Category Archives: Gluten free

Pink Lemonade drizzle cake

OK, so it’s been a while. I’m sorry it’s been so long. I know, I didn’t even warn you I was going to be away. I didn’t write an ‘I’m going to get some head-space, inspiration and rethink my direction in life’ post. What was I thinking?! Call me rude. That’s fine; get it out of your system. Just make sure you come back for a make-up-hug when you’ve calmed down. I wouldn’t want us to fall out over it.

‘You’d better have a good excuse.’ Written a cookbook? No. Moved house? No. Had a social media detox? No. Finished a degree? No. Had a baby? Definitely not.

It’s more the accumulation of lots of smaller things that’s brought us to this desolate place of apologies and grovelling.

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Made a wedding cake? Yes. Revised and sat A-levels? Yes. Baked for a pop-up restaurant? Yes. Discovered the Cambridge night-scene? Yes… Joined Instagram? Oh yeah. Rowed the Cambridge Bumps? Yes. Ran an afternoon tea? Yes. New Wine-d? Yes. Got tan-lines? Hell yes.

Maybe we should take it slower this time around? I’ll ease you back in with something simple and summery: Pink Lemonade drizzle cake. It oozes garden parties, deckchairs and awkward sunburn.

Pink Lemonade drizzle cake
Makes one loaf cake
Adapted from BBC Good Food

For the cake
225g unsalted butter, at room temperature
225g caster sugar
4 eggs
225g self-raising flour*
The zest of one big lemon/2 small lemons
3 tsp. lemon extract, this one is particularly good
175g fresh raspberries rolled in 2 tbsp. flour

*To make this Gluten free, substitute 225g self-raising flour for 250g Glutafin White mix

For the drizzle
The juice of 1½ large lemons/3 small ones
50g raspberries
150g white granulated sugar

Preheat your oven to Gas mark 4 and line an 8x21cm loaf tin with greaseproof paper. Cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Mix in the eggs, one at a time, followed by the flour, lemon zest and lemon extract. Take your raspberries and roll them in 2 tbsp. flour – this will prevent them from sinking. Fold the coated raspberries into the cake mix and spoon it into the prepared cake tin. Use a knife or the back of a spoon to level the top of the cake so that it’s flat. Bake the cake in the oven for 45-50 minutes until an inserted skewer comes out clean.

While the cake’s cooking, start making the drizzle. Using a fork, squash the raspberries to a pulp with 50g of the sugar. Pass the raspberry pulp through a sieve to remove the seeds, squishing out every bit of juice you can. Juice 1½ lemons and add the juice to the raspberry pulp.

When the cake’s cooked, take a cocktail stick/skewer and pierce the top with lots of tiny holes. Add the remaining 100g granulated sugar to the raspberry-lemon juice and pour over the top of the cake. – the juice will sink in and the sugar will form a  crisp topping. Leave the cake in the tin until it’s completely cool, then remove and serve. Will keep in an airtight container for 3-4 days, or freeze for up to 1 month.

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24 carat cake

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Have you ever tried making paper aeroplanes with card? Actually, let me re-phrase that: have you ever tried making 20 complex paper aeroplanes with card for a paper aeroplane garland?

Pah! Complex?! More like ‘so flippin’ difficult you’ll want to cry, curl up into a ball and give up any hope you ever had of being a pilot’.

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Even their names, like ‘Edmonton Shadow’ and ‘Turbo OmniScimitar’ strike fear into the hearts of those who dare to take them on. I had paper cuts to my brain before I’d even touched a piece of card.

The process strongly resembled when the 12-year-old me was challenged to fold a piece of paper seven times, to find that it was in fact impossible**. No matter how much weight I put on it. Even if I stuck it under a table leg and got 3 other kids to sit on the table. Even if I tried to staple it down …
Impossible. 12 year old dreams. Crushed.

**Ok smart ass, you got me.

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It was difficult. Really flipping difficult. Difficult like cycling head on into the wind. Difficult like trying to place gold nuts on a cake to look ‘randomly scattered’.

