The best bit about the macaroon back then (and now) was the rice paper base. It added to the glorious chewy/crunchy/sticky joy of the macaroon and also added stability so that, when it crumbled, it still held together supported by its paper base. I ordered my rice paper online but I think larger supermarkets may stock it. And yes, I did eat the off cuts. It tastes of a sweet nothingness on its own and is dry in the mouth, just like eating absorbent paper (who could’ve guessed that?) but I stayed true to my task wondering why on earth I was doing it. My only regret is that I wasn’t more careful how I placed the batter on the rice paper – it would’ve been nice to cover more of the paper. The first photo shows them raw; the second, baked:
I think it’s time to re-popularise the English macaroon and get it back on the tea-time cake stand. Whisper it softly but I think it tastes better than its French counterpart and has a lot more going on in texture too. Beautiful in its simplicity it will keep for days in an airtight tin and – if anything – the flavour keeps improving. I think Mrs Overall would be proud of these!
2 egg whites
100g ground almonds
175g caster sugar
25g ground rice or semolina
2 drops almond extract
Approx 25 whole blanched almonds or glace cherries