When you need a wee bit of elegance in your life, you pull out the macarons... even if you're wearing yoga pants.
Macarons with Vanilla and White Chocolate Ganache
Makes about 24
For the Macarons:
110g ground almonds
200g icing sugar
Pinch of fine sea salt
100g egg whites (about 3 egg whites)
35g caster sugar
For the Ganache:
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
200g good quality white chocolate, fine chopped
Make the Macarons:
Trace 3.5 cm circles onto two sheets of baking paper. I use this template. Turn the baking paper over so that the ink is on the back and line 2 large baking sheets with the baking paper. Set aside.
Put the ground almonds, icing sugar and salt into a food processor and blitz to mix. Sift into a large mixing bowl. Set aside
Put the egg whites and caster sugar into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whisk on medium for about 5 minutes, then on high for another 5 minutes. You will have a stiff meringue.
Add the almond mixture to the meringue and begin to mash and smear them against the sides of the bowl. You don't have to be careful here, the point is to deflate the egg whites. After about 40 folds, you should have a mixture that is the consistency of molten lava - slow flowing. Start checking your mixture at 30 folds and go easy from there. If you over mix, you will have a batter that is runny. If you under mix, you will have a batter that is too stiff. Both with be difficult to pipe. You are looking for a batter that, when dropped from a spoon, back into the batter, it disappears back into the rest of the batter in about 20 seconds.
Spoon the batter into a large disposable piping bag and snip a 5mm hole in the tip. Pipe the mixture onto the baking paper, using the circles as a guide. Pipe until the circles are almost full as the mixture will spread a little on sitting.
Preheat the oven to 140C.
Rap the baking sheet against the counter a couple of times. This will get rid of any air bubbles. Leave them uncovered and at room temperature for 30 minutes. This will allow the macarons to form a skin on the surface. They should feel dry when very carefully touched.
Bake, one tray at a time for about 20 minutes, or until you are able to easily peel the macaron from the baking paper. Leave to cool completely on the baking sheets for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
Make the Ganache:
Put the chopped chocolate into a heatproof bowl and set aside.
Put the cream and vanilla seeds along with the pod into a small saucepan and heat to almost boiling. Fish the vanilla pod out and discard. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and stir until melted. Set aside to cool to room temperature, by which time it should be the perfect piping consistency.
Pair the macaron shells up so that you have shells of similar size. Pipe a generous about of the ganache on to half of the shells and top with the other half, sandwiching the filling between and gently pressing them together to squash the ganache out to the edges.