It's been a week of cake here in Norfolk. A load of testing for some new mould designs I'm working on for early next year and Oliver's 3rd birthday
160g caster sugar
1 tablespoon lavender sugar
1/2 tsp violet gel paste food colouring
Sift the almonds and icing sugar and lavender sugar together. Blitz with a blender or in a mill. Add the food colouring paste / gel to two egg whites and put this on top of the icing sugar / ground almond mix. The colour should good SERIOUSLY STRONG. It will lighten when you add the egg white / syrup mix and again on cooking. You do want gel / paste as liquid food colouring is not strong enough colour and can thin the batter and interfere with the rise.
Heat caster sugar and water together until they reach 110deg C. Whip 2 egg whites to stiff peaks and then slowly drizzle and whip in the hot syrup to these until it becomes shiny and stiff. Avoid getting any syrup directly on the beaters if possible !
Fold the whipped egg white / syrup mix gently into the other bowl of mix. I started by adding a spoonful and mixing that through to loosen it up and then folded the rest in.
Transfer this into a piping bag. Pipe into small rounds on grease proof paper or silicone baking sheets.
You need to stand the macaron mix like this on the sheets for about 30mins or so until the surface does not stick to your finger when touched BEFORE you bake it. Otherwise, your shells are likely to crack and the finished result really isn't the same (been there - done that !) Put on some sprinkles (if using) now. I sprinkled some dried lavender on top.
Pop into a 145 > 150deg C oven for approx 15 minutes. Remove and immediately slide silicone sheet or greaseproof paper off the tray onto the work surface.
Leave to TOTALLY cool before removing. If even slightly warm, the insides of the macaron will leave themselves stuck to the paper or silicone sheet.
To make the lavender sugar, put some sprigs of fresh lavender during the summer months in a container o granulated sugar in exactly the same way as you would to make vanilla sugar. Rosemary sugar is lovely too and also made in the same way.
For the white chocolate gananche, I used 150g of chocolate and poured over 200ml of scalded cream. Stir to melt the chocolate. When melted and cooled to room temperature, put in the fridge for a little while until firm enough to pipe.
Sarah-Jane Nash - October 2011