I’m not sure where July has gone, it seems to have just sped by, and somehow it’s already the 1st of August, so I should probably get myself into gear and post my entry for July’s Mac Attack challenge (the deadline was yesterday, not cutting it fine at all, nope…). Actually, aside from my general disorganisation, there’s a very logical reason that I’ve left it to the very last minute. You see, the theme was “ice-cream” so we had to create a dessert using ice-cream or sorbet and macarons. But here’s the thing – actually, before I go any further, I hope you’re sitting down (so far nobody has died of shock at the up-coming revelation, but I don’t want to take any chances) – I don’t like ice-cream. Yes, you did read that correctly, and I’m fully aware of how bizarre a concept that is (try being a child living in a fairly warm country like Nigeria and having an aversion to ice-cream…). My main issue with ice-cream is that it’s too cold, which I know is the whole point of ice-cream, but there you go. I’m also not a great fan of the texture. So the thought of creating a dessert including ice-cream didn’t exactly have me jumping for joy.
Luckily though, I do quite like sorbets. I know they’re cold too, but they always seem slightly less cold than ice-cream to me, though I’m not really sure why. And I tend to let them melt a bit before I eat them anyway (thus somewhat defying the point, I know). I also much prefer the lighter and smoother texture of good quality sorbets, and I love how fruity they are. So I thought I might do something involving a sorbet of some sort. But, because I’m a bit lazy, I wasn’t feeling especially motivated to make my own sorbet and I’m not really sure where to find good sorbet in Edinburgh (any recommendations welcome!). This left me in a little bit of a pickle. And then, on Friday, it suddenly hit me – perhaps I could do something with a granita! They’re frozen, so that’s totally close enough to ice-cream/sorbets, right? I’m going with yes. My first foray into the world of granitas was the G&T granita that I made for World Gin Day, and although it took 9 hours to freeze properly, it turned out to be easy to make and rather delicious.
I decided to try out a lemon granita recipe that I came across in delicious. a few months ago, and go for the cop-out option of sprinkling some crushed macaron shells over the top to create a dessert. This was going to be the first time that I made macarons using my mum’s oven, so I wasn’t sure how they would turn out (since every oven is different and I’m not quite used to this one yet) – crushed macarons seemed the safest bet in case they went horribly wrong. I was going to make the lemon granita on Saturday, but it ended up being warm and sunny (a rare occurrence in Scotland, but it does occasionally happen!) so we went for a wander in the Pentlands (a series of hills just outside Edinburgh). Which means that although I made the macarons shells that evening (which thankfully turned out fine), I didn’t have time to make the granita and ended up making it yesterday. It turned out rather yummy – fresh and summery, and the macarons shells complemented the very lemon-y granita wonderfully.
Lemon granita with a chocolate macaron crumble
Granita recipe adapted from delicious. (June 2011)
Macaron shell recipe based on Mad About Macarons!
The shells can be made a couple of days in advance and kept in an air-tight container until required. The granita can also be made in advance, though will require some thorough stirring to break up the ice crystals before serving. Adding a splash of vodka to the granita is completely optional, but I find that it slightly enhances the flavour of the lemons.
For the granita:
150g sugar (granulated or caster – it doesn’t really matter)
150 ml water
Grated zest of 1 lemon
200 ml lemon juice (roughly 5-6 small lemons)
100 ml vodka
For the macaron shells:
40g aged egg whites
27g caster sugar
48g ground almonds
72g icing sugar
3g cocoa powder (at least 70%)
To make the granita:
1. Place the water and the sugar in a small saucepan and simmer gently over a low heat for around 10 mins until the sugar has dissolved and the liquid reduces a bit to a slightly syrupy viscosity. Remove from the heat and pour into a heat-proof bowl and allow to cool.
2. Mix in the lemon juice and allow to rest for 30 mins, stirring occasionally. Stir in the lemon zest and vodka, and pour into a freeze-proof container with a lid (an old plastic ice-cream tub is ideal) and place in the freezer.
3. After 2 hours, remove the container and stir with a fork (don’t worry if it’s still liquid). Place the container back in the freezer for a further 30 mins, before removing and beating with a fork. Once again, place the container back into the freezer. Repeat every 30 mins for a total of 4 ½ to 5 hours (not including the initial 2 hours). Store in the freezer until ready to serve.
To make the macaron shells:
4. Line one or two flat baking sheets with baking paper and set aside. Prepare a piping bag with a plain nozzle.
5. Blend the icing sugar, ground almonds and cocoa powder together (don’t skip this step!) Sift them through a medium sieve into a large bowl. Sift them again if necessary.
6. Make the French meringue by whisking the egg whites at room temperature (take them out of the fridge 2h beforehand) to glossy firm peaks, gradually adding the caster sugar.
7. Incorporate the French meringue into the dry ingredients using a large spatula and mix well. Now work on the mixture by pressing down well with the spatula, going backwards and forwards, to press out the oxygen from the egg whites (this is the macaronnage stage), until you have a smooth mixture. Don’t do this for longer than 5 minutes. The result should be a soft and brilliant mixture that forms a “ribbon” on the spatula.
8. Transfer the mixture to the previously prepared piping bag and pipe out the desired size of rounds (mine were about 1.5-2cm in diameter, but these don’t have to be perfect – they’ll be broken up later). Press the nozzle right down on the paper and finish off with a flourish to obtain a nice round. Leave a good space between them so they can spread out.
9. Leave to set for about 30mins (this helps to produce the feet). Preheat the oven to fan-oven 160°C. When you can feel that a skin has formed over the top, they are ready to go into the oven.
10. Bake one tray at a time in the centre of the oven for about 8-10mins (to see if they are done, touch the top – if there is a “wobble,” leave them in 2-3mins longer). Leave them to cool fully on the baking trays before carefully removing them and storing them in an airtight container until required.
11. When ready to serve, break the macaron shells up into pieces. Remove the granita from the freezer and beat with a fork to break the ice crystals up. Spoon into 3 bowls or glasses (martini glasses make for impressive-looking presentation!) and sprinkle with the broken up macarons. Serve immediately.