Macaroons (makes 12 single macaroons/12 sandwiched together)
I was wandering along in Soho, NYC last week exploring the neighborhood and came across the macaroon mecca, Laduree. As I needed a present to take to a friend I went in and chose a selection of 8 different macaroons which were put in a very pretty little box. Their macaroons are gluten free and come in all sorts of colors. However, the filling may not be dairy free as I have read that many macaroons have a ganache filling. On researching the subject, a good dairy free filling is a fruit butter (that is just the name, there is no butter in it) or fruit conserve. I found a thick, smooth plum jam in a local store and used that as a filling. The filling has to be firm enough to stick the macaroons together without running outside the macaroon or dripping. The macaroons can also be eaten without a filling. I added some red food coloring to my macaroons and they looked a pretty strawberry color. However, I will avoid using coloring again because of the ‘E’ coloring ingredient (warning on the side of the bottle says that it could make children hyperactive). The color can instead come from the fruit filling.
You will also need enough waxed paper to line 2 baking trays, a piping bag with a round half inch nozzle and the oven should be set at 150 degrees Celsius/300 degrees Fahrenheit. If you have a convection oven you should lower the temperature by 25 per cent.
4 oz ground almonds
6 oz confectioner’s sugar/icing sugar
3 x egg whites
3 oz caster sugar (if you don’t have caster sugar, put regular sugar in a food processor to make it finer)
Place ground almonds in a food processor.
Add the confectioner’s sugar 1 tbsp. at a time.
Whisk the egg whites until they make peaks.
Add caster sugar 1 tbsp. at a time, whisking as you go.
Add a small amount of food coloring, if using.
Fold almond mixture into egg white mixture.
Leave macaroons to stand for about 10 minutes, then gently poke the top – they should be firm enough that you do not leave a finger indentation.
Pipe mixture onto waxed paper, making 2″ circles and leave a space between each macaroon as they spread a bit.
Place baking trays in oven, making sure they are on a shelf in the middle of the oven.
Cook for 15 minutes, then check for doneness by taking one macaroon off the waxed paper with a palate knife – they should neither be too hard or too chewy. Put back in oven if they need a few more minutes but keep an eye on them.
Transfer to a baking rack.