It seems a bit odd that I was inspired by écalirs when I have a strong dislike for choux pastry. But this works as the perfect replacement, in fact it’s more than perfect – what’s the word for that please? Crisp macaron shells, encasing fresh vanilla cream, dipped in chocolate on one side; no choux needed, that’s what I’m talking about!
Makes 9 pairs
- 3 egg whites (from medium eggs)
- 225g icing sugar, sifted
- 105g ground almonds, sifted (105g after discarding any big pieces)
- 100g dark chocolate
- 400ml double cream
- 40g icing sugar, sifted
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Line three large baking trays with non-stick baking paper. In a large bowl, whisk the whites to soft peaks then gradually whisk in half the sugar, whisking until the mixture is very thick and glossy.
Combine the almonds with the remaining sugar, then carefully fold into the meringue mixture using a rubber spatula. The perfect consistency is when the mixture falls from the spatula in a ribbon and sinks back into the mixture after 30 seconds. Be careful not to overmix.
Using a large piping bag fitted with a 1cm diameter plain nozzle, pipe six, 10cm lines of the mix on each of the baking trays, spacing well apart. Any peaks should flatten on their own. Leave to stand for 30 minutes for the macarons to develop a skin. Preheat the oven to 150°C (140°C fan)/300°F/gas mark 2.
Bake the macarons in the oven for 15-20 minutes until they have risen and are firm to the touch. They should be light brown in colour. Macarons are perfectly cooked when they can be removed from the paper without leaving a trace; if any stick, return to the oven for two minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Sort the cooled macarons into pairs of equal size/shape and melt the chocolate. Take one macaron of each pair and spread the top with the melted chocolate, then leave to set. Once the chocolate has set, combine the cream, sugar and vanilla in a mixing bowl and whisk until it holds its shape. Transfer the whipped cream to a piping bag fitted with a 1cm star nozzle and use to sandwich the pairs of macarons together. Best served chilled.