My elder daughter Pip is a real whiz at making macaroons, so I turned to her to discover the secret of these chewy, nutty sweet treats. The chocolate-studded recipe that she’s come up with is a real winner. Pip favours ground hazelnuts over the customary almonds. They are not as commonly available as ground almonds, but you can easily prepare them yourself: lightly toast the hazelnuts, then remove their skins (see here) before blitzing the nuts in a food processor until finely ground. Cooked on baking parchment, these macaroons release very easily. However, Pip is still charmed by the fun of eating paper, so always bakes hers on rice paper.
- Yield: 10 (or 24 petits fours)
- 125 g ground hazelnuts
- 150 g caster sugar
- 2 egg whites
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 50 g plain chocolate, chopped roughly into 1 cm pieces
- Whole hazelnuts
- Large baking sheet lined with 2 or 3 sheets of rice paper or baking parchment
- Preheat the oven to 180°C/Gas mark 4. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the ground hazelnuts and caster sugar.
- In a separate bowl, lightly whisk the egg whites until white and frothy, but not stiff. Using a large metal spoon, lightly fold the egg whites into the nut and sugar mixture. When evenly combined, fold in the vanilla extract and chocolate pieces.
- Place dessertspoonfuls of the mixture on the prepared baking sheet, leaving sufficient room in between for the macaroons to spread. (For petits fours macaroons, use a teaspoon instead.) Place a whole hazelnut in the centre of each biscuit.
- Bake in the oven for 10–15 minutes until just firm and lightly coloured. Leave to cool on the baking sheet, then strip off the rice paper surrounding each one or simply use a palette knife to remove from the baking parchment.
- Stored in an airtight tin, these macaroons will keep for 3–4 weeks.