When you look at this cake, what do you see? A mound of carrot-y goodness you just want to bury your face into? An elegant, minimalist cake you could imagine someone bringing to a party as ‘oh, just something I threw together’? A cake with a scattering of gilded nuts sprinkled over the top?

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In reality there was no sprinkling, no scattering. Instead, there was a pair of tweezers, a steady hand and an hour of carefully placing each and every nut that tops this cake. And this is how I learnt just how difficult making things look ‘random’ is.

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‘Random’ is in fact not random. It’s ‘oh no, I’ve already got a hazelnut and a walnut there, I can’t place another walnut on that edge’ and ‘ah, those three nuts are an equal distance apart, I’ll have to move one just off centre’. ‘Random’ is in reality incredibly purposeful.  Can anything ever actually be truly random?

Wow, that just got very philosophical. Sorry. Back to the cake.

24 carat cake
Serves 1620

For the cake
1½ large eggs
1½ egg yolks
300g sunflower oil
255g light brown muscovado sugar
150g dark brown muscovado sugar
75g walnuts, chopped
75g ground almonds
210g carrot, grated
The zest of an orange
240g plain flour*
¾ tsp. baking powder
¾ tsp. bicarbonate of soda
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
½ tsp. grated nutmeg
3 egg whites
a pinch of salt

For the icing
1kg mascarpone
6 tbsp. double cream
7 tbsp. icing sugar (or to taste)
The zest of one orange/8 tsp. orange extract, to taste
Mixed nuts

* To make GF, substitute this flour for 255g of gluten free plain flour

Preheat the oven to 170°C/Gas mark 3½ and grease and line three 20cm cake tins with baking paper.

Place the sunflower oil and both types of sugar in a large bowl and whisk briefly before whisking in the egg and egg yolk until the mixture comes away from the bowl slightly. Being careful not to over mix, stir in the walnuts, ground almonds, orange zest and grated carrot. Sieve all the dry ingredients into the bowl and fold in until no flour’s visible.

In a clean bowl and using clean beaters, whisk the egg whites on high speed until firm peaks form. Gently fold the egg white into the rest of the cake mixture in 2 additions, being careful not to knock out all the air. Pour the cake mixture into your prepared cake tins and bake for roughly an hour, although be sure to check them before this time. They are cooked when an inserted skewer comes out clean and they spring back when lightly pressed. Let the cakes cool completely before turning out on to a wire rack.

To make the icing, beat the mascarpone with the icing sugar and orange zest/extract until smooth and spreadable. The zest can give you little bumps in your icing so I mix zest into the icing that sandwiches the cakes together and use orange extract in the icing for the outside.

Sandwich the cakes together and cover the sides and top with the icing. To get super smooth sides, ‘crumb coat’ your cakes with a very (and I mean very) thin layer of icing, leave to set slightly and then go over with a thick coating. I found Zoe Bakes’ video very useful for this.

Blood orange, almond and brown sugar tea cakes

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My life is organised, orderly and productive. Today I stopped by the market to pick up some – note, in season – blood oranges, on my way home from college where I’d just aced all my mocks. I whipped up a batch of these tea cakes, did all the homework set, fixed a puncture on my bike and made a step by step plan for the next four years of my life.

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My hair is never frizzy, my eyeliner’s always even. I never wear the same pair of jeans five days straight, let alone the same pair of shoes for four months.  I always carry tissues, safety pins and lip balm.

I make my bed every morning. Cycling, I am always overtaking the boys on their fancy racing bikes. It must be the chia seed porridge with rosewater dates and quince rhubarb compote I eat for breakfast.

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My egg yolks separate themselves from the whites. I always sieve my flour. Occasionally I spill sugar but it always remains on the muffin tin, never on the floor.

I have my own photography studio at the end of our garden and shoot with a Canon EOS 5D MKIII Digital SLR camera.

Dream on.

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In reality, I didn’t even realise it was blood orange season; I just thought they’d taste nice and look pretty. I was right – they do, but they were definitely a supermarket purchase. These teacakes were made at 6:30 in the morning. I leave punctures to my dad. I have no set life plan and I’m scared/excited about the unknown.

