Just opened on Monday is the brand, spanking new Waitrose Cookery School above the Waitrose store in Finchley Road. It is certainly the slickest cookery school in London with a bar area, theatre for demonstrations and a large kitchen where you can learn in a hands on way. There is high end equipment like Kenwood Cooking Chefs
and Le Creuset pots galore and the whole set up has clearly had buckets of cash thrown at it.
Mulled wine macaroons
I was invited a special preview night at the school where we had a master class in macaroons from James Campbell, a Michelin star pastry chef who was previously head pastry chef for Gary Rhodes and the Mandarin Oriental Hotel (seriously all the teachers at the Waitrose Cookery School have the most amazing backgrounds). Macaroons are a notoriously fickle sweet to master, and there is reams on information on the internet and various cookbooks about the importance of technique rather than just following a recipe. This site shows particularly helpful examples of how you can go wrong
Amazing set up at The Waitrose Cookery School
James’s main tip for success with macaroons was to make Italian style macaroons. These don’t need to be left to rise before baking and so are not subject to as many vagaries as the French style macaroons. He then demonstrated the technique to us before carefully hovering over our shoulders with helpful hints as we tried out the recipe for ourselves. What can I say, the recipe worked like a dream and my first attempt at macaroons was a success. I am giving all credit to James’s recipe and all the additional advice he gave us so I have tried to include as much as possible in this recipe for orange marmalade macaroons. Overall, I thought the new cookery school was just brilliant, my only hesitation is the steep prices which are admittedly reflective of the calibre of the chefs involved and the amazing set up.
James stirs the paste mixture while sous chef Eleni Tzirki looks on
Orange marmalade macaroons
These macaroons are Italian style, so not quite as tricky as French macaroons. This recipe creates the ultimate macaroons – a perfect amount of crisp outer shell, crunching through to light and fluffy meringue inside. As for the filling of orange marmalade butter cream, it is truly a taste sensation. The important things you will need are a good set of scales, electric whisk, piping bag and a sugar thermometer. This is serious baking.
187g caster sugar
62g egg whites (roughly two egg whites)
5ml orange food colouring
187g ground almonds
187g icing sugar
62g egg whites (rougly two egg whites)
40g egg yolks
300g butter, diced
100g orange marmalade
The mixture folded to the perfect consistency, ready to be piped
1. Preheat the oven to 140C.
2. For the meringue, in a small saucepan add the sugar and water and mix until there are no lumps. Add the food colouring and place the saucepan over medium to high heat and heat until it reaches 114c.
3. Once the temperature gets to 112c start whisking the egg whites on a slow speed. Once the temperature gets to 114C pour the sugar mixture into the egg white mix, taking care to pour the mixture down the side of bowl so it does not touch the whisk or whisk attachment.
4. Whisk at high speed for around five minutes and the meringue mixture should be glossy and soft, with peaks in it. James described it as “having the consistency of shaving foam”.
Piping the mixture. James is holding the bag steady with one hand and controlling the pressure on the mixture with the other
5. To make the paste mix the remaining egg whites, ground almonds and icing sugar and mix with a spatula until combined.
6. Now combine the meringue and paste mixture. James suggests adding the mixture in thirds for the most chance of success so add one third of the egg white mixture and mix vigorously until well combined. Add the second third, being careful not to overmix and then the final third. The key is not to over mix the mixture and knock too uch air out. The mixture is combined when it will drip slowly off the back of a spoon rather than running.
7. Prepare two baking trays to pipe the macaroon mixture onto. Secure the baking paper to the tray using a dob of the macaroon mixture in each corner, don’t grease the baking paper as this will cause the meringues to flop.
The meringue halves once they came out of the oven
8. Fill a piping bag half full with the macaroon mixture and then pipe small circles, not much bigger than a 50p coin, with sufficient space between the meringues for them to spread slightly. To pipe the mixture, hold the piping bag nozzle about one centimetre above the service you are piping on to and squeeze the piping bag carefully to release some of the mixture while holding the nozzle firm to get evenly sized macaroons.
9. Before putting in the oven, bang the bottom of the tray on your kitchen work top to allow the macaroons to settle slightly.
10. Bake for 12 mins and then remove from the oven and leave to cool. The macaroons are cooked if they have risen, without browning and you are able to remove them from the baking paper without too much sticking.
11. For the filling heat the milk over a medium heat, in a separate bowl whisk the egg yolks and sugar together.
12. Once the milk comes to the boil add some of the milk to the egg mixture and mix with a spatula, then transfer the mix to the saucepan of milk. Continue to stir over a low heat with a spatula until the mixture starts to coat the back of the spoon then remove from the saucepan and mix in an electronic mixture or using a hand held mixer at a high speed until the mixture starts to cool.
13. Once the mixture has almost cooled add a third of the diced butter, mix at a high speed for three minutes and then add the remaining two parts of butter separately. The butter cream should become thick and creamy.
14. Add the orange marmalade to the butter cream and mix on a low speed until combined.
15. Once the macaroon halves are totally cool, pipe a small amount of the orange marmalade butter cream mixture onto half of the macroon halves then top with the alternate halves like tiny sandwiches.
My completed meringues
Waitrose Cookery School, (Ph 020 7372 6108) A half day or evening macaroon mania class costs £105, full day classes at the school are £175 and there are also demonstration only events for £65.
Gourmet Chick was a guest of the Waitrose cookery school