I am the Valentine’s grinch.
Years ago, I actually watched a women suck her boyfriend/husbands whole tongue at the table on this day – since this day, I have been put off Valentine’s day for good.
I remember once at school, receiving cards on this day with just a question mark and one with nothing at all inside– a blank card. WHAT IS THE POINT OF THIS? Nothing used to frustrate me more.
I do still get 2 “anonymous” cards a year without fail. One still with a question mark which I know is from my Grandmother as it is her writing on the envelope and one from my mother which says “guess who” followed by “love from Mummy” – get my point?
Believe it or not, I am a sucker for love, but not Stereotypical love. I would rather go to a gym than buy underwear covered in lips and diamante and don’t get me started on the valentines restaurant saga – holding hands whilst eating a “special” set menu at a table surrounded by couples, why would you do this!? Is this just me!? Honestly makes me wince.
Anyway, this year I am doing what I like to do every year on the 14th February –absolutely nothing, apart from eating a Byron Burger with Will, washed down with a nice bottle of red – at home.
If any of you do fancy giving someone something different this year, here is my recipe for macaroons (please note, I would only attempt these if you have a lot of time on your hands. It took me 3 takes to make these last night, along with a dress covered in egg and sugar and a broken whisk. 2.5 hours in total of my evening to get anything that looked a like a macaroon – these really are a pain in the ar*e to make, however, once you get there, they really ARE one of the most delicious little things….
You will need a piping bag fitted with a 1cm/½in nozzle for this ( I didn’t have one so used a freezer bag and tried to make one – unsurprisingly it didn’t work, hence the different shapes of macaroons)
125g/4½oz icing sugar
125g/4½oz ground almonds
90g/3½oz free-range egg whites
2 tbsp water
110g/4oz caster sugar
food colouring (optional)
150ml/5fl oz double or whipped cream, whipped
Preheat the oven to 170/C/325F/Gas 5 and line a large baking tray with baking paper.Put the icing sugar, ground almonds and 40g/1½oz egg whites together in a large bowl and mix into a paste.
Put the water and caster sugar in a small pan and heat gently to melt the sugar, then turn up the heat and boil until the mixture starts to go syrupy and thickens – I didn’t use a thermometer but if you prefer to use one, it should read 115C/239F at this stage.
***WARNING*** do not overcook the sugar or the below will happen whn you get to the next step:
Whisk the remaining 50g/2oz egg whites in a small bowl until medium-stiff peaks form (I suggest you do this before the sugar so it doesn’t have time to set).
When the whisk is removed from the bowl, pour in the sugar syrup, whisking until the mixture becomes stiff and shiny.
Tip this meringue mixture into the almond paste mixture and stir gently until the becomes stiff and shiny again. (This takes 10 minutes of mixing with a spoon)
For coloured macaroons, add a few drops of food colouring. .
Spoon into the piping bag. Pipe a little mixture under each corner of the baking paper to stop it sliding around. With the bag held vertically, pipe 4cm/1½in flat circles onto the lined tray, about 2cm/¾in apart, twisting the bag after each one (due to freezer bag, mine do not look like this). The mixture should be quite loose to give a smooth finish. The piping will leave a small ‘tip’ on each circle so, when they’re all piped, give the tray 2–3 slams on a flat surface to flatten them.
Leave to stand for 30 minutes to form a skin then bake in the oven for 12–15 minutes with the door slightly ajar until firm. Remove from the oven, lift the paper off the baking tray and leave the macaroons to cool on the paper.
When cool, sandwich the macaroons together with whipped cream. They can be kept for a couple of days.
Conclusion: If you love someone more than the universe these are worth making for them - Absolutely yummy, yummy, yummy, however, you need to allow a lot of time and have the patience of a saint.