I have a confession to make – today I am baking with bought eggs. Lovely, local free-range eggs, but bought all the same. We are away for a long weekend down on Mornington Peninsula with my partner’s parents, basking in wintery sunshine and taking the small one for windswept walks along the beach.
Our feathered ladies have stayed home under the watchful eye of our dear friend and her small daughters. The bigger small daughter, M (six), is thrilled that Betty is broody or, as we explained it, has decided to become a mother. M is very attached to our chickens. She went with me to the chicken farm, helped pick them out from the flock of tiny chirping fluffballs, lovingly introduced them to their new home and sternly vetted all their names. She has made glowing predictions about Betty’s potential parenting skills. She has also expressed great sadness that Betty’s mother is not there to see her grandbabies – spot the midwife’s daughter anyone? So M and her wonderful mama have taken on the daily task of plucking Betty gently from her nest, making sure she eats, drinks, poops, fluffs her feathers up a bit and returns within twenty minutes. In return, we might bring them back some of these biscuits. That is, if there are any left…
an Australian Women’s Weekly recipe
3 egg whites
55 grams of caster (superfine) sugar
160 grams of icing (confectioners’) sugar
25 grams of cocoa powder
120 grams of ground almonds
2 teaspoons of extra cocoa powder
60 mls of cream
150 grams of dark chocolate
Preheat your oven to 150 degrees celsius.
Grease two oven trays and line with baking paper.
Beat the egg whites in a small bowl until soft peaks form. Slowly add the caster sugar, continuing to beat until it dissolves.
Spoon the mixture into a piping bag with a plain tube fitting (~2cm opening). Pipe ~4cm rounds onto the trays, leaving ~2cm between each round. I found the easiest way to achieve a perfect circle was to pipe directly down onto the tray – ie hold your piping bag at a 90 degree angle to the tray.
Bake the macaroons for 15-20 minutes (depending on your oven’s personality). Cool on the trays.
To make the ganache filling: Finely chop the chocolate and put it in a small bowl. Bring the cream to the boil, then pour over the chocolate, stirring until the mixture is smooth.
Leave the ganache to thicken to a spreadable texture – this will take about half an hour. Sandwich the cooled macaroons with the ganache.
Since her recent trip to Paris, my partner’s mum drools at the mention of Laduree macaroons. Her verdict on these ones: a little more rustic to look at but every bit as good to taste. Crisp outer shell, soft on the inside, ganache in the middle…heaven.
*Australians, at least those as addicted to MasterChef as I was, are probably all suffering from Macaroon Fatigue. Rest assured, I do not propose that you try and staple, stick, glue or pin these to a polystyrene tower. Why make it harder to get them speedily into your mouth?