It’s week three of the Great British Bake Off challenge. The theme this week is DESSERTS. The desserts featured on the programme were TRIFLE, ILES FLOTTANT (floating islands) and PETITS FOURS. Here’s how I feel about each of them:
- TRIFLE- Ack! Traditionally English trifle includes custard and jelly (Jell-O for Americans). I am not a fan of custard and most definitely not a fan of custard AND jelly. Sponge fingers are ok but we’re then back to the gluten-free challenge. Did I want to make something that I didn’t want to eat? No. So no trifle then.
- ILES FLOTTANT- What the? Floating islands of meringue on creme patissiere (runny custard-like fluid). Meringues scare the bejesus out of me and we’re back to custard-like ick. Plus, I don’t have a blow torch and I don’t think I was made to spin sugar. No, no iles flottant for me.
- PETITS FOURS- Well, we may have a winner here, thank god. Petits fours are little bite-sized bits of heaven. They can be anything really, so long as they are bite sized and light and fluffy-ish. The word on the Great Bloggers Bake Off Facebook group was that Macaroons were an acceptable way to go. Macaroons just so happen to be NATURALLY gluten-free. Woo hoo! Macaroons it is!
I began my macaroon escapade with an impromptu trip to the supermarket for more icing sugar. Of course, several additional ingredients hopped into my shopping cart but hey ho. I followed a recipe found on How to Cook That. The recipe is called Easy French Macaron Recipe (Macaroons)…what’s not to love when a recipe has EASY in the title. The thing I liked about this recipe was that the whipping of the egg whites did not involve pouring in liquid sugar water whilst whipping with an electric mixer. Anything involving mixing egg whites scares me. I’m irrational like that.
- 4 large egg whites
- 70g caster sugar
- 230g icing sugar
- 120g ground almonds
- 2g (tiny pinch) salt
- gel food colouring
- Preheat the oven to 150 degrees C
- Place egg whites and caster sugar in a bowl and mix with an electric mixer until stiff enough to turn the bowl upside down without it falling out, continue to whip for 1-2 more minutes. Add gel food colouring and continue to mix for a further 20 sec.
- Sift the ground almonds, icing sugar and salt twice, discarding any almond lumps that are too big to pass through the sieve. Fold into the egg white mixture. It should take roughly 30-50 folds using a rubber spatula. The mixture should be smooth and very viscous, not runny. Over-mix and your macaroons will be flat and have no foot; under-mix and they will not be smooth on top.
- Pipe onto trays lines with baking paper. Rap the trays on the bench firmly, leave for 30 minutes until the macaroons have formed a skin and then bake in the oven for 20 minutes. Check if one comes off the tray fairly cleanly, if not bake for a little longer.
- I had to whip the egg whites, sugar and gel food colouring for AGES for them to thicken and stiffen. I used red gel food colouring but no where near enough. I was aiming for pink and instead got a bit of a blush colour. Poo.
- Piping and me don’t get along. I struggled mightily to fill the piping bag, not have the mixture come out of the nozzle too soon and be sensible. Thus, my first batches of macaroons were irregular and had little “nipples” on them so they wouldn’t lay flat. Feel free to tell me how to NOT have this happen.
- I used ganache made from dark/plain chocolate to sandwhich the macaroons. This was scrummy. Chocolate between anything is good. I also used a lovely decorative raspberry to top some of the macaroons for picture effect. They do look nice.
- I will never, ever make these again! I can say that I did them and would, if under threat of bodily hard, make them again because I can but I don’t want to. Ever. Again. Still, they do taste very nice…kind of like little pillows of meringue with chocolate in the middle.
Once again, my baking skills were challenged to the max. I spent about 4 hours in the kitchen and my back hurts and I hardly saw the children today. How daft am I? But I am proud of the finished product and they do taste very nice. Next week is pies…I will try this I think…gluten-free pastry is a right, royal pain in the arse but I’m on a roll now.