Lemon and Rosemary Macarons
I have used dried rosemary here simply because I could not buy fresh in my local shop (darn you Spar… You let me down!) and had hoped that I could “steal” some from my neighbour’s front hedge but unfortunately she’d given it a thorough pruning and I had to rely on dried rosemary instead. Naturally I would use fresh rosemary were it available to me.
for the shells
50g ground almonds
1 tsp dried rosemary finely ground (I use a coffee grinder reserved for nuts/seeds etc)
Finely grated zest of a lemon
1/2 tsp natural lemon flavouring
2 free range egg whites (60g worth), left to age for 2 days
40g caster sugar
A touch of yellow gel food colouring (optional)
250g icing sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice
Method: 1. Sift the icing sugar, almonds and rosemary into the food processor and blitz to give yourself an even finer powder.
2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk the egg whites to a foam using an electric mixer then add the caster sugar gradually and continue beating until you have a meringue that stands in soft peaks. Add the gel food colouring on the end of a cocktail stick and then continue beating once more until you get stiff peaks and the colour has been mixed throughout.
3. Tip all the icing sugar, almonds and rosemary on top. Using a silicon spatula, sweep around the bowl in a circle and then cut sideways strokes with the thin blade of the spatula through the centre backwards and forwards ten times. Repeat sweeping around the edge of the bowl and doing your ten strokes five times so that you’ve done fifty strokes. Your batter should be roughly ready by this point, you are looking for a flowing lava effect. If it is too stiff continue sweeping around the edge of the bowl and doing another ten strokes until you are happy with the flow. (This recipe seemed to require a lot more strokes than usual… Maybe 80… I’m not sure why this happened today)
4. Fix parchment paper to your baking sheet with a blob of meringue batter in each corner. Fill piping bags with the batter, I use disposable ones with around 1.5cm width snipped of the end.
5. Pipe discs in a circular movement around the size of a two pound coin. Allow a similar distance between the piped circles incase they spread. Pick the tray up with both hands and rap on the table firmly to make the circles settle.
6. Preheat the oven to 150c. Leave the piped circles near a radiator for twenty minutes to dry out (winter only). In summer, leave for 30 minutes (apparently, I haven’t done this properly in summer yet but this is what everyone else says). The surface of the circles should dry out so that they are no longer sticky to the touch. The feet develop as the surface has toughened before the centre has cooked, the pressure that builds up under heating forces the top of the macaron to rise, then you should get feet.
7. Bake for 12-18 minutes depending on size. The length of time really is trial and error. I put mine on the lowest oven shelf but again you will need to experiment.
8. Hopefully, if you’ve cooked them enough but not too much, you’ll have that happy medium of a surface that peels beautifully off the baking parchment but a meringue which remains soft and gooey like a truffle inside. If you are having trouble removing them from the paper, some drops of water sprinkled under the parchment whilst still warm will help steam the macarons off. But I find that they come off best when completely cool and don’t need this. So don’t be impatient!
9. When cool, spread your filling on the flat side of a shell and sandwich with another, squeezing gently. Allow to set for a couple of hours. I find they keep in an airtight tin for a week. If you can resist them.