Fig and Pistachio PalmiersPalmiers are heart-shaped, sweet, flaky pastries often called Coeur de France. This simple but elegant version uses ready rolled pastry, delicate and fruity Bonne Maman fig conserve and buttery pistachios. Serve them with ice-cream, coffee, or add a touch of sea salt and enjoy with cheese.
Sweet Orange CallisonsWhile many think of the macaron as France’s iconic sweet, in Aix-en-Provence locals sing the praises of another treat: the callison. A sweet almond paste, flavoured with candied melon and orange, topped with icing. This simple version uses fresh and fruity Bonne Maman Sweet Tangy Mandarin or Bitter Orange Marmalades, making a delicious gift or a sophisticated little morsel served with coffee.
Sweet Orange Calissons
- 90 g ground almonds
- 75 g icing sugar
- 1 finely grated zest of 1 lemon
- 2 tbsp Bonne Maman Sweet Orange
- icing sugar to dust
- 100 g ready to roll fondant icing
Put the almonds, icing sugar, zest and marmalade into a medium bowl and work together with a wooden spoon. It will look as though the mixture is too dry but keep working and the ingredients will come together.
Turn out onto a surface dusted lightly with icing sugar and knead the almond paste for 1-2 minutes until it forms a smooth ball. Wrap in clingfilm and freeze for about an hour to firm up.
Roll the paste out on a sugar-dusted surface or baking parchment to about 1 ½ cm thick and stamp out 12-14 almond or leaf shapes – or simple rounds. Use whatever cutters you have.
Roll out the fondant icing to about ½ cm thick and stamp out the same number of shapes.
Brush the top of each almond paste shape with a little extra marmalade and top each one with icing. Leave overnight on a wire rack to dry out and set before packing into air-tight containers. Eat within 1 week.
If you don’t have any cutters, simply roll out the almond paste to a rough square, brush with marmalade and lightly press the rolled out icing on top. Cut into bite-sized squares or diamond shapes with a sharp knife.
The calisson also freeze well for up to 1 month.
Mini Easter MacaronsMacarons make the final totally enchanting treat for these jars. These mini mouthfuls are crispy on top yet chewy and fruity inside with all the delicate colours of Spring. Not only are these mini macarons delicious served with afternoon tea, but they also make a fun, pretty decoration for the Easter table.
Mini Easter macarons
For the macarons
- 2 large egg whites
- 150 g icing sugar
- 65 g ground almonds
- 40 g caster sugar
- Gel colouring
For the buttercream
- 30 g unsalted butter, softened
- 40 g icing sugar
- 1 tsp Bonne Maman Conserve e.g. Apricot, Raspberry, Fig
- Gel colouring
Put the egg whites in a clean, medium-sized bowl and leave at room temperature for 10-15 minutes.
Meanwhile, put the icing sugar and ground almonds together in a blender and whizz together for 1-2 minutes until a fine powder. Sieve this powder onto a plate, discarding any rough pieces of almond that may remain in the sieve.
Heat the oven to 150C, fan oven 130C, gas mark 2. Using an electric whisk, beat the egg whites into very soft peaks. Slowly add the caster sugar, whisking all the time until the egg whites become very stiff and shiny.
With a spatula or large metal spoon, fold about a third of the almond mixture into the meringue, with 3-4 drops of the gel colouring. Fold until just mixed in.
Fold half the remaining almond mixture into the bowl until just mixed. Now, fold the remaining almond mixture in and keep folding and stirring until the mixture looks like loose wet sand and you can make a figure of eight with the mixture with the spatula or spoon.
Line two baking sheets with baking parchment and either pipe out small even rounds of mixture or drop even-sized amounts from the tip of a teaspoon.
Bang the baking sheets on the work surface to get rid of any air bubbles, then leave them at room temperature for an hour. This allows the macarons to form a skin on top before baking.
Bake for about 10-15 minutes, depending on size. They should be firm enough to lift easily off the baking sheets. Cool on a wire rack.
For the buttercream beat together all the ingredients until smooth making your own colours and flavourings. Chill for 30 minutes before spreading a little on the base of half the macaron shells. Sandwich together with the remaining macarons and smooth off the filling. Chill for about 1 hour before serving.
Blending and sieving the almonds and icing sugar helps create the traditional smooth macaron tops.
Make the mixture slightly stronger in colour than you want it, as it fades on cooking.
Any left-over buttercream will freeze for your next batch of macarons or cakes.
The macarons should be left to chill after filling to allow the centre to soften and become chewy. They freeze well for up to 2 months. Allow 30 minutes at room temperature to thaw.