Not to be confused with the fancy French macaron, these beasts are big, warm and tasty. For me they are very festive – one of the highlights of the Manchester Christmas markets, which opened on Saturday, is the macaroon stand.
I just love the festive fun and the atmosphere of the Christmas markets. It reminds me of the times I’ve been home for my Christmas holiday, meeting my family at the end of the day, grabbing paper plates of warming grub, washing it down with Amaretto punch and me and my mum rounding it off with one of these sweet treats, best eaten warm. Christmas is such a special time for my family, we’re all still as excited about it as when we were children, so it’s just the happiest time and one of the rare occasions we’re all together. This year I thought I’d miss out on the markets again, but happily I’m going to land just in time for the last night. My brother has pencilled me in for a visit on my first evening back. I have pencilled in plenty of grumbling about (a) how tired and jetlagged I am, and (b) how unnecessarily cold England is. But in truth I can’t wait to bundle up warm and tuck in to some punch and macaroons!
Nigella Lawson’s recipe, makes 8
2 large egg whites
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
100g caster sugar
30g ground almonds
pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla essence
250g shredded coconut (not dessicated)
1. Preheat the oven to 170C and line a baking sheet – draw 6-7cm circles on it then turn it pencil-side down.
2. Beat the egg whites until frothy.
3. Add the cream of tartar and beat again until it forms soft peaks.
4. Add the sugar a spoonful at a time and whisk until the peaks are shiny and hold their shapes. (I always love this stage – it looks so glossy and magical.)
5. Fold in the almonds, salt, vanilla and coconut. The mixture will be sticky, but should hold its shape.
6. Using the circles as a guideline and a spoon to dollop, form into 8 domes 6-7cm across. Don’t flatten them, but you could probably smooth them rather more than I did for a more attractive finish and even bake.
7. Cook for 20 minutes, until just beginning to turn golden. Stand on the tray for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack. Best eaten still warm, but you could always dip the bottoms in chocolate for an extra treat.