One of my oldest friends got married in Greece back in July, I couldn't go as it would've been far too hot for me plus PhD funding doesn't really allow for extravagant holidays in the sun. As the happy couple had chosen quite a small venue in Santorini they also had a big family party in Devon last weekend which I went to. I met my friend on the first day of our undergraduate course way back in 2005 and I think she was the first person I spoke to and long story short, we've been good friends ever since. Funny thing is that we both decided that studying for doctorates would be a good idea and she has very nearly finished her thesis as she started a year earlier than me. So it won't be long now before I can call her doctor and by this time next year she should be able to call me doctor too.
So why the macarons? Well as I couldn't afford to spend much I decided that something handmade would be more special. As I wanted it to be edible it also had to be gluten free as my friend was diagnosed with an intolerance a couple of years ago. Since I had success making chocolate macarons a few months ago, I decided I would make some more but this time in a pretty colour. I used the same recipe as before but left out the cocoa powder and added blue food colouring, I think it's reminiscent of the beautiful blue seas in Greece. For the filling I used the same blackcurrant jam as I used for my eclairs. To present the macarons I chose a pretty heart shaped box from Paperchase and also found some lace print tissue paper to wrap the macarons in. I managed to fit 8 good size macarons in the box and of course these were the prettiest of the bunch. The first tray I baked were ever so slightly over done and a few of the others were a bit misshapen, these went down the 'quality control route'. As I've said before, this is a very important stage in my kitchen, particularly when the bake is being given as a gift.
I was a bit naughty this time with the macarons and didn't age the egg whites at all, the best I managed was separating the yolks and leaving the whites to come up to room temperature before I started. However I found that this batch of macarons were just as good as the chocolate macarons I made last time when I did age the whites for a couple of days, who know, maybe I just had macaron friendly egg whites last weekend?
Ingredients - makes about 50-60 shells (25-30 paired macarons) - recipe from Holly Bell
180g ground almonds
180g icing sugar
144g egg whites - this is slightly less than 4 medium egg whites
180g caster sugar
approx 1/4 tsp blue food colouring - I used Sugar Flair in ice blue
I used the same method as Holly Bell so I won't repeat it in full here but will just give an overview of the stages, for the details click the link above. First of all the almonds and icing sugar are mixed with half of the egg whites, then an Italian meringue is made with the remaining egg whites and a sugar syrup made from the caster sugar and water. The food colouring is then added to the meringue and whisked until evenly coloured. Finally the meringue is folded into the almond mixture until smooth and then the batter is piped into small rounds and left to rest for about half an hour before baking. Once baked and cooled, the macaron shells are then sandwiched together with a little blackcurrant jam, about 1/2 - 1 tsp of jam per macaron.
The macaron shells were crisp on the outside and soft in the middle and the slightly tart jam complemented the sweet almondy shells well. My friend and her husband were very impressed with them and loved the colour. There's a couple more weddings coming up soon so there could well be some more macarons to be made.
I've found a new blogging challenge to link these up with called Treat Petite run by Cakey Boi and Baking Explorer (this month's host), the theme is anything that comes in individual servings.