"Full-moon. Half-moon. Total eclipse!"
The Baking Nanna and Rob Allen have decided that this week's #TwitterBakeAlong is a chance for many an amateur baker to face their fears and conquer the dreaded macaron. These delightful and rather fashionable almond meringue confections have long been the staple of high-end patisserie shops but have recently found their way into the aisles of high-street grocers such as Waitrose or Marks & Spencer.
Whilst you'll probably be expected to shell out a small fortune for a few of these, they're cheap and surprisingly easy to make at home. For the fearful among us the fantastic Nancy Birtwhistle (Bake Off Series 5 winner) has come to the rescue with a foolproof recipe, using Italian meringue to create a stable batter.
The hallmark of a great macaron is a crisp outer shell with a well defined 'foot' and a chewy centre. To achieve this you simply need patience. Pipe your macarons and then wait. Nancy recommends 30 minutes plus 15-20 extra is your room is damp. The trick is allowing your uncooked mix to develop a dry skin which will keep it's shape when baking and push the rise down to create the foot.
You really can be as creative as you like with colour and flavour combinations. For no other reason than the fact it's a classic, we opted for chocolate and orange. Chocolate icing sugar creates the deep brown macaron shells before filling with zesty orange buttercream. Think McVities Jaffa Cake meets Parisian chic!