Jessica Seaton's recipe for rose macaroons - the ideal summer treat.
Struggling gamely against the odds, in the fragmentary garden hedge of our newly acquired farmhouse, grew a nameless striped, pale pink rose. Its arching branches bore thorns that could easily rip into delicate skin with a ferocity that served only to render the tender blooms more poignant.
That was many years ago, when our one child was small and the next yet unborn, now the same rose - still unnamed - is replanted under an ash tree. It continues to bear some striped blooms, and some not, and when in flower is fragrant with uncomplicated sweet rose perfume.
These are the rose choices to look for when cooking - the paler and sweeter the rose, the better. Deep coloured fragrant blooms can have a greenish, bitter quality underpinning the talismanic rose perfume, and I find the woolly texture of the petals can be off-putting. Better to find more delicate characters and nibble a petal to select the ideal one. Of course you'll choose blooms untainted by sprays.
On a summer's day, what better way is there to relax than with a cup of milk-less china tea and a perfectly formed rose macaroon?
Like replanting the old rose in a new place, I can't resist changing, developing and improving things, and so it is with this recipe, which first appeared in my book, Gather Cook Feast. In this version I've added crystallised rose petals for decoration and tweaked the method and ingredients a little. The result is a more refined macaroon, and prettier too. The pillow-y oatmeal adds a clean note to offset the richness of the almond and the heady fragrance of the rose.
They are easy and quick to make, but you need to start the crystallised petals the day before.
MAKING THE CRYSTALLISED ROSE PETALS
one egg white
a few drops rose water
one pale pink fragrant rose
Deconstruct the rose into single petals and gently remove any hiding bugs.
Cover a tray with baking parchment.
Mix a couple of drops of rose water into the egg white and whisk together. You're looking for a delicate, not overwhelming, rose fragrance.
Using tweezers, dip each petal into the egg mix and then into the caster sugar. Lay them out on the baking paper and leave overnight to dry.
MAKING THE ROSE MACAROONS
3 egg whites
a pinch of salt
180g icing sugar
250g ground almonds
50g porridge oats
teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon rose water
Makes about 20 macaroons.
Heat the oven to 120C.
Cover a baking tray with baking parchment.
Prepare all ingredients weighed and ready in advance of whisking the egg whites to make sure you catch the whites peak fluff.
Blitz the oats in a food processor to the consistency of flour.
Add the salt to the egg whites and whisk until dry and stiff. Add the sugar gradually until the mixture becomes like marshmallow.
Add the lemon and rose water (tasting carefully as it is easy to overdo rosewater). Finally gently fold in the almonds and oats.
Using quite damp hands form small walnut sized balls on the baking tray, little mound by little mound. Flatten the surface of each with the back of a damp teaspoon or finger.
Cook in the oven for 40-55 minutes until they are firm and starting to colour a little around the edges, but still chewy inside. Cool them fully on a rack. Then rest a couple of the crystallised rose petals on the top of each.
Gather Cook Feast celebrates the connection between the food that we eat and the land on which we live in over 120 simple, seasonal and nourishing recipes.