Macaroons are usually flavoured with sweet tastes, like chocolate, strawberry or coconut, but you can also go for an exotic variation like these Sophie Grigson’s saffron lime macaroons. This creative take on the traditional macaroons combines the spice saffron with a tangy lime icing, for an incredibly easy to make recipe that will impress anyone at a tea party, especially if they were expecting conventional macaroons. Famous cook Sophie Grigson made these to support Marie Curie Cancer Care’s Blooming Great Tea Party, so you can give them a try for a charity sale or just for a special treat. Macaroons also make excellent homemade presents for foodies, especially if you gift them in a nice wrapping!
- 2 large pinches saffron threads
- 180g icing sugar
- 120g ground almonds
- 3 large egg whites
- 80g caster sugar
- For the lime icing
- Juice ½ lime
- 2-3 drops green food colouring (optional)
- 80-100g sifted icing sugar
Cut 2 or 3 sheets baking parchment to fit your baking trays. Find a small glass or a biscuit cutter, 4 cm in diameter and draw lots of little circles around it on the baking parchment. Turn the paper over so that you can see the circles, but the ink is underneath.
Dry fry the saffron literally for a few seconds, then crush to a powder. Put the icing sugar and ground almonds in the processor and process to an even finer powder. Now sift the powder to get rid of lingering lumps of nut or sugar.
Whisk the egg whites, with the powdered saffron, to stiff peaks, sprinkle over half the caster sugar and whisk again until glossy. Add remaining caster sugar and whisk for a few more minutes until you have a wonderfully thick, shiny golden meringue mixture. Fold in the icing sugar/almond powder to make a thick batter.
Fit a 1 cm piping nozzle to an icing bag, and fill with the macaroon mixture. Hold the nozzle over the centre of each circle and pipe the mixture directly down onto the circle, so that it spreads neatly out to the edges. Now leave them on the work surface for half an hour. A light skin will form on the surface.
Preheat the oven to 150°C/300°F/Gas Mark 2. Bake the macaroons for 15-20 minutes until just firm. Try peeling one off the paper. If it sticks badly, slide them back into the oven for another 4 minutes or so. Once they are done, cool on wire racks.
To make the icing, squeeze and sieve the lime juice, then beat in colouring if using and enough icing sugar to make a thick icing. Sandwich the macaroons together, and serve. Those that aren’t for instant eating can be stored in an airtight box in the fridge.
See how to throw your own Blooming Great Tea Party to raise money for Marie Curie Cancer Care.