Macaroon Tower

A macaroon tower is a stunning showpiece for a dessert table at any special occasion, but do budget the time to prepare it – the process cannot be rushed. You can bake and assemble the macaroons a day ahead, but give yourself a good 2-3 hours to assemble the tower and an additional 4 hours for the royal icing to set before lifting or transporting the tower.

Macaroons do take some practice, and even professional pastry chefs will often have the occasional cookie come out flat or asymmetrically. Like all good things worth taking on, these cookies take patience, but the end result is truly something to be proud of. Makes a tower about 16-inches tall 80 to 100 macaroons

Macaroons (prepare this recipe 3 times):

Ingredients

  • 3 large egg whites at room temperature
  • 1 Tbsp meringue powder
  • 3 Tbsp sugar
  • ¾ cup extra fine ground almonds**
  • 1 cup icing sugar, sifted
  • food colouring pastes
  • marmalade or curd fillings
  • Royal Icing:
  • 1 1/2 cups icing sugar, sifted
  • 2 tsp meringue powder
  • 2-4 Tbsp warm water
  • food colouring paste
  • 1 16-inch Styrofoam cone (available at craft stores)
  • coloured heavy paper of your choosing

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 300 °F and line 2 baking trays with parchment paper.
  2. Whip the whites and meringue powder until they are foamy, then slowly add the sugar and whip just until the whites barely hold a soft peak when the beaters are lifted. It is very important not to over whip your egg whites). Stir the ground almonds and icing sugar together and then fold this into the whipped whites in 2 additions (the batter will be quite runny).
  3. If you wish to colour the macaroons, divide the batter into 3 bowls and stir in a touch of colour into each. Fill 3 piping bags fitted with a plain tip with each of the batters and pipe macaroons that are 1 ½ -inches wide and an inch apart on the baking tray. Let the macaroons sit for 10-30 minutes, until they develop a “skin” (until the surfaces of the macaroons appear dull – no longer shiny). Bake for about 10 minutes, until they lift off the parchment paper using a spatula without sticking. Let them cool on the trays before removing.
  4. 4. To assemble, pipe or spread a little curd or marmalade on the bottom of one macaroon and press the bottom of a second onto it, pressing gently. Continue until all of the macaroons are filled. Repeat steps 1 through 4, to make enough macaroons to achieve a tower of 80 to 100 macaroons.
  5. 5. Beat the icing sugar, meringue powder and 2 Tbsp of the water until a smooth but structured icing, adding more water if needed. Divide the icing into 3 bowls and tint it to match the 3 colours of the macaroons. Keep the icing covered with plastic directly on the surface until ready to use.
  6. Place the Styrofoam cone on your desired platter and cover with the paper, adhering with royal icing.
  7. Fill 3 small parchment cones or piping bags with each of the royal icings and, starting at the bottom, pipe a little royal on once side of a macaroon and stick it to the paper. Build a bottom layer with one colour of macaroon and then build a second tier with another colour and continue building up to the top of the cone. Place a final macaroon upright on the very top and let the tower set for at least 2 hours before moving. **Extra fine ground almonds can be found at fine food stores, but if you cannot buy them, and then sift conventional ground almonds to achieve a finer texture and then measure, or another option is to grind them with the icing sugar to have them to achieve that fine texture.