I’ve always imagined my nemesis to look like a mix between Mrs Clooney and Katherine Hepburn (ca. 1942), who could bake like a pro. The reality is somewhat disheartening. My real nemesis, it turns out, are candy-coloured, chocolate-filled meringues: macaroons, as some call them; overhyped faff, according to others (ok, mainly me).
When Dana first proposed the term ‘Friendly Fire‘ to describe an international bake- or cook-along, I was a little taken aback by the belligerent connotations of the term: ‘friendly fire’ is often seen as the second most misleading metaphors in recent times in that it describes the accidental death or injury caused by one’s own side in a war. There’s really nothing friendly about that. The most inappropriate metaphor, in case you were wondering, remains ‘collateral damage’, which seems to suggest damage to buildings and structures but in fact refers to civilians killed, accidentally, during an attack. Both ‘friendly fire’ and ‘collateral damage’ are therefore euphemisms. metaphors that are used primarily to conceal a harsh or unpleasant reality.Together, however, they sum up my endeavour to make macaroons.
In my defence, it hadn’t been my idea. Marta had proposed it, and to add pressure she even sent me a pack of her favourite macaroons and two bags of finely ground almonds. In other words: the challenge was on, but the odds were clearly against me:
That was my first attempt. Nice colour, though … Clearly I overstirred the mix. But that’s not the only hazard: you can see what else could go wrong in the following picture, which sums up my second attempt:
In the end I figured out that a) you had to watch out to not overstir it (yellow), and b) stir it long enough to avoid those squiggly pink swirls.
I used a recipe by the French blogger Aurélie Bastien, who has been bringing French recipes to the German-blogging world. Her recipe is straightforward – at least if you follow it – and you can get some impressive macaroons.She’s also got a video tutorial on her site, albeit in German, but even watching it without sound will give you a good idea of what it entails.
Macaroons / Macarons (makes ca. 30) after Aurélie Bastien
- 90 g ground almonds, ground very finely, like powder, and then sieved
- 150 g icing sugar
- 2 egg whites (exactly 72 g)
- 20 g caster sugar
- food colouring (paste or powder)
Sieve the icing sugar with the almond powder and mix it well using a fork.
At this stage you can start adding the almond powder, in 5 or 6 batches, fodling it in with a spatula. You want the mix to be fairly runny without mixing all the air out of it.
Meanwhile, heat your oven to 140C / 280F. Although Amélie swears she gets better results with her standard oven, my macarons worked best when I used a fan-assisted oven. It’s your call.
Bake them for 12-14 minutes. It’ll take a little before they come up in their little ‘feet’, so don’t despair!
Once they’re done, slide the parchment on a cool work surface an leave them to cool a little before removing them using a spatula or knife.
- 100g chocolate, broken into pieces
- 100ml single cream
- 1 tbs soft unsalted butter
- 40g defrosted raspberries, blended.
Heat the cream until it almost begins to start boiling; add the chocolate and the butter and stir until it is fully dissolved. Add the rspberries and leave it to stand for 5-10 minutes. Pipe the ganache in a circle on one of the macarons, then stick a similar-shaped one on top. Voilá.
Would I do it again? I don’t know. If you love them, they’re probably worth the effort – check out Marta‘s immaculate version, beautifully photographed, as ever. Looking at them, even I am tempted to give them another shot …