What a week! I went up to London on Thursday to see my housemate from university and to go see a gig in Notting Hill. If you haven’t heard of Bear’s Den, then definitely look them up! They’re in the process of releasing their first album, and having heard their songs, I can promise you that it’s going to be such a treat! It was such a lovely venue and so chilled out. The crowd seemed to genuinely love the den and were hanging on to every chord.
So much love for Bear’s Den last night #tabernacle #bearsden #gignight
On Friday, we went back into central London to have a wander and to have a good old catch up. We started off in Spitalfields market – one of my favourite in London. And of course I couldn’t pass on the chance to pop into a Hummingbird Bakery! I went for the Smoreanne cupcake.
I’ve actually made these before and can confirm that they are delicious!
We then headed towards Shoreditch. I’ve never been before and had heard that it was a good place to watch the world go by. If I’m honest, we were very underwhelmed. I don’t think it helped that neither of us had any internet and couldn’t figure out where the actual main ‘bit’ of Shoreditch was.
So after waiting for what seemed like forever for a bus, we headed back towards Chelsea and Kings Road. We popped into the Lush Spa to have a mooch, and then made our way towards the Saatchi Gallery. If you’re ever in the Chelsea area then definitely head to this place! It’s 100% free and has a really interesting collection of modern art.
But on to the important bit – cake! What better way to wrap up a wonderful few days than to indulge in some macaroons? Well, I don’t think there is a better way! I’m still getting excited by the signs that autumn is here! (Even the rain.) So I went for an autumnal feel for these macaroons. Because I am still finding my way with macaroons I went basic. The shells are just vanilla – I didn’t want to mess around with adding more or less liquid or ingredients. But for the filling I used toffee sauce (I know it’s cheating but I was really focussing on getting the shells right before moving on to more complicated things). I blended the toffee sauce with an apple that I had baked with some cinnamon and brown sugar and voila – the filling is good to go!
Toffee Apple Macaroons
175g Icing sugar
125g Ground almonds
3 Large egg whites*
75g Caster sugar
1-2 tsp Vanilla essence
¼ tsp gel food colouring**
*If you’re organised enough, then I’d suggest separating these eggs the night before and leaving them in the fridge. I’m not sure what it does if I’m honest but all the books tell you to do it!
**Really try to use a gel food colouring. Macaroons are so fussy and just a little too much liquid could ruin it all!
1 Eating apple
1 tbsp Cinnamon
1stp Light brown sugar
6 tbsp toffee sauce
1. The night before, peel, chop and core your apple into 1cm square pieces.
2. Spread out on a baking tray and sprinkle on the cinnamon and sugar. Bake at 90C (fan) for about an hour. They will have visibly dried out.
3. Pop them in a container and leave them at room temperature overnight.
4. Once you have made your macaroon shells, mix together the apple pieces with the toffee sauce. You may need some cornflower just to thicken up the mix.
1. Whizz together the almonds and the icing sugar until very fine. Sieve into a bowl and chuck any grainy bits that won’t go through the sieve.
2. In a large, clean bowl, whisk together the egg whites and a small pinch of salt and the food colouring using an electric whisk until you get soft peaks. Add the caster sugar, a spoonful at a time, whisking in well. Add the flavouring and continue whisking until you have a very stiff, smooth and glossy meringue.
3. Using a silicon spatula or large metal spoon, fold in half of the almond-sugar mix in a figure of eight action. Fold in the rest until just combined – the mixture should be glossy and run off the spoon in thick ribbons. (When my mix was ‘just combined’, it was still quite lumpy and definitely not glossy, so I carried on folding until I got a better texture)
4. Place a silicone macaroon mat onto a baking tray, or if you don’t have one draw equal sized circles onto baking paper with a pencil and line a baking tray with it. Spoon the mix into a piping bag fitted with a 2cm nozzle. Keeping the bag upright, pipe small rounds into your circles, being careful not to go over the edges. Sharply tap the baking tray onto a surface a few times to knock out any rogue air bubbles.
5. Dip your finger in cold water and very gently smooth the tops of the macaroons. Leave them in a cool, dry place for around 20 mins to settle and firm. They *should* form a ‘skin’ and no longer be sticky to the touch. Preheat the oven to 140C (fan). I left my macaroons out for about an hour and nothing happened, so I got bored and popped them in the oven – as far as I could tell there was no problem, so it depends how patient you’re feeling!
6. Bake in the centre of the oven for 20-25 mins until the top is crisp and smooth and the base is crisp with a frill around the edge. Mine didn’t need that long in the oven, maybe only 15 mins. Apparently opening the oven door after 15 mins is good though – it lets out any steam and makes the shells crispier!
7. When they’re ready, take them straight off of the baking tray and on to the side. Leaving them on the baking tray will mean that they continue to cook.
8. When they are completely cool, fill a piping bag with your filling and pipe a small amount onto half the macaroons. Then sandwich together and enjoy!