This exquisite macaron recipe is the ultimate lockdown baking challenge

Posted by for Food and Drink

Keen to put your lockdown baking skills to the test? Rise to the challenge with this beautiful macaron recipe, courtesy of pastry chef Ravneet Gill.

If you’ve been keeping up with Stylist’s recipe features over the past year, then you’ll know that we’re firm believers in the wonder of dessert. From Scandi-inspired bakes and golden fruit crumbles, to authentic Italian tiramisu and the Magnolia Bakery’s greatest hits, we’ve found plenty of solace in baking all-things sweet and homemade; a pursuit we’re approaching with renewed verve during lockdown 3.0.

Recently, though, we’ve been hankering to put our newfound baking skills to the test with a proper culinary challenge. And what better project, we thought, than macarons?

Dainty, delicate, and light as air, macarons are little almond cookies sandwiched either side of a smooth, creamy filling. You don’t need to go window-shopping in Paris either to know that these fancy confections require a fair bit of work: there’s meringue, food colouring and piping involved, not to mention a crispy-on-the-outside, chewy-on-the-inside consistency to master.

The Pastry Chef’s Guide by Ravneet Gill

But if anyone can help us rise to the occasion, it’s undoubtedly celebrated pâtissière Ravneet Gill. In her no-nonsense cookbook The Pastry Chef’s Guide, Gill walks budding bakers through the principles of patisserie, covering everything from key ingredients and equipment, to baking processes and oven temperatures, sprinkling in cordon bleu wisdom on what to keep an eye on in the kitchen. 

Once you’ve mastered the basics, Gill explains, you can move onto the exciting stuff, from flaky breakfast pastries and parfaits to meringues and macarons. And that’s exactly where we’re turning our attention today. 

Below, Gill explains how to make classic French meringue macarons, filled with a milk chocolate whipped ganache. As she demonstrates in her cookbook, pastry isn’t half as complicated as it seems: so whether you’re a total beginner or a triumph at baking beautiful desserts, it’s time to roll up your sleeves.

Consider this your ultimate macaron masterclass.

  • Ravneet Gill's French meringue macarons filled with a milk chocolate whipped ganache

    Ravneet Gill's French meringue macarons

    French meringue macarons 

    Makes 50–55 medium macaron shells

    Ingredients

    • 350g icing sugar
    • 215g ground almonds
    • 190g (approx. 6–7) egg whites
    • 3g cream of tartar
    • 90g caster sugar
    • 2–7g powder or gel food colouring (optional)

    Method

    Blitz the icing sugar and ground almonds together briefly in a food processor at a medium speed. Sift this mixture into a bowl without pressing it through. Set aside.

    Place the egg whites and cream of tartar into the clean bowl of a stand mixer with a whisk attachment. Whisk at a medium speed for 7–10 minutes, past the frothy stage, until you see soft peaks form. (You can also make this in a mixing bowl with a hand-held electric whisk, but it is easier in a stand mixer).

    Start adding your sugar, a tablespoon at a time, and gradually increase the speed of the mixer as you do so.

    By the time you add the last of the sugar you should be whisking at a high speed (by not whisking on a high speed to start with, you avoid large air bubbles in your mix which can cause an uneven texture when baking).

    If using food colouring, mix in until evenly dispersed.

    Continue whisking for 2–3 minutes until stiff peaks form and your meringue is thick and glossy. It is now ready to use. Fresh French meringue doesn’t store well and it should be used immediately or baked. Once baked, it will keep, covered, for up to 3 days at room temperature.

    Put the meringue into a large clean bowl, add half of the almond/icing sugar mix and gently fold together until just combined. Add the second half of the almond/icing sugar mix and start to fold in gently. (I find using a plastic scraper or silicone spatula the best for this as it gives you more control.) 

    Fold until the mix isn’t stiff and has relaxed slightly to the texture of a soft frangipane batter and stop there. Be really careful to not overmix as it will quickly turn super sloppy. Remember, you will be working it more when piping so you want to make sure it still has a little body.

    Transfer the mixture to a piping/pastry bag and pipe 4cm rounds onto three baking sheets lined with baking parchment or silicone mats.

    Tap the trays onto the work surface to even out the shapes and get rid of any air bubbles. Leave these to sit out at room temperature for 20–30 minutes until a skin has formed.

    Preheat the oven to 135°C fan/155°C/gas mark 2.

    Bake in the oven for 13 minutes or until the macaron shells can easily be lifted from the paper/mat. 

    The shells will keep for up two 2 days stored in an airtight container at room temperature. Believe it or not, once assembled they freeze really well.

    Milk chocolate whipped ganache

    Makes about 450g

    Ingredients

    • ½ gelatine leaf
    • 350ml double cream
    • 30g liquid glucose
    • 100g milk chocolate, chopped
    • large pinch of Maldon sea salt

    Method

    Soak the gelatine in a little ice-cold water.

    Meanwhile, put the cream and sugar (if using) in a saucepan and heat until steaming hot (70°C) and the sugar has dissolved. Do not boil.

    Squeeze out the gelatine and stir into the hot cream (along with the liquid glucose if using) until dissolved.

    Pour the hot cream over the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl and leave to stand for 30 seconds, then use a whisk to gently stir from the centre out as the chocolate melts – try not to whisk any air in, you just want to stir until emulsified. Add the salt and stir in. Allow to cool and set in the fridge, preferably overnight. 

    The next day, whip the ganache for 30–60 seconds with an electric mixer at a medium speed until thick, glossy and gorgeous. Any un-whipped ganache will keep in the fridge for up to 3 days. Once whipped, eat within 1–2 days; I don’t recommend re-whipping.

    It’s best to fill the macaron shells once they are completely cool and leave them in the fridge overnight to ‘mature’ and take on that flavour. Serve the next day after taking out of the fridge and leaving for 20 minutes.

    From The Pastry Chef’s Guide (£18.98, Pavilion) by Ravneet Gill, out now

Photography: Jessica Griffiths

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Christobel Hastings

Christobel Hastings is a London-based journalist covering pop culture, feminism, LGBTQ and lore.