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13 March 2015

This weekend marks Mothering Sunday, and it has certainly come at a fitting time for this writer.

I have spent the past week back at home with my parents, in a state that can only be compared to a newborn infant. My poor mum has put up with tears, sleep disturbance, the silent treatment (in my defence, I haven't been able to talk) and a whole lot of self-pity. She's also got me into a well planned routine of pain meds, naps and puréed meals. I may have a job, rent contract and be 23 years of age, but boy do I still need my Mum.

As I get older, I have more and more respect for the mothers in my life. Aside from my own brilliant Mum, I'm lucky enough to have family, friends and colleagues who totally boss it when it comes to balancing their kids with all the other commitments in their lives. It can't be a walk in the park, but they keep the plates spinning all year round. Mothering Sunday is such an important chance to show them how brilliant they are.

My parents dislike having money spent on them, which is just as well as none of us have much of that to spare. Macarons are both beautifully special and economically friendly, and the pretty pink fresh raspberry filling will totally blow supermarket finest roses out of the park.

As this week has certainly proved, being a mum doesn't stop when your children grow up. My Mum is there for us at the drop of a hat, and certainly worries about us just as much as she ever did, even from afar. Thanks for being so great, Mum - we still need you very much.
175g icing sugar
125g ground almonds
75g caster sugar
3 large egg whites
1 tsp almond essence
pinch of salt
80g butter
250g icing sugar

Now is the time for precision. Preheat your oven to 130C. Line 4 baking trays with baking parchment, and mark 3cm circles on the other side of the paper (this feels tedious but you'll thank me later). Weigh out the almonds and the icing sugar exactly, then pass through a sieve to ensure the mixture is an even consistency. 

Clean a separate mixing bowl using half a lemon (this is to ensure any specs of dirt are removed). Add the egg whites and the salt to the cleaned bowl, then whisk into soft peaks. Once the whites are stiff enough to hold their shape, add the caster sugar 1 tsp at a time, whisking in between each spoonful to ensure the sugar is dissolved. Towards the end, add a few drops of almond essence. 

Add in the icing sugar and almond mixture. Using a plastic spatula, fold the two mixes together. Do this gently - you want to remove some of the air but not all of it, so it's better to mix slowly. The mixture is ready when it is shiny, combined and falls off the spatula into a ribbon consistency. 

Spoon the mixture into a plastic piping bag. Snip off the end, then pipe the mixture onto the prepared trays, using the circles you drew to ensure that each shell is the same size. Once the shells are piped, you need to leave them to rest, so that they can form a skin which will protect them from cracking when they rise in the oven. I leave mine for an hour to be safe, but they're ready once you can touch them lightly and not leave a mark. 

Bake in the preheated oven for 12-15 minutes. The shells are ready when you can peel them off the paper. Remove from the oven and transfer onto a wire rack to cool completely. 

To make the filling, whisk the butter to soften then slowly add the icing sugar. Once the two are combined into a sandy texture, then add a raspberry at a time, whisking in-between, until the mixture takes on a stiff buttercream texture. This will be between 5-10 berries. 

Cut the remaining raspberries in half. To sandwich, spread a layer of butter cream on a macaron, then place half a raspberry in the centre and top with a second macaron. Wrap beautifully to give as a present.

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