This recipe is mostly based on Yotam Ottolenghi’s basic macaron recipe, as found in ‘Ottolenghi: the Cookbook’ . It’s a fantastic cookbook. If you only have one book in your kitchen, this should be it. The diversity of recipes is just astonishing. Everything from wintry vegetable side dishes to sumptuous teatime treats is included.

It’s such a great book that I’m getting sidetracked from the focus of this post.

Macarons can be a bit tricky to get to grips with, but once you do they’re a fantastic little party trick. They’re also amazingly versatile. A quick google search will allow you to find a whole host of macaron recipes. There’s the ever safe chocolate macarons or for the more adventurous, Pierre Hermé’s rosewater flavour.

If you’ve never made macarons before, I recommend having a look at this article by Joe Pastry for some handy hints on how to deal with them. The only advice I can give is to not be afraid of them. You don’t need to be a trained pastry chef to make them!

Hazelnut Macarons:
Ingredients
110g icing sugar
60g ground almonds
40g caster sugar
2 egg whites (I prefer to use egg white powder, simply because I hate wasting an egg yolk. If I were making macarons AND custard, of course I would use egg whites)
20g chopped hazelnuts

Pre-prep
– Draw circles that are about 2cm (1inch) in diameter onto two sheets of greaseproof paper cut to fit two baking sheets. If you have one handy, a 10p piece or £2 coin would be perfect for this job.
– If you want to, pre-heat the oven to 160C.

1) Whizz the icing sugar and ground almonds in a food processor for 30 seconds to 1 minute. You can tell when you’ve whizzed enough when you can’t tell icing sugar from almond meal. This is to make the macaron mixture as fine as possible and really should be included.
2) Pass the almond/sugar mixture through a fine sieve into a bowl.
3) Whisk the egg whites until foamy. Then slowly add the caster sugar. Keep whisking until the egg whites and sugar form a glossy meringue mixture. It should look a bit like very pristine snow with a slight sparkle in it. When you lift the whisk up the peaks should be firm and stable, but not tough. A lot of advice on macarons says that you should avoid overbeating the meringue, as this can make the macarons tough and dry. However, if you are in doubt keep beating. A dry meringue is better than a wet and droopy meringue.
4) This step is a bit tricky, as there are two ways to do it. Ottolenghi adds the meringue mixture to the almond mixture in three parts, whereas most recipes do the reverse.
— Ottolenghi method: Using a rubber spatula mix a third of the meringue mixture into the almond meal until you lose your nerve. Repeat with the remaining thirds. It can be a bit scary to do this, as it seems at first that you are ruining your beautiful meringue mixture, but amazingly, it turns out just fine.
— Normal method: add the almond meal to the meringue mixture in thirds, folding it in gently with a rubber spatula. Stir until fully incorporated, but avoid overmixing it.
5) Pipe a tiny dot of the mixture onto the corners of the greaseproof paper to stick it to the baking sheet. Pipe the mixture onto the paper.
6) Sprinkle the tops with the chopped hazelnuts. Leave the shells to settle for at least 15 mins.
7) Bake the macarons for 10-12 mins at 160C. 10 minutes is enough if you have a fan oven.
8 ) Remove the baking sheets from the oven and allow the shells to cool completely before removing them.

Filling
40g dark chocolate
10g butter
45ml double cream
15g finely chopped hazelnuts (whizz some chopped hazelnuts in a blender)

1) Melt the chocolate and butter in a small bowl over a pan of boiling water.
2) Pour in the cream and stir until incorporated.
3) Mix in the finely chopped hazelnuts.
4) Allow to set for a couple of hours in the open air.

Stick the shells together with a little bit of ganache in each.

Good luck!

Enjoy.

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