The initial seed for this macaron sandwich had a rather esteemed pedigree. It was while I was interviewing Adriano Zumbo that he mentioned watching Ferran Adria speak of making a strawberry shaped item made of something else entirely. And because Zumbo is know for his gorgeous macarons my mind wanders to macarons when talking with or about him.
I wanted to do a macaron strawberry that looked kind of like a strawberry. The only issue is that I have an issue with the Wilton colouring gels that I purchased. The colours fade, and badly at that, so I tend to resort to using liquids if I want a bright red colour. So I was only able to add a certain amount of liquid before stopping, worrying that I would affect the texture of the macaron. This week was also the week of horrifically hot weather so my mind was muddled when I made these macarons and I accidentally mixed in the icing sugar to the egg white mixture. It didn't quite beat as glossy stuff as it would have and I think this is why I didn't get the "foot" on the base. However taste wise, these are gorgeous.
Like all divas, it's a little bit of trouble, the entire thing can't be assembled too far ahead of time as the mousse will make the macaron too wet. Also affixing the black sesame seeds as "pips" might be frustrating unless you try and convince yourself that it's an adult's version of the game "Operation" where a steady hand is paramount.
Strawberry season is nearing an end here, as witnessed by some truly woeful looking strawberries on offer. But I picked through 3 punnets in order to get some decent looking specimens. You could of course make these in a heart shape for a special romantic dinner or anniversary, although as a strawberry it does evoke a similar reaction of lust. This is fiddly, but it is deliriously light and melt in the mouth. The white chocolate mousse is the perfect foil for the sweet macaron.
Strawberry Macaron Sandwiches
An original recipe by Not Quite Nigella
Makes 6 sandwiches
75g almond meal
125grams icing sugar
2 egg whites
1 tablespoon caster sugar
a few drops of strawberry flavouring
red food colouring
a handful of sesame seeds
For white chocolate mousse
220grams white chocolate
2 gelatine leaves (titanium strength)
2 tablespoons caster sugar
- 2 punnets of strawberries, tops sliced off and halved
Directions for strawberry macarons
Step 1 - First draw 12 large strawberry shapes on 2 or 3 sheets of parchment.
Step 2 - Whiz almond meal and icing sugar in a food processor to make finer.
Step 3 - Beat egg whites until soft peaks form, then add caster sugar and beat until stiff peaks form.
Step 4 - Combine the almond meal and egg whites very gently and add colouring and flavouring. The mixture should not be too runny and should hold it's shape.
Step 5 - Fit a piping bag with a plain 1cm nozzle. Pipe macaron mixture onto parchment using the strawberry stencil as a guide.
Step 6 - Preheat oven to 180C. While it is preheating, get a pair of tweezers and position the black sesame seeds as strawberry pips. Having the seeds sit vertically is more accurate but don't make yourself go crazy. Bake in oven for 20 minutes. Cool and remove from parchment very carefully once fully cooled.
Directions for White Chocolate Mousse
Step 1 - Melt chocolate and butter in a large bowl (either in the microwave or by putting the bowl over a simmering saucepan of water) and cool.
Step 2 - Soak gelatine leaves in cold water.
Step 3 - Beat eggs and sugar until pale and fluffy.
Step 4 - Beat Cream until soft peaks form.
Step 5 - Combine the cooled white chocolate mixture with the gelatine leaves, then fold in eggs and cream gently, ensuring that plenty of air is incorporated.
Step 6 - Cool in fridge for 5 minutes if the mixture does not hold shape.
Step 7 - Fit a piping bag with a star or plain tip.
These are delicate and truly do melt in the mouth so don't make them too far ahead of time. If you do and want to serve them, place them on a glossy square or circle of clean cardboard (much like the ones you get from cakeshop or fashion your own using foil on top of cardboard) and place on a plate while still on the cardboard. If you don't these will be hard to transport onto a plate.
Step 1 - Take one strawberry half (a less perfect looking one) and pipe some mousse in the centre leaving a border for the strawberry halves. Position strawberry halves - I placed them cut side out but of course you could do the reverse and it would like quite Ispahan-ish.
Step 2 - Fill with a little more mousse and place in fridge to firm up.
Step 3 - When ready to serve, place the top strawberry macaron on top.