Macaroon Vs Macaron
- Credit: Carol Kearns
Carol Kearns otherwise know as ‘The Cake Lady’ tells us why she thinks English is best when it comes to this delicate sweet treat
THERE WAS a time when the term macaroon meant only one thing - a delicious almond-flavoured biscuit, often seen sitting on the shelves of a cake shop along with such old-fashioned delights as custard tarts, cream horns, iced buns and jam doughnuts. In more recent times, however, the name seems increasingly to be applied to the now popular French counterpart of the English macaroon, the “macaron”.
While the name may have become interchangeable, it’s easy to tell these two confections apart. The English macaroon is the personification of restrained elegance, being pale golden and minimally decorated with a blanched almond; the French macaron, in contrast, is usually seen in an assortment of gaudy ice-cream colours, sandwiched together with ganache, buttercream or jam.
However, the difference is more than skin deep. While the French macaron’s smooth exterior coats a melt-in-the-mouth texture, the English macaroon’s distinctively cracked exterior gives way to a delightfully chewy, almost Amaretto-flavoured centre.
In the past, the sticking point with macaroons was always the rice paper - or rather the difficulty of getting hold of some - as macaroons are notoriously difficult to remove from a baking sheet. Rice paper is now much more readily available but, better still, I’ve discovered “magic” non-stick liner and suddenly baking macaroons at home couldn’t be easier.
Macaroons made with cornflour are both dairy-free and gluten-free. Besides, the addition of cornflour gives macaroons their exceptionally chewy centre - perhaps what best defines the difference between these English almond biscuits and their French counterparts.
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175g caster sugar
100g ground almonds
25g cornflour, sifted
2 medium egg whites, at room temperature
½ tsp almond extract
6 whole blanched almonds, halved
You will need
1 baking sheet
“Magic” non-stick liner
1 Preheat the oven to 150C/gas mark two. Line the baking sheet with the non-stick liner.
2 Place the caster sugar, ground almonds and sifted cornflour into a mixing bowl and stir well.
3 Use a fork to beat the egg white and almond extract together in a jug or small bowl until it is just frothy.
4 Make a well in the dry ingredients and add sufficient of the beaten egg whites to form a very soft, sticky dough. You may not need all of the egg whites.
5 Divide the dough into 12 equal portions and, using your hands, roll each portion into a soft ball-like shape. Place well apart on the baking sheet, to allow the macaroons to spread while baking, and press a blanched almond half on top of each one.
6 Bake for about 25 minutes until lightly golden. Leave to cool on the lined baking sheet for 10 minutes to firm up and then use a palette knife to transfer to a cooling rack.
7 Macaroons keep well stored in an airtight container.
Carol Kearns is a freelance illustrator and graphic designer. See more of her work at www.carolkearns.co.uk