Saturday, July 16, 2011

French Macarons for Bastille Day

 Seven years ago I spent a year living in France, studying the great language and the great philosopher Sigmund Freud in all his perverse glory. It was during my time there that I was introduced to french macarons. Every Sunday I would take a 'me day.' Get up early and walk to 9am mass in the cathedral, then on to a swimming lesson and then spend the afternoon doing whatever I felt like before an evening cycle around the beautiful village of Angers. After my evening cycle I would come home to enjoy a little treat, usually one that I had purchased that morning from some bakery or another. I had one favourite bakery that was on the little street leading to the cathedral.
To set the scene a little more this bakery was on a little shopping street. The street was pedestrianized and first thing on a Sunday morning it was usually abandoned. The only people around would be on their way to mass or in the apartments above the shops. It gave the street a slightly festival feeling with no cars or rushing business people around. The little bakery was on the corner of a row of shops 3/4 way down the street and to be precise it was more of a patisserie, chocolaterie than a bakery. The windows of this place where a sight to behold, always filled with different beautiful sweets and treats. They had everything from the traditional to the seasonal treats and usually they had a selection of macarons, sometimes even arranged into a wedding 'cake!' These were art, not food and I dreamed of one day being able to make something so tantalizing and so perfect.

I have not yet reached that day but I have made steps towards it.

Touch of summer macarons

125g      Ground almonds (sieved)
175g      Icing sugar
25g        Freeze dried strawberries and raspberries
3            Egg whites (1 day old from fridge)
25g        Caster Sugar
Tiny Pinch Cream of Tartar
1 Pinch Salt

Smash up your freeze dried fruit in a baggy. Sieve your almonds before weighing as some bits don't get through the sieve and it is important to be exact. Sieve together the ground almonds, salt, icing sugar and crushed freeze dried fruit. The result should have just a few specks of the red throughout the dried ingredients.
Whisk up your egg whites with the cream of tartar until stiff then add the castor sugar and whisk until you reach the stiff peaks stage. Add the dried ingredients to the meringue and fold in until all thoroughly incorporated. Transfer to a piping bag and pipe 1 inch circles onto a lined baking sheet. Allow this to sit for 30 minutes before cooking in a preheated oven at 175 degrees for 5-10 minutes
Let them cool before removing from parchment or silicon and remove carefully as the macarons can easily break. Fill with buttercream or seedless raspberry jam. I also used a lemon curd here but I would not recommend as it was too heavy

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