Office Cake Friday Macaroons

It’s a tradition in any office environment to have a regular supply of cakes, biscuits, chocolate and general sweet treats. If this isn’t the case with your workplace then I suggest immediate action. Some engage in a weekly bun run, others have the office biscuit tin and of course in the event of birthdays, engagements, new baby, payday (tick as they apply) there is a moral responsibility to bring in something to cheer up your fellow comrades.

Grad Students are no exception to this rule. We NEED sugary confections to get us through the pain of thesis writing, sifting journal articles and tackling data. So in a brief hiatus from the pressure of deadlines & with a spark of genius 1 member of the gang introduced the tradition of Cake Friday.

Source: PhDComics.com
Source: PhDComics.com

Our office Cake Friday has been running successfully for several months now. Admittedly I am new to participation. Having previously opted out fearing for the size of my waistline, then realising that Christmas took care of that for me, I firmly opted in. Who am I to pass up a chance for sugary laden greed? So folks I give you my first Cake Friday contribution and urge you to spread this tradition to your own workplaces.

Macaroons

Macaroons get a bad rep for being fiddly & difficult to make and I agree to some extent. However I firmly believe most unsuccessful baking attempts are due to equipment, the method and technique (Baking Rules #1: Equipment). Ok your 1st attempt is never going to turn out magazine perfect but like anything it only requires a little practice. With the pressure on I did a test batch of these last weekend which I’m thankful for. The 2nd time around they were a vast  improvement.

Before you start I firmly recommend investing in a good piping bag & one of these silicone macaroon mats. The mat gave me uniformity but also a guide on how much of the mixture I should use for each macaroon. Alternatively you could draw 24 circles, using an egg cup as a guide, on a sheet of greaseproof paper & pipe the macaroons on the reverse side.

I’ve provided the recipes for 2 flavours:

  • Pistachio, White Chocolate & Honey (Green)
  • Vanilla (Pink)

Each batch produced 36 individual macaroons which when sandwiched together gave me 18 in both flavours.

Pistachio (Green) & Vanilla (Pink) Macaroons
Pistachio (Green) & Vanilla (Pink) Macaroons

 

Ingredients

INgredients

Blitz the Pistachio nuts in a food processor (or a pestle & mortar) until you have a fine powder. Push the ground pistachios through a sieve using the back of a spoon.You should now have a bowl full of smooth ground nuts & a sieve full of nubbly nuts.

Measure out 55g of the smooth pistachios & set aside. Then mix the remaining smooth & nubbly mixture. Set both aside until ready to use.

Press the ground pistachios through a sieve to separate the nubbly from the smooth
Press the ground pistachios through a sieve to separate the nubbly from the smooth

Take the 1/4 lemon & rub it around the inside of the bowl you will be using to whip the egg whites. This will remove any residue or grease which can stop the egg whites fluffing up. Wipe away the excess with a sheet of kitchen roll.

Beat the egg whites with a free-standing or handheld mixer until soft peaks form. You will know when the eggs are ready when you can tip the bowl on its side (or upside down) & they wont move. With the mixer still running on a medium speed, slowly add the caster sugar and the green food colouring to get your desired colour.

Continue beating the egg whites until stiff peaks forms. The mixture should be glossy & smooth when ready. To make sure the sugar has dissolved take a small piece of egg whites & rub it between your finger & thumb. The mixture should feel smooth. If you feel any grains of sugar then beat for longer.

Beaten egg whites before folding in the icing sugar & nuts
Beaten egg whites before folding in the icing sugar & nuts

Tip the 55g of smooth pistachios into the bowl of egg whites. Fold the icing sugar (remember to sift it first!) & ground almonds in 2 batches into the egg whites. Fold the mixture together until just combined but be gentle with it so you don’t lose any of the air.

Egg whites with the icing sugar & nuts folded in.
Egg whites with the icing sugar & nuts folded in.

Fit a piping bag with a 1cm round nozzle. I find it easy to line a large piping bag by resting it inside a large jug. If I fold the edges of the bag over the top of the jug I can fill the bag completely with no mess.

If you cant fit all the mixture into a piping bag then cover with cling film to stop it going hard.

Use a large jug to help you fill a piping bag
Use a large jug to help you fill a piping bag

Lay the silicone mat or greaseproof paper on a baking sheet.

Holding the nozzle directly above & in the centre of the guides, pipe the filling until it just covers the circle. I find I got better results if I didn’t pipe in a circle but held it steady & let the filling spread out. Gently flatten any raised peaks with your finger.

