How do you make macarons (and what does this have to do with John Cleese)?

23 Feb

I live about an hour from my nearest capital city, so whenever the big name acts come to town – invariably on a weeknight – I find myself doing a mad dash after work to see them. And so it was this week when John Cleese’s tour arrived..

Now, he wasn’t on until 8pm, but I was blessed with the gene that spawns pathological lateness, so didn’t even arrive at the venue until 10 to. Which left me no time to get dinner, or even a snack.

Needless to say I was ready to eat my own arm – or that of the coughing machine sitting beside me – when the interval arrived. So I headed to the cafeteria with a determined look in my eyes.

Keen to ensure I ordered my essential daily intake of chocolate healthy and nutritious food, I carefully studied the display cabinet row by row, until suddenly, my eyes struck gold.

Macarons. Those tasty treats so popularised on MasterChef and so often eaten by me before I even get back to my car after grocery shopping.

Very unpredictably, good intentions won out, and I had something else. But I decided they would be a good thing to learn to bake so I could casually whip them out next time if ever I host a dinner party. But where to go for a recipe?

Well the MasterChef website naturally (ps, this is not a paid plug). Where I found a delicious looking pistachio and chocolate variety. In fairness, I should point out it is a Western Star recipe rather than an official one from the show.

But seriously, who cares? As long as they taste good. So here goes …

Pistachio and chocolate macarons
Makes 12 macarons

Ingredients
* 125g Western Star unsalted butter, chopped
* 100g dark cooking chocolate, chopped
* 125g pistachio nuts
* 1 1/4 cups icing sugar
* 1/3 cup egg whites
* Pinch salt
* 1/4 cup caster sugar

Method
To make chocolate ganache, combine butter and chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl and melt on high for 1-2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds until smooth. Refrigerate, stirring occasionally, until firm. Process nuts and icing sugar in a food processor until finely ground. Beat egg whites and salt until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in caster sugar, beating well between each addition, until stiff peaks form. Gently fold in pistachio mixture in two batches with a metal spoon until incorporated. Pipe 24 x 5cm diameter rounds of mixture on to paper-lined baking trays. Stand for 1 hour before baking, so macarons can form a ‘skin’. Bake at 170C for 10 minutes. Allow to cool completely before using a spatula to carefully remove from trays. To assemble macarons, sandwich two cool biscuits together with chocolate ganache.

So there you have it. Now wish me luck as I have a go. I personally suspect the whole thing will end in tears. But at least I can cheer myself up with this Monty Python clip featuring the Black Night. Remember, it’s just a flesh wound!

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2 Responses to “How do you make macarons (and what does this have to do with John Cleese)?”

  1. Gavin Lauman February 24, 2012 at 10:26 am #

    I had forgotten how much I enjoyed that skit. Thanks!

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