Macarons – tiny, elegant, ludicrously overpriced – were the first patisserie I ever made. This was years ago, as an impoverished student living almost exclusively off whichever random collection of foods had been yellow-stickered for clearance at the supermarkets.
I quickly learned that, despite a premium price tag and a reputation for being fiendishly tricky to make, macarons are pretty cheap and easy to do. Just take your time. There are many, many blogs devoted to how to perfect them, but I wouldn’t worry too much a few cracks or wonky ones won’t distract from them being delicious.
If perfection is something you strive for, sift the ground almonds. That’s the key to getting smooth, glossy shells. You will need a sugar thermometer.
Prep 1 hr
Rest 30 min
Cook 12 min
For the macarons
160g ground almonds
160g icing sugar
3 large egg whites
Orange gel food colouring
160g caster sugar
For the clementine curd
Juice of 8 clementines (about 350g)
Juice of 1 lemon (if your clementines are very sweet)
3 tsp cornflour
3 large egg yolks
125g cold, unsalted butter
In a bowl, mix the ground almonds, icing sugar, half the egg whites and enough of the food colouring to give a bright-orange colour.
Pour the remaining egg whites into a large, clean bowl. Tip the caster sugar into a small saucepan with a few tablespoons of water, then gently warm over a low heat until the sugar dissolves. Turn up the heat and boil the syrup until it reaches 115C on a sugar thermometer.
Use an electric whisk to whip the egg whites to soft peaks, then pour in the syrup a little at a time, whisking as you go, until thoroughly combined. Leave to cool for a few minutes, then fold into the almond mix until you have a thick batter that comes together after a few seconds when you draw a spoon through it.
Put the mix into a piping bag with a 1cm nozzle, and pipe roughly 25mm rounds on to baking trays lined with greaseproof paper. Give the trays a couple of firm taps on a worktop to bring any bubbles in the batter to the surface, then set aside for at least 30 minutes. Bake at 150C (140C fan)/gas 2 for 12 minutes, until firm.
To make the clementine curd, boil the citrus juices in a large pan (add the lemon juice only if your clementines are very sweet) until halved in volume– the easiest way to do this is to weigh your pan before and after adding the juice. Stir in the cornflour over a medium heat for a few minutes, until the mixture thickens. Continue to cook for a couple more minutes, until there is no graininess on tasting. Turn off the heat and stir through the sugar until dissolved, then add the egg yolks. With the heat on low, keep stirring until the clementine curd becomes a loose paste. Beat in the cold butter until smooth.
To assemble the macarons, pipe a little of the curd on to one macaron shell, then sandwich together with another and repeat.