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Week 4 Macaroons and Lavender biscuits

Well it's week 4 and I cannot tell you how great it felt to be in the show at the half way point. I had been practising my Macaroons relentlessly and I'd almost imprisoned myself in the kitchen, as they are so temperamental. Every time I thought i'd cracked the little blighters they went horribly wrong again!

I had never tried to bake mac's before I had my brief through from GBBO and to be honest I never dreamt they could be so tricky. I tried every recipe I could find, I tried whizzing them in the processor, I tried them without, I tried a sugar syrup and without, with the door a jar (the method I used) and with it closed. Honestly by the end of the week I felt I would never look at a bag of ground almonds again!

My recipe from the BBC website

Blueberry Macaroons, Coconut Cacaroons and Strawberry Macaroons


For the Blueberry Jelly Filling
750g/1lb 10oz blueberries
400g/14oz jam sugar
For the blueberry macaroons
250g/9oz icing sugar
210g/7½oz ground almonds
40g/1½oz dried blueberries
175g/6oz free-range egg whites (equivalent to about 5 egg whites)
225g/8oz caster sugar
4 tbsp water
navy blue food colouring

For the Coconut Macaroons
250g/9oz icing sugar
210g/7½oz ground almonds
40g/1½oz desiccated coconut
175g/6oz free-range egg whites (equivalent to about 5 egg whites)
4 tbsp water
225g/8oz caster sugar

For the Strawberry Macaroons
250g/9oz icing sugar
250g/9oz ground almonds
175g/6oz free-range egg whites (equivalent to about 5 egg whites)
4 tbsp water
225g/8oz caster sugar
red food colouring paste
strawberry essence

For the Coconut Cream Filling
284ml/10fl oz double cream
2 tbsp icing sugar, sifted
1 x 50g/1¾oz sachet creamed coconut

For the Strawberry Buttercream Filling
6 large ripe strawberries
125g/4½oz unsalted butter
250g/1lb 2oz icing sugar

Preparation method
To make the blueberry jelly filling, place the blueberries and sugar in a small pan, heat over a gentle heat until the sugar has dissolved then boil over a high heat for 7 – 10 minutes.

Push the jelly through a fine sieve into a large shallow dish and refrigerate  to cool completely.

Preheat the oven to 170C/325F/Gas 3. Line 4 large baking trays with greaseproof paper.

For the blueberry macaroons 
Place the icing sugar, ground almonds and blueberries into a food processor and pulse until you have a fine dust. 

Sieve the mixture into a bowl, discarding anything left in the sieve, then return the mixture to the food processor. 

Weigh out 85g/3oz of the egg whites, add them to the food processor and blend to make a paste.

Place the sugar and water in a heavy-based saucepan and heat until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is syrupy.

Whisk the remaining egg whites in a food mixer or with an electric whisk until they form soft peaks then add the colouring and gradually mix in the syrup. Continue whisking until the mixture is shiny and stiff then transfer it to a clean mixing bowl.

Fold the almond mixture into the whisked egg whites with a large metal spoon then spoon the mixture into a piping bag fitted with a 1cm/½in nozzle and pipe circles about 4cm/1½in diameter onto the baking trays. 

Give the baking trays a couple of slams on the work surface to flatten the macaroons then bake with the oven door slightly ajar for 12 - 15 minutes or until just firm. Leave to cool on wire racks before filling.

Make the coconut and strawberry macaroons by repeating steps 3 – 6, substituting the dried blueberries with the desiccated coconut for the coconut macaroons, and adding a little strawberry essence and red colouring for the strawberry macaroons.

For the coconut filling, whip the double cream with the icing sugar until stiff peaks form, then fold in the coconut cream and spoon into a piping bag. Sandwich the coconut macaroons together with a little piped filling.

For the strawberry filling, chop the strawberries and press them through a fine sieve to make a purée. Beat the butter until soft and fluffy then whisk in the icing sugar and strawberry purée and spoon into a piping bag. Sandwich the macaroons together with a little piped filling.

To assemble the blueberry macaroons, cut circles of the jelly with a small biscuit cutter slightly smaller than the macaroons. Sandwich the macaroons together with the circles of jelly.

Lavender biscuits are actually a firm favourite with my friends, I have been making them for ages. On the day of the bake off I made the fatal mistaken of blending my lavender in the processor instead of my normal method of grinding in a pestle and mortar. 
Lavender biscuits

2oz Lavender sugar
4oz butter softened
finely grated rind lemon
6oz plain flour

Place butter, sugar and lemon rind in a food processor blend until light & fluffy. 

Transfer to large mixing bowl,sift in flour and beat until the mixture forms a stiff dough. 

Roll out dough in-between 2 pieces of parchment stamp out with heart cutters,transfer with spatula use a stitcher tool to mark round edges, bake for 12 -15 mins @150. 

Transfer after 2mins of cooling on baking tray.