Did you know today was the first ever National Cream Tea Day? It also happens to be one of the hottest days of the year and I personally find it entirely too hot for tea of any kind – unless it is iced – but I certainly would not mind enjoying a few scones with clotted cream and jam. Since I am baking for my neighbour’s wedding tomorrow however, scones are out of the question – I have to bake a cake, cupcakes and just wanted to throw in some macarons… because no wedding reception (or wedding potluck in this instance) should go without!
Inspired by National Cream Tea Day, I decided to fill the macarons with clotted cream and jam… and to my delight they taste absolutely divine. Since these contain fresh cream I would advise you fill them at the last second or keep them in the fridge until you serve them. You can spoon the cream on the shells instead of faffing around with piping bags but then you risk breaking them as they are rather delicate. Alternatively, fill the macarons with vanilla buttercream instead of the clotted cream.
Oven temperature is a tricky thing with macarons… I usually go for 150C but if your shells are colouring too quickly you may want to turn the oven down a touch and bake them for a little longer. And please don’t be impatient when you peel them off the baking paper – I was and ended up ruining quite a few of them… One trick if they are sticking to the paper stubbornly is to add a tiny amount of water underneath the baking paper. The heat of the tray will cause the water to evaporate and make the macaron removal easier.
Afternoon Tea Macarons
Makes around 24
200g / 7oz icing (powdered) sugar
100g / 3.5oz ground almonds
100g / 3.5oz blanched ground hazelnuts (see method)
150g / 5 oz egg whites divided into 2 x 75 g / 2½ oz quantities
200g / 7oz caster sugar
50 ml / 1/5 cup water
pink colouring paste (optional – I made them pink for the wedding)
pastel sprinkles, hearts etc (optional)
pot of clotted cream (about 200g /7oz)
jar of seedless raspberry jam
- Preheat the oven to 180C (350F). Place the hazelnuts in a small roasting tray and toast in the oven until they start colouring. Do not leave them in there too long, they just need to dry out slightly. Set aside until cool.
- Place the hazelnuts and icing sugar in a food processor and blitz, in short bursts, to a fine powder.
- Add the ground almonds and blitz to combine. Sift everything into a large bowl.
- Pour half the egg whites into the bowl and mix together with a spatula until the mixture forms a paste.
- Put the caster sugar and water in a saucepan. Put the rest of the egg whites in the bowl of your stand mixer.
- Bring the sugar to the boil and clip on a candy thermometer. When the sugar temperature reaches 110C / 230F start whisking the egg whites on high speed. Keep a watchful eye on the sugar – once it reaches 117 C /242F pour it very carefully down the side of your mixing bowl while still whisking. Continue whisking for several minutes till the mixing bowl is cool. You will have a very glossy, stiff meringue. Add the pink colouring paste, if using, and mix it in.
- Add the almond paste to the meringue bowl and mix it together until it’s well combined. Make sure you scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl. The consistency of the batter is very important – it needs to flow smoothly and when dropped back into the bowl it should spread slowly.
- Line 3 heavy trays with baking parchment – secure the paper by dotting a bit of macaron batter on each of the tray corners.
- Put the batter into a piping bag with a 1 cm / ½-inch plain round nozzle. Pipe small rounds of batter onto the baking parchment, spaced slightly apart as the macarons will spread slightly. Use a template if you want absolute uniformity.
- Carefully but forcefully knock the trays against the counter to release any air bubbles. If the macarons have little ‘peaks’ pat them down with a clean, wet finger.
- If you are using the sprinkles, add them to the half the shells and leave them to dry out for 15-30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 150C / 300F. Once the shells are touch dry, bake for 14-17 minutes. The macarons are ready when they have a smooth, dry top and are firm to the touch. Leave them to cool down completely before carefully lifting off the baking paper.
- Stir the clotted cream until smooth and transfer into a piping bag fitted with a small round tip.
- Pipe the clotted cream on half the shells, leaving space in the centre for a small dollop of jam.
- Sandwich them gently together. Serve immediately.