“Come here and let me give you a big smackeroonie” my 6-year-old self can be heard running around the table saying (in slightly pommy accent), in one of my parents home videos. To me, a smackeroonie was a big sloppy kiss, not a wad of cash. Thankfully for some, I’ve become a little more bashful in my old age and spend more time running around tables offering up tokens of my love on a plate instead.
Smackeroonies (or smackeroos) and macarons, really have nothing in common, other than I think they’d both be well received by your love this Valentines Day. Although I’m not a supporter of all the Valentines hoo-ha – every day should be the day you tell someone you love, just how much – I am a sucker for anything pink, heart shaped and romantic in general. So with this in mind, I’m making raspberry and cream filled macarons.
I’ve never made macarons before, but when a beautiful woman tells you “they’re actually really easy” to make (Lorraine Pascale, I’m looking at you), I thought it was about time I tackled the fear that Zumbo Masterchef macaron “tower of terror” had inflicted. I don’t know if I’ve talked about my new lady-foodie-crush Lorraine before? Try watching her series Baking Made Easy and see how much attention you can pay to what she’s actually cooking. It doesn’t hurt that she’s an ex-model but I love her simple approach to cooking and she looks like she really does eat all the delicious things she bakes – whilst staying in ridiculously good shape! Not fair.
According to Paris’s renowned Ladurée patisserie, a true macaron should have a base of almonds – never coconut – and be sandwiched with just the right amount of filling. It should have a glossy, domed top, and a thin crisp shell which yields to a soft interior when you bite into it.
Mine weren’t bad for a first attempt. They hit all the right notes; a biscuit that’s crunchy on the outside and a little bit gooey-chewy in the middle. But they were a little lumpy and rough around the edges (rustic?) – I think due to my almond meal being stored in the fridge and sugar that hadn’t completely dissolved. Note for next time: mix the egg whites and sugar over a double broiler (or a pot of simmering water with a bowl resting on top), allowing the heat to help dissolve the sugar, without cooking the egg whites.
Of course they’re not a patch on the perfect glossy rounds you’ll find at Zumbo or Ladurée – plus their packaging is a little bit fancier than my recycled egg carton. But you just know they were made with love. Not picture perfect, but they still tasted great… and a great excuse to get out my pink heart shaped doilies!
Raspberry & cream macarons
Makes: 20; Prep time: 1 hour (plus resting & cooling): Cook time: 20 minutes
2 cups icing sugar, firmly packed
1 1/2 cups almond meal, firmly packed
4 egg whites
1/3 cup caster sugar
Pink food colouring, a few drops
200ml pouring cream
1/2 cup frozen raspberries, smashed
– Preheat oven to slow 150’C. Line 2 oven trays with baking paper. In a large bowl, sift icing sugar and almond meal together
– In a medium bowl, beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually add caster sugar, beating between each addition, until sugar dissolves
– Using a large metal spoon, carefully fold in icing sugar mixture and food colouring
– Transfer mixture into large piping bag fitted with 2cm plain piping nozzle. Holding nozzle tip 2cm above baking tray, pipe straight down to create 4cm rounds, 2.5cm apart. Lightly tap trays once on bench . Set aside for 30 minutes (in a cool dry place, to allow skin to develop – this prevents cracking and allows them to maintain their shape when cooking). Bake for 15-20 minutes. Allow to cool on trays
– Whip cream and stir through raspberries. Fill piping bag and pipe small amount on biscuit halves, then sandwich together