Makes about 72 macarons (or about 144 shells)
For the filling 200g fresh or frozen blackcurrants
100g caster sugar
For the macaron shells 300g ground almonds
300g icing sugar
15g titanium oxide powder, diluted in 10g warm mineral water
110g "liquefied" egg whites *
100g warm mineral water
300g caster sugar
75g mineral water
For the violet ganache 450g double cream
525g Valrhona Ivoire couverture or white chocolate
8 drops violet essence (ionone, from the pharmacy)
To finish 100g granulated sugar
A few drops of violet food colouring
The day before, prepare the filling. Bring the water and sugar to the boil. Add the blackcurrants to the boiling syrup. Bring it back to the boil, then drain and place the fruit on a cloth to dry until next day.
Still the day before, prepare the coloured sugar to decorate the macarons. Preheat the oven to 60e_SDgrC. Stir a few drops of colouring into the sugar, then, wearing disposable gloves, rub the mixture between the palms of your hands. Spread out the coloured sugar on a baking tray and place in the oven to dry for 30 mins.
The next day, sift together the icing sugar and ground almonds. Stir the diluted titanium oxide powder into the first portion of liquefied egg whites. Add this to the mixture of icing sugar and ground almonds but do not stir.
Bring the water and sugar to the boil at 118e_SDgrC. When the syrup reaches 115e_SDgrC, simultaneously start whisking the second portion of liquefied egg whites to soft peaks. When the sugar reaches 118e_SDgrC, pour it over the egg whites. Whisk and allow to cool to 50e_SDgrC, then fold the meringue into the almond-sugar mixture. Spoon the batter into a piping bag with a plain nozzle.
Pipe rounds of batter about 3.5cm in diameter, spaced 2cm apart on baking trays lined with baking parchment. Rap the trays on the work surface covered with a kitchen cloth. Sprinkle the shells with pinches of coloured sugar. Leave to stand for at least 30 minutes until a skin forms on the shells.
Preheat the fan oven to 180e_SDgrC then put the trays in the oven. Bake for 12 minutes, quickly opening and shutting the oven door twice during cooking time. Remove the shells from the oven and slide them onto the work surface.
For the violet ganache, chop up the chocolate and melt it in a bowl over a pan of barely simmering water. Bring the cream to boil. Pour it over the chocolate in thirds. Stir in a few drops of violet flavouring.
Spoon the ganache into a piping bag with a plain nozzle. Pipe a generous mound of ganache on to half the shells. Press three blackcurrants in syrup into the centre; top with remaining shells.
Store the macarons for 24 hours in the fridge. Bring them back out two hours before serving.
Violet-flavoured sweets were the inspiration behind this macaron. The tart flavour of blackcurrants in syrup harmonises with the floral subtlety of violets.
\* See the "Secrets Revealed" section in Macarons
Taken from Macarons by Pierre Hermé
What first springs to mind here is Champagne, as its luxurious nature reflects the decadence of the macarons, but I prefer something a little different so I suggest you pair this dish with a glass of Gamay Mousseux Rosé Nationale 7, Simon Hawkins, Roanne, France. This pétillant naturelle is available from Ten Green Bottles in Brighton and is demi-sec in style so it will hold up to the sweetness of the macaron. The palate is lovely and bright, with strawberries and redcurrants, and the mouthfeel is soft, but the Mousseux will cleanse the palate perfectly.
Rupert Taylor, head sommelier, Boundary, London