I’ve long had a love-hate relationship with macarons since the Zumbo craze a few years back- they’re delicious, of course, but they’re also expensive and just a tad pretentious for what they are. And I was convinced that they’d be hard to make, even though I do know my way around meringue and baking in general. I wrote them off as something I’d never bother to make years ago.
For my later, I received a gift certificate from my mother in law to the Paris International Cooking School (sadly, in Sydney, not Paris, but it was still an awesome gift!), and walked out of there a few weeks later with a bunch of recipes, a full belly, and, inexplicably, a bottle of gourmet coffee flavoured syrup I’d purchased on a whim. Predictably, that syrup sat in the dark recesses of my baking cupboard for a month or so, until today, when another impulse purchase took me by surprise – a 2kg bag of almond meal.
You can see where this is going.
With all these ridiculous ingredients, guests on their way, and a healthy fear of what was to come, I had to work out the most fool-proof option for making these macarons. Thank goodness for Elaine and her recipe at The Spruce Eats,
as not only did she provide a really simple and effective base recipe that I could change up a bit, but she also talks the reader off the ledge every step of the way.
All I did differently here was add a teaspoon of cocoa to the macaron mixture, and a dash of coffee syrup to the filling. And it was perfect. Chewy, light, barely sweet, and a breeze to cook for only 110 calories a pop (if you make 12). I did, however, find that I had to keep them in the oven longer, but ovens are notoriously fickle, so I took that with a big old grain of salt.
3/4 cup icing sugar
3/4 cup almond meal
2 egg whites
Small pinch maldon salt flakes
1/4 cup caster sugar
2/3 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup icing sugar
2tsp coffee syrup
Preheat the oven to 140 C. Line two baking trays with baking paper, and draw 12 circles on each of them, using a shot glass as a stencil.
Sieve the icing sugar and ground almonds into a large mixing bowl, ensuring there are no lumps – I like to whisk the end result, just to be sure.
In a separate clean bowl (I used my stand mixer here), whisk the egg whites and salt until they form soft peaks. Add the caster sugar little by little, whisking until the whites are glossy and stiff peaks form.
Gently fold in the almond mixture. Don’t worry that the meringue loses air, this is normal.
Fill a piping bag with the mixture. Don’t use the star nozzle like I did at first – you want a round, flat base here. Pipe the mixture onto the rounds, filling in the circle.
Gently bang the baking trays on the bench to release any air pockets. Leave on bench to dry out for 20 minutes.
Bake the macarons for 15 minutes, opening the door halfway through to allow any steam (and hence moisture) to escape. Remove from the oven, and allow to sit in their trays until cool. They might seem a little underdone, but will firm upon cooling.
To make the filling, cream the butter and gradually beat in the icing sugar. Add flavouring and beat a little more. Spread 1/2 tsp of filling onto the flat side of one macaron, sandwich with another, and gently twist to cement them together. Repeat with remaining cookies.