A challenging but rewarding bake, this is a taste of summer in each mouthful: these macarons are sandwiched together with a Pimms ganache and small pieces of a sweetened cucumber and mint jelly: you really can’t have Pimms without the cucumber!
The macaron shells are flavoured with a Pimms reduction, and the fruity flavour coming through the filling gives what I think gives a real Pimms experience in a macaron.
Macarons are not the easist blighters to get right: a smooth surface, characteristic “feet”, a crisp shell with a barely chewy interior that melts effortlessly, and not hollow………potentially a daunting ask!
However, given the high cost of these in shops, not to mention the limitless flavours you can create, it really is worth making them. And if you make a batch and they do not look right, they will taste amazing. But please don’t be put off making them as they are so rewarding.
And I would go so far as to say that producing a batch of good macarons is one of the greatest joys in baking (beaten only by croissants and sourdough loaves for me!).
My main macaron post (link given below) has full details about the processes for making macarons and might be worth reading first if you have never made them before or if you have had macaron disasters: and I recall having countless disasters when I was getting to grips with them!
A Pimms ganache:
I made a Pimms reduction to add a deeper flavour to the ganache, along with strawberry powder and a little finely chopped cucumber skin for texture and that lovely intense flavour it has.
Refreshing jelly in the filling:
The cucumber flesh makes an excellent (and very simple) cucumber, mint and Pimms jelly. Tiny pieces of the jelly are placed over the ganache before the top shell is added.
The macaron recipe:
I nearly always stick to the one recipe for macarons (here). It works for me every time, and uses the French meringue method (the egg whites and sugar whisked together).
However, as I think it is important for macaron shells to taste of the flavour macaron being presented, I opted for the Italian meringue method here: a boiling hot sugar syrup is whisked into the egg whites. This approach allowed me to get a subtle Pimms flavour into the shell, by replacing the water in the usual Italian meringue syrup with Pimms: if you add Pimms when using the French meringue method, the moisture will ruin the macarons.
Recipe for Pimms macarons: makes about 40
- 150g ground almonds
- 150g icing sugar
- 150g granulated sugar
- 110g egg whites
- 45ml Pimms
- 1/2 teaspoon powdered red colouring
- 1 teaspoon strawberry powder
- 100ml Pimms
- a few gratings of fresh orange zest
- a few mint leaves, finely chopped
- 2 teaspoons strawberry powder
- 60ml double cream
- 130g white chocolate, chopped
- finely chopped cucumber skin from about a 2-inch piece of cucumber: keep the flesh for the jelly
Cucumber jelly (optional):
- 1/2 sheet leaf gelatine
- flesh from about 2″ of cucumber
- 1 tablespoon of Pimms
- a couple of small mint leaves
- a generous spritz of lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon caster sugar
Make the macaron shells:
(1) Blitz the icing sugar and ground almonds until very fine. Sieve into a large bowl.
(2) Mix half of the egg white with the food colouring. Mix this and the strawberry powder into the almond mixture to form a thick paste.
(3) Put the remaining egg white in a small bowl and whisk for about a minute, until it just starts to hold its shape.
(4) Put the Pimms and the granulated sugar in a small pan and slowly bring to the boil, gently shaking the pan fron time to time to dissolve the sugar. Boil until the temperature reaches 110C. NB: normally for Italian meringue you take the temperature higher but the Pimms/sugar solution will caramelise by that temperature. The main thing is it becomes a little syrupy but not caramelised.
(5) Slowly pour the boiling syrup over the whisked egg whites, whisking on full power until the meringue is very stiff and glossy. This takes at least 5 minutes: the meringue should still be a little warm.
(6) Spoon the meringue onto the almond paste and give it a couple of stirs just to loosen it up.
(7) With a spatula, use a combination of stirring, folding gently and flattening the mixture against the side of the bowl until the meringue is fully incorporated and just until the mixture is a little slacker. Essentially you are flattening out some of the air you created when making the meringue. To test it is at the right stage lift a little mixture out of the bowl and let it drop back in ribbons onto the main mixture. If the ribbons slowly disappear back into the mixture within about 30 seconds it is ready. It is crucial not to over-do this stage and get a very loose, runny mixture. More on this stage is in my main macaron post here.
(8) Spoon into a piping bag with a 1cm nozzle. Pipe onto solid baking sheets lined with a double thickness of greaseproof. It is also worth piping a few testers on small tray – see TOP TIP, below.
(9) Rap the trays on the work surface a few times to help burst large air bubbles and leave to rest on the kitchen counter, uncovered, for about an hour so they form a thin skin: essential to help create the characteristic macaron feet.
(10) Bake in the centre of an oven preheated to 150C(fan), rotating the trays after 5 minutes. Bake for a further 5–8 minutes until there is no wiggle on the macarons when you gently tough one. Leave to cool on the trays: NB: I bake one tray at a time to minimise steam build-up in the oven which macarons hate! I sometimes turn the oven down to 140C after rotating the trays.
TOP TIP: as ovens vary, including positioning within the oven it is well worth baking a few tester macarons while the others are resting to get the temperature that works best in your oven.
Make the ganache:
(11) Put the 100ml Pimms and orange zest in a small pan and bring to the boil. Boil until reduced to about 1/4 of the amount, or until it just becomes a little syrupy. Stir in the mint and transfer to a small container.
(12) Put the cream in the pan and heat to barely simmering. Remove from the heat and pour over the chocolate, stirring until melted. Stir in the reduced Pimms, the tablespoon of Pimms, the strawberry powder and the chopped cucumber. Cover with clingfilm and refrigerate until set.
Make the jelly:
(13) Blitz the cucumber, sugar, mint, lemon juice and Pimms in a small blender. Strain. Heat a little water and stir in the gelatine until it has melted. Stir into the cucumber liquid. Pour into a small shallow container or a couple of ramekins lined with clingfilm. Chill until set
(14) Turn the jelly onto a plate or flat surface and cut into small pieces.
(15) Spoon or pipe the ganache over half of the macaron shells. Add a little jelly on top and gently push the remaining shells in place. Keep chilled. NB: they are better the following day when they become more melt-in-the-mouth.