I have a confession to make. I am allergic to almonds – yes that’s right, that delicious nut frequently used in baking. I can eat any other nut except almonds – and boy do I get sick if I ingest even a small amount. And my father has the exact same reaction! Strange.
Now as a dessert addict you may realise this presents many obstacles for me when achieving my “fix”. Almonds are regularly used in baking, particularly in French and Italian pastries. Almond meal is also often used in cakes and pastry bases, so I need to be very careful when eating out. But what pains me most, is that I have NEVER EATEN A MACARON. I am pretty sure I am the only dessert blogger in history to make this claim.
Instead of moping (well, I moped a little) I decided to make my own macarons using a different nut meal. My first endeavour at macarons were made using hazelnut meal. This was my first ever attempt at making macarons but I was pleased they worked out so well! Unfortunately the hazelnut meal does speckle the appearance of the macarons considerably compared to the almond meal – but this is only a small problem.
Due to the strong hazelnut flavour of these macarons, many types of ganache would suit, including the classic dark chocolate (for a Nutella-style flavour hit), coffee or vanilla. But I must admit this white chocolate and strawberry ganache was to die for!
- 130g icing sugar
- 110g hazelnut meal (or almond meal of course!)
- 105g egg whites (around 2 eggs), at room temperature, left out overnight
- 65g caster sugar
- 4-5 drops red food colouring
- 50ml pouring cream
- 100g white chocolate
- 45g strawberries, coarsely chopped
- Process icing sugar and hazelnut meal in a food processor until finely ground. Triple-sift into a large bowl and set aside.
- Whisk 90 grams of the egg whites in an electric mixer until soft peaks form (about 1-2 minutes). Add caster sugar, a tablespoon at a time, whisking continuously until incorporated and mixture is thick and glossy (2-3 minutes), then add food colouring.
- Stir in hazelnut mixture in batches until incorporated and mixture slowly slides down sides of bowl when bowl is tilted. Add remaining eggwhite to loosen mixture.
- Spoon into a piping bag with a 1cm plain nozzle, pipe 3cm-diameter rounds of mixture onto baking-paper-lined oven trays, stand until a crust begins to form (I left them for 2 hours but you can leave up to 5 hours if you have the time).
- Preheat oven to 140°C. Bake macarons until firm but not coloured, swapping trays halfway through cooking (10-12 minutes), set aside, cool completely on trays.
- Bring cream just to the boil in a small saucepan. Remove from heat, add chocolate, stand until melted (5 minutes), stir until smooth and glossy.
- Refrigerate until firm yet still pliable (45 minutes-1 hour) then stir until smooth. Add strawberries, stir to form a ripple effect.
- Spoon a teaspoon of ganache onto half the macarons. Sandwich with remaining macarons and refrigerate until set.
The macarons will keep for 1-2 days refrigerated in an airtight container. Not that they will last that long.