It’s no news that University students tend to live on strict budgets and their daily meals usually consist of canned beans and the holy chicken noodle soup.
But what if we told you that treating yourself with luxurious pieces of French cuisine isn’t as hard as you would have thought?
The macaron has become almost famous in the baking world recently, with the rise of television cookery shows. But, did you know that French McDonald’s actually sell macarons in their McCafes? Sometimes even using advertising that likens them to the hamburger!
Macarons are becoming ever more popular in the UK because of shows such as The Great British Bake Off. Beca, who was unfortunately voted out in last nights episode, became well-known for these tiny French delicacies.
This recipe for macarons takes approximately one hour to make and requires ingredients worth a maximum of eight pounds, some of which you most probably already have lying around in your cupboard.
Recipe by Alexandra Lazar.
For the shells:
- 125g of icing sugar
- 50g of ground almonds
- 2 large egg whites
- 5 tablespoons granulated sugar
For the buttercream:
- 85g of strawberries (but the more the merrier)
- 95g of butter
- 160g of icing sugar
How it’s done…
1. Your first step will consist of sifting the icing sugar and ground almonds together. This will prevent your macarons from having bumpy shells.
2. In another bowl, put the 2 egg whites and, with a mixer, beat them until they form soft peaks, like in the image below. Tip: If you’re not that good with making meringue, try using eggs that are at room temperature. This will ease the whole process and you won’t ruin a whole carton of eggs before you get the right consistency.
3. Now it’s time to add the 5 tablespoons of sugar, one at a time, while beating the eggs until they reach hard peaks. The whole process usually lasts around 5-6 minutes and you get a meringue which, if you turn the bowl upside down, won’t even budge.
4. This is an optional step, but now it’s time to add any colouring gel to make them a bit brighter. Beat them a bit more and you’ve got yourself coloured meringue.
5. Now the macaron process is ready to take place. *Beware, as this is the most delicate part of the whole recipe.* Add half of the almond-sugar mixture into the beaten eggs and, with a spatula, start folding the dry ingredients into the meringue. As soon as they’re incorporated, add the remaining almond-sugar mixture. Fold again, approximately 20-25 times, until you have a lava like consistency. Be careful not to over mix.
6. Line a tray with parchment paper and pipe the macarons – try to keep them all the same size. Try lifting the tray and letting it drop from a small distance on the table, so all air bubbles disappear. Now you have to be patient: leave them to rest for approximately 30 minutes, until they form a skin and are no longer sticky to the touch.
7. Preheat the oven to approximately 150-160 degrees Celsius and then leave the macarons in there for around 15 minutes. You will know they’re ready when you peel them off the paper and they don’t break. Once they are done, remove them from the oven and allow to cool.
8. Now it’s time for the buttercream. Put the strawberries (or any other fruit you might like) into a sauce pan together with a couple tablespoons of water and boil them for 10 minutes, stirring from time to time, until they look like a jam.
9. Pass the jam through a sieve and allow to cool. Beat the butter to it is light and fluffy and add the cooled strawberry mixture and carry on mixing.
10. Now add the icing sugar, a little bit at a time, until it is all incorporated.
11. As soon as both the macarons and the filling are at room temperature, pair up each 2 similar sized shells and add some filling. Sandwich them together and there you have it, you’ve just made French Macarons!