Adventures in Macaroons – Cooking the Larousse Gastronomique

It all started with the lemon curd.

I was wandering around London on our last trip there when I stumbled into Fortnum & Mason.  This place is a ridiculously amazing (and slightly overpriced) candy store for adults.  I spent way too much time wandering the aisles of Stilton cheese, honey and various jams convincing myself not to buy everything in there, but couldn’t walk away without this lemon curd.

For weeks it sat on my counter and taunted me until I finally succumbed to its buttery lemonyness.  Unfortunately I then discovered that I only had 4 weeks to use it up.  I then did something a little crazy, I busted out my copy of the Larousse Gastronomique and decided I’d whip up some macaroons.

gerbet macaroons – from the Larousse Gastronomique

To make 80 small or 20 large macaroons, sift together 480g icing sugar and 280g ground almonds. Yes, that is a lot of icing sugar – but really how many macaroons can you eat (since I couldn’t find ground almonds I bought some sliced almonds and ground them in the food processor).

Whisk 7 egg whites very stiffly in a bowl and quickly sprinkle over the sifted ingredients.  Fold in from the centre towards the edges while turning the bowl. (If you’re planning on using food colouring for your macaroons – put in 3 drops now).

Stack 2 baking sheets of the same size one on top of the other to prevent the undersides of the macaroons from becoming too brown and line the top one with parchment paper. (My baking sheets are warped from years of use so I couldn’t quite get them to stack, also I, unlike those folks at the Larousse Gastronomique do not have an industrial sized oven and was forced to cook the dozens upon dozens of macaroons in a number of batches so couldn’t sacrifice a baking sheet for said cause.  In any case, those that cooked through came out lovely and not too brown).

Pipe the macaroons into round shapes (either 2.5cm or 7cm in diameter), 3cm apart, then leave them to rest at room temperature for 15 minutes.

Bake the macaroons in a preheated oven at 150 degrees Celsius, the small ones for 10-12 minutes and the large ones for 18-20 minutes, leaving the door slightly ajar.  When you take them out of the oven, lift a corner of the greaseproof paper and pour a little water on to the baking sheet.  The dampness will make it easier to detach the macaroons from the paper.   (I had serious problems with the bake times, but in all honesty I think it was because my oven is not the newest oven ever and my macaroons were a variety of shapes and sizes, also since I needed to reuse my baking sheets I couldn’t use the water trick but found the macaroons came off easily when the batch had cooked all the way through).

Remove the macaroons and leave to cool completely before filling them with cream, jam or ganache.  (Woohoo lemon curd!!!)

Not the prettiest macaroons ever, but they sure taste good!

Long story short this way quite the baking adventure and I’d definitely do it again.   Although Macaroons are hard work (insert stress here), they’re quite the tasty little treat once they’re put together.  I think I’ll go grab one from the kitchen.

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