It is regular advice that every AGA owner should have Chef’s Pads! These circular pads are designed to sit on top of the insulated lids of the AGA to protect the shiny stainless steel when removing hot dishes and pans from the ovens and placing on top of the AGA, or the temptation of putting the kettle on top of the lids. Nothing is worse than scratches on the lid of a brand new cooker - a Chef’s Pad will save your tears by preventing this!
AGA Cookshop have recently introduced a delightful AGA Macaron Chef’s Pad design.
The making of macarons takes a little more time than our coconut macaroons and more basins! A meringue is made and then the icing sugar and almond mixture folded in. Many recipes call for sieving the icing sugar and then the ground almonds to ensure there are no lumps, however I found putting both the sugar and ground almonds into a food processor for a few seconds does the job just as well. It is important to weigh the ingredients carefully – including the egg whites – to get the right consistency for piping. If you are using food colouring put this into the meringue mixture as you will get a better colour blending, compared to folding it in with the sugar and almonds.
After the mixture is piped in circles onto Bake-O-Glide, forcefully tap the baking sheet onto the work surface to get rid of any ‘peaks’ and air bubbles – you can also use a dampened finger to smooth out the tops. It is then important that the macarons are left for 30 minutes before baking to develop a skin.
A perfect macaron should have a smooth top and a ruffled base, called a ‘foot’ or pied. They can be frozen either in halves or sandwiched together.
Fillings for macaron can be buttercream, which can be flavoured to complement your colour choice – coffee, rose, pistachio, lemon – or a jam, raspberry is a favourite or a ganache or whipped or clotted cream. Incidentally the original macaron was a single confection; they began being sandwiched together in the 1930s.
Macarons made, now back to the Chef’s Pad and its other uses; as a worktop protector or to cover dishes to retain heat or as a pot grab. Plus, on occasions, I have known them be used as a couple of placemats.
Macarons are a delicious treat and look stunning in different colours.
Makes 36 halves (18 macarons)
100g free range egg whites (about 3 eggs)
65g caster sugar
Food colouring gel
180g icing sugar, sieved
120g ground almonds
Buttercream, ganache or jam
Beat the egg whites until they reach the ‘soft peak’ stage, then whisk in the caster sugar a tea spoon at a time. Now whisk in your choice of food colouring. Place the icing sugar and ground almonds into a food processor and whizz for 5-7 seconds to get rid of any lumps. Fold the icing sugar and ground almonds into the meringue mixture. Place into a piping bag with a 1¼cm (½ inch) plain nozzle.
Pipe circles onto Bake-O-Glide, placed on a baking sheet, about 2 cm apart. Tap the baking sheet on the worktop to level off the mixture. Leave the raw macarons to stand for 30 minutes until the tops are no longer sticky.
3, 4 and 5 oven AGA: Place the baking sheet on the grid shelf placed on the floor of the Baking Oven and cook for 15 minutes until firm. If they still wobble transfer to the Simmering Oven for 5-10 minutes until fully cooked.
2 oven AGA: Place the baking sheet on the grid shelf placed on the floor of the Roasting Oven with the cold plain shelf on the third runners down and bake for about 10-15 minutes until firm. Transfer to the Simmering Oven to finish cooking if required.
Leave the cooked macarons for 10 minutes, then carefully lift off from the Bake-O-Glide and move to a cooling rack to cool completely. Sandwich the macaroons together with the filling. If you are using buttercream this can be flavoured to complement the macaron colour, for instance lemon, coffee, raspberry, rose or orange are a few favourites.
Rayburn cooking: Bake in the Main Oven at 150ºC (300ºF), Gas Mark 3 for about 20 minutes.
Conventional cooking: Bake at 150ºC (300ºF), fan oven 130ºC, Gas Mark 3 for about 20 minutes.