Photograph by Ell

Vanilla & White Chocolate Macarons 

These precious little gems are enjoying a well deserved surge in popularity at the moment. There are a few myths surrounding the cooking of Macarons but as long as you take time and care in cooking them, they'll turn out just fine... and of course a little bit of love never goes astray!

Vanilla macarons:
1 1/4 cups almond meal
1 1/2 cups pure icing sugar
4 eggwhites (best at room temperature)
1/4 cup caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla paste (essence will also do the job)
A few drops of food colouring, optional

Ganache filing:
180g white chocolate
3 tablespoons thickened cream

Line 3 trays with baking paper. It's a good idea to make a circular stencil 4cm in diameter to trace onto the paper. Once traced, make sure you flip the paper over! Sift almond meal and icing sugar together into a bowl.

Using an electric mixer, beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually add the castor sugar and beat until dissolved. The mix should be thick and glossy. Add vanilla and a few drops of food colouring. Carefully fold in half the almond mixture until just combined. Fold in remaining mixture until combined and glossy. The mix should be thin but still cloud like.

Spoon into a large piping bag and snip 1cm from the corner - a simple plastic freezer bag will suffice. Pipe 4cm rounds (or fill the stencils), making sure you leave a few centimetres between each one. Once piped, tap each tray on the beach to knock out any big air bubbles.

Leave to rest for one hour so that a thick skin forms on top. Doing this will allow the crunchy shell to form. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 130C. Bake for 20 minutes or until crisp and firm on top. Leave these to cool on the tray!

Meanwhile, put the white chocolate and cream into a microwave proof bowl and microwave for 1 minute. Stir. If the chocolate has not melted, put it in for another 30 seconds at a time until smooth and glossy. Pop this in the fridge until it has cooled and thickened to a spreadable consistency.

Once everything is cool, match up your macaron halves and spread a teaspoon over half the macaron. Sandwich together. Repeat this until they are all paired up and pop them in a container and into the fridge for an hour or so.

Always store in the fridge and (for optimal taste,) remove the macarons 10 minutes before you want them.