In St Andrews, style matters. If you took a look at most American universities, you would probably see girls hurrying to class wearing Nike running shorts, a North Face Jacket, and an L.L. Bean book bag. Boys would be similarly decked out in casual attire, baseball cap in tow. But at St Andrews? Well, I think we all know that just doesn’t fly.
Where else do you see girls regularly strutting down cobblestone streets in sky-high heels and fur coats or twenty-ish guys dressed to the nines with carefully coiffed hair on a daily basis? The only time when chic St Andrews students seem to eschew quality is when it comes to food. Cheesy chips from Dervish pass for an acceptable dinner, and the raspberry-white chocolate cookies from the supermarket sound like a delicious afternoon treat. But why settle? Rather than contributing to the near-daily Tesco buy-out, take matters into your own hands. Get into the kitchen and make a batch of effortlessly sophisticated macarons. Forget Laduree; bring style back into your kitchen with homemade macarons.
Victoria Sponge Macarons
For the macarons:
155 grams icing sugar
113 grams finely ground blanched almonds
3 extra-large egg whites, at room temperature
Pinch of salt
56 grams caster sugar
For the vanilla buttercream:
200 grams unsalted butter, at room temperature
500 grams icing sugar
2 tablespoons milk
Beans scraped from ½ vanilla pod
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Raspberry or strawberry jam
To make the macarons:
Preheat oven to 175 degrees Celsius. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. If you have a pastry bag, fit it with a 3/8-inch #4 tip. If not, cut the tip off of a corner of a small sandwich bag. In a small bowl, whisk together icing sugar and ground almonds. Using an electric mixer, whisk egg whites with salt on medium speed until foamy. Increasing the speed to high, slowly add caster sugar and continue to whisk until stiff peaks form. Gently fold in almond mixture until just incorporated.
Fill pastry bag or plastic bag with batter. Pipe 1-inch disks onto parchment paper, leaving an inch between cookies. Allow macarons to sit for 15 minutes at room temperature. Bake for 13 minutes, until surface of macarons is completely dry. Place on a wire rack to cool completely before removing from baking sheet. Gently peel from parchment paper and set aside until ready to fill.
To make the buttercream: Cream butter using an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add icing sugar and beat, starting at a low speed, and gradually increase speed until icing sugar is completely incorporated. Beat in milk, vanilla beans, and vanilla extract.
To assemble the macarons: Spread buttercream onto half of the cookies. Spread jam onto the other half. Sandwich together the halves with buttercream and those with jam. Refrigerate for an hour, until firm.