Today is a sad day as I am leaving France and heading back to the UK to seek gainful employment once again. I have had a cracking 15 months or so and here are a few of the things I have learnt along the way…
1. … put turkeys to bed – swear at them profusely whilst waving your arms frantically.
2. … catch a bee swarm – apply the following expression ‘if at first you don’t succeed try, try, again’.
3. … birth a goat – keep calm and be prepared to get messy.
4. … cover yourself in paint – paint the ceiling with a roller.
5. … hang a picture– choose a picture that is big enough to hide all the errors behind particularly on plasterboard.
6. … pronounce the final ‘t’ in chiot when asking how the puppy is – don’t (as I have learnt the somewhat embarrassing way it is silent).
7. … construct and de-construct multiple items from Ikea – build the item instinctively and find you have bits left over when you’ve finished, then read the instruction booklet and then repeat the process correctly.
8. … cut your finger – look away when you are peeling a quince.
9. … make a chocolate cake that even the dog rejects – try a new recipe without flour and add several courgettes.
10. … say ‘goodbye’ to a puppy – with difficulty.
As a way of saying thank you to a few people that I have met whilst I have been here I made some macaroons as a little ‘cadeau’. As I have learnt over the last couple of months macaroons are not something that should be made if you are in a rush – if you don’t whisk the egg whites enough and mix rather than fold the almonds and sugar in, you run the risk of a runny mixture that does not work.
However, done right, macaroons are a real delight, they should have a crisp shell with a gooey middle. The recipe below is just for plain macaroons, you can fill them as you wish with ganache or butter cream and jam to make them individual.
Macaroons (makes 50-60)
- 3 egg whites
- 4oz ground almonds
- 6oz icing sugar
- 2½oz caster sugar
- a few drops of food colouring (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 160C fan.
- Whisk the egg whites to the ‘soft peak stage’.
- Continue to whisk the egg whites adding the caster sugar slowly (if you going to use food colouring add it at this point). Continue whisking until you have a smooth ‘glossy’ mixture.
- Place the almonds and icing sugar into a food processor and blitz until you have a finer crumb.
- Sieve the almond and sugar mixture into the whisked egg whites (don’t worry if some of the almonds don’t pass through the sieve, put it in a small bowl to be used in a crumble, cake etc.).
- Gently fold the almonds into the egg whites.
- Once the mixture is fully incorporated, put it in a piping bag with a large circular nozzle.
- Pipe the mixture in 1” circles onto baking sheets that have been lined with baking paper.
- Once all of the mixture has been used, tap the trays firmly once to release any air bubbles then leave to form a skin for 20-30 minutes.
- Bake for 12-14 minutes, then remove and allow to cool completely on wire racks.