1 Preheat the oven to 135ºC fan, gas mark 2. For the Italian meringue, place the sugar and 75ml water in a small saucepan and stir. Place a sugar thermometer in the pan and put over a high heat.
2 Meanwhile, put the egg whites in a separate bowl. Once the sugar syrup reaches 110ºC, start whisking the egg whites (either using electric beaters or in a freestanding mixer) on a medium speed. Once the temperature has reached 114ºC (at which point the eggs should be frothy rather than whipped) lift the thermometer out of the pan and quickly pour the syrup into the egg whites, turning the speed on the beaters to the highest setting. Beat at full speed for 5 minutes until you have a glossy and whipped Italian meringue that holds its shape.
3 In a separate large bowl, make the almond paste: combine the ground almonds, icing sugar and cocoa powder. Add the remaining 65g egg whites and mix with a wooden spoon until a stiff paste has formed. Stir in the violet food colour until even.
4 Now you need to combine the meringue and paste; this is done in three stages. Add the first third of the meringue to the bowl with the paste and mix well with a wooden spoon. You need to be as gentle as possible when adding the remaining meringue. With a spatula, fold another third of the meringue into the paste, then fold the remaining mixture in very gently. You should have a fairly thick mixture with a nice dropping consistency.
5 Carefully fill two piping bags with the mixture and snip a 1-2cm hole from the end. Take two baking trays and pipe small dots of the mixture into each corner of the trays, then stick parchment onto the tray – this holds it in place. Holding the piping bag directly above the trays, pipe macaroons about 4cm in diameter leaving a 2cm gap between each macaroon. Bake for 12-14 minutes.
6 Carefully check the macaroons are ready by gently easing them away from the paper. It’s okay if they are a little bit sticky when they come away, but if they are very sticky then return to the oven for 2 more minutes. Cool on the trays.
7 Next, make the filling. In a large bowl, melt the chocolate and butter over a pan of barely simmering water. Once they are completely melted, remove the bowl from the pan and whisk in the double cream. The result should be a thick shiny ganache. Use a spatula to transfer the mixture into a piping bag ready to pipe on the macaroons.
8 To assemble the macaroons, arrange the macaroon shells in columns, matching the sizes of the shells. On alternate columns, pipe a circle of ganache in the centre of each shell and then spoon a small dot of cherry conserve in the centre. Sandwich together with its partner. Spray some silver shimmer spray over the shells.
Cooks tip: Store in an airtight container and consume within 2 days. Keep in a cool area and avoid storing in the fridge. These macaroons freeze very well for up to a month, cling filmed.