Making these delicate macarons can become seriously addictive – there is no end to the colour and flavour varieties you can create. Use food colouring pastes rather than the liquid variety; a small pot will colour hundreds of macarons and the selection of colours now available is vast (Sugarflair paste colours are £1.99 for 25g from janeasher.com). Sandwich them with any number of fillings to match the colours – lemon curd, jam, buttercream or ganache are all perfect.
150g (5½oz) icing sugar
75g (2¾oz) ground almonds
2 large egg whites
pinch of salt
35g (1¼oz) caster sugar
pink, green, yellow or lilac food colouring paste
Preheat the oven to 170°C/325°F/gas mark 3 and line two solid baking-sheets with non-stick baking-parchment.
Sift the icing sugar and almonds together into a bowl.
Place the egg whites in the bowl of a free-standing electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Add the salt and whisk until the egg whites form soft peaks. Add the caster sugar a teaspoon at a time, whisking well after each addition. Continue whisking until the mixture is stiff and glossy. Add the food colouring paste, using the point of a wooden skewer and mixing well to colour the mixture evenly. Fold the icing sugar and ground almonds into the mixture using a large metal spoon.
Fit a piping bag with a 1cm (½in) plain nozzle and pipe 5cm (2in) discs on to the baking-parchment. Dampen the tip of your finger and gently flatten the top of any macarons that are peaky, then give the tray a sharp tap on the work surface to knock out air bubbles. Set aside for 30 minutes to allow the mixture to settle, then bake on the middle shelf of the preheated oven for nine to 10 minutes.
Remove from the oven and leave to cool on the tray. Once completely cold, sandwich the macarons together with jam, cream, buttercream or ganache and serve. Alternatively, package up in brightly coloured boxes, tied with a ribbon, as gifts. Once filled, the macarons can be kept in the fridge for a couple of days.
By Annie Rigg
5:14PM GMT 08 Feb 2011