Macarons (makes about 30)
175g ground almonds
175g icing sugar
50g (1-2 eggs) egg whites
100g egg whites (about 3 egg whites)
200g caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For different flavourings: Pistachio macarons (replace ground almonds with ground pistachios), Coffee (add 2 tsp instant coffee), Raspberry (add 1 tbsp freeze-dried raspberry powder) and Mango (1 tbsp freeze-dried mango powder).
Cookie cutter (about 4cm), large piping bag fitted with a plain nozzle, baking sheets lined with greaseproof paper.
1. Take the cookie cutter and a sheet of paper or card. Draw around the cutter to make rows of circles on the paper, leaving a bit of space inbetween. This is your template.
2. Put the ground almonds and icing sugar in a food processor and process to a fine powder. Transfer to a mixing bowl with the 50g egg whites and beat together with a spatula until paste-like. Set aside.
3. Put the 100g egg whites in a separate, heatproof bowl and whisk with an electric whisk until soft peaks form. Get a saucepan ready on the heat with a shallow depth of simmering water. Set the bowl on top of the saucepan making sure the bottom doesn't touch. Add the sugar to the egg whites and whisk until it starts to increase in volume.
4. Remove the bowl from the heat and continue to whisk until thick, glossy and cool. Add the vanilla, gently fold in the almond mixture being careful not to over-mix. Add flavourings if using and a couple of dots of food colouring paste to boost the colour if you like.
5. Slip your template between the prepared paper and baking sheet. Fill a piping bag with mixture and pipe rounds onto the paper, gently pulling the template out after you've finished. Set aside for 30-60 minutes to firm up and form a slight skin. Meanwhile preheat the oven to 160C (325F) Gas 3.
6. Sprinkle any chosen decorations on top but not too much otherwise they won't rise. Bake the macarons with the oven door slightly ajar for 10-12 minutes, keeping an eye on them in case they brown too quickly. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely. Fill with creme patisserie, (loosened with a mixture of whipping and double cream) a flavoured ganache (see below) or just jam.
Recipe taken from Patisserie at Home by Will Torrent, Photography Jonathan Gregson (Ryland, Peters and Small, £19.99). For details on how to make raspberry, pistachio, coffee and mango ganache see page 108 of the book.
Read our mouth-watering interview with king of patisserie, Will Torrent, in Issue 20 of The Simple Things, on sale 31st January.