Practising for The Great British Bake Off meant making a lot of macarons! My girls are now obsessed and requested these for Halloween. The black colour needs a lot of the food colouring so I use the gel variety so as not to dilute the mixture and make it overly runny. The filling in this version is orange flavoured buttercream but you could go for a greeny pistachio ganache made with melting white chocolate and stirring in a handful of finely crushed pistachios. This recipe makes about 30.
- 250g icing sugar
- 250g ground almonds
- 220g caster sugar
- 160g egg whites
- 4 tbsp water
- 1 tsp black food colour gel
- Zest of two or three medium sized oranges
- 1/2 tsp deep orange food colour gel
- 250g icing sugar
- 100g soft unsalted butter
- 2 tbsp milk
- 4tbsp icing sugar for the piped cobwebs
- Food Processor
- KitchenAid with whisk attachment or a handheld electric whisk
- 4 baking trays lined with greasepoof paper
- Piping bag with 1 cm nozzle
- Piping bag with 1mm nozzle
TO MAKE THEM
- Draw circles of your desired macaroon size onto the greaseproof paper using a dark pencil. I use a 2p or 10p coin. Turn the paper over and then set aside. (Basically if you pipe on top of the pencil, it will leave unsightly marks on the underside of your macaroons but seeing as these are black this step doesn’t really matter!).
- Measure out the caster sugar and water into a small heavy bottomed pan and set aside.
- Prepare a large piping bag with a 1cm nozzle and set aside.
- Put the ground almonds into the food processor and give them a quick blitz to break up any lumps.
- Add the icing sugar, food colouring and give it another quick blitz. Note – You need a proper jet black base here because otherwise the cooking process reduces your macs to charcoal.
- Add 80g of egg whites and blitz again until it’s all well combined. It should be a smooth, thick paste.
- Whisk the remaining 80g of egg whites til you get soft peaks form.
- Turn the heat on for the saucepan with the sugar and water that you set aside earlier. Let the sugar melt on a low heat and then turn the heat up slightly and boil the mixture til it is syrupy and thicker. It will be 115C on a sugar thermometer when ready.
- Give the egg whites a quick whisk to bring them back together and then slowly add the sugar syrup as close to the centre of the bowl as possible. Keep mixing until this is smooth and shiny and makes stiff, glossy peaks.
- Tip the paste mixture out of the food processor into a large bowl and add the glossy egg whites to this until it is all well combined.
- Spoon this into a piping bag and then pipe blobs onto your prepared greaseproof paper.
- When you have finished piping, pick the tray up and then let it drop on to the work surface. Do this a few times to flatten any tips left from piping and immediate air bubbles.
- Put the baking trays in a cool place for about 30-40 minutes.
- At this point put the oven on to 170C and make the filling.
- Beat the butter til its smooth and a pale yellow. About 5 minutes in the KitchenAid.
- Add the icing sugar a little at a time and then leave to beat for about 5-10 minutes on a medium setting. Add a little of the milk if it’s too thick. Finally add the zest and orange food colouring.
- Now bake your macarons. Bake one tray on the middle shelf with the door slightly open for 10 minutes. Any longer and then will brown at the edges. Obviously on the black you won’t see that but the texture will get too hard.
- Take the tray out and then close the oven door to get it back up to 170C before you bake the next batch in the same way.
- Once the macarons are cool, sandwich them using the buttercream.
- To make the icing to pipe on the top macaron shell simply mix about 4 tbsp icing sugar with a tiny splash of water and mix til it comes together into a paste. The paste should gloop from the spoon vs run from the spoon.
- Pour this into the piping bag with the 1mm nozzle and then pipe a cobweb pattern on the top shell.
These really are almost too laborious to eat but I do love the look on my girls faces when they come out of the kitchen onto the goulishly set Halloween table.