseproof paper and that will help you decide how big to make them. We used the top of a water bottle, you can use anything.

Another good tip is to make sure the greaseproof paper sticks to the tray with a dab of the mixture just to glue the paper down.

Lucy: In that corner?

Claire: And that one.

Lucy:  Have you got enough?

Claire: I think so.

Lucy:  Now the moment of truth. Now for the piping. I'm going to move this across here. So be quite confident. One, two, three. Having that template underneath really helps you get the size right. It probably feels like a mega-organised thing to do but it's really worth it when you come to sandwich them together at the end.

Another tip is it's quite a good idea to make a couple of extra individual macaroons so when you come to sandwich them together, if you do have an accident, or if you do drop one or break one, or one comes out slightly wonky, you've got some spares, some reserves sitting on the bench. There we go.

Claire:  These all have beautiful peaks but obviously macaroons don't so the next thing you need to do is dampen them down a bit.

Lucy: They're quite malleable.

Claire:  You can feel the air in them.

Lucy:   There we go. You can do them all lots of different colours and have rainbow macaroons. So beautiful.

Claire:  You can flavour them with different flavours, peppermint or strawberry. There we go.

Lucy: Perfect. So, now the fun bit. You have to, for some scientific reasons, but I quite like being noisy, you have to whack the tray with the macaroons on it three times onto the work surface. This is called giving them a foot and basically what it means is it just allows them to grow a bit in the oven.

Claire: Puff up.

Lucy:  Yeah, so are you ready? Hands over your ears, I hope they don't fly onto the ceiling. OK, ready, one, two, three, go. Again and again. And now we just need to let them rest for about 10 to 15 minutes, and that's so they form a little skin and that's before we put them in the oven. They take about 10 minutes?

Claire: Yeah, 10 to 15 minutes.

Lucy:  160 degrees, 150 if you've got a very hot oven.

Claire:  Now these macaroons have been sitting here for 10 minutes, we're waiting for a skin to form. To see if a skin has formed, the best way is to just lightly touch the macaroon and if it doesn't stick to your fingers, it's ready for the oven.

Lucy:  Perfect, thank you. In they go. And ta-dah! They're out of the oven, we're quite pleased with them. They're completely cool now; they have to be cool before you can fill them. One of the great things about them is they keep really well in an air-tight container for a couple of days.

Fill with butter and cocoa buttercream

Claire: We're going to fill them with a mix of butter and cocoa buttercream. And icing sugar.

Lucy:  The question is how much do we put in? How decadent do we want these to be? That's enough, perfect. Just put that on there, lovely. Chocolate buttercream sandwiches, gorgeous. I'll put mine just there.

Claire:  I'm going to roll mine in some crushed pistachios.

Lucy: I'll take this out of the way.

Claire:  An extra layer of texture and flavour.

Lucy:  Gorgeous.

Claire: That looks beautiful.

Lucy:  Lovely, I love the colour against the pink. Where are you going to put it?

Claire: I'm going to place it right at the top.

Lucy:  Beautiful, and a final dusting of cocoa powder. And that's how you make macaroons.

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