When I was younger, I used to live in Amiens, France – known as one of the best place in France for macaroons (or macarons in French). I’ve never yet made macarons, but have been very eager to try, so M on this blog was the perfect excuse.
The recipe I used was inspired from my favourite patissier, Eric Lanlard. I only made a couple of his varieties, but there are plenty more to be made (pistachio, chocolate, lavender etc.)
Preparation time: 30minutes
Cooking time: 15minutes
100g caster sugar
100g icing sugar
100g ground almonds
3 egg whites (or 95g grams if using liquid egg white)
Food colourings (I used red and yellow)
Food flavourings (I used rose essence for the pink macarons and lemon essence for the yellow macarons)
150g white chocolate
75ml double cream
With an electric whisk, beat the egg whites into soft peaks then gradually add the caster sugar until there are stiffer peaks and the the whites have a sheen to them.
Sift in the icing sugar and ground almonds into the beaten egg whites and fold together with a metal spoon.
Divide the mixture between two bowls. In one add a teaspoon of lemon essence and several drops of yellow food colouring and fold together. In the other bowl add a couple of drops of red food colouring and a teaspoon of rose essence. Add a couple more drops of food colouring if you need to, but each drop goes a long way. Have a little taste and add a couple more drops of lemon/rose essence if required. The mixture should have a hint of flavour and not be too strong.
Line 2 trays with baking parchment. The take a piping bag and fill with one of the mixtures, folding the top of the piping bag back over your hand to avoid getting the macaron mixture all over you.
Snip of the end of the piping bag, and gently squeeze out the mixture into 3cm discs on the baking parchment. Repeat for the other colour mixture. You should have enough mixture to make 56-60 macaron discs in total.
Leave to dry for 5 minutes whilst you pre-heat the oven to 150°C. Then put all the macarons in the oven for 12-15 minutes.
Take out the over and carefully slide each sheet of baking parchment onto wire racks and leave to cool.
Whilst the macarons are cooling, you can make the white chocolate ganache for the filling of the pink ones. Place a bowl over a pan of simmering water. Tip in squares of the white chocolate and pour over the double cream. Leave for a couple of minutes and then take off the heat. Mix together with several drops of red food colouring until the chocolate has melted. Place in the fridge to set for at least 30 minutes.
For the yellow macarons, sandwich a teaspoon of lemon curd between two of the meringues discs. For the red macarons, sandwich a teaspoon of the red coloured white chocolate ganache between the meringues discs.
Over the past couple of weeks, I managed to do my L blog before the K one, so I’ve been holding off publishing it to ensure they go in order.
K this week was always going to be a fruit-based dessert, perhaps a kiwi or kumquat…something, but then it hit me, Key Lime Pie! As a fan of all pies, and with help from my all time favourite chef Eric Lanlard, the blog this week is Key Lime Pie.
Preparation time: 30-40 minutes
Cooking time: 35-40minutes
350g digestive biscuits (crushed into small rubble)
125g unsalted butter – melted
175g caster sugar (125g for syrup & 50g for the filling)
4 large eggs (separated into yolks and whites)
6 limes (2 finely sliced; 4 zested and juiced)
1 tin (397g) of full-fat condensed milk
handful of fresh mint
300ml whipping cream (whipped to peaks)
This recipe starts backwards, as we start making the decoration first. Mix 125g of caster sugar and 125ml of water over a medium heat until it reaches a boil. Add 2 finely sliced limes and poach for 10minutes with a few of the mint leaves. Then take off the heat and leave the lime slices to stoop in the syrup overnight.
To make the pie base, mix the melted butter and crushed digestive biscuits together and press into a buttered loose-bottom pie tin (ideally fluted). Leave to chill in the fridge for an hour.
Pre-heat the oven to 180°C. Bake the biscuit base blind for 10-15mins until it takes on colour. This is done by lining with baking parchment (crumpled) and carefully half-filling with ceramic baking beans.
To make the pie filling, beat the egg yolks together and then stir in the condensed milk (making sure to not waste any from the tin – it’s precious stuff), lime zest and lime juice.
In a separate, clean, dry bowl, using an electric whisk beat the egg whites together, slowly adding the remaining 50g of caster sugar until firm peaks are formed.
Fold together the egg whites and lime mixture together then pour into the biscuit-lined cake case. Bake for 25minutes until the pie mixture is set. It should be lightly golden on top. It will rise a little and then sink back once out of the oven.
Once completely cool, loosen and gently remove from the spring-form tin. Decorate with the whipped cream, fresh mint and the syrup-infused sliced lime.
The first thing to note is that you may (and I definitely do) need a bit of practice before you can make this look good. The reasons being this recipe involves poached eggs and a butter-based sauce that is more prone to curdling than a child is to eating sweets when unattended.
Having said that, the ultimate body of knowledge herself, Delia, has given guidance on navigating both these challenges and I testify that if you follow the recipes below properly they do work. Tip, do not use a whisk – don’t even think about getting it out for this recipe; modern hand blenders work a lot faster than your wrist can.
Start by making the Hollandaise Sauce:
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 egg yolks (separate from the whites and save them for a meringue later)
salt and pepper
In a small saucepan heat the vinegar and lemon juice together until bubbling. Whilst this is heating up, pour the egg yolks into a hand blender and blitz for a minute with a pinch of salt and a couple of turns of freshly ground pepper.
Turn the blender back on and then slowly pour the acids into the egg yolk.
In the same saucepan that you used to warm the vinegar/lemon juice, melt the butter. Do this over a gentle heat until it starts to bubble – don’t let it burn.
Turn the heat off, an turn the blender back on, then veryslowlypour the melted butter into the egg mixture, blitz for another minute and set aside.
In my haste to get this blog written, I just tipped the vinegar and butter into the blender and you’ll see my Hollandaise has curdled somewhat, so disregard the recipe at your own peril.
For the poached eggs, the trick is to use water that is as still as possible. I also use a deep frying pan instead of a saucepan as there’s less distance for the eggs to fall (and hence fall apart). Fill a saucepan 3/4 full of hot water and bring to a boil until little bubbles start appearing at the bottom of the pan, then turn the heat down.
As you want the water to be as still as possible, crack the eggs on the work surface and then bring as close to the water as possible before gently tipping in (in one go). I wouldn’t suggest poaching more than 4 eggs in one go until you’re a pro as the white will naturally sprawl out in the pan anyway. Boil for 1 minute exactly using a timer. Turn the heat off completely and leave the eggs to poach in the water for another 10minutes. By this point all the white will be completely cooked but the yolk will still be perfectly soft. You will need a gently touch to get them out the pan – again no vigorous movements.
Serve the poached eggs on toasted muffins and pour the Hollandaise generously on top. This goes very nicely with bacon/pancetta if you have any in.