A few weeks ago my extremely talented sister made some macarons - painfully moorish and full of three different types of refined sugars. Other than that, I thought, they’re actually pretty innocent, ground almonds and egg whites being the main components. From then on i was determined to make my own refined sugar free alternatives, and not without getting a few super foods involved too.
Almonds are a popular nut of choice. They are high in antioxidants and rich in protein and are said to lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease. I love ground almonds in baking as they are gluten free and a great substitute for flour.
Egg whites are high in protein and contain loads of minerals and vitamins. They include vitamin B12 which helps protein metabolism. They are good for the immune system and high in calcium which supports bone growth.
Cacao is one of my favourite super foods. Also high in antioxidants Cacao helps counteract free radicals and toxins in the body - in other words it is believed to help prevent cancer. It also improves circulation and can improve digestion and both physical and mental wellbeing. Chocolate is good for you - as long as you buy it in its purest, rawest form and avoid any that has endured three nutrient-destroying heat processes or has been mixed with milk, refined sugar, additives and preservatives.
120g ground coconut palm sugar
100g ground almonds
3 egg whites
1 1/2 cacao powder
Preheat the oven to 180 C.
Grind the coconut palm sugar in a blender or an electrical grinder until it become fine. Most macaron recipes use icing sugar so i thought this would help the consistency.
Pour the sugar into a medium bowl and add the ground almonds and the cacao mixing until combined.
In a separate bowl whisk the egg whites, preferably electronically, until stiff. Fold the egg whites into the dry mixture until combined.
Pipe out or gently spoon the mixture onto baking paper on a baking tray. Make an even number of little inch sized dollops. Be sure not to pipe to high as this will make the mixture denser and more cake/cookie like. Also leave sufficient space between each one incase they expand.
It may help to leave them out for 15 minutes in order to dry a little, however this is not vital if you are tight for time. Bake for 15 minutes, checking after ten then remove and let cool.
Not as light as conventional french macarons but they were definitely a success and would make a perfect gift or after-dinner treat to impress some health conscious guests. I whisked the whites by hand due to restricted facilities and i think an electric whisk would have helped make the mixture as light and airy as possible. It may even work with agave nectar but you run the risk of creating a mixture too runny.
Makes about 30 small macarons. I did half of each filling just for experimentation and manages to fill about 25 - generously. So maybe add a bit here and there or double each one if you only want to make one kind. Each of the below will fill about 10-12 each.
Salted Malted Nuthini:
A healthy, nutrient dense Nutella alternative. I added Peruvian Carob and Maca to create a malty flavour similar to Malteasers. The Tahini and coconut oil create a great texture and set in the fridge perfectly. Maca increases the nutritional value of the macaroons as it is a super food and another of my favourites. It is highly energising and is known for increasing stamina and performance and for balancing hormones. So munch on a few of these for a quick, protein-rich energy fix.
1 tablespoon hazelnuts
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon tahini
1 1/2 tablespoon cacao
1 teaspoon agave nectar
1 teaspoon coconut oil
1 teaspoon peruvian carob
1 teaspoon maca
1 Teaspoon Chia Seed Gel
Blend the hazelnut with the water until it become smooth. Scrape down the sides a few times but don’t worry if it isn’t completely smooth - the rest of the ingredients will aid this. Now add the tahini, cacao, salt, vanilla, agave nectar, coconut oil, maca and carob (optional). Blend again and keep stirring, adding water if it is not blending or is too dry. Pour into a bowl and then stir in the Chia Seed Gel (chia seeds soaked in water for at least 10 minutes). Stir well to ensure everything is combined and place covered in the fridge, with cling film or in a Tupperware.
When thickened, spoon any desired amount onto the flat side of one macaron half. The sandwich together with another half. Do this to all of the macaron halves and then set in the fridge again.
Dark Chocolate Coconut Ganache:
A slightly less healthy filling alternative but more ideal if you haven’t got the time or the patience. I used 70% Dark Chocolate but if i had the chance i would have used Willie’s Raw Cacao. Coconut milk or almond milk will work in this recipe - it is an alternative to high-fat cream - which to be honest isn’t even that bad for you or that fattening - but obviously it contains dairy so i usually tend to avoid it. Once set in the fridge it becomes an even better version of ganache and if i could take a swim in it i would.
40g Dark Chocolate
3-4 tablespoons koko milk
1 tablespoon chia
(can add essential orange oil or orange extract for a terry’s twist)
Melt the dark chocolate in a heat proof bowl over a pan of boiling water. Once fully melted add a tablespoon of coconut milk and stir with a wooden spoon until combined. Then add another tablespoon and stir again. Remove the bowl from the pan and add the rest of the milk, making sure it doesn’t become too runny. Mix in the chia seeds - you can mix them in dry or you can pre-soak them and mix the gel in which will help the mixture to thicken. Mix until combined and the cool milk should begin to thicken the mixture. Place in the fridge to set and when ready, sandwich between two macaron shells.