Chocolate macarons: they’re not picture perfect but they taste great

Homemade non-identical treats like these win out over shop-bought perfection every time

Easy macarons: These are based on the light, crisp, French-style macarons.

Easy macarons: These are based on the light, crisp, French-style macarons.

 

There’s no denying that the displays of pastel-coloured macarons in high-end patisseries look absolutely beautiful. Long lines of identical, delicate treats waiting to be wrapped in boxes tied with ribbons and given to someone special.

There is also no denying that making them yourself seems pretty impractical. They’re not the sort of thing you can throw together after a long day at work. This is where my easy chocolate macarons come in. Okay, so they’re not exactly like the perfect macarons you might see in a Parisian patisserie. I’ve skipped the faff of trying to form a perfect skin on the piped macarons before they’re baked, and they won’t be picture-perfect versions. But they’re quick and very simple to make and, mostly importantly, they taste great.

These are based on the light, crisp, French-style macarons, made with ground almonds and a meringue mixture, that are usually served sandwiched together with a creamy filling. They’re not the larger, chewier macaroons usually made with desiccated coconut, despite the similar name.

Whatever you want to call them, these easy chocolate macarons are a delight. A light chocolate and almond meringue sandwiched with a hint of tangy lime cream. In my book, fresh homemade non-identical treats like these win out over shop-bought perfection every time.

I know lots of very ambitious young bakers who would love to give these a try. They can be made in all sorts of colours (for coloured macarons, omit the cocoa powder and dip the tip of a cocktail stick into colouring paste and gently fold through the macaron mixture).

You can also sandwich the macarons with any creamy filling of your choice. The cream filling in this recipe is lovely, but will only keep for a few hours once used to fill the macarons. Dark chocolate (or white chocolate) ganaches make great fillings if you want to store them for more than a few days. 

EASY CHOCOLATE MACARONS

Makes 15

Ingredients
For the macarons:
2 egg whites
Pinch salt
125g caster sugar
1½tbsp cocoa powder
100g ground almonds

For the lime cream:
150ml cream
30g icing sugar
Zest of 1 lime

Method

1 Preheat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius, fan, or equivalent. Grease and line two large baking trays with parchment paper.

2 In a spotlessly clean mixing bowl, use an electric whisk to beat the egg whites and salt to a soft peak consistency. Gradually spoon in the caster sugar as you continue whisking for five minutes until the mixture is glossy and smooth (and holds stiff peaks).

3 Lightly fold in the cocoa powder and ground almonds in two batches.

4 Transfer the mixture to a piping bag. Cut a 1.5cm width across the tip of the piping bag. Holding the piping bag perpendicular to the lined baking tray, pipe rows of 3cm diameter discs, leaving space between each disc. Smooth the surface of each disc with a damp finger.

5 Leave the piped macarons to stand for 20 minutes.

6 Meanwhile, make the filling by whisking the cream and icing sugar together until thickened, then add the lime zest.

7 Bake the macarons in the preheated oven for 20 minutes. Once baked, remove from the oven and leave for a few minutes before peeling macarons from the paper and transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.

8 To serve, sandwich together two equal-sized macarons with cream filling in the centre.  

VARIATION 
For an after-dinner treat, pipe smaller bite size macarons to serve as petit fours and fill with coffee-flavoured cream.

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