I shoot tea cakes on upturned trays balanced precariously on stools by the window. I photograph cake on the floor. I edit my photos on PowerPoint. I don’t know the name of my camera.

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Perfect is boring. It’s unachievable. Can I talk about tea cakes now? These blood orange, almond and brown sugar ones are honestly the tastiest, moistest cakes I’ve baked in ages. They’re as close to perfect as you’re going to get. I might be in love. My mum, our resident  ‘gluten-free lady’ certainly is.

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Blood orange, almond and brown sugar tea cakes
Adapted from Lily Vanilli
Makes 12

2 blood oranges
150g butter
150g light brown muscovado sugar
200g ground almonds
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 eggs
35g plain flour*

30g flaked almonds
1 tbsp. thin cut marmalade
1 tbsp. light brown muscovado sugar

*to make these gluten free, substitute for 50g gluten free white flour (I use Glutafin White Mix)

Preheat your oven to Gas mark 6/200°C. Grate the zest from each orange into a large bowl. Cut the top off both oranges, and peel off the skin and the majority of the pith. Using a sharp knife, slice the oranges into ½ cm thick rounds, place on a baking tray and bake for 30 minutes. This will dry them out a little and stop you getting soggy cake. No one likes soggy cake.

To make the frangipane, cream the butter and brown sugar with the orange zest until the mixture has become paler in colour. Beat in the ground almonds, followed by the vanilla extract, eggs and plain flour. Grease a 12-hole muffin tin and divide the frangipane mix between the holes. Place a cooled slice of blood orange, a few flaked almonds and a sprinkling of light brown sugar on top of each cake and bake in the oven for about 20 minutes. When the cakes are cooked an inserted cocktail stick will come out clean.

Whilst the cakes are the oven, mix the marmalade with a few drops of water and warm through in the microwave until runny but not bubbling. Remove the cakes from the oven and, while they’re still hot, brush each one with the marmalade glaze and leave to cool for about 4 minutes. Run a knife around the edges of the cakes in the tins and turn them out onto a wire rack to cool fully.

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Chai Latte Marshmallows

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At this time of year there is one thing that distinguishes those who cycle to college from those who take the bus. A badge that sets us apart, war wounds from a battle against external forces:

The wet thigh.

Don’t pretend you understand, bus-takers. Try to imagine a large oval, a shade darker than your trousers, appearing mid-thigh whilst cycling in the rain, refusing to disappear till at least period 2. Real fun. Or not…

Cyclists, you know who you are; you who leaned into that icy wind, took sleet to the face, arrived with eye make-up even pandas would be proud of and… a wet thigh. Compulsory damp, cold legs for the rest of the day: The mark of a true trouper.

These marshmallows are for you. Let the warm spices of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cardamom and clove warm your cockles and wrap yourself in a cloud of icing sugar and pillowy marshmallow till the trials of the day have passed.  Put them in your hot chocolate. Make radiator s’mores*. Toast them over a camp fire in the middle of the woods if you really want. Or just sit under a blanket in front of Come Dine With Me with the mixing bowl and a spoon and feel a little bit sorry for yourself. I give you my full permission, you deserve it.

*This invention is owed to the sister – my main gal. Take 2 of your favourite biscuits (I highly recommend the dark chocolate Hobnob),  place a marshmallow and 2 squares of chocolate in between, making a sandwich. Wrap tightly in tinfoil and wedge in/on/down the radiator for about ½ an hour. Uncover and eat quickly before your sister can get her hands on it.

Note to self: Waterproof trousers might not be such a bad idea.

Chai Latte Marshmallows
makes 36; adapted from Smitten Kitchen

For the icing sugar dusting
65g icing sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. ground ginger
¼ tsp. grated nutmeg
1 tbsp. vegetable oil

For the marshmallows
1 tbsp. + 1¼ tsp. powdered gelatine
100ml cold water
230g caster sugar
80g glucose syrup
½ tsp. salt
1 large egg white
1 tsp. vanilla extract mixed with 15ml water
2 cloves
3 cardamom pods
¾ tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. ground ginger
¼ tsp. grated nutmeg

Sugar thermometer
Pestle and mortar

Line the bottom of a 20 x 20 x 5cm baking tin with baking paper. Using a piece of kitchen towel, grease the baking paper and sides of the tin with the vegetable oil.

