175g icing sugar
125g ground almonds
3 large free-range egg whites
75g caster sugar
For the filling
150g butter, softened
75g icing sugar
1. Preheat the oven to 160°C/fan140°C/gas 3. Whizz the icing sugar and ground almonds in a food processor to a very fine mixture, then sift into a bowl.
2. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt to soft peaks, then gradually whisk in the caster sugar until thick and glossy. (At this point you can stir in flavour extract, such as peppermint or lemon, and corresponding colouring such as blue or yellow, to your meringue mixture, depending on what kind of macaroons you want – see chef's tip. Or divide the meringue among different bowls if you want to make more than one colour.)
3. Fold half the almond and icing sugar mixture into the meringue and mix well. Add the remaining half, making sure you use a spatula to cut and fold the mixture until it is shiny and has a thick, ribbon-like consistency as it falls from the spatula. Spoon into a piping bag fitted with a 1cm plain nozzle.
Line 2 baking sheets with baking paper. Pipe small rounds of the macaroon mixture, about 3cm across, onto the baking sheets. Give the baking sheets a sharp tap on the work surface to ensure a good ‘foot’. Leave to stand at room temperature for 10-15 minutes to form a slight skin. This is important – you should be able to touch them lightly without any mixture sticking to your finger. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool.
Meanwhile, make the filling/s (unless making chocolate macaroons – see chef's tip). In a bowl, beat the butter until light and fluffy, then beat in the icing sugar. (You can now add flavouring or nuts, and colour – see chef's tip.) Use to sandwich pairs of macaroons together.
Per macaroon: 160kcals, 9.7g fat (4.2g saturated), 1.8g protein, 17.5g carbs, 16.4g sugar, 0.2g salt
Macaroons taste wonderful plain, but why not add flavouring and colouring? Flavour extracts – such as raspberry, lemon and peppermint – and colourings are available in supermarkets and cake shops. Try squires-shop.com to buy online. To flavour and colour your macaroons, in step 2, add around ½ tsp flavour extract, then add the appropriate colouring, a drop at a time, until you reach the desired intensity. Flavour and colour the buttercream in the same way. For chocolate macaroons, replace a quarter of the icing sugar with cocoa powder and use Nutella as the filling. For pistachio macaroons, replace half the ground almonds with ground pistachios (whizz in a blender or finely chop by hand), and use green food colouring to achieve a pastel green. Fold chopped pistachios through the filling, if you like.