Piped macaroon filling onto the silicone mat. The perfect guide for uniformed size
Piped macaroon filling onto the silicone mat. The perfect guide for uniformed size

Sprinkle the macaroons with a little of the remaining nubbly pistachios. Tap the baking sheet of macaroons onto the worktop gently to spread the mixture. Rest for 30 mins to allow a skin to form.

Heat the oven to 140C & bake the macaroons for 20-22 mins. Leave to stand on a cooling rack for 20 mins before carefully peeling away. If you have more filling then repeat this process again.

Baked cooling macaroons with a nubbly nutty topping
Baked cooling macaroons with a nubbly nutty topping

Filling:

Roughly chop the chocolate into small pieces. Melt the chocolate, honey & cream in a bowl over a pot of gently simmering water. The bowl needs to be slightly larger than the pot so the bottom of the bowl isn’t touching the water. Stir the filling until smooth then remove from the heat. Set aside until it has cooled before using.

You can pipe the filling but I found it quicker & easier to spread it on with a knife. Spread 1 half of a macaroon generously with the filling & place another half on top.

A sweet tooths delight ready for Cake Friday!
A sweet tooths delight ready for Cake Friday!

 

Ingredients

ing 2

Rub the lemon around the inside of the bowl & wipe away any excess with a sheet of kitchen roll.

Beat the egg whites with a free-standing or handheld mixer until soft peaks form. With the mixer running on a medium speed, slowly add the caster sugar and the pink food colouring.

Continue beating the egg whites until stiff peaks forms & the mixture is glossy & smooth.

Fold the icing sugar (remember to sift it first!) & ground almonds into the egg whites in 2 batches until just combined. Lay the macaroon mat or greaseproof paper onto a baking sheet.

Fit a piping bag with a 1cm round nozzle & fill with the egg white mixture. Pipe the filling onto the guides until it just covers the circle. Tap the tray of macaroons onto the worktop gently to spread the mixture. Rest for 30 mins for a skin to form.

Heat the oven to 140C & bake the macaroons for 20-22 mins. Leave to stand on a cooling rack for 20 mins before carefully peeling away. If you have more filling then repeat this process again.

Filling:

Beat the sifted icing sugar & soft butter together using a free-standing or handheld mixer until it comes together. Stir the vanilla into the milk & on a low speed slowly pour this into the butter. Turn the mixer up high and beat for approx 5 mins until soft & pale looking.

Spread a generous dollop of butter cream onto 1 macaroon half & place another on top. Dust lightly with icing sugar & serve.

Pretty pastel pink macaroons
Pretty pastel pink macaroons

 

Hold your own Cake Friday

With the aid of a rota, unceremoniously taped to the office door, we each sign up for any Friday of our choice. While you may want to consider a more formal rota, this works for us since we all have different deadlines.

The volunteer bakes or buys sugary fat laden treats and brings them into work on the Friday. Then we all look longingly at the said treat until someone dives in head first (typically around 10.35am). So far these treats have included Brownies, Pumpkin Pie, Lemon Drizzle Loaf, Cupcakes, Cheesecake and we have the promise of some Vegan delights to come from our newest member.

Here a few tips I’ve learned throughout the last months when it comes to participating:

  • Fridge – Stay clear of cheesecakes or pavlovas unless you have a fridge. These things never taste good at room temperature.
  • Storage – Airtight boxes or tins are needed to ensure your cakes stay fresh. People may want to eat their cake towards the end of the day & it would be a shame if your hard work became stale because of poor storage.
  • How to eat – I prefer individual items (brownies, cupcakes) or those which have already been pre-portioned (pumpkin pie). It makes it much easier to eat at your desk without the aid of cutlery and crockery and ensures everyone gets the same serving.
  • Taste Vs Appearance – Focus on the taste rather than presentation or impact. This is always my recommendation for baking anyway. As much as I appreciate good presentation if I had to choose I always prefer something I enjoy eating.

 

4 Comment

  1. They look great, I tried pistachio macaroons once and were a disaster, will try following your recipe. We used to quite often have home baking Friday but it’s fallen away a bit, need to get that reinstated!

    1. Definitely reinstate! Every office needs a little baking to cheer up a dull day 🙂

  2. Beka says: Reply

    I would like to declare that I am indeed the genius who suggested cake Friday, however I did not predict such dedication to the cause. Bravo.

    1. *standing ovation to Beka everyone* You are indeed the genius. Good to know if PhD falls through you could always market this idea to more Weegie offices? x

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