4 November 2010

Nut-free Macarons

In preparation for an Autumn dinner party, I decided to make macarons to go with the coffee at the end of the meal. And of course get the opportunity to make meringues in my Mum's new oven, obviously.


However two of the guests - my Sister Bip and Doctor Cutie - are allergic to nuts and the like and so I set about finding a substitute for the almonds once again. Mostly the replacement is coconut, which sounds really nice. But that won't do. Doctor Cutie can do coconut, but Bip can't. What else then? Well, seeds.

As it happens both can deal with sunflower, pumpkin and sesame seeds, so either of these would have to be used. There were some sunflower seeds already in the house, so the choice was easy.

My Mum keeps them in the fridge, so straight out of there, nicely chilled and straight into the processor resulted in something that was pretty close to ground and with the benefit of not going oily, which I worried about.

Following the same recipe as I've done before, I added the icing sugar and the cocoa powder and blitzed for a couple of more minutes, but it didn't go finer than before.

I also made sure not to over-whisk the egg whites, most definitely kept them at soft peaks stage and wasn't too careful when I folded in the seed mixture either, so I ended up with a somewhat runny macaron mix. I let it rest in the bowl for 30 minutes, then piped as prettily as I could (not pretty at all, in other words), then did the tray dropping exercise, they did settle a little bit, but not as much as I'd hoped.

I then let them rest for a further 30 minutes after which time they'd settled down more. At this point I'd also spotted a jar of Daim sprinkles and decided to decorate some of the macarons with them.

And now I switched off my brain and pre-heated the oven to 140 degrees C. Not taking into account that I'd be using the fan to bake the meringues, thus requiring a lower temperature. And so the majority of the macarons went volcano. I had just about 20 left to make one macaron for each guest. Bah! And some of the Daim pieces had melted.

But they were tasty, I made a sample for my Dad and he then asked where I'd hidden the box with the others. He said he wasn't bothered about the cream bit. Needless to say the "spare" ones disappeared off very quickly.

At least I made proper mousseline cream, though it ended up a bit loose, but is good enough. And the macarons were wonderfully crunchy and with a very distinctive chewiness in the middle, so nice that I'm getting there. I think sesame seeds and perhaps honey or maple syrup would be a good combo to try out.

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