Make the icing sugar dusting by mixing the icing sugar and  spices in a small bowl and transfer about 1 tbsp.  of the mix to the tin, tapping it around till the sides and base are covered. Tip any remaining icing sugar back into the bowl.

In a large bowl sprinkle the gelatine over 50ml of cold water and leave to stand.
Place the caster sugar, glucose syrup, salt and the other 50ml of water into a heavy bottomed saucepan and place over a low heat, stirring until the sugar’s dissolved. Once dissolved increase the heat to moderate and boil the mixture, not stirring, until the sugar thermometer reaches 240°F/Soft ball stage. Remove the pan from the heat and pour the hot sugar over the gelatine, stirring until the gelatine’s dissolved.
Using an electric mixer beat the mix on high speed until it becomes thick and white and has almost tripled in volume. This will take about 12 minutes if using a hand-held mixer.

Take the marshmallow spices and using a pestle and mortar crush them down as finely as you can manage. Place this chunky powder, the vanilla extract and water into a small saucepan and simmer for a minute or so. In a clean bowl, whisk the egg white till it forms stiff peaks. Sieve the spice mixture (draining out any large pieces of spice) into the sugar mixture along with the egg whites and beat until just combined. Pour the mallow into your dusted baking tin and sift some of the icing sugar mixture over the top. Chill the marshmallow, uncovered, for at least 3 hours.

Run a knife around the tin’s edges and turn the pan upside down onto a large cutting board dusted with a little more of your icing sugar mix. Loosen the mallow with your fingers and onto the board, and peel the baking paper off. Using a large knife trim the edges of the marshmallows and cut into 3cm cubes. Sift the remaining icing sugar into the empty baking tin and roll your cubes of mallow through it, covering all 6 sides before shaking off any excess. Keep in a sealed container for up to a week.

Custard tart cupcakes

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Do you eat cold custard? I do. I’m talking about making it in the microwave and then leaving it to cool completely before eating it. Or buying it in tins and eating it straight out with a spoon – none of that ‘put in a pan to warm up’ nonsense.  Or when offered ‘custard with that crumble?’ asking if I can have it later. That kind of cold. Dead cool. A bit like you really.

Hence, my love of custard tarts. Cold custard AND pastry AND nutmeg? In one? I must be dreaming.

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There’s something quite nostalgic about custard tarts. A sort of ‘I should really be eating this with my granny whilst watching Fireman Sam, reading the Enchanted Wood and wearing my pink Oshkosh  pinstriped dungarees’. I think it’s partially due to their beautiful simplicity. Oh, when life was just a bit simpler.

But it’s true, custard tarts and reminiscing go hand in hand. My mum tells me I’m too young to be reminiscing. Mums are always right. But how I long to go back to the days when all this slightly OCD 4 year old had to worry about was how best to arrange her skittles into rainbow order.

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Sadly, custard tarts are a bit of a hassle to make when you’re in that nostalgic mood but it’s the middle of the week and you have a Chemistry test the next day. SO… Next best thing? Custard tart cupcakes. Get excited.

Custard tart cupcakes
Adapted from Juniper Cakery
Makes 9

112g unsalted butter at room temperature
112g caster sugar
112g self-raising flour*
2 large eggs
¾ tsp. ground nutmeg
2 tsp. vanilla extract

125g unsalted butter
125g icing sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 ½ tbsp. custard powder
40g white chocolate
¼ tsp. grated nutmeg and extra to dust

*To make these Gluten free swap the self-raising flour for 125g Gluten free white mix and 1 tsp. baking powder

Preheat the oven to Gas mark 3/170°C and line a muffin tin with 9 cupcake cases.

Using an electric whisk cream the 112g of butter until soft and paler in colour and then beat in the caster sugar. Mix in the flour and one egg along with the vanilla and nutmeg. Add the other egg and beat for about 5 minutes.

Spoon the mixture into the cases, filling to about 1/3 from the top. Place in the oven and cook for 20-25 minutes – until an inserted skewer comes out clean and they spring back when lightly pressed.

Once cooked, remove the cakes from the tray and place on a wire rack to cool completely. Meanwhile make the buttercream: Beat the 125g butter with an electric whisk and gradually add the icing sugar until you reach a smooth consistency. Melt your white chocolate (I should tell you to do it in a Bain Marie but you can do it in the microwave if you’re careful) and add to your buttercream along with the vanilla, custard powder and nutmeg. Beat for a couple of minutes until it reaches a light, creamy texture.  Fill a piping bag with your buttercream and pipe onto the cooled cakes, dusting lightly with grated nutmeg and dreaming of your younger years.

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Homemade candied peel

I sometimes have domestic goddess impulses. The kind where I put on a floral pinny and some pearl earrings, turn on some Tim Hughes, and make cheese scones. Please tell me I’m not alone. Tell me you also pretend to be Nigella Lawson as you eat leftovers out of the fridge at midnight. Or pretentiously walk around the market, picking up fruit and herbs to smell them before deciding Sainsbury’s oranges were cheaper.

This homemade orange peel was a product of one of those urges.

‘Why would you make your own when you can buy it with far less effort?’ I hear you cry. Let me tell you:
1. Because you’re a fabulous domestic goddess who not only makes her own nougat but makes the peel to go in it. Oh yeah.
2. If you didn’t, you’d miss out on the A-mazing summery orangey scents that fill your house as you boil the peel for the first, second… and third time. You’re not only getting candied peel, but an all-day air freshener.
3. Most importantly, it’s SO much better than the bought stuff. This candied peel has a far fresher, fruitier, zingier flavour. Trust me. It’s a totally different ball game.

We’re going to top and tail the oranges and score the peel into quarters.

Peel the skin off, including the pith (the white bit just under the zest)

Cut the peel into ½ cm wide strips.

Place the peel into a pan and cover with cold water. Then place the pan on a high heat and bring to the boil. Once boiling, drain the peel from the orangey water and repeat this process twice more. Tip: Don’t try to drink the orange water; you’ll think it’ll be nice. You’ll be mistaken. It’s not.

Pour water and sugar into a pan and simmer to create a syrup, adding the peel and candying to perfection.

Go on, give in to your domestic goddess calling. You know you want to.

Homemade candied orange peel
2 large oranges – I used Valencia
110g caster sugar
125ml water

Rinse your oranges, cut the top and bottom off each one and score the skin into quarters. Using your fingers remove the skin from the oranges and cut into ½ cm wide strips.

Place the peel strips into a saucepan and add enough cold water to cover them. Place on the stove over a high heat until boiling. Drain the peel from the water and repeat this process twice more.

Pour the 125ml water and sugar into a saucepan and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 9 minutes. Add the peel into the syrup and cook for 45 minutes-1 hour. Keep checking it to ensure it’s not boiling violently and adjust the temperature accordingly. Also avoid stirring the peels, instead swirling the pan around to coat those peels not covered. Once cooked, the peels should appear translucent.

Drain any remaining syrup from the peels. There shouldn’t be too much left but this orangey syrup can be a tasty addition to tea or gingerbread. Lay the peels out on a cooling rack and leave to dry for 4-5 hours. Store in an airtight container.

Dark chocolate, toasted almond and tangy orange nougat

I have a sad truth to tell you. I haven’t baked in 5 weeks. Say what?! 5 whole, long weeks out of my beloved kitchen. I know, it pains me. I’m getting withdrawal symptoms.

The only thing that’s made this absence slightly sweeter is the crazy fun adventures that have got between me and the flour. They include 2 patisseries crawls, 100 patisserie shop windows, 10 plays, caper berries (try them, they’re so great), 2 weeks with God and thousands of amazing people in a field , tiramisu ice-cream, Hunt and Darton café , Angelina’s, watermelon Tic-tacs and the leaning tower of Pisa. All this travelling and time to think has also inspired many new and exciting recipe concepts for you. Watch out, recipe #1’s coming at ya.

Think nougat. Now scrap that pink and white striped, semi-hard, cellophane-wrapped candy you had as a kid and refocus your thoughts on soft, chewy, mallowy nougat studded with dark chocolate, toasted almonds and homemade candied orange peel. Better thought? I think so.

Adding honey to the mix makes this recipe a whole lot sweeter. And the bees very happy. They’ll want a piece too if you’re not careful.

Italian nougat, as my summer travels have revealed, is something we Brits have taken, messed with to make it last longer, travel better and cost less, and essentially ruined. So let’s bin the candy stripes and pick up the honey jar. It’s nougat time.

Now this recipe requires very, very hot sugar. You’ve been warned. If you’re the kind of person who’s likely to drop a pan of boiling sugar when put under pressure I’d advise you try these instead. I’m just looking out for your fingers.

You’ll also have to work very quickly when it gets to juggling (not literally, let’s not get confused) different temperature sugar syrups and egg whites, so it might be helpful to have an extra pair of hands nearby. That’s unless you have a Kitchen Aid, in which case lucky you.

Dark chocolate, toasted almond and tangy orange nougat

Makes 36

220g caster sugar
150g liquid glucose
110g honey
1 egg white
90g whole almonds
100g dark chocolate, cut into chunks
80g homemade candied orange peel, diced (see next post for recipe)

Sugar thermometer

Line the base of an 18cm x 18cm baking tin with baking paper,  and oil both the paper and the sides of the tin with about a tsp. of vegetable oil.

Place the sugar, glucose, honey and 60ml water into a heavy-based saucepan and stir on a low heat until all the sugar’s dissolved. Increase the temperature and let the mixture boil until the syrup reaches 130°C.

Meanwhile, whisk the egg white until it forms stiff peaks. With your mixer still running, add half of the syrup in a slow and steady stream, ensuring it’s all mixed in. Whilst continuing to whisk the egg white and syrup mixture, return the remaining syrup to the heat and boil until it reaches 154°C. When that temperature’s reached, gradually pour the hot syrup into the mixture in the same way, whisking all the while.

Whisk the nougat mix until it becomes very, very thick. This may take up to 10 minutes. Stir in the nuts, chocolate and candied peel, and spoon into the prepared tin. Smooth the top as best you can with a palette knife and leave to cool completely for a minimum of 3 hours, although the longer you leave it the easier it will be to cut.

Turn out onto a board, remove the baking paper and cut into 3cm x 3cm squares. Store in an airtight container for up to two weeks.

Mint choc chip macarons

 I like food. But then again who doesn’t? My life would be far less fun, creative, messy, explorative, exciting and of course tasty without it. I always struggle with the question: What’s your favourite food? But if you reeeaaaaaally pushed me for an answer I’d have to go with ice-cream. Mmmmmm… even thinking about it sets me off. If I could I would eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day. Sadly my mum cares too much about my teeth, heart and insulin production to ever let this dream become a reality. Sad times.

As much as I love its coolness, melty-ness, smoothness and ability to be eaten by the tub, the thing I love the most about ice-cream is the flavours it carries in its creamy base. Ice-cream has the ability to take on literally any sweet flavour – and there aren’t many other foods you can do that with so successfully; It’s special. Ice-cream makes eating raw cookie dough and cake-mix socially acceptable. That’s cool with me. What saddens me a little is that some of the flavour combinations used in ice-cream never seems to get the wider exposure they deserve. Like where else is rum and raisin really used? Or mint choc chip? Such a beautiful colour and fresh cooling sensation, with a depth of flavour brought from the dark chocolate. Super yum. So why restrict that to ice-cream alone? Let’s make macarons!

I know this may scare you a little, and that’s OK, they are a little scary, but it’s nothing that you can’t overcome. I believe you can do it. It’s quite easy to make bad macarons and it’s the little details in the process that make them good. It’s totally worth taking the time. A good macaron’s like nothing else you’ll eat. Pure delight in a mouthful.
You should separate your eggs at least 24 hours before you plan to use them and bring them up to room temperature just before. They will last in the fridge for up to a week.

To get a good meringue you need to have a very clean, grease-free bowl and beaters, and absolutely no egg yolk in your whites.
When you fold the almond/icing sugar mixture into the meringue you need to do it gently and with cutting motions so as not to knock all the air out. When you’re done you’ll have a macaronage – go on, wow your friends with that fancy word, they’ll think you know what you’re talking about.

I’ll let you into a secret: even the posh Parisian macarons don’t come out of the oven as beautifully soft on the inside and crisp on the outside as when you eat them. They go through ‘maturation’ which blends the flavour of the filling with the shell, adjusting the texture and balancing the sweetness. The shells are baked almost crisp the whole way through and then left to take in moisture from the filling. For the science geeks, a sort of osmosis takes place between the filling and the shell which absorbs the humidity from the filling, making the inside soft but leaving the outside crisp. Your macarons will be at their best 24 hours after they’re made.
Go on, take a leap of faith, separate those eggs, whisk that meringue, fold that sugar, pipe those circles and sandwich those bad boys. You’ll do great. Your mum will be so proud.

Mint choc chip macarons

Macaroons
100g (about 2 ½ eggs worth) “aged” egg whites, at room temperature
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar, lemon juice or white vinegar
35g caster sugar
100g ground almonds
180g icing/powdered sugar
3 tsp. peppermint flavouring
Green and blue food colouring paste

Chocolate buttercream filling
115g unsalted butter
200g icing sugar
45g cocoa
3tsp. peppermint flavouring
2 tbsp. double cream/milk

Take 3 pieces of baking paper large enough to fit your baking trays and using a pencil, draw 11/2 inch circles 2 inches apart across the sheets. This will give you a guide to help you keep the macaron shells the same size.

Using an electric whisk (or a conventional whisk if you really fancy a workout, I guess!) whisk the egg whites until foamy. Add the cream of tartar/lemon juice/white vinegar and continue to whisk until they hold really stiff peaks but don’t ‘break’. Then whisk in the caster sugar to make a stiff peaked meringue. Then in three additions fold in the icing sugar and ground almonds gently, using careful cutting motions to ensure most of the air’s kept in. Follow this by folding in the peppermint flavouring and food colouring. I advise mixing up a turquoise green food colour in a glass first and adding it in a few additions to ensure you end up with ‘mint green’ macarons and not fluorescent blue ones.

Take a piping bag with a 1/2 inch nozzle and fill it with the mixture. Using your circles as a guide, pipe 1 1/2 inch circles onto the baking paper. Gently tap each tray on your work surface to release any air bubbles that can ruin the final appearance. Leave your macarons on a flat surface for 30-60 minutes until their surfaces have formed a tacky skin. Preheat your oven to gas mark 4/ 180°C. Place each tray into the oven to bake for about 14-16 minutes or until you can just about separate the macarons from the baking paper. If they leave behind their middles they’re not yet ready. Leave them to cool on the trays and then remove to a cooling rack using a spatula.

To make the buttercream, whisk the butter until paler in colour and airier. Add the icing sugar and cocoa and slowly mix (yes s-l-o-w-l-y; learn from my mistake, don’t cover yourself in a cloud of sugar) until there’s no visible sugar. Add the peppermint flavouring and milk/cream, and beat until the buttercream’s airy and stiffer in consistency. If it’s too thick to pipe add a little more milk/cream; if it’s too thin, add more icing sugar.

Fill a piping bag fitted with a ½ inch nozzle with the buttercream and pipe a circle slightly smaller than the shells on the underside of ½ of the macaron batch. Fill in the circles you’ve piped with more buttercream and sandwich with the other ½ of the shells. Eat, eat more, share and feel a warming sense of achievement. YOU just made macarons.