Macarons – those pastel pastries that are the perfect balance of chewy and crisp – are one of the more challenging bakes. These freeze well – you can bake them ahead and freeze in a single layer, unfilled. The ganache also benefits from being made a day ahead.
250g almond powder
300g icing sugar
200g egg whites
200g caster sugar
A few drops of green food colouring
30g invert sugar
50g pistachio paste
500g Dulcey chocolate (or white chocolate)
To make the macarons
Mix almond powder with icing sugar in a blender until it becomes a fine powder. Grease three large baking trays and line with a silicone mat. Sift almonds and icing sugar together into a bowl, discarding any large pieces of almond. Using an electric mixer, beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually add caster sugar, beating until dissolved. Add food colouring, drop by drop, until a pale green colour is achieved. Fold in half the almond mixture until just combined. Fold in remaining mixture until combined and glossy. The mixture will break down a little. Spoon mixture into a large piping bag fitted with a 1cm nozzle. Pipe 4cm rounds of mixture on to trays, at least 3cm apart. Tap trays on your surface to remove bubbles. The macarons will spread a little. Rest for 1 hour. Preheat oven to 130°C/110°C fan-forced. Bake macarons, one tray at a time, for 18-20 minutes or until tops are firm. Cool on trays and transfer to a rack. To make the ganache Heat invert sugar, pistachio paste and cream. Pour over chocolate and whisk until smooth. Cool to 35°C before adding butter, and stir in until smooth. Spread or pipe half a teaspoon of ganache over the flat sides of half the macarons. Sandwich with remaining macaroons and set aside until filling sets. Serve, and wait for the compliments to flow.
Make your ganache the day before you intent to make your macarons. It will set up firm. It doesn’t need to be refrigerated, as then it will become too hard to pipe.
Bubbles are the enemy of good macarons. Tap them out of your piped macarons, and avoid them in the ganache, as they can cause it to spoil more quickly. Without bubbles, the ganache can last for up to five days.
You can use an immersion blender on a slow speed to incorporate the butter into the ganache, but don’t move it up and down, to avoid bubbles.
These French-style chewy-crisp macarons freeze well. You can bake them aheaad and freeze in a single layer, unfilled.
Dulcey chocolate is a toffee-flavoured chocolate used by pastry chefs. If you can’t find it, white chocolate is a great base for your ganache. You can flavour it with anything you like, not just pistachio.
Pistachio paste is a baking item, but you can make it yourself but blending pistachios with a little neutral oil to make a smooth and slightly runny paste.
Shopping for baking ingredients like food colouring, invert sugar or silicone pads? Cake artist Dhany does his shopping at Carrefour and Lakeland.