These are a cute and fun treat. There are three components to this recipe: the macarons, the meringue and the orange blossom ganache filling. If you are short on time, you can replace the meringue with fondant. Ideally you would make everything the night before, and then assemble the following day. This is because the macarons benefit from an overnight rest in the fridge, and the meringues are best left in a (switched off) oven overnight. You can serve these as they are, or use them as cake toppers.

Makes 12-15

For the Italian meringue macarons

Mixture A
105g finely ground and sieved almonds
105g sieved icing sugar
40g egg white

Mixture B
45g egg white
115g caster sugar
40g water

For the meringue
80g egg white
130g caster sugar

For the orange blossom ganache filling
160g double cream
70g caster sugar
1¼ tbsp cornflour
3½ tbsp orange blossom water
100g white chocolate
100g butter
Orange food dye

Food dye for the macarons and snail faces

To make the macarons, line two baking trays with baking paper or silicone mats.

In a large mixing bowl, combine together mixture A. Stir together the sieved ground almonds and icing sugar. Add the egg white and mix together until it forms a paste.

In a separate stand mixer bowl with a balloon whisk attachment, add the egg white for mixture B.

Add the caster sugar and water to a pan and stir occasionally over medium to high heat until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture starts to bubble. Start whipping the egg white. When it has reached soft peaks and the sugar syrup is at 115C, have the stand mixer on high while pouring the sugar syrup in a thin stream down the side of the mixing bowl.

Once all the sugar has been poured in, continue whipping on high speed until the side of the bowl feels cool to touch (three to five minutes). At this point, turn off the mixer and use a spatula to fold mixture B (a third at a time) into mixture A. Divide into three bowls and add food dye to colour as desired.

Transfer the macaron batter to piping bags. You can also add two different colours to a single bag. Cut a medium tip on the piping bags (or use a round nozzle tip).

Pipe the batter on to the prepared baking trays. After piping, pick up the tray and bang it on a flat surface three times. You should see air bubbles come to the surface. Use a cocktail stick to pop them.

Leave the macarons for at least an hour or two to form a skin on the surface – you should be able to gently touch the macaron and it shouldn’t come away on your finger. The time it takes for the macarons to form a skin depends on how humid the air is, so it could take longer.

When the macarons are ready, heat the oven to 170C (150C fan)/325F/gas 3. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Leave these to cool before peeling off.

To make the snail’s meringue body, heat the oven to 120C (100C fan)/250F/gas 1.

Add the egg white to a stand mixer bowl (you can use an electric whisk but you will be whisking for a long time so a stand mixer is better). Whisk on high speed until you have soft peaks, then gradually add a tablespoon of sugar at a time – whisking for about 30 seconds to a minute after each addition. It is important to add the sugar very slowly so that it all dissolves.

When all the sugar has been incorporated (the meringue should feel smooth and not gritty between your fingers), use a spatula to transfer a few tablespoons to a small piping bag (cut a very small opening). Then add the remaining mixture to a large piping bag (cut a medium opening).

Use the larger piping bag to pipe an oblong that is taller and wider at one end, and tailing off to flat and narrow at the other. Then pipe a blob on top of the end that is taller (to create the snail’s “face”). You can vary the size and shape of this to create different characters. Then dip your finger in water and use this to flatten the peak of the meringue. Use the smaller piping bag to add snail tentacles – squeezing and pulling upwards to create the shape. Repeat until all the batter has been piped. Bake for one hour. Then ideally turn off the oven and leave overnight.

To make the orange blossom ganache filling, mix 30g of the double cream with the cornflour in a small bowl. Add the remaining double cream and sugar to a small pan. Whisk in the cornflour mixture plus two tablespoons of the orange blossom water. Stir over low to medium heat, until thickened.

Remove from the heat and add the white chocolate, then stir until melted and smooth. Add the butter gradually (a chunk at a time and stirring well after each addition), plus the rest of the orange blossom water and a little orange food dye to colour.

When it is smooth and everything is incorporated, cover and place in the fridge until it is firm enough to pipe.

If the mixture becomes grainy or splits, just gently heat while stirring to bring it back together.

To assemble, pipe the ganache on to half the macaron shells, then sandwich together with the others. Paint a face on to the meringue snails using black food dye mixed with a little water. Pop the macarons on to their backs. You can use extra ganache to help it stick if needed. Add pieces of gold leaf to the macarons (optional), using a little water to stick.

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