In South West London Wimbledon extends for much longer than a fortnight.
Tennis balls hang in the windows of every shop, bottles of Pimms are stacked by the tills and strawberries and cream are the default for at least the month before the first serve is hit.
As a big tennis fan I am definitely not complaining!
So what to bake to celebrate Wimbledon finals weekend?
Tennis ball macarons of course!
I flavoured these with verbena leaves, known for their floral lemon-scented leaves which infuse sweet, fresh citric flavours into the ganache filling. If it isn’t something you have tried before you really must!
I have been trying various macaron recipes in the past week; the one I used for these is a combination of Pierre Herme’s and Tim Kinnaird’s and I feel like I’m getting somewhere- no hollow centres this time! Half of the batch I baked using a silicon macaron mat which is great for giving uniform sized shells but I find they are much more prone to sticking than those baked on a metal baking tray so I shall practice piping even shells onto those.
Lemon verbena ganache
150g white chocolate
10 verbena leaves
100ml double cream
- Put the cream and verbena leaves into a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and leave to infuse for 15mins
- Bring back to the boil, leave to cool for a minute and pour onto the chopped chocolate through a sieve to remove the leaves. Beat the mixture until smooth. Leave to cool to a little. Place a sheet of cling film over the top to stop it forming a skin and pop in the fridge to cool completely and harden.
105g ground almonds
100g icing sugar
35g egg white
100g granulated sugar
35g egg white
- Grind the ground almonds and icing sugar in a food processor to as fine as you can manage and then sieve into a bowl. (This ensures the macaron shells have a smooth surface). Add half the egg whites to this mix
- Dissolve the sugar into the water over a low heat, stirring until there are no grains left. Turn the heat up and boil until it reaches 118°C
- Meanwhile whisk the other half of egg whites to stiff peaks
- Once the sugar has reached 118°C pour it in a steady stream onto the whisking (medium speed) egg whites. (You want the sugar to land just to the side of the whisk- try not to land it on the metal as it will form sugar crystals, nor too far up the side of the bowl as it will cool too much before it hits the egg whites)
- Continue whisking these until they have cooled (the bowl will still feel warm but not as hot as it was)- this is your Italian meringue
- Beat the almond mixture to a paste
- Spoon a third of the meringue onto the almond mixture and fold in. Once it is all combined add the remaining meringue a spoonful at a time folding gently to keep as much air as possible. Do not over mix- it should be the consistency of a thick cake batter- too much mixing will make it runny and make piping the macarons very difficult.
- Spoon the mixture into a piping bag fitted with a large plain nozzle and pipe into 1inch rounds on baking paper on a metal baking tray. (To help you can draw around a coin, leaving an inch between each circle, turn the paper over and pipe onto this, leaving a little room for mixture to spread out slightly as it settles)
- Leave these out in for around 30mins until they have formed a skin and you can just push them without getting a sticky finger (in reality anywhere from 15mins-2hours depending on the weather)
- Preheat the oven to 160°C fan
- Once the skin has formed bake your macarons for 12 -15minutes, opening the door after 8 and 10mins to allow steam to escape. To check if they are cooked or not give one a slight push to check it is no longer stuck to the baking paper- if they seem very stuck leave them a minute or two longer
- Remove from the oven, pour a little water under the baking paper to help remove the shells and slide the baking paper off the tray onto a cooling rack. The shells should now just slide off the paper
- Leave to cool before filling
- Spoon the ganache into a piping bag
- Match macaron shells into pairs if they aren’t evenly sized
- Pipe a blob of ganache onto half the shells
- Carefully press the tops onto the ganached macaron shells
- Store the assembled macarons in the fridge for at least 24 hours, preferably 48 hours so that the flavours can develop, bringing to room temperature before eating