It has been a most enjoyable experience, the two recipes I have cooked so far have both been utterly delicious and greatly enjoyed, with an excellent effort to glory ratio, and will be repeated. Secondly it is interesting, as I need to follow the recipe as written, using my discretion if something does not make sense and report back to Vanessa. Both recipes have had the odd mistake, one with an ingredient listed and then not used, and another without any oven temperatures. I know both are easy mistakes to make; I once wrote a recipe up for some spicy apple bran muffins, three people commented saying how lovely they sounded, before another comment which pointed out that my apple bran muffins actually contained no apple! The episode does make me wonder how much people skim read before commenting. Vanessa has been more than gracious and thanked me for my edits and suggestions. Everyone cooks in a different way, and also have varying levels of skill so the methods must by crystal clear.
The premise behind Prepped is to do one job to start the prep for two dishes. By linking your dishes and layering your flavours (in much the same way as Skye Gyngell’s “toolbox”) you save time and have some surprisingly simple to prepare, but sophisticated dishes. As I have a large supply of Elderflower Syrup I was asked to test two dishes using it.
Here is Vanessa’s recipe with my comments in italics.
Elderflower and Lime Macaroons
The French use icing sugar and finely grind up the almonds for a smooth high colour look. These ones have more texture and are a slightly more rustic version. Nevertheless, the lime green chewy macaroon filled with light pink elderflower cream is a very pretty combination and has a perfect balance. Not too sweet, lots of chewiness with a slight sour from the cherry jam, they make a summer afternoon cup of tea a real treat, and make super gifts.
Makes 20 (size needed – mine were about 1.5″ and I had enough for 48)
Preparation time 10 minutes for the cakes & 15 minutes for decoration (whisking 8 egg whites, preparing baking trays and piping will take most people 20 mins)
Cooking time 15 minutes (Dependent on size of macarons, mine were small and slightly overcooked, 11 – 12 mins would have been perfect)
8 egg whites (maybe suggest a weight as some people use liquid egg white, or link to a custard or mayo recipe for using the yolks)
350 grams caster sugar
5 drops of Green food colouring (optional) (If this is liquid colour from a supermarket it is not nearly enough to make the lime green mac described above)
Zest of 2 limes
200grams of Ground Almonds
280 ml double cream
80 grams icing sugar
4 tablespoons of Elderflower Syrup
½ pot of cherry jam (I used fig as I had some open in the cupboard)
1 Pre heat oven to 160°C/fan140°C/gas 3.
2 WHISK the egg whites until it is forming soft peaks. Don’t rush this bit. The macaroons will flop if you skimp on getting air into your eggs before adding sugar (about how long does this take?). Gradually add in the sugar until the mix is glossy and thick. (I added the food colouring here too).
3 Using a large metal spoon sprinkle the almonds and lime zest in. Use a cutting motion and fold it back on itself. This method is used to keep the air in for light fluffy macaroons. Don’t over mix. Again remember that they need the air in them to rise.
4 Using a 1cm plain nozzle fill a piping bag 2/3 full (does it matter how full the piping bag is? 1/4 of the quantity was perfect in my bag) and pipe small biscuit size (measurement needed here?) macaroons onto two baking sheets lined with baking parchment.
5 Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes. Leave to cool before removing from the parchment.
6 These will keep happily in an airtight container for about a week. About 20 minutes before you intend on serving these, beat the cream and icing sugar together adding in the elderflower syrup at the very end of whipping. Splodge together the cream and jam between the macaroons and serve.
My other notes were that unless you are very confident it is a really good idea to make a template for the piping. I drew circles round an espresso cup on the parchment and then turned it over so the ink was on the underside. Not using the freshest egg whites and letting the egg whites sit in the fridge for a day before whisking them, both help to make the whites whisk better. As does letting them sit for a while after piping and before baking.
I am sure that every single comment that I have made is something that Vanessa is already aware of, but has either taken for granted (as she would have made these many times) or has got lost under pressure of time.
It has to be said that they were delicious, especially the elderflower cream which was simply sublime, and will also be quite splendid all manner of dishes. I also think that these are macarons, not macaroons but that is another discussion.
Bravo to Vanessa – these are lovely, and very easy to make – and thank you for letting me test for you, I have hugely enjoyed it, and it has also encouraged me to think about my writing as well.