A well-loved staple of cake shops and tearooms around the country, these round, flattish almond confections fall somewhere between a biscuit (though made without wheat flour), a meringue and a cake. The outsides are crisp, yet the centre is slightly gooey, and they are traditionally baked on edible rice paper because they are notoriously difficult to remove from the baking tray!
|2||medium free-range egg whites|
|½ tsp||vanilla extract|
|10||split almonds or 1 tbsp flaked almonds, to decorate|
You will need 1 or 2 baking trays, lined with rice paper a piping bag fitted with a 1.5cm plain tube (optional).
Preheat the oven to 160°C/325°F/gas 3.
Mix the ground almonds with the sugar and cornflour in a large bowl. In another bowl, whisk the egg whites with the vanilla extract, using a fork, until just frothy. Add the whites to the almond mixture and stir together with a wooden spoon until thoroughly combined, to make a stiff dough.
Spoon the mixture on to the lined baking trays in 10 mounds, spacing them very well apart. Gently spread out each mound to make a disc about 5cm across and 1.5cm high – they will spread in the oven. If you like, you can also pipe the mixture, using a piping bag fitted with a plain 1.5cm tube. Set a split almond in the centre of each round or scatter over the flaked almonds.
Bake the macaroons in the preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden.
Leave to cool on the trays, then carefully remove and store in an airtight container.