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How Baking Works

As a stand-alone dessert, this recipe is unusual. Macarons are not usually desserts – they can sometimes be on desserts so the pompous creator (myself included) can show off a bit.
But on their own they are petit fours or individual treats, too small to be a proper pudding.
These are massive bruisers of macarons, however, designed to be demolished as individual desserts to round off a meal in the most elaborate way possible.

Except it’s actually a con because this is dead easy. Follow the basic macaron recipe, then all that’s needed is a simple and very soft cream cheese icing and some blackberries.

And the best thing about macarons as a dessert? They get better with a bit of ‘ageing’ in the fridge, so you can make these the night before.

Posted by Ebury Publishing Published See Ebury Publishing's 80 projects » © 2023 James Morton / Ebury Press · Reproduced with permission. · How Baking Works by James Morton is published by Ebury Press, £20. Photography by Andy Sewell
  • Step 1

    Line a baking tray with a piece of baking paper. In a food processor or blender, blitz together the icing sugar and almonds to remove any lumps.

  • Step 2

    In a large glass or stainless-steel bowl, whisk your egg whites to stiff peaks. Add the caster sugar, a teaspoon at a time, whisking on the highest speed (if using an electric mixer) all the time. Once your sugar is incorporated, whisk in enough food colouring to take it to a colour you like.

  • Step 3

    Fold in half your almondy mix as carefully as you can. Then add the final half and gently beat out a little of the air to loosen the mix. It should flow from the spoon like lava down the side of a mountain.

  • Step 4

    Fill a piping bag with your mix, cut a 1cm hole in the end and pipe 8–12 big splodges or spirals onto the baking paper, about 4-6cm in width, so that when they splay out slightly they will be up to 8cm in diameter. Pick up the tray and drop it from 1-2 feet onto the work surface. Do this twice more to remove any big bubbles.

  • Step 5

    Leave the macarons to rest for 30 minutes at the very least, for the skins to form, so they don’t split in the oven.

  • Step 6

    Whilst the skins are forming, preheat your oven to 160°C/140°C fan/Gas 3, then prepare your cream cheese filling. Simply whisk the cream cheese and icing sugar together with an electric mixer on a high speed (or by hand with a lot of effort) – when the mix is thick and creamy, keep going; you can incorporate air like whipping cream. Stir in the mint and lime zest, adjusting to taste. Scoop the filling into another piping bag.

  • Step 7

    Make your glaze, if desired. Take 5 or 6 blackberries in a bowl and crush them with the back of a spoon. Pour the juice into a pan and add a tablespoon of water and the caster sugar. Bring the mixture to the boil over a high heat then set aside, off the heat, until needed.

  • Step 8

    Bake your macarons for about 15–18 minutes, or until ‘feet’ have formed, they feel crisp to touch, but have not yet coloured. Leave them to cool on the tray.

  • Step 9

    To build, make a circle of blackberries around the outside of the underside of a cooled shell (you can use a touch of the icing if they keep falling down). Then, pipe a generous amount of your icing inside, closing with another macaron shell. To finish, brush all visible fruit with a little glaze.

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