Earl Grey, Honey & Orange Macarons

The raw ingredients for these macarons work out to be roughly 25p each, and this calculation is based on retail prices and on organic eggs & butter, thus with whole sale prices and non-organic ingredients, let’s be conservative, we’ll say it would be just shy of 15p. Obviously the rent of the facilities, and the  cost of the chef, electricity, and equipment need to be considered too. Furthermore, with human error and just the regular “shit happens” moments mean that not all the macarons made in a batch will be in the adequate aesthetic state to be sold. Let’s say the rate is 80% for a decent pastry chef, 80% of the macarons made will be sold. I don’t know how much that all adds up to to tell you the average cost of a retail macaron is, but i can tell you that at £2 a bite, the mark up is preposterous.
earl grey macaronIn culinary school it was pretty clear to us students that if we want to not be poor – open up a pastry shop, not a restaurant. It doesn’t cost anything to make pastry, as it’s just flour and sugar. All pastry items have a high mark up, but macarons especially, and that’s because it has become a luxury food item. A luxury food item made of almonds, sugar and egg white! It’s fascinating as it’s all in the marketing: macarons are dainty, gluten-free, French, beautifully colorful and they somehow became the official sweet snack in fashion shows and other upscale occasions. That’s why they cost so much.

Fear not, macarons are not that difficult to make, you just have to know a few tricks:

– Measure your ingredients well
– Sift your ingredients well
– Be careful with the egg whites, beat them in a grease-free bowl and make sure there’s no trace of egg yolk
– When folding the egg whites into the almond mixture, make sure you don’t overmix – it will be a very stiff mixture anyway but it’s ok
– Use a silicon mat (parchment paper is ok too but macarons stick on them a bit more)
– Rest them! Once you’ve piped your macarons, leave them to rest at room temperature until a skin forms on top

earl grey orange honey macarons

Makes about 24
250g icing sugar
130g ground almonds
4 tsp earl grey tea leaves, ground to fine powder
120g egg whites
25g sugar

Orange buttercream
200g butter
zest of 1 orange
100g sugar (more to taste)
2 tbsp honey
a pinch of salt

Grease and line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

Sift the ground almonds, icing sugar and earl grey tea leaves into a large bowl.

In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites with electric beaters until foamy, then add the sugar in three additions whist continue to whisk until stiff peaks form.

Mix in a third of the egg white mixture into the dry mixture to loosen it up a bit. Then fold in the rest in two additions.

Put the mixture in a piping bag, cut the end to have a small opening and pipe 1-inch blobs on the sheet, leaving  a two-cm gap between them.

Firmly tap the baking sheet so they flatten and leave them to sit at room temperature for anything between 20 to 60 minutes, just until it forms a skin on top so it should no longer be sticky to touch.

Preheat oven to 140C.  When the oven is heated, put the macarons in and bake for about 15 to 20 minutes, until set – test by seeing if they come off of the sheet easily, if not, bake for a bit longer.  Then take them out and leave them to cool for 5-10 minutes.

Beat the butter and orange zest until fluffy, then beat in the honey, sugar and salt.

Pair up the macarons so that the similar size ones sandwich together.  Either pipe or spoon a bit of the buttercream onto one, and place the other macaron on top.

Place in fridge and ideally eat them the next day instead of right away. They keep for up to a week.

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