Hazelnut Macarons with Mascarpone and Nutella filling
for the shells
200g icing sugar
55g ground almonds
55g ground hazelnuts
3 free range egg whites (90g worth), left to age for 2 days
40g caster sugar
for the filling
100g Nutella or other hazelnut chocolate spread
1. Sift the icing sugar, hazelnuts and almonds 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 stiff peaks.
3. Tip all the icing sugar and almonds 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.
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 to dry out for 20-30 minutes. 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. For the filling, stir the Nutella into the mascarpone until smooth. When the shells are cool, spread